Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I am more of a do-er than a feeler. If something goes wrong, I want to do something about it. I don't feel it is right to just wallow and be sad and self-pitying. I am not saying this is right, but this is how I've been in my life until this point. And life has a way of kicking you off your rear most days and requiring you to keep going, which I am grateful for. The fact that my kids still need to get dressed, brush their teeth, have breakfast, go potty, etc. reminds me that life still needs to be LIVED, despite the death we fear is at our door. And, thankfully neither one of them fully comprehends the implications of Joseph's sickness, so they don't have the fear and dread that we experience and they cause us to laugh and play and have unspeakable joy due to their innocence and love.
However, this experience has taught me that feelings and sadness are such a vital part of life, and letting myself feel them does not mean weakness and wimpiness. It just means I am human. As a Christian, I do believe in God's goodness, faithfulness, tenderness and love towards me, but I can still be appalled at this tragedy in my life. As a mother, I can still care for my kids, discipline them, take them to playgrounds, yet all the while marveling that I have another day to celebrate their lives. As a wife, I still quarrel with Allen over trivial things, but I am getting to know my husband in a much deeper way, seeing his compassion, wisdom and deep deep love for his family that brings me to tears.
My tendency is to push away the tears and the feelings and get on with business as usual, but I am learning that if I will let them, these feelings bring about a deeper me, one who is more fully human.
All this to say that yes, my life would be a lot easier if Joseph were perfectly healthy and continuing his life the way he would have before cancer. But I know that God doesn't give us lives of ease; his main purpose is to make us more like Him, and if that means suffering then it is worth it. And I believe with all my heart that Joseph feels more secure and loved by us and by God because of this experience. The empathy and love I see in him are truly amazing.
I turned on the radio a few days ago and this beautiful song (Held, by Natalie Grant) came on that I feel like could have been written for me. It brought to the surface so many feelings that I had to wrestle with, and I could not get the words out of my head. These are some of them:

"This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held
This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow"

If you can somehow listen to it, I would recommend it. Not only are the words beautiful, but the music is too.
Thanks for listening to my ponderings. I'm sure you are wondering how Joe P. is doing. He is well and has started taking his interim chemo. So far, we have not seen any side effects, although he is taking anti-nausea meds 3x a day. He is playing a little but is not back to full speed yet. We have been going to Moe's a LOT (where he and Holly enjoy sitting by the door and yelling "Welcome to MOE's!!! at everyone who walks in). Target has become a daily activity and Joe's biggest complaint is that we already have all the cars and trains already! He still has some pain so he is taking ibuprofen to help with that. Please continue to pray for Joseph's healing and for God to sustain all of us and give us wisdom in decision-making and parenting. We return to St. Jude Aug 19-20 (Joseph's birthday!) for some more scans before we begin Avastin. Thank you, thank you for continuing to pray for our family!!


Anonymous said...

Gillian, you continue to amaze me with your honesty and willingness to share your feelings so openly. I am in awe of how God has and continues to carry you, Allen, Joe P., and Holly through this storm. I seem His face in your smiles, your sadness, and your hope.
I love that song, "Held". I listen to it every day and God has used it in these past 8 months to minister to my heart.
Praying for peace and joy today.
Love, Mimi

Anonymous said...

Well, this really knocked me out of my own spiritual confusions. Thanks for talking this out loud. I hope you can continue to do it. I struggle to even believe God is real sometimes, and witnessing you wrestling with him in the middle of this tragedy, trusting him and believing in his love, is encouraging.

I've heard that song before, and love it. Paige found a website about a premature baby via links on your blog, and she had it set up to play whenever you were on there. I don't really listen to much Christian music (I wouldn't even know where to begin - I only listen to rap/hiphop, r&b and alt. country!), so I had never heard it before. I'm guessing it's a new song? Anyway, I loved it, and it became an ongoing joke that whenever Paige would visit that woman's blog, I would sneak over and turn on the volume so we could listen to it (and then have a good cry together!).

