And He said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

From Connor's Mommy

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

joy journal This week has proven to be challenging for the Cruse family. Friday is Connor's birthday. More than usual, thoughts of Connor run through my mind. I can't seem to shake an overall sadness. It seems to cling to me and I can't release it. I want to celebrate the gift that Connor was and is to our family, but with the celebration comes a sense of loss. It's a reminder that I cannot hold him this year for his birthday. No happy dance and no bright smile for me to see. We cannot celebrate his physical life on earth this year, but we try to focus on the gift of his Eternal Life with Christ.

As I think of Connor's birthday, I can't help but think of the other children who will be celebrating birthdays this fall. Many of his closest friends had birthdays in the fall season and I know that their minds fall to Connor, too, as they enjoy their own birthdays. Many of them have denied themselves birthday presents so that their friends would donate money to TeamConnor or donate toys for Children's Medical Center, instead. Or, they have invited our whole family to their birthday party, so we will still be a part of their celebration. It's the closest thing to having him there at their party. It may be bittersweet for them this year.

I guess for this journal entry, I have a prayer request. Please lift up a prayer for these children who have known and loved Connor. I know many of them still struggle with their grief. They also wrestle with their faith and lack of understanding of "why" this happened. They prayed so fervently for Connor, and it is such a hard lesson for all of us when God doesn't answer our prayers the way we expect Him to.

Here's a poem that Connor's friend, Mollie Claire, wrote for him and she read it to him at the burial. She mentions the many birthday parties that they shared over the years, as she was born one day after him.

"My sweet friend had lots of glory.
Listen now while I tell you his story.

Connor was born three weeks early as healthy as can be...
The very next day, three weeks early I came, his oldest friend, that's me.

As babies we pushed each other in cars, played in the sand, even a bath or two.
We sat up, we crawled and learned to walk...each stage together we grew.

Our first birthday, our high chairs were full of cake and messes...
As toddlers, our sisters put us in matching dresses.

Our birthday parties together were always a huge affair.
We had pony rides, bowling, bounce houses and boot camp, we just had to share.

Rides at Disney World, skiing in Whistler, and climbing Diamond Head with no stop.
Stuffing sand in his shorts, riding paddle boats and calling my dad a "muffin top".

We accepted Christ just weeks apart and took the New Christians class together.
With Sayers in our trio, we followed in baptism one after another.

Jesus was first in Connor's life. He slept to his favorite praise songs.
Although his body was weak, he continued to fight and always stayed strong.

My last date with Connor was breakfast at IHOP.
We were planning our 9th birthday... a drive in movie and sock hop.

Connor taught me to keep on going, without complaining. There is always so much to say.
As I last whispered in his ear..."I love you Connor and it will always be our birthday!!!"

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEET CONNOR! HOPE YOU'RE HAVING A GREAT BIG BIRTHDAY PARTY WITH JESUS! I BET THE BIRTHDAY CAKE IS GREAT UP THERE!

Always believing,
Joy

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why?

I'll start this post by asking you to please say a prayer. First, Praise the Lord that He is so good. Then, our next prayer is for miraculous healing! We believe it can happen and we're ready.

This week was wonderful. I only had three seizures in eight days!!! I wish I could explain the energy that comes from not having seizures (not to mention the overall relief). I believe I've mentioned it before, but they found through EKG that each seizure puts the strain on my heart equivalent to that of running a marathon (now if only I had a marathon runner's body)!

Then, today happened...it is 11pm and I've already had six seizures today. I just don't get it. So, again, let's be praying for the miracle!!!

I've had the Lord reveal some amazing things to me this week and I hope you'll enjoy the lessons, too.

Anytime, I have read in the Bible about epilepsy or seizures, the reference is to someone being demon possessed:
While he was still approaching, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the boy and gave him back to his father.
Luke 9:42

I have struggled with this as I know that I have the Holy Spirit in me. Therefore, there is no room for Satan or his demons. Yet, I could not figure out why in the world we have been walking this road for 3.5 years.

