Our Hearts Cry Out...

Karen and I

We have such heavy hearts tonight, one of our dearest friends is walking back down a road we all hoped and prayed she had been released from.  Last July I asked you to pray for sweet Karen and tonight I am asking you to pray again, with great urgency.   It's hard to even find words tonight because our hearts are just breaking for the Head family and I can't even think of them without tears falling on my keyboard again.  On a day that was supposed to hold great joy, instead there is much aching and crying out for the healing hand of the Lord.  Cancer has once again reared its ugly head in our friend Karen and thus begins a new leg of her journey...

Three summers ago, in 2007, Karen was diagnosed with colon cancer.  After an immediate surgery, several rounds of chemo and other treatments, the doctors were certain they had it under control.  Through that first leg of her journey, Karen was such a faithful testimony to the Lord's goodness, His praise ever on her lips.  We were grateful and quick to rejoice with her.  But as anyone who has dealt with cancer knows, it doesn't not always go away quietly.   Just last summer, some more symptoms returned and to our disappointment, it came back once again.  More treatment, more surgeries and new complications cropped up as a result, but again the prognosis was favorable and in each honest entry of her caring bridge journal, her trust and her faith was placed squarely on her Lord and she was a pillar of faithfulness in the midst of much uncertainty and pain.  Over the course of this last year, we have rejoiced as her strength slowly returned and life settled back into its "new normal."  We even had the pleasure of seeing our sweet Karen, along with Forrest and their 3 boys in March, while we were back in Naples.  We stayed with them for 2 nights and got to love on her, all the while praying for many more years of reuniting.  She sweetly loved on our Ava, taking her for us so we could all visit our old Church and was kind enough to share her big bed with me for a much needed afternoon nap :) I was newly pregnant with Carter and exhausted...Now that's a good friend!  

2 nights ago, we caught a twitter update that she had been admitted to the ER late in the night, after passing blood.  Tests were performed yesterday and today, and we all waited while we held our breath for good news, for an easy fix.  Tonight the first update from Forrest came and as I read the first line, I felt those hot tears welling up again, stinging with every word I read.  Her cancer is back, and in Forrest's words, "back with a vengeance."  A tumor has invaded her duodenum and has been the source of the bleeding for the last two days.  They were able to cauterize the bleeding for now, but the next 3 days are incredibly critical for Karen.  They need that area to hold and heal.  If the bleeding recurs, they aren't confident in their ability to stop it again.  Her tumor is in a place that is inoperable and their options are limited.  Surgery is not an option and neither is radiation.  Thankfully, chemo is still a viable option and one they have chosen to pursue.  I know I don't have to tell you how critical our prayers are, how desperate they are for every cry to our Great Physician on her behalf.  

I know I've shared our connection to them before, but for those of you who are new to my blog, let me just tell you that they are as dear to us as family.  When Travis was a single teacher in Naples, he lived with the Heads and when I came into the picture, they took me right in and whispered in my ear how grateful they were that I was "the one" for Travis :) It took no time at all for me to love them and each of their sweet boys.  Daniel, Ben and Jonathan were still pretty little when we lived in Florida but today they are almost grown and we are watching them become the young men God created them to be.  I don't even have words for how precious they are to us.  Forrest married us and we did our pre-marriage counseling with them.  In many ways, they have been mentors to us as they have been in ministry together for many years.  Karen's ear has been one that I've gone to for many things; for advice, for wisdom, and for encouragement.  I love so many things about her and admire so many more, but one of the greatest impacts she has had on me, is her ferocious love for Forrest.  They taught us by example about the need to keep our marriage strong and vibrant, especially in the face of many ministry demands.  Without a doubt, they are a couple we look to and hope to emulate over the coming years.  Travis is forever indebted to them for the picture he saw of a faithful and Godly couple, raising three little boys and serving the Lord full time, and doing it well.  

Travis, Daniel, Forrest and Ben
Jonathan and I

Today they were all scheduled to leave on a cruise with Karen's extended family.  On a day they should have been wearing swimsuits and flip flops, they are instead in a hospital room, once again crying out to the Lord for mercy and healing.  Our hearts hurt for them and especially for their boys.  This is a journey that will shape the men they become and we are praying with them for protection through the fire, for all that the Lord is allowing to take it's course, preserving their faith and not shattering it.  Because Forrest is a Pastor at our former church and very, very dearly loved, there are many precious saints praying for them, but as we know, being in the public eye in the middle of a trial is not always easy.  We are asking the Lord to protect them from the often well-intentioned people who have a way of causing further pain with careless comments.  We are especially asking the Lord to protect the boys from this.  They are certainly in enough pain, walking a road they never asked to be on and they don't need the added sting of loose lips.  

If you would see fit to join us in praying fervently for Karen tonight, specifically for the bleeding to stop and heal, we would beg you to on their behalf.  You can follow her journey on her caring bridge site and receive the updates there.  We are clinging to our Savior and His sovereignty, even in the midst of great disappointment and pain.  He is still the same God tonight that He was this morning.  He hurts for Karen, right along with the rest of us and yet, He loves her more than any of us could.  He knows what's best for her and He does have a plan for all of this.  We trust Him and yet, we cry out for healing, believing He could do it with a touch or a word, all the while knowing that the decision is His alone.  Thank you for praying with us...

I know 5 precious people tonight who would appreciate every cry on Karen's behalf.  

"Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands...He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  His heart is secure, he will have no fear."
Psalm 112:1, 7-8

"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.  Whom have I in Heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:23-26

"The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, O Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you."
Psalm 9:9-10


petrii said...

Just said a prayer for her and going to her Caring Bridge Site now.

Love you friend,

Rebecca Jo said...

... I hate cancer...

Lifting up your friend & her family for healing & strength... for everyone...

Going to bookmark the Caring Bridge page now so I can be reminded to pray for this sweet face.

Amanda Hoyt said...

We are praying, Steph & Trav.

Heather said...

I am praying!!!

Anonymous said...


Amber said...

Lifting up Karen and her family. I know how much they mean to you guys. I can't imagine walking this road, other than to do so with Jesus by your side, and theirs. A big hug sent your way, Steph.

Jenna!! said...

Oh how my heart breaks over this! We read Psalm 46 in our staff meeting today and I was reminded of it again as I read this post. This is my prayer for the family, that they may be a testimony of hope, love, and faithfulness. Praying for you guys, also, that God would strengthen you through this trial and use it to mold you and refine you in the potter's hand.
"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble"
"Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. The Lord of Heaven's Armies is HERE among us; the God of Israel is our fortress"
-Psalm 46:1,10-11

Peggy & Ron said...

SO sorry this sweet family is hurting. Praying for comfort and peace as well.