In all seriousness, I find that you, Allen and your kids a profound witness to God's reality and his goodness. -scott cunningham

Heidi said...

This is the first time I've posted a comment, but I have been following Joe's story for a while now. Please know that I have been praying for you, your family, and Joe. I will continue to lift you up to our Heavenly Father. We also enjoy going to Moe's here in Indy. The next time I go in and hear, "Welcome to Moe's!" I'll be thinking of Joe.

Praying for your today,

John and Sue Burch said...

Gillian - you have blessed me in the past few months with your openness and sharing your heart, but today, you have reminded me of the sweet and hard way the Lord draws us to Himself. I wish that you, Joseph, Allan and Holly and others that love you did not have to go through this pain, but I do not wish that you would not be the more YOU that God has for you to be. Thanks for sharing so much of who God is making you with all of us. We continue in prayer and ask the Lord to give you exactly what you need to face the next day. In Him - John and Sue Burch

Jennifer said...

Gill, thanks for sharing. And seriously, I am so so glad to hear where you are. Its SO encouraging to me and (I'm sure) the masses who will read this. I will have to find that song. See you in a few days.

Chipper said...

Gillian and Allen,
I would love to introduce you and your wondeful children to my wife Amy and my daughter Ava. We have been praying for you. We live at nippers corner and could meet sometime for dinner at Moe's or there is a great restauraunt there called Vittles. Best home cooking you can buy. Anyway, let me know.

batmar said...

thanks gillian.

Amy Lafayett said...

Gillian, I am praying for Joseph as I am for you and Allen. Thank you for such an honest post about how you are feeling. I cannot imagine what you all are going through, but it is evident that our sweet Savior is walking you all through this difficult time. Your writing out your thoughts today reminded me of another lady (also here in Nashville) that has walked a difficult road. You may have been to her site before, but if not, I would love to recommend that you read her blog. Her writing has been so therapeutic and healing to her and she shares many of the things that it sounds as though you are feeling. She loves Jesus and it is all over her posts in a way that would make any unbeliever want to know Him! You can read it at:
Continuing to pray,

Lizzi said...

Gill--So glad to hear about the wisdom you are gaining through all of this. It's a big encouragement to see you walking forward into the unknown, trusting that God is there.

Lots of love,

Kelly Robinson said...

You are brave and I am blessed beyond measure for finding your blog. I pray for all of you daily and will pray that you feel the Lord holding you. You are glorifying God to total strangers...and we pray for you night and day. I am fasting for your precious Joe and for all of you.

Margaret said...

You are so amazing. Thank you for sharing how YOU are doing. You are so brave to truly LIVE every day- not only the business of living but the feeling of it, too. What a lesson to all of us. I hope that Joseph, and all of you, feel the tremendous love and prayers that are sent to you around the clock and around the globe to put just a tiny dent in the pain.
We love you!

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how God can use your honesty to speak volumes to each of us. Thanks for not shutting it inside, but for letting it out. We need to hear and ponder with you. We loved being with you guys the other night. Thank you for still wanting to even hang out with people. We all love you so much and want to some how help carry a small portion of the load on this terribly impossible journey. Love you, Gill!

Audrey said...

Oh Gillian, I love this song and I'll pray for you everytime I hear it now :)

Craig and Gwen said...

Thanks for posting Gill - per normal - God has used you to challenge and move me - which I am always so thankful for.

Much love - Gwen

Anonymous said...

This song is one that I identified with when a friend shared it. At that time, it was when we were remembering my stillborn son, Hank. After Joseph was diagnosed in Nov., I sat up one night alone and listened to it again with tears rolling for him and for you all. I am so sorry for your despair, but am so thankful for your strength and faithfulness. You are such a good Christian example and we are lucky to be your family. Love, Martha

Holly said...

