Friday, February 23, 2007

'Cast down, but not destroyed...'

One month ago today our lives changed forever. Our beloved Joel left us one month ago today. He is free from his pain and suffering, we are left to deal with his absence. It is not easy. We remember and grieve over his loss.
We remember the places he used to be, the things he used to do. We remember how he was at Josiah’s side, how he smiled, and the joy that he was. We remember, but it hurts.
We remember the words of the apostle Paul in II Corinthians, and in our own way we can echo them:

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed, we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” Verses 7-10

I once heard the phrase, ‘cast down, but not destroyed’, translated as ‘knocked down, but not knocked out’. We have truly been knocked down, but we have not been knocked out. We know that God is in control and is on his throne. We know that he is faithful and true, even in the darkness of this loss.
The Lord Jesus once said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In our own very, very small way we can come closer to understanding that than we ever could before January 23. Although what Jesus experienced was far, far beyond our capacity to understand, we have had the emotion of feeling abandoned even by the Lord himself.
But we know he has not….forsaken us. He has carried us one day at a time and we are here, struggling, but we are here. We are seeking Him, and His strength and comfort.
One of my heroes is Betsy Ten Boom, who in the midst of the darkness of a Nazi concentration camp was able to say, “There is no pit so deep, that he is not deeper still.” He is deeper still than this pit. Praise His holy name, He is here with us.
The battle for life continues as we seek to vindicate the truth on Joel’s death certificate. We have found a section of the Oklahoma statutes that may help us, and the doctor is reviewing the situation. Please pray that the truth will prevail. For the sake of the sanctity of life as given by Jehovah God, we must not give up the fight.
Joel fought a good fight, now it is up to us to continue that fight. Blessings to all of you.
From Terry…

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"Sanctified Trials"

One of the favorite preachers from the past for the Morris' family is Charles Spurgeon. Here is a quote from the devotional book 'Morning and Evening'. This quote is from page 98:

"Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me" - Job 10:2

"Perhaps, O tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop thy graces. There are some of thy graces which would never be discovered if it were not for thy trials. Dost thou not know that thy faith never looks so grand in summer weather as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glow-worm, showing but little light except it be in the midst of surrounding darkness. Hope itself is like a star - not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. Afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set the jewels of His children's graces, to make them shine the better. It was but a little while ago that on thy knees thou wast saying, 'Lord, I fear I have no faith: let me know that I have faith.' Was not this really though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials? - for how canst thou know that thou hast faith until thy faith is exercised? Depend upon it, God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered, and that we may be certified of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery, real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials. God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains His soldiers, not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and using them to forced marches and hard service. he makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. Well, Christian, may not this account for the troubles which thou art passing? Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow? Is not this the reason why He is contending with you?

'Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.'

From 'Morning and Evening' page 98 by Charles Spurgeon.

May the Lord sanctify our trials in our lives for His glory.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Day by Day

Day by Day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here.
Trusting in my Fathers wise bestowment, I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure Gives unto each day what He deems best, lovingly its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord himself is near me With a special mercy for each hour. All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me, He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r. The Protection of His child and treasure Is a charge that on Himself He laid. "As your days, your strength shall be in measure," This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation So to trust your promises, O Lord, That I lose not faith's sweet consolation offered me within your holy Word. Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, E'er to take, as from a Fathers hand, One by one, the days, the moments fleeting, Till I reach the Promised Land.

This hymn, 'Day by Day, has some meaningful words and thoughts. It seems like so long ago that I held and communicated with Joel. Sometimes it seems as though it is a dream. My heart sometimes wants to run away from the permanent absence of Joel. I try to take Josiah up in my arms and get the "feel" of Joel, but it just will not come.

Just as David said "he cried from the depths" I too, cry from the depths of this trial and continue to ask God for his mercy. I do feel the undergirding of your prayers, but the emotions are so strong. I miss him so much, we all do.

Day by Day we are thinking of Joel...
Here are some sweet memories of Joel from the children.

Caleb- (19) Joel was always a good little worker, I remember him helping me pick up a pile of trash. He put it in his little trailer, after we hauled it off he wanted to do some more work, we went to work on a fence. I also remember many times when Joel and Josiah would be playing together and Joel had somthing Josiah wanted, Joel would be so kind and sweetly give his toy to Josiah.