Through this journey, I was introduced (by e-mail) to a friend in California that had epilepsy most of her life. She was able to have surgery and is doing very well now. Praise the LORD!!! She has been a precious friend through all of this through encouraging cards, e-mails, etc. She came to Texas last week and we got to meet for the first time. Before they left, I pulled her aside and told her the one thing that bothers me most...that when epilepsy is mentioned in the Bible, the reference is to evil spirits. She agreed that she had similarly struggled. The prayer was for the Lord to reveal the purpose behind all of this.

I woke up the next morning and got in the Word! The title was Displaying God's Glory and this was the scripture:

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3, NIV).

Basically, Jesus’ disciples assumed it was the result of sin. Jesus quickly corrected their misunderstanding with the statement above from John 9:3. God’s intention to display his glory in this man was planned before the man was born.

No one had ever heard of a person who was born blind being given sight. So, when Jesus healed him, it would be clear that the miracle was something only God could do. The Pharisees questioned the miracle. The man himself was transformed. His life became a megaphone proclaiming what God can do.

God has a purpose for each one of us. Your whole life has been planned and prepared to be a series of opportunities for God’s work to be displayed.

Short comings and handicaps are all suitable circumstances for God’s power to be revealed in your life. Musical talents, academic ability, technical aptitude, creative potential when used for God are also ways God exhibits his glory through your life.

It's worth it to read the rest of John 9.

So, this was a precious encouragement to me on Wednesday morning that God does have a plan in all of this and it is for HIM to be glorified!! Thursday, I went to Bible Study and shared how precious it was this week to learn this about the Lord (and epilepsy). Then, we watch the video for this week's lesson. Would you believe that she taught on John 9 & 10? Wow! So, more reinforcement from the Lord!

It was also a great week since the seizures were at an all time low. Then, I opened up my Quiet Time for today and the title was, "My Struggles are About Him."

What about your struggles? Is there any chance, any possibility, that you have been selected to struggle for God’s glory? Have you “been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29)?

Here is a clue. Do your prayers seem to be unanswered? What you request and what you receive aren’t matching up? Don’t think God is not listening. Indeed he is. He may have higher plans.

So, it sure seems as if the Lord is trying to make a point to me over the last few days.

Will you continue to pray with us that the Lord is made known through this and that HE is glorified?!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Update from Nate's Daddy...

"Nate has had a strange few days. He has been more playful and seems to have more energy. There just have been some things that still are not right. He goes back to Children's on Tuesday and I am sure they will run tests on him as a result of some symptoms. He has a bowel movement with suppositories, but not really any other time. He throws up occasionally and complains of headaches (both signs of tumor), but then ten minutes later wants to eat and is laughing and playing. His walking is horrible, but he crawls great and is climbing on everything. This could all be swelling from the radiation that will go away, complications from all of his procedures that may or may not go away, or it could be the cancer spreading again. It is frustrating, because some things tell you he is fine and everything is running its course, but then there is always that fear wondering why did that just happen or there has to be a reason for this not happening and you can't help but to think the worst. In many ways we don't want to know any more, we have been told that what has been done for him already is all that can be done and we just want to believe that it is all up to our precious LORD what happens from here. I know that God is good and HE has a plan for how HE wants to use us all. I believe that Nate will make it through this and will grow up to do even greater things for HIS kingdom. All of that said, I still have fears and I still struggle to understand why and how through all of this. At the end of the day, he is still my little three year old boy who I love beyond words, my heart aches, please continue to pray for him, he needs it now more than ever. May God bless you all -- Wes"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prayers for Nate

Update from Nate's family:

"We are sorry we haven't sent an update sooner we have had several phone calls and realized we haven't sent an update since the latest prayer request. Nate did need a blood transfusion last week and we thought he was going to need another since his energy level did not increase. Wes took him to see the doctor on Friday and it was determined he did not need another transfusion, but is probably suffering from the side effects of brain radiation. His brain is swelling right now which is causing many issues. He is back on steroids in order to bring the swelling down. He is sleeping most of the time, and still having bowel issues. He is struggling to walk again and doesn't have enough energy to play. The doctors think this is what is to be expected for at least a few weeks. It is difficult to see Nate struggling so much again when he seemed to be feeling great for several weeks. Please continue to pray for him and all who love him and support us everyday. Wow, what we do without our family and friends? We love you all!"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

B's Annual Meeting

Well, this post is super late. We went to Milwaukee in July for B's Annual Meeting. It is quite the family event. This was my second time to go with him.