Hi Gillian,
Thank you so much for your heart-wrenching honesty and candidness about your feelings and where you guys are right now. I too admire you for being so "real" right now and letting us get a glimpse into your daily struggles and yet your daily joys in the midst of this horrible storm. We love you guys so much! I've sent out recent emails and even more people are praying for Joe!

Praying for Cros said...

Sweet Gillian,
THANK YOU for your post...tears fell...i understand in a small way...and we continue to PRAY for Joe P, your family & YOU as a mama!!! Today Cros had some intestinal issues and i wanted to run to fear & worry....but recognized I need to RUN to Him....thank you for your words...they ministered to my soul! You are amazing....Brendley continues to ask daily about Joseph so he is dear to our hearts...praying for miracles....hugs from KY, Meredith

Reed's mom said...

gil, thanks for sharing a piece of you heart....just listened to that song, wow! continuing to have you on our hearts daily as we lift you and your sweet family up in prayer!
love, the willis family

courtney said...

Thanks for sharing, Gillian, and letting us know how to lift you all up.

Suzanne Bechman (Craighead) said...

Hi Gillian-
I do not think you know me, but I knew your sisters in college and learned about Joe last fall through Amy Lafayette and began praying for Joe then. I got caught up through your blog once I found SaraJane on facebook. We live in Franklin as well and I told SaraJane that I would love to help you in any way I could. I don't know if you guys have found a church home yet or not, but I would love to invite you to our church (Brentwood Baptist). I am praying continually for Joe and your sweet family for healing, believing that the Father can heal him! Much love,
Suzanne Bechman (Craighead)

shilo said...

Hey, Gillian.
We love you guys and we are standing with you.
In our prayers always,
Shane, Anna & YoYo Caudill

Nana said...

Gillian,I love your honesty.I am proud of you for sharing your life with so many through this blog.Iam thankful to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that you have a personal relationship with him.You have been such a witness to me over the years by quietly pointing me to Christ in my times of need (which were and are many)and for praying for me and always showing such empathy.Do not be surprised that Joe.P. shows empathy at such a young age you have modeled that to him all his little life and to Holly.I love that in the midst of all this pain you are still just Mommy disciplining teaching and playing.You and Allen are great parents and by Gods grace show patience to the kiddos and to each other.On another topic I think Ill have to get to know the owner or manager of Moes and see if he can pay Joe p.and Holly Bear as they greet all the Moes customers daily...as least give them a free meal!!once in a while.Joe P. and Holly bear Darragh and Ronan and Aunt Ann said to say bye once again they were so glad to see you guys today.Joe P. when Holly said she was going to make an apple pie today you said you were going to make a "Nana" pie now my question is what do you like best Moes Target or Nana Pie?????We love you all more than you can imagine praying with hope for a miracle.Sleep sound in Jesus..Love from Nana Grandad Davey Uncle Ben Auntie Ann darragh and Ronan

Courtney said...

Gillian, I love your post and your perspective. If you only knew what God is teaching others through what He's teaching you ...

I've never gone through anything to the magnitude that you have, but I do agree that suffering brings us closer to God than anything else can. Well, I say suffering, but I guess just any situation that we don't have easy answers to. God wants our faith, and He doesn't always provide pat answers. I'm so thankful or the faith He has given you and Allen.

I love you guys!

Sara Wade said...

Gillian, your wisdom and honesty leave me speechless. I am so humbled by the way that God is working in you and Allen, lifting you up and giving you joy in the midst of all this. I praise God for his goodness. When you said that you feel like you are becoming more fully human, that really resonated with me. Thanks for sharing. We continue to lift you all up in prayer.

Love, Sara

PS- I love thinking about Holly and Joe yelling "Welcome to Moe's!"

read2kds said...

This is my first post here. I have been following this blog since the beginning. Please know that we are storming the throne for your family. I can not imagine your fear as a mother, but I also know the peace Christ can give through struggles. The problem is as humans we want him to STOP the struggles. Thank you for your honesty and letting God be glorified through your humanness. We will continue to pray for Joseph's complete healing and for comfort for your family.

