Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Difficult Journey

    These last few days have been so rough for our little Hazelnut and we have had to rely on God's strength more than ever. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians  4:13)  Although the fever is gone and her nausea seems to be doing better, mucositis (mouth sores) have definitely set in.  Eating, drinking, and swallowing is all pretty painful for her; and we are quite sure that they have spread down her throat into her digestive system (something mucositis does often) because she is complaining of a lot of pain in her tummy.  She has been whimpering throughout the nights, so yesterday we decided to begin her on a low dose of morphine, hoping she (and me too) can get some uninterrupted sleep.  The morphine definitely helps her to feel less pain, but she is still very uncomfortable.  Her platelets dropped and she received a transfusion and her white count is still so low that there is no discharge day in sight.  But when they start to come up, they jump quickly, so I pray that this happens soon!
     Aaron spent the weekend here at the hospital while I went home for a couple of days to see the other children.  This reprieve was absolutely necessary for me and I cherished every moment, while Aaron cherished the moments, although extremely challenging, of being able to comfort Hazel (something he doesn't get to do as much considering he still has to work full time for our family).  However, being home made me aware of, once again, how much this journey has torn our family dynamic apart.  Hazel has spent 66 of the last 142 days here at the hospital. 65 days!!  Aaron has said how much he wishes he could be here to support Hazel and it's been so hard on him to not be able to do so. I am extremely thankful for each day we get at home, and never would have thought I would long for the commotion of four young children together. The dynamic of those days have also changed, however and are spent ensuring Hazel stays as germ free as possible and trying to catch up on all of the daily things we normally deal with as a family of six that have been neglected. And I grieve for the month of October knowing that for a potential 4-6 weeks straight our family will not be in tact.
     I apologize if this post is not as optimistic or hopeful as most of my others, but I think it's indicative of how Aaron and I have been feeling this week. We have had easier days and have felt strengthened, but right now, we are tired from this journey and have reached a point where it feels so difficult to keep putting one foot in front of the other. For this reason it is so heartening to know that I don't have to rely on my own strength.  The Lord my God, Creator of the universe, & King of Kings is on my side, and any strength you see from me has come from Him.  If you will allow me, I want to share something deeply personal with you.  Throughout my life, I have struggled with a hereditary form of depression, and it wasn't until God moved in my life that I finally felt free from it.  However, it still continues to be something that is a part of me and I have to ask God to help me make conscious choices to not allow it to invade my life, and He has been so faithful.  I have had many wonderful years that have only been peppered with this beast.  Because of this knowledge I have about myself, I was very worried when Hazel was diagnosed.   I was worried that depression would rear its ugly head, paralyzing me through this journey.  But this has not happened!  When my mind is predisposed to respond in a certain way, a way that would have me not even wanting to get out of bed in the morning; God has supernaturally kept this struggle away from me! Even on weeks like these, where many tears have been shed, He continues to carry me through each day.  I love what it says in Psalm 27:13-14 "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes wait for the Lord". And this next verse speaks directly to my heart and describes what I feel from God with such precision:  Isaiah 40:28-31 "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to Him who lacks might, He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary".
     Please pray for Hazel as she struggles through these days of pain and please pray for the emotional well being of our entire family!


  1. Praying for your family, (((hugs)))

  2. I can not even imagine how tired all of you are right now. I can only wish and pray that sooner than later everything will become easier for you, specially for little Hazel. Keep going.

  3. I see Jesus pouring out of you Lauren and it is beautiful even in the midst of some of the darkest days! I miss you and sweet Hazel! I so remember weeks like this and you literally have to take it hour by hour and one foot in front of the other and trust that Jesus will catch you if you begin to stumble. I love you!!

  4. Your entire family is in my prayers! God is so good to take care of the big things and the little things.

  5. cristina (hope's mom)September 8, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    my heart feels heavy for you...this world can be so tough and things can feel and look so bleak. u r doing so well..being so brave. u r an inspiration to us moms. 'Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in

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  7. Aw how my heart aches for you and your family. As a mom of 3, I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult this must be on all of you. I am amazed daily by your strength and perserverance. I am reminded of one of my favorite songs "Sheltered in the arms of God" I am praying tonight that you are are all sheltered in his arms, that God would pour out his healing power on your precious Hazel and that her body would be touched! Praying for you all!

