Welcome to Jessica's Hope. This blog is designed to keep friends and family up to date on Jessica's journey with cancer. In all of this we have to always remember, just as Jessica is doing, that Christ is our ultimate hope. He is the sole reason that we live. To Him belong all glory and honor.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Little Jessi weighs 7 lbs 11 oz. She is progressing slowly but steadily. Doctors have given a relative frame of 6-8 weeks before she can come home. Thank you all for praying! May all who read know and love God and be changed to be more like Jesus. Abundant grace and true peace to all who are in Christ. ~Clint

Friday, June 17, 2011

Little Jessi

As mentioned on Facebook, Jessi had a tracheostomy and a feeding tube ("g-tube") put in through the wall of her stomach this past Friday morning. She is doing well but is obviously in some pain from the surgeries. She is quickly heading to 6 lbs. She has been receiving some breastmilk for a few weeks now. The doctors have observed that she is tolerating it so well that she can start receiving almost 100% breatmilk with some "fortification." Thanks is due to God who has blessed us in so many ways. Thank you also to those who are continually going to Him on our behalf. There is no timeframe as of yet on when Jessi may be coming home.

Friday, April 22, 2011

God's Grace

I apologize for not updating this blog more often. When there is little to no change (except in weight) in Little Jessi's condition, then there is not much left to say. Postings on Facebook may be more frequent, but they can't truthfully say much more on the Baby's condition than is said here. Jessi is still on the ventillator and continues to fight various infections. Thank you for your steady and consistent prayers.
A pro-life organization requested an interview recently, and a women's clinic asked if I would be willing to do as-needed counseling to help women face the decision of saving her own life while taking her unborn baby's. These opportunities feel, for lack of a better term, "weird." Here would be some male telling a very afraid female that she's supposed to just buck up and face the facts that even if she dies, her child will get the chance to live and she should be happy with that. (No, I would not phrase it like that!) But I'm just the husband of a Woman who made the difficult choice to do right. And I'm afraid some type of deification occurs when people make decisions to do right. A lot of missionary "biographies" tend to exalt the person rather than the God s/he represents. Jessica's case has been similar. I want to do justice to the realities of fear and the reality of an incredibly loving God who gives grace beyond measure to the hurting and fearful.
Jessica and I grew up in religious circles that forced conformity through the fear of man. When we got married we struggled to throw off this yoke and "be real" with people, especially at church. Jessica was one of the most honest people I have ever known. She would want me to reveal our humanness and the difficulties of the decisions she and I made. She would want me to help others by being real and saying the hard things that the "more spiritual" would cringe to hear. To be clear, Jessica was at first very afraid. She did not wear some spiritual "No Fear" t-shirt on her heart. She spent the first three days in the hospital making certain she understood the Gospel of Jesus clearly. Then she began to struggle with the treatment options. Jessica was stronger than I; I was about to lose the one person in this world that I loved more than myself, and I was hitting the panic point. In the end, she overcame her fear better than I. So many well-meaning people, churches, organizations, pastors, etc. view everything in life as black and white. But this attitude completely leaves out the god-given element of human emotions. Whether or not to abort the baby was the "easy" choice -- no, absolutely not. But whether or not to accept treatments that might harm the baby was much more difficult; the colors melded into gray hues.
We wrestled with these issues. With no one else around, she would write notes to me reflecting her fight with herself. I watched God grow my Wife's spiritual maturity right in front of my eyes. One day Jessica's brother downloaded a song by Philips, Craig, and Dean entitled "Your Grace Still Amazes Me." This song helped settled all issues for her. She decided she would accept God's grace to face whatever came her way even if it meant death and never being able to raise her child -- which is exactly what happened.
Cancer may have taken Jessica's body, but God's grace took Jessica's mind captive and enabled her to do what she could not have done on her own. Jessica would want any mother-to-be or even husband, fiance, boyfriend or parents to know that it's normal to struggle with fear, or like Job, to struggle with feelings of aloneness or betrayal. But in the end, God gives abundant grace. And in the final end, for those who have Jesus as their Lord, death is a mercy in leaving this world and a grace in entering His visible presence. May God's grace and peace rest on you all. -Clint-

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Note about Questioning God

Thank you for praying for Lil' Jessi. She continues to struggle with breathing problems and blood clots. Please pray for her health in both areas. Please pray for our continual testimony to the nurses, doctors, hospital staff, and other patients. Please pray for and support those around you who are going through difficult times. Be a body: reach out with the arms of Christ!