Amy in NC

Brea said...

Gillian, your post brought me to tears. I've often tried to imagine myself in your shoes and whenever I do I am moved to plead with God to give you supernatural strength and joy to walk this road. It is clear that He is answering that prayer of mine and hundreds of others. It is comforting to know that He does provide the strength and faith we need for what He asks us to walk through. May we all grow more and more like Him. You are in our prayers daily, and we continue to ask God to heal Joseph fully!

Jody (atlanta) said...

Gillian - You did it again girl...brought huge tears adn smiles to me at the same time. You truly amaze me and our inspiration. I am proud of you for opening up more and letting those feelings in and out. Thanks so very much for updating us all on YOU and the reality of how YOU feeling and struggling daily. I think of you constantly since cannot imagine how this feels for you and Allen as parents. You are wise beyond your years to be living life each day with your loved ones and keeping a balanced perspective. You are role model for me as mother and wife. I can picture your kids sitting at Moes and walking through Target - thanks for sharing your life and daily activities.

I miss you so much and am praying always. Love you. Jody

Wrights said...

Thank you for sharing your heart like that. I ache for you and we cry with you as we read your posts. We are still praying for healing for Joseph and will be praying that you and Allen truly will feel held by Jesus. We're on our knees for you.
Nathaniel,Rebekah and girls

jane said...

you are still in our thoughts and prayers.
thank you for your transparency!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty. Your words brought tears and yet hope in the comfort God is giving and will give to you and your family. Phil. 3:10 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,"

Continually praying.

Anonymous said...

Wow Gill...I love you. It is amazing to see God carry you through this.

sj said...

that was sj btw

Anonymous said...


Even while we are pleading with the Lord to bless your family, you are blessing all of us with your faithful and heartfelt testimony. I don't think I could have possibly seen a more fitting demonstration of what Pastor Scotty Smith taught on Sunday in response to the question "Why pray?" Thank you for teaching us as you walk. And thank you for so honestly answering questions that I have been struggling with on your behalf - Is a parent able to discipline and play in the face of such fear? Are spouses able to communicate normally during such a time? I have really been praying for you about those things, so it was an extra blessing for you to write about them. I do feel such love for you and your family - God's love, the tie that binds His children. I am bringing you before the Lord again right now.

suzanne morris said...

Dearest Gillian,

I am sure there was a spike in sales of "Held" on Itunes last night as a result of your recommendation. I am among those who purchased it and tearfully listened to it over and over.
Since all this began I have been praying that God's presence would be palpable to you and that He would be supernaturally strengthening you as you walk this path no one would ever choose. It sounds like that prayer is being answered. I have also prayed for your marriage and it sounds like God is in the midst of that as well.
I continue to be amazed at how you balance the weighty concerns that face you with the simple activities that all young families experience.
I love you guys and miss being with you and so appreciate your efforts to keep us connected through this blog which I check every day.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this latest post. I, too, am a doer vs. a feeler and this really spoke to me. I love the song "Held" and am so glad it is ministering to your heart. I hope today is full of special moments with your family.
Love, Leigh Ann

Jean Joiner said...

Thank you for sharing those thoughts with us. It is encouraging to see your heart and how you are feeling amongst all that has been going on. I'll continue to be praying for you and Allen and Joseph and Holly.
Jean Joiner

Anonymous said...

Gillian, my boys are sleeping right now and I am going to try to find that song. It sounds beautiful.
I have an image of your kids laughing and yelling 'Welcome to Moe's!" I love it and it is one I hold in my heart. I love how close Joe and Holly seem to be. You must cherish that.
My family and I pray for you guys every night. I think of you all every day. We love you.
Randi Booth
p.s. My husband and the boys LOVE Target as well!!! Anotehr store might have that certain something cheaper, but as my husband puts it, there is just something fun and neat about Target.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link everyone for "Held," by Natalie Grant.