These are the puppies we met in the airport on the way out of town.

His company has an event at the Milwaukee Zoo the first night.







The pic is so small, but you can see we rode a camel!
B loves trains!
They had a little steam engine that took you on a little tour around the zoo!


Us, riding the train!
In the gift shop. He says it looks like I have kitty ears.
Yep! That's my baby. Not only is he a fox, but he's also a shark!!
Then, they had a concert! I'll tell you who was in concert soon!!
Here we are inside...getting ready for the big show!
Though he was just the opening act, he was the reason we were there....
Danny Gokey!!!!!
His family works for Northwestern Mutual.
Northwestern made a donation to the foundation he created in his wife's memory!
The next day, we went to the art museum.
Then, we saw a pirate ship!!!
Milwaukee has a free trolley service that takes you to different locations throughout town!
My baby, gettin' on the Trolley!
The sunset, from the plane, as we arrived back at DFW!!


That's it!
I figured I would spare you a bunch of "talking" on my part and let the pics do the talking!
We had a wonderful time and it's so special that he works for such an amazing company.

Monday, September 14, 2009

URGENT Prayers for Nate

Wherever you are, get on your knees and cry out to the Lord on behalf of sweet little Nate. I just received this plea from his daddy:

Something is going on with Nate. He did not have a bowel movement for a week. It took a lot of laxatives and prayers for it to finally happen. He sometimes screams about his stomach having sharp pains. He goes back in to see the doctor tomorrow. He also gets very down sometimes and just wants to sleep. These could all be effects of post-radiation or depression or just plain not feeling good, but it could be something much more serious such as the cancer spreading to other parts of his body. We are scared, because we are told it could be so many things. Please share with others to pray for his little body to be healed and for him to be happy. He does play and enjoys part of the day, and then he seems to crash and wants to just lay there. We know that God is good and can do anything, please pray that he will heal Nate. Please keep praying and do not give up, HE keeps healing Nate and Nate keeps fighting every time everyone gets together and prays, it has always worked so far. Thanks.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

From Connor's Mommy

Friday, September 11, 2009

joy journal It was 2 months ago today that Connor left this earth to reside in Heaven. A somber day for our family. I recently completed a Bible Study called "Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed." The author, Beth Moore, spoke on the topic of getting past our devastation with God. It spoke to me so completely.

"Nothing has the capacity to cause more destruction in a believer's life than an occurrence that makes us question everything we thought we knew about God. A heart can shatter in so many pieces that we don't think even God could put it back together again. Words fail, but far more consequentially, faith often fails."

We may find ourselves in a predicament where we question God's goodness and His sovereignty. I know that Tait and I had many questions after Connor's death. I know that Satan would love nothing more than to convince us that God is not good after all.

Beth Moore explores the story of John the Baptist in prison to illustrate God's sovereignty, and His ultimate Healing and plan for our lives - plan for us to spend eternity with Him.

In Luke 7:18-23, John was in prison waiting to be executed and he sent his disciples out to ask Jesus if He was truly the one that they had been waiting for. Was He the Messiah? Jesus replied to them, "Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."

As we know from John's story, not only did Jesus allow John to be imprisoned, but He also allowed him to be executed. But, this did not cause John to "fall away" from God even though He did not rescue John from his untimely death. Just like John, God didn't heal or rescue Connor they way we had hoped and prayed for, but more importantly God healed and rescued him in a much more miraculous way. He rescued him from sin and death for all eternity.

Just like the miracles Jesus was performing on the masses described that day in Luke 7, He also caused Connor's "blind" eyes to open on July 10, 2009. His eyes opened to the very FACE of GOD.

He caused Connor's "lame legs" to DANCE on the streets of gold. No more wheelchair for Connor.

He caused his "leprous" sin to be CURED for all eternity.

The "dead" was indeed RAISED and Connor heard the best news of all (without his hearing aids) "WELCOME HOME, My good and faithful servant! Enter into your Master's happiness!"