A Note about Questioning God:
I get frustrated hearing various speakers talk about suffering -- especially when they have experienced nothing and see everything as black and white. I know these people have their place. After all, the ones caught in the middle of suffering have emotional ups-and-downs to contend with, while the teachers of the Word filter everything through logic, exegesis, and (hopefully) faith. But one perspective in particular needs addressing. In Fundamental circles, I often hear comments like, "You shouldn't question God." or "Questioning God is a sin."
Then I read the book of Job and saw all the questions Job had for God. I read about his demands in chapter 23 for God to give him his day in court so that he would be found innocent and come forth as gold. [Note: this chapter is often misconstrued as the trial refining Job to make him come out on the other side as gold, aka: a better person. But that is a misreading. Job is saying that if God put him on trial for sinning, then God would find that Job was indeed righteous aka: "gold".] Then I read that "in all this Job neither charged God with wrong nor sinned with his lips."
So what does that say about questioning God? That to do so is a sin? How about a different approach. What if questioning God were a sign of intimacy -- how close Job was to his God? If a faithful husband suddenly cheats on his equally faithful wife of 25 years, then do you think she would "have questions" for him? Of course she would. "Was I not good enough for you?!" "What did I do to make you hate me?!" Job was feeling like a jilted lover. He felt betrayed. God seemed so far away for no reason. Job wanted to hear from God to know what he had done to deserve all the pain; instead, Job got three "miserable comforters."
Brothers and Sisters, I do not advocate unbridled, emotionally-packed demands of the Almighty. But let's be real at least for a moment. Job questioned God, but he did not sin. He questioned God because he knew God. He questioned God because he was close to Him. He questioned God because everything he knew about God told him that "God is love." Job was so close to God that he had to ask "Why?".
Those who are hurting, be comforted. God knows that we are dust. God gave us emotions, and He knows that life is full of pain. He hears our questions; He collects our tears; He felt our pain as He became sin for us on the cross. He does not turn up his nose to our questions. True, He may not answer our questions directly, but He does not despise us for them. In the end, my Friends, all we can do is put our hands over our mouths and worship and trust Him with our lives. God is good all the time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

For those who would like to give ...

A fund has been set up exclusively for the medical bills and extra care Little Jessi needs and is going to need. If anyone wishes to give, the fund account is through Wachovia/WellsFargo.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Jessica

I believe it would be appropriate to continue Jessica's Hope in order to update about Little Jessica. She is the extension and the result of my late Wife's hope. On February 6, 2011 "Little Jessi" was born via C-section after Jessica became brain dead. She weighed 1 lbs 3 oz. She has remained in fairly stable condition for the past twelve days. She has had some breathing trouble, but that is typical of very premature babies. This past Monday, I was privileged to hold her outside the incubater for about half an hour. It was amazing. Please pray that our gracious God continues to honor my Wife's sacrifice by watching closely over our child and guarding her health. No matter what happens, may He continue to be thanked because his steadfast love never ends. Every day I read part of a psalm for Lil' Jessi in prayer:
"For You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD from my youth. Upon You I have leaned from before my birth; You are He who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of You." Psalm 71:5-6.

There are many suffering people with spouses who have died and babies who are premature. My family is not alone, nor have we suffered anything unusual -- though that fact does not dull the pain. So please take Jessica's and Jessi's story and go pray with, encourage, support financially, or find some way to show these hurting people the love of Jesus. My family is only one out of thousands that are struggling. Do not feel sorry for people; that is a natural human response, but it does little good. Rather, have compassion on others; compassion is what moved Jesus to action. Non-christians can feel sorry for anyone, but it takes the Spirit of God to work with compassion. Compassion is a God-given ability to sacrifice yourself or something of personal value in order to show God's love to a person in need; it is choosing to love by action. When Jesus saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion because they were scattered like sheep without a shepherd. But instead of getting much needed rest, eating something himself or going off to pray, Jesus chose to meet the crowd's needs. Similarly, Jesus did not want to die for us, but compassion drove Him to the cross. He even asked His Father to let the cup (of suffering through becoming sin, the physical pain, etc.) pass from Him. But He still submitted to God's will. In the same way, Brothers and Sisters, submit to the Spirit's push to compassion within you, forget yourself and help others. Pray for compassion. May all who read this bear much fruit.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hope does not put to shame