Enjoy, it speaks volumes.
Randi Booth

Anonymous said...

To the family... I heard about your story on a wonderful message board I am a part of. I will definately keep you and your son in my deepest prayers. God is amazing and I pray that His will be done in your family's life. I will continue to read your blog as it is updated. (((HUGS)))

cindy terrell said...

It's been a long time since I've posted, but we think of you so often and continually pray for Joe and your family.
The Terrells

Christy said...

Miss you, Gill.

trmills said...

So many have heavy hearts that lead us to pray for you, and it's beautiful and challenging to hear what is happening in your heart. I think the biggest testimony to God's grace is just the ability you described to continue to walk forward, being faithful in the "little" things (like dinner, playground, discipline) as well as the big ones. Praying for the day to day as well as for healing.

So Blessed said...

Praying for all of you.

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms”.

Deut. 33:27

Anonymous said...

I'm so encouraged by the strength, courage, and wisdom that God has given you. Your suffering is not for nothing. I, too, love the song "Held" and thankful that God is ministering to you in so many ways. Thank you for sharing your heart with so many- what a blessing to us all.

Anonymous said...

Allen and Gillian, I am thinking about you all tonight and praying for peace. As I watch you both go down this difficult, unknowing path, I am constantly reminded of the One that is holding you and sustaining you. I keep thinking of the hymn, "Rock of Ages", and the line that says, "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling". I am watching you both cling to Jesus for every need.
Last night when the children spent the night with me, we had so much fun. They both took a bath and did finger painting in the bath tub and on their tummies and then we read 5 books before I put Holly to bed. I had to read her 2 more books, sing a few songs, and when we prayed she prayed for everyone including all the animals she could name. When I put Joseph down we read more books and then prayed. Then for the next 20-30 minutes we laughed so hard we both were crying. We would start laughing and then we would stop, then Joe would start and I would join in. Then I'd tell him we better go to sleep and it would be quiet for a few minutes and then he would start up with that infectious laugh and I would break down with him. Then he would be quiet and I would start laughing and he would join in. It was hysterical. Neither one of us could stop. Both of us ended up having to go to the bathroom!! He said, "Mimi, let's don't tell daddy we aren't going to sleep." I thought we would never stop.
How thankful I am for moments like that! Joe P. knows how to have fun!He comes by it naturally!
Holding you all close to my heart,
Love, Mimi
P.S. My sister, Norma, is writing the corporate office of Moe's and letting them know how much Joe loves Moe's. She's telling them his story! They need to do a commercial and use Holly and Joe welcoming the people who come in with their loud, "Welcome to Moe's"!! I told Joseph he needed to get a job at Target since he knows where every toy is located and a job at Moe's welcoming the people in.
"Be still and know that I am God."

Chloe said...

Thanks for reminding me what life is. Nobody prepares you for your own personal, soul searching, gut wrenching challenges. But when you face them with honesty, kindness and compassion something new is born that you didn't know was there. I'm so glad you're my cousin. Keep it up darling. Love Chloe. XXXX

Grace said...

Dear Mrs. Peabody,
It's easy for me to go through days where I feel comfortable and self sufficient and to forget how much I actually need God. Your blog entry reminded me that we cannot survive without God to sustain us. God gives us strength to get through little everyday tasks and to continue living and feeling during incredibly difficult circumstances. Thank you for sharing how God is holding you and working in your life. I love you so much!

praying for you and your family,

Abbie said...

Your words are just spilling over with the grace and wisdom. Thank you so much for sharing them.

I love hearing about the Target trips and about how your children have become the self-appointed greeters at Moe's. If our family went to Moe's and there were 2 adorable children shouting out a welcome, Hutch and Nola would be tickled to pieces. :-)


abbie said...

oh...and I forgot to say: I just bought the "Held" song on itunes. I've never heard of it or heard of her, but it sounds like a great song. Thanks for the recommendation.