Daniel-(19) He would clean the bathroom with me. He would scrub and spray and think it was all so fun. I remember he would want me to put him in bed at night. He wanted me to fold his little blanket into a pillow and tuck him in. He would want me to lay on the floor by his bed. I also remember getting home from work and he would run to me wanting me to pick him up and hold him and I would take him in my arms. He would be so happy to see his Dosee (his nickname for Daniel). Around the house when Joel wanted Daniel to do something he would say "Dosee do it!"

Bethany-(17) I remember when Joel came home from his first round of chemo he wanted to go outside, so I bundled him up with a blanket and hat and carried him out. He wanted to go see the "shickens" as he called them. We were also talking together about the "shili" we were going to have for supper. (He had a hard time pronoucing his ch's).

Elijah-(16) One time Joel wanted to go to Tractor Supply and when we got there we got some candy bars. Joel did not want his, he wanted cheetoes, they didn't have them there so we had to go to a different place and get him his cheetoes!

Anna-(14) I remember back when Joel was younger he went through a span of a few days where he just seemed to be getting into everything. From getting into the toothpaste and toilet to pulling over half of my label maker tape out, opening the refrigerater door and climbing in trying to find "something" to getting into my camera charger, getting Elijah's flashlight, playing with the typewriter to beating the globe on the lights above the table with a teaspoon until it broke right above the cookies I was trying to make!
One morning he held up his 11 cents to Elijah and said "I'm saving this for a horse!"
Also one evening Mom was sitting at the computer when Joel climbed up on her chair, gave her a big squeezer hug and said "you're so cute!"

Micah-(12) Jeremiah, Josh, Andrew, Elijah and I went out in the pasture and built a fire and roasted marshmellows. We came back to the house and Joel came outside and realized what we had been doing. He wanted to do the same so Joel helped me gather sticks and I built a fire. Anna put a marshmellow on a roaster stick and he roasted it. He said "I'm going to roast a marshmellow and eat it!" I remember he was so happy to get to do it.

Andrew-(10) Dad and I went to wal-mart to get a saw. Hosie Jeremiah and Josh got BB guns. Joel and Siah wanted a flashlight like mine. He told me to "get him a black one."

Joshua-(8) Joel Hosie and Siah had empty supplement boxes and filled them with acorns and dirt, they had them in the tree house playing while the others were butchering chickens.

Jeremiah-(6) Mom would read a book about animal sounds. There was a frog that said Jug-a-rum. Joel would like that and laugh when he wasn't feeling good laying on his bed in the boys room.

Hosanna-(5) I remember he liked to play "Dads" (their version of playing house). When we went fishing he would love to throw sticks and rocks in the pond. He would ride on Josh on the trampoline pretending he was riding bulls with his hand waving in the air.

Josiah-(3) He would come up the stairs on the tree house and play with me, he would jump on the trampoline with me.

We cherish these memories with Joel. We are seeking to draw strength from the word and know that God is fulfilling his will and purpose. Though the days seem to have a lonliness to them, our home is filled with laughter and play and "loudness." We are blessed beyond measure. We are experiencing God's mercy and grace. Once again thank you for laboring for our family at the throne of grace, thank you for the heart felt words of encouragment to continue on. May our mighty God accomplish his wonderful will in every life that has been a part of Joel's Journey, through your prayers, tears, tangible gifts and resources. What a day of rejoicing it will be when our Saviour we shall meet and our loved ones and YOU!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Joel's Testimony to God's Truth

