Thursday, January 31, 2013

Celebrating LIFE!


  • (from journal entry on my nephew's Caring Bridge site) http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/thomasmcgirr/journal

    Happy 11th Birthday!


    During the first week of February, 2012, our family celebrated BIG birthdays! Thomas turned 10 years old (January 31) and was cancer free! We decided on snow tubing in our beloved North Carolina Mountains. (other birthdays: Jennifer, 30; Allison, 21; Grandy, 80!) One requirement ~ everyone had to wear a crazy winter hat! This weekend overflowed with sustained laughter and pure joy as we all celebrated God-given life!
    We took some time on Saturday night at dinner to remember these lives, these many blessings from God. Even though Thomas actually suffered with some nausea and a headache which we believe mostly was related to the significant altitude changes, he joined in the festive mood of birthday hats, noise makers, and treasured stories. Our hearts were FULL! The day we went snow tubing Thomas was beyond thrilled. We all had a blast, run after run! The funny hats fit the mood, and certainly, our group of 10 made a statement.
    In the months that followed in 2012, Thomas became somewhat of an ambassador for God's healing touch! He went to Duke Children's Hospital, giving "Sasha" teddy bears to children struggling with brain cancer. Representing Hoke County's Relay For Life in NC, Thomas was the Grand Marshall, leading the parade of SURVIVORS; his friend, William, who shaved his head when Thomas lost his hair, walked beside him! In April, Duke's fundraiser for Brain Cancer, Angels Among Us, found Thomas and his team, The E-lemonade-Tors, participating in the 5K. That morning,Thomas, his dad, his school principal and a few teachers ran the 5K. Then, Thomas walked the Family Fun Walk that afternoon with the rest of us! That summer, the Lemonade Stand was back in business! The waves called too, and we spent great times at the beach ~ jumping waves ~ jumping with joy!
    On November 31, 2012, there was a huge party ~ One Year Cancer Clear! Nearly 100 people came to share in the celebration of God's healing of Thomas. Food and friendship, gifts and gratitude, prayers of thanksgiving and tears of joy overflowed into this home, just as as they had done when Thomas was diagnosed with brain cancer. That night stories of survival and healing were shared by the very people who prayed and wept and loved and so generously offered tokens of hope during an uncertain time.
    Today, January 31, 2013, is Thomas' 11th birthday. As is birthday tradition ( and he would have it no other way), tonight he will celebrate at Mi Casita for dinner and wear the Birthday Sombrero! While I won't be there, I can see him now wearing the huge sombrero, his sweet smiling face, content with simple tradition. When life gives us uncertainty and unexpected challenges, it is good to treasure the simplicity of what is sure. When Life Give You Lemons, Make Lemonade!
    Today, we celebrate Thomas, a beautiful soul that constantly touches other lives with gentle joy. At Angles Among Us, the participants were asked to choose 3 words that represented their journey with brain cancer. Thomas thought for a long time but decided on: Don't Look Back! There is no denying the times of pain and disappointment. And for me, reflecting back over difficult times can give great insight into life, can reveal God's ever-presence in life. However, make no mistake, Thomas has not forgotten his journey. He remains full of gratitude and continually acknowledges that his faith in God is how he stayed strong through it all. He has shared that with other brain cancer patients and next week he will be interviewed at Duke for their annual Radio-thon fund raiser for Duke's Children Miracle Network. Again, Thomas will have the opportunity to tell his God-story.
    In times of deep contemplation, Thomas struggles with why he was healed and many others were not. What purpose does life hold? What does God want me to do? No one can understand the mind of God or fully understand the whys of life. Linda told Thomas, "We don't know the answer to why God chose to heal you and not another. He does have a purpose for you, and in time you will come to know what that is. For now, you just have to live for Christ the best you can!"
    So, many MRI's later (the last 1/9/13) and with many more to go, we continue to cry out to God ~ sometimes with wordless joy, sometimes with soul-full praises, but always with simple faith. Now glory be to God who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of - infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.(Ephesians 3:20 TLB)

    To God Be the Glory! ~dho

    CLICK the link below for a video of Thomas, his journey with brain cancer and his joy in healing!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vcW9qCKLBRc