Sometimes there's just a bigger plan. The knowledge that God has a bigger and better plan for us gives me comfort and reminds me that God is still good- all the time.

Always believing,
Joy

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

This day marks quite an anniversary for our nation.

At the same time, it marks an anniversary for our family. This is the day that my husband declared that he would be a Cancer Survivor. Praise Jesus, it was/is true!

Three years ago today, the doctor told me that B had cancer and left the recovery room assuming B would take longer to come out of anesthesia. Instead, B woke up and asked me what had happened. It was at this point, that I fell more crazy in love with this man than I already was...if you'd believe it, that love just keeps on growing!!! You can read the link, to see his response when I had to tell him that he had cancer. He still amazes me.

I admire this man, that I get to stand next to every day, with all that is in me. I want to be like him when I grow up...His faith in the Lord is a daily lesson & a challenge for me. May you also be challenged by the man that he is and continues to be...

While praising the Lord today for B's continued healing, please stay in prayer for Little Nate and his healing. This is an update from his Mom:

"I thought I would send a brief update on Nate. Overall he is doing very well. He feels good enough to play with Jake and Luke everyday, go to their games, play outside and go to church most weeks. He has been more tired than usual this week. We were told this is to be expected after radiation. His balance and strength are not as good as they were a couple of weeks ago, but this can also be related to the radiation. Since I am back to work and we get out more now, I meet several people a week who have been praying for us through Nate's battle. It is so comforting to know how many people are praying. We are very blessed. Thank you for your continued prayers. We love you all!!"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sunday

I'm typing this Monday night, while getting an awesome foot rub from my hubby. So, if this reads as if I'm dosing off or super relaxed...I am!!!

Well, this was the final day of our super fun Anniversary Trip! We originally had plans to stay at the Hampton because it was one of the only places that had availability. However, the day before we left, we called to confirm that the Hampton had the fridge in our room for all of my food. They didn't and couldn't provide it without moving us to a special suite ($$$$$$). So, B checked to see if the Hilton had any openings. Turns out that they did and it was a better deal than the original one at the Hampton.

As we were falling asleep Thursday night, he remembered that our first date was going to Military Ball at the Hilton in February 2002. He says it wasn't really our first date, he was just taking a friend to Military Ball. However, when we tell the truth, we both fell for each other that night.

B loves to dance and I had just broken my toe by falling UP my stairs. Yes, up...it takes the skill of a great clutz to actually fall up the stairs. Anyway, I had a broken toe when he asked me and was in one of those really cute blue orthopedic shoes (it just doesn't match many formals). I reminded him that I had a broken toe and he could ask someone else. He said, "no, I would be honored to take you." Wow!! This guy is already pretty cool!!!

So, if he was going to sacrifice his love of dancing, I had to make a sacrifice, too. Thus, I took a whole bunch of Ibuprofen that night, wrapped my toe really well, and put my broken toe in a pair of heels!! We danced the night away and had the time of our lives! I don't remember how many days it was before I could walk again and my pinky toe is still a bit crooked.

So, here we are 7.5 yrs later, standing in front of the ballroom where we had our first date!!!

Saturday night, I came down with a migraine. Regular Tylenol has Splenda in it, which is a seizure trigger. Most other pain relievers have ingredients in them that are contraindicated with the diet. So, we just went to a compounding pharmacy last week to get some acetaminophen that I can take while on this diet. Wouldn't you know, I left it at home. So, my amazing hubby found just the right ice pack and put me to bed. When we woke up to get ready for church, I still had this terrible headache. He got me more ice, kept taking care of me, and then found some medicine I could take...not too long after, the headache was gone and we were getting ready for church. This is just a small picture of how amazing he is...it's our anniversary and he could be upset that I don't feel well or just have me go to sleep. Instead, he found ice packs and medicine and tucked me in and made the room super dark.

We went to Grace Bible for church and had a wonderful time catching up with Brian & Tristie. Brian was the college minister while Ben was there and he is now the head pastor. Tristie came and did all of the "purity" talks for us in ASC (Aggie Sisters for Christ). We had the chance to just sit and talk with Brian for a while after the service. It was such special time. First, we learned that Tristie has been encountering some pretty serious health issues that are undiagnosed. Then, we got to hear the story of their children, adoption, etc. It had me crying and B giggling at how similar our stories are...amazing!!!