Our little Joel was a testimony to God’s truth in his birth, in his life, and in his final battle.
Joel was a testimony to God’s truth that children are a blessing. Joel was the 11th child of 13 to date. Joel was a twin and he was born at home with the assistance of 3 midwives. The scripture teaches us that children are a blessing and they are to be welcomed as gifts from the Father. God’s word teaches us that He opens the womb and He closes the womb. He was truly a blessing in his birth along with his twin brother, Josiah.
Joel was a blessing in his life. He was such a joy to have around. He brought such love and rejoicing to his parents and brothers and sisters. He had a special little smile that we called his ‘bally’ smile. He was constantly posing for pictures for his big sister, Anna.
After he became sick, he was a testimony to God’s truth of endurance. He endured losing his strength and not being able to walk very well. He endured all the medicine that his mother sought to give him to cure his ills. She would have all kinds of natural pills and he would take them one by one with a grunt and a cry, but he would get them down.
When he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, he endured all the tests and shots and so forth with great endurance for a little three year old boy. He endured his hospital stay and then the shots and medicine that he had to take when he got home. He was truly a testimony to God’s truth of enduring the trials that come our way.
In his last battle, he was a testimony to God’s truth of the sanctity of life. After he had his seizure in the hospital just after midnight on January 4, he continued to live and be a blessing to others. Of course, the doctors gave up on him on January 5, but he defied their death sentence and continued to live as a testimony to the sanctity of life. As he lay in that coma, he had an influence all over the world. He had an impact all the way to Iraq and in other parts of the world, as well as all over the United States.
He particularly impacted his aunt who lost her little boy many years ago. She came up from Texas and spent time with her nephew, and held his little warm hand. He touched her life in a most powerful way. His life was being used by the Lord to minister even in his suffering. He had an influence on others in our family, his great aunt and uncle, and many others, all while he lay in his little hospital bed.
He had an impact on his father, who counted it a privilege to care for his needs constantly and to fight for his life in the hospital and in the courtroom as the doctor tried to pull all life support and care. His life was precious and sacred, all the way to January 23 when the Lord chose to take him home. He no longer moved his arm or foot or had warm little hands. He was truly gone home, but until then he was alive and was a testimony to the sanctity of life from beginning to end. Praise God for the privilege to have had Joel for three years, four months and ten days.

My dad wrote this and also delivered it at Joel's funeral.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Let God be Magnified

It has been 18 days since our little Joel went to be 'in the arms of Jesus'. It has been a difficult time for our family, and yet, the Lord is faithful. Psalm 70 is an encouragement for us, it says:

Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me , O LORD. Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be urned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt. Let them be turned back for a reward of their shame that say, Aha, aha. Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying.

In the midst of this trial, we say, 'Let God be magnified'. Last Sunday I shared with our little home church out of Psalm 100. Verse four of that chapter says, 'The LORD is good, his mercy is everlasting and his truth endures to all generations.' That is the rock on which we stand, that the LORD is good. We know that, even in the most difficult and darkest times. He is good.

We have another challenge before us. This week we received the death certificate for Joel. The certificate states that Joel died on January 5, which is wrong. Joel died on January 23 after enduring in the hospital for 20 days. I plan to appeal this, but I have not yet discerned exactly how to accomplish it. Please pray for wisdom in this process.

We received a note with an anonymous poem that was encouragement to us. Here is the poem:

Physical strength is measured by what we can carry, spiritual by what we can bear.
Now I kneel through the night again, hear my prayer, if my prayer be right!
Take for Thy token my proud heart broken. God guide my arm! I go back to the fight.

We know on our own we cannot bear this burden, and yet, the Lord does have that strength. When I am weak, says the apostle, then am I strong. We go back to the fight for Joel, and for life, to say to the world, he lived until January 23. Let God be magnified.

The Lord has granted us seven home births, Joel and Josiah included. Thought you would be blessed to see how they started out! The other pictures are their first and second birthdays.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Let thy tender mercies come unto me...

I know O LORD that thy judgements are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. Let, I pray thee thy merciful Kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. Let the tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight. Ps. 119:75-77

What a blessing all of you have been to our family! The overwhelming support of prayer, the beautiful cards and flowers, the encouraging and tender words of comfort,the delicious meals, the keepsake of gifts, the generosity of your resources and the presence of so many friends and family have flooded our hearts and lives! It is with deepest heart felt thanks to each of you. As you have said to us, mere words cannot seem to express our heart, but please feel the depth of these words, we love you and thank you!!