  8. This impacts all of you deeply! Prayers for all of you!

  9. Aw how my heart aches for you and your family. As a mom of 3, I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult this must be on all of you. I am amazed daily by your strength and perserverance. I am reminded of one of my favorite songs "Sheltered in the arms of God" I am praying tonight that you are are all sheltered in his arms, that God would pour out his healing power on your precious Hazel and that her body would be touched! Praying for you all!

  10. No need to apologize. You are traveling a steep, difficult road. You are certain to sometimes feel less than positive. I understand, because I have been on that road. You are strong, stronger than you ever thought you could be. You have probably learned to cherish every moment with your family, especially Hazel. When she is in pain, you wish you could take it from her. You live with hope, which is part of your strength. I'm so glad you have support, not the least of which is your faith. Many prayer and positive thoughts to you and yours, and extra-strong prayers for Hazel's complete recovery and remission. She is a light in the world.

    1. Every thing "Anonymous" said is so true. I couldn't have said it better. Know that the world is praying for Hazel and because of Hazel and your strength you are passing the word of God in a positive way. God is holding your daughter in his hands giving your family a rough journey. You are handling this journey very well. Stay strong, shed your tears as this will help and know were all fighting this right alone with you in our prayers. God Bless you all.

  11. Prayers for Hazel and family come for the other part of the Atlantic Ocean... Pain is universal but higher than that, there is friendship. And nothing is stronger.
    With all my heart and faith

  12. When your child is suffering and all you want to do is take the pain away it can exhaust you to your limits. Your purpose as a mother is challenged and thus the inner struggle ensues, especially when you are tired, all sorts of things can get re stimulated. Rest is crucial. A good nights sleep always helps. Feeling depressed has so many causes, lack of sleep being one, loss of purpose or feelings of helplessness are another. The decision to focus your thoughts on God and what is good and communicating and sharing will help you get through the hardest of times. So many are lifting you and your family up right now, the flow of prayers the abundance of positive energy flowing in your direction is amazing. So much love, Lauren.

  13. Love you Lauren and praying for your family. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  15. The Merricks are still praying for you all! Following your journey has been incredibly educational and inspirational. It's so easy to think "Oh, Hazel had successful surgery... and she lived happily ever after!" which is obviously far from reality. The transparency with which you have shared this journey has exposed this cancer to thousands upon thousands of people. Those same people are also being exposed to your Godly approach to responding to the daily challenges. Thank you for continuing to share.

    P.S. Our daughter Abbey and her friend made a bracelet for Hazel over the weekend, it's on its way to the P.O. Box! =)

  16. I pray every morning for your precious Hazel and her complete healing, and I pray for the wisdom of her doctors. Just as important, I pray for the strength of your entire family. Yes, your family is forever changed, but in many ways, it is a journey of love and sacrifice that will be a positive aspect of your family's lives that will be with all of your lives, and that is a blessing.

    Cancer is a roller coaster, and God is always with you in all of the peaks and valleys. Throw your hands in the air, because you are protected by perfect love.

    Sending Hazel all my love and strength today! It's going to be a good day!

  17. I weep with you and know our God weeps with you.
    A verses that carries me in the darkest of nights.
    "But I prayed for you, that your faith should not fail."
    Jesus is interceding for you and your family.
    Grace to you

  18. Praying hard for all of you, this has got to be one of the hardest things to deal with, and I am so sorry. I can't imagine how difficult this journey has been/ will be, and the separation must feel unbearable sometimes, but I have no doubt that your family will be stronger and more deeply connected after Hazel completes her treatment.