As we were leaving town, we stopped by Benjamin Knox's gallery and took a fun picture on the caboose that he has on site. His gallery is a re-creation of the old College Station Depot. Thus, the caboose....

Praise the Lord, Saturday and Sunday were seizure free days. That allowed us time to just focus on each other and have a wonderful time reliving old memories! What a blessed weekend!!! I can't believe I'm married to this incredible man!! Thank you, Jesus!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Saturday in Aggieland

Saturday started with getting to sleep in...more than anyone, B needed that. He wakes up at about 4:30am each day and then stays up as late as he can with me. Friday, he had a 5:30am appt. and we went to Midnight Yell, which meant that we didn't get to bed until sometime after 1:30am. So, the man got some well needed sleep.

We had to bring all of my food since the diet is so strict. So, we prepped all of it prior to leaving and had it all stored in the fridge in the room. B asked if I minded if he got something that started with an 'S' (Shipley's donuts)! I didn't & so he went and got a box of donuts for himself and I ate my quiche. Then, we went up to the Quad (where the Corps of Cadets lives).


His outfit was having a BBQ and so we spent some time with them. While we were there, A, one of our groomsmen & one of B's ol' ladies (Corps lingo for roommate), came up there with his wife and absolutely precious little girl! We had fun catching up with them and playing with their sweet little girl! She was a doll!

Then, B got to go help D.C. get all of his brass ready (now I'm trying to act like I know what I'm talking about...). Point is, we all went to his room and B & D.C.'s Dad all helped him polish up all of the stuff that goes on his uniform and get it just right on his uniform.

This is step-off. The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band leads the way into Kyle Field prior to the game starting. Here they come....
Getting closer...
Now you can hear them play (it's short)...

video

Now, we are in Kyle Field. Nothing beats being in the "Home of the 12th Man."


Welcome to Aggieland!!!
There was a flyover prior to the start of the game with T-6s.

B got us great seats. We were on the 1st row of the Zone...just a tad right of the goal post.
This is Boot Line. All of the Seniors in the Corps line up in two rows for the football team to run through.


The drummers in the band lead the way

Look at how packed the stadium is...for the first game of the year...against University of New Mexico!

This is Miss Rev, the first lady of Texas A&M.
A closer shot, as she walked past us. Apparently, PETA or someone has gotten involved and she's only allowed to be there for certain parts of the game or for short periods of time. So, we got to see her come and go a few times.

I think I spoil my pups, but trust me, she is much more spoiled. So, all of the PETA stuff doesn't make sense. She is the highest ranking member of the Corps (five diamonds), a five-star general.

Since our seats were on the front row, not only did we get to see Rev, but we also got to talk to the band! They lined up, right in front of us. We got them to turn around and smile for a picture (other than the guy on the right-he's a freshman and they're not allowed to know how to smile) ; )!!

Forming at the North End of Kyle Field, the Nationally Famous, Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.
Here they go...
Computer software programs that are designed to create formations for bands, cannot handle the formations of the Aggie Band. They say they are impossible!!
Watch how amazing they are...look at how close they get to each other!
video


The Ags won 41-6! WHOOP!!!
One of the many traditions is that when the game is over, the Fish in the Corps go on to the field and tackle the Yell Leaders. Then, they carry them to the Fish Pond and have another Yell Practice!!! This is the Yell Leaders getting ready (the guys in white-see how their pants are rolled up and shoes are off)!
The Fish are going after them!!
Got 'em! D.C. actually got to tackle one of them!!!
Here we are at the end of the game! We had so much fun!!! Also, with a score of 41-6, it was perfect for our anniversary trip because it meant that I got a lot of kisses from my hubby. Another tradition: "when the Aggies score, we score!" So, anytime the Ags score, you kiss your date! B, nor I, kissed our dates at a game while we were students! So, it was special that the first game we went back to, once we were married, was our first "score" at an Aggie game!!!