I have delayed sitting down to do this because all I seem to want to do is cry on peoples shoulders, cry to the Lord and cry to myself. There are moments of strength in my heart and there are moments of great heaviness that I feel so utterly in despair of missing Joel. That mommy instinct in me says a part of my heart is missing. How will life go on without him? It seems the mornings are most difficult as I seek to spend time with the Lord. Trying to pour out my heart before him, yearning and craving to hear him speak to my heart through his word. I humble myself before you and say I am struggling. I have many questions. Aches and pains so deep. My heart feels like I have left Joel somewhere and I cannot go get him. In my finite thinking I think of his 3 year age, how dependent he was on his parents for comfort, for strength in his weak body, for mommy and daddy to come to him in the night when he was in pain from the cancer, from fears. So all these thoughts hurt so incredibly, to wonder whose helping him? In my finite thinking I wonder if he is looking for his mommy and daddy and his brothers and sisters. And yet as these thoughts flood my mind, the gentle Holy Spirit wings his flight to my soul and utters peace and comfort. It takes such discipline of mind to get back upon Jehovah and know all is well with Joel, he desires nothing upon this earth, and he is beholding Jesus face to face. It is the ones that are toiling on this earth that are experiencing sorrow. I know there is hope for the future, it is just dealing with the pain of today, and as the song says "Because He Lives I can face tomorrow". There are sunshine moments, like being able to hold another 3 yr. old Josiah, to touch his little 3 yr. old hand, to dress him and be with him.

One of the hardest memories is Wednsday the 3rd of January. We went back to the hospital for his second round of chemo. Recounting each moment and trying to hug and grasp the last day of communication with Joel. Terry took some luggage up to the clinic floor and then Joel and I went up to the hospital through the clinic to the nurses station to check into his room. We got settled in our room, and shortly Audra our nurse , til shift change came in to check Joels vitals. I was holding him in a chair and as she came over and bent down in front of him he took his little hands and willingly opened his little sweat jacket. He was getting used to all the procedures the nurses had to do. Terry made it back up to the room and the nurse made preperations to access his port to begin his chemo. He layed down on the bed, he cried just a little bit and the nurse said 1,2,3, and then stuck the needle in. It was over so quickly that he did'nt cry long. They got the chemo flowing and he and I played playdo, worked in his sticker book, read some books, he watched some animals on the Moody Science videos, and I drew him a barn picture with animals with some of his crayons. Soon his nurse popped in again and she talked to Joel about the animals and he was telling her the animal sounds. He also had this special bunny that some friends had given along with a stethascope and blood pressure instruments that he and the nurse were interacting with. Audra visited in the room for quite some time talking to Terry about Africa as she wants to go and do missionary work.