A note from Jessica's Husband, Clint:

I would like to take this time to explain exactly what happened when Jessica died. There has been much confusion. Some people think God cruel for taking her the way He did. Others have told me that they are angry at God for me. How can that be? I want to honor God and my Wife by telling you of her choices. Jessica always struggled with making decisions but once she made a choice, she never turned back. It was the same in this case.
In August of 2010, Jessica began to suspect she was pregnant; she also noticed she had a sore throat. She went to the doctor because the pain did not go away. Because specialist referrals take so long, she was unable to get a diagnosis for the next two months. Sometimes it takes two to three weeks just to see an ENT or get lab results back. Around mid November Jessica began having trouble breathing and swallowing. We went to the ER on November 21st. All the doctors said she had goiter (which does not grow inward), so they thought Jessica was just imagining not being able to breathe. On the 22nd, Jessica's trachea closed and they had to force a breathing and feeding tube down. They did a CAT scan that same day and found an unusual cancer wrapped around her throat area.
The OB-GYN's came to see Jessica first and counseled her to have an abortion. Jessica refused immediately. Then the OB-GYNs, Oncologist, and Radiologist all encouraged her to receive treatments, but these treatments would either kill the baby or "not give [the baby] much of a life." I could see the fear in my Wife's eyes as she made the hardest decision of her life. Once again, she rejected the treatments in order to protect her baby. The doctors were at a loss. They told her she had until Thanksgiving to live and she would never make it to the point where the baby would be viable for life outside the womb. Still, Jessica refused the treatments out of concern they would harm the child.
Jessica's parents and I immediately argued with the hospital about food. They wanted to give her a corn-based solution composed of 30-40% corn syrup. As any nutritionist and doctor should know, sugar feeds cancer. After much debate, we began Jessica on a diet of raw, organic vegetable juices, teas, and various supplements. The cancer growth stagnated almost immediately. For about two months, the cancer stayed about the same size. Jessica faced numerous trials and hospital infections during this time. In late January, the doctors tested a leaking bulge on Jessica's neck. The bulge tested positive for strep, but Jessica showed no symptoms of being sick or having an actual infection elsewhere. The strep seemed isolated in the bulge. The doctors began giving her antibiotics to get rid of the strep. Two days later, the cancer mushroomed. For the next week it grew inexplicably fast. On the night of February 5th, Jessica fell asleep with a terrible headache and nausea. She did not wake up. The hospital declared her "brain deaf." I gave them the go ahead to deliver the baby. Jessica had made it to the viability point.
On Monday the 8th, we ran an apnea test to determine whether Jessica was brain dead or not. She was, and we removed her off the ventilator. Jessica did not die in vain. She made choices that she knew were what God wanted. She rejected potentially harmful treatments and literally gave her life for her baby to live. Beyond all hope, she brought the baby to a point that everyone said she would never reach. "Little Jessi" is now a living part of Jessica. Jessica's hope is realized in her and Little Jessi's hope rests in God alone.
God is to be praised, my Friends. He honored Jessica's obedience. What a beautiful picture of what Jesus did for us. Sin is an incurable disease with only one remedy: the judgment of God. Jesus took that judgment for us on the Cross. He gave His life and became sin for us even though He had never sinned and should never have died. We have been given eternal life through what Jesus has done for us. Do not doubt God; do not be angry with Him for me. I am privileged to have had a Wife who was so full of the love of the Father. Rejoice with me, Brothers and Sisters. God has blessed Jessica in taking her to place of perfect peace and no pain. I must be thankful for the time that I had with her rather than ungrateful for all the things we never got to do together. We must give thanks in all things for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ. Grace and Peace to all. Jessica's Husband, Clint.