  19. Lauren and Aaron~we are continuing to keep Hazel and your family in our prayers. This is a long and difficult journey but we are amazed at the strength and joy God has given you. He is holding all of you, even now as the steps are more difficult and persistent.
    Remember that when you are weak, He is strong. He will carry you through. Sometimes the last leg of an arduous journey can be the most difficult. No one expects you to be positive all of the time. It would be unrealistic. Don't put those expectations on yourselves. They will wear you down. Just be your transparent selves.
    You have been given some wise advice here~to make sure you get rest and sleep. They are critical at this stage. For you, Lauren, spending time with your whole family is also important and will refresh you.
    God is blessing you and many are sending their love and holding you in their prayers.
    The Van Keurens

  20. Dear Lauren,
    Thank you for sharing your struggles. This allows all of us to know what to pray for to support you specifically! So, I'm praying for some much needed sleep and rest for you, loving, healthy time spent with your other children, and continued freedom from depression..bless you for relying on the Lord's strength rather than your own. Always, we pray for healing for Hazel.
    Love, Denise Piehn

  21. I hope this will encourage you Lauren: Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    God Bless you,
    Kathy Dudley

  22. Dear Lauren:
    I appreciate your sharing your struggles with depression, and I'll be praying for you about that. I also struggle a great deal with depression, and have also memorized certain scriptures to help with that. (Ps. 27:13-14 is also helpful in the NKJV). One that I've recently memorized is Lam. 3:21-26:

    21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:
    22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
    23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
    24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”
    25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.
    26 It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

    Praying for you, your family, and your little Hazelnut!

    Donna L

  23. Thanks for sharing your testimony. Jesus just pours out of you. It's wonderful to know how much God loves you by all he is doing in and through your life and it encourages me and others at the same time. Continue to lean on him for your strength and peace of mind. I will be praying for you and your family.

  24. Hello to you and your beautiful family. I have just come across this blog and just wanted to send you all my positive energy to you and your baby girl. We feel very touched by your story and we are with you in this fight. We wish the Universe to make her all better very soon.

  25. Praying so hard!
    Débora Smedley

  26. Dios bendiga a Hazel, a ti y tu familia, sé lo difícil y duro que es vivir con este flagelo encarnado en casa... Hazel lo va a lograr, tú no decaigas y sigue teniendo fe. Bendiciones.

  27. Love you guys. You are in my thoughts and prayers xoxo

  28. Don't apologize for not sounding optimistic while your daughter, your baby girl, struggles through her cancer treatment. I have a child Hazel's age who has the kind of spirit you portray in Hazel, and I think of you and Hazel every day. I ache for her and find myself crying sometimes, thinking of what you are going through. In October, I will be walking at my school's "Relay for Life" event in honor of Hazel. I am so grateful that she is getting such wonderful care at CHLA. I truly hope that this time of trial will pass quickly and that Hazel will soon be recovered. I don't share your religion, but I have faith in Hazel. Light to you all.

  29. Dear One,

    Our heart is with you and your family, as is so many others. God will bring you through this leg of the journey too...He never brings more than we can handle, and you are amazingly strong in Christ. I'm astounded at how well you and your family are managing!

    We will continue to pray for your family for strength, endurance, and a complete restoration and recovery in health.

    I wish I were there to give you a hug and offer my help in some way. If I were a millionaire, I'd pay your husband's salary so he could be with you. But, God will provide and He will stand by you all. Sometimes in the darkest hour comes the brightest light. His light that shines through everything.

    With Love & blessings,

    Camille & Family~

  30. I came across your blog after seeing someone post about it on Facebook and I am just so touched. As the mom of a daughter the same age as sweet Hazel my heart is just breaking for all that you and your family are going through but so incredibly encouraged by your faith in our amazing God who will never leave us or forsake us. I am lifting you all up in prayer and will continue to follow your journey, thank you for your transparency in sharing these struggles with us all.

  31. Your story moves me immensely! Can't imagine how difficult this time may be. A relative of mine is undergoing the same. I, too, have suffered from depression since childhood and know how debilitating it is! Please draw your strength from the Lord and all others out there praying for you to give you the strength! Please know you are not alone.