Soon he ate his supper and he was offering Terry his pepperoni off his pizza. He was so happy and cheerful. Before we went back to the hospital, I had been concerned about how he would do, but he adjusted quickly to the afternoon. I don't know if I can remember exact times but around 6:00 to 6:30 he thew up his supper. I had suprised thoughts of I wonder why he is throwing up he hardly had any side effects the last chemo, but then I thought ,well this is a different dose of chemo. The other children came up about 7:00 p.m. and left about 8:30. Anna stayed at the hospital for the night. I think he threw up once or twice while they were there. After they left he watched some more animal videos and we were getting settled for the night. Around 10:00 p.m. his vomiting increased to every 20 minutes or so. I told the nurse that he was also having leg spasms. He was moving and kicking his legs, the nurse thought he might be having an allergic reaction to the nausea medicine. We had given this to him at home and he did'nt react, so once again I thought this was unusual, but we thought it was all related to his chemo treatment. His vomiting increased to about every 10 minutes. He would vomit and then fling himself back on his pillow, for a brief interval. He got to the point of dry heaves. He also seemed to have a behavorial change, he said a few thing that made us think he did'nt know where he was. Anna was on the pull out bed on the side of Joel, and I was on the hospital bed, Terry on another bed behind us. I finally sat on the edge of the bed and was holding him in my arms. I thought he was dropping off to sleep. The nurse came in and was doing somthing to his IV machine and he said, "what's that beeping?" The nurse left and he took 4 fast breaths and then his body was stretching out and pulling. I loudly said "something is not right"! Terry quickly came to the bed side and I handed Joel to him and dashed out into the hallway asking for help. Several nurses came in. Terry had layed him on the bed. He was limp and not responsive. The nurse checked his eyes and suspected he had had a seizure, Anna and I were sitting on the bed beside him with great concern. The gave him a antiseizure medication, and then within moments had another one, his hand drew up again. More antiseizure medicine was given. Checking his eyes again they thought he had another seizure and the 3rd medication was given. This time the wrong prescription and too much. It actually causes you to go comotose. His vitals dropped so they gave him oxygen. The were contacting the Dr. on call and just monitering him. They ordered a cat scan to see if they could determine why he had the seizure. At 2:00 a.m. he went down for that. Back to the room they decided to transfer him to the PICU. The time frame is blurry but we possibly got to ICU around 3:30 a.m. They soon intabated him with the ventilater. We were then able to go into his room, to see our precious Joel limp and unresponsive was most unbearable. Between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. the Dr. on the floor gave us the report of the cat scan. He saw that a tumor around the brain had bled which caused his brain to possibly swell. As I reflected the hours before in Joel's room, the vomiting was not related to chemo but to possibly the bleeding and swelling that his brain was experiencing as well as the behavorial change. Our hearts were in such torment and grief. Thursday was a day of evaluating Joel with the tests of brain death. Friday they repeated the test because of the overdose of the wrong medication. They also did a blood flow test which results showed no blood flow to the brain. Words cannot even begin to describe the feelings we were having. Doctors and others began discussing what we wanted to do, as they had determined Joel brain dead which is legally dead based on medical criteria. Terry and I both felt as long as his blood was flowing and his heart beating, that Joel was alive. God started and formed his heart and HE is the one that determines death. At that time the tide changed with the doctors. And as you all know that all removed their care for Joel. We had some very sweet nurses that took care of him but he was only receiving status quo care. All the court happenings came forth. We were stuck in a place we did'nt want to be without any care for Joel to meet his body's needs. Once again we had to keep coming back to our Sovreign God who reigns!

The days came and went with Terry and I mostly taking care of Joel's basic needs. Soon another doctor stepped in but to only be an advocate to try to get us out and possibly home. His philosophy was no different, Joel was dead to him too. Joel fought hard and long. Our longing prayer was for God to raise him up according to his will. Through all the dark days and hours, yes we can say that God does all things well. I have not meant to make such a drama out of this Wednesday that Joel experienced but I wanted to share it with you because it helps my hurt! I'm seeking to trust and hope in the Lord, may He have mercy upon our family!

Our days at home have been challenging. The routine brings memories of course. Every turn I make brings pictures of Joel to my mind. I have been working on Joel's creative memories book that I had begun at birth and was about 7 months behind. I've caught it up til November and will begin a new book starting with December and his diagnosis. It has been special to behold his sweet face. I'm so thankful for my daughter Anna who is a picture taking Queen. We have wonderful pictures of Joel. I could not have taken what she has!

Terry has gone back to work. Last Monday was very hard for all of us, but God got us through. We still have yet to get back to our full routines but hopefully the days ahead will get smoother. The Lord has directed my heart to several scriptures that have brought peace and comfort, and Terry has brought encouragement to my heart too. Thank you for listening, I've never had this sorrow before and in the grieving process it helps to express my emotions and thoughts. I want to have a heart that continues to express to the Lord praise, rejoicing and confidence that He does all things well! With heartfelt thanks to each of you!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Gift for You

Our dear friends the Burnetts have a son, John Clay, that has his own Reel Cast Productions. He has made video of hospital footage, the funeral and graveside and made a slide show. The hospital footage is a precious video of Joel that we showed at the funeral as well as the slide show. Our oldest twins Caleb and Daniel arranged the music for these two specials.

John Clay wants to make a DVD with the above selections on it along with a documentary of Joel, 'the sanctity of life'. He has interviews to do yet and our boys will have more music to arrange and compose for the documentary too, so it could be 4-6 weeks before it is complete. it will be enclosed in a case with a sweet cover picture of Joel. John Clay does professional work and he has blessed our family with his talents, his time and creativity that will be forever a keepsake for our family. As a Thank You to you, if you are interested in one of these DVD's, please e-mail us with subject DVD so we can file these separately and please include your mailing address.

You all are a blessing to us and we are grateful to you!

The Morris family