Monday, May 23, 2011

Living Louder: Holly McRae

There are times you encounter a story or meet someone that changes you. That makes you think differently, that challenges you...that inspires you to be a better person, to be more Christ-like. About a year ago I came on a story through a series of web clicks that when I arrived at the journal of a mom I sat at my computer crying, laughing, pleading with her, and praying for her and her precious family. Holly McRae, is a mom sharing her family's story as they battle with the devastating news they received 21 months ago that their middle child, Kate, who was five at the time had a vicious disease, a disease no parent ever wants to hear come from the mouth of a doctor, brain cancer.

The McRae's life quickly changed from planning to go on a family vacation, hearing their kids laughing on the beach, to sitting in a hospital hearing foreign words, grim diagnoses, and holding their sweet little girls hand as she went through surgery, chemo, radiation, case studies, IV's, MRI's (over 60 in 2 years), etc.. Their world was turned upside down. Their hearts were shattered. They sat heartbroken. Understandably so. But hopeful. Maybe not so understandably so.

In the eyes of the world their hope doesn't make sense. But as Holly and her husband shared pieces of their story I was awestruck at the honesty...the pain they have shared, the questions they've asked God, the emotions that have overwhelmed them but at the same time conveying hope in a God that can heal, placing trust in a God that knows every inch of their daughter, praying relentlessly to their Savior, Master, Creator. Here is an exerpt from one of Holly's journal entries: "Not really sure why I am writing tonight, other than heartache. I saw a picture online of Kate, before her surgery, and it seems the emotion couldn't help but overtake me. Most days, I fail to notice that she's without hair, or the perfect scar that lines the top of her head. The limited use of her right side, the butterfly covered AFO, the medicine, the calls from doctors have become constant companions, and at times feel, well, normal. That is until I see something that I haven't seen for a long time, an old picture, or something that illicits a vivid memory. Then suddenly, without warning, cancer becomes real again. The unwelcome intruder. The very disease that threatens to take our daughter from us. Suddenly I realize how different life is, how vastly opposed to the life I thought we would lead. I look around me and I see other families facing the same tragedy, the same heartbreak. And again I wonder how I was so ignorant before. How did I not see this before? How did this world of heartbreak go unnoticed by me? And then it hit home, when it hit at our heart. When the face of cancer became our daughter, not someone else's. When the face at a fundraiser to raise awareness for the devastation that cancer can bring is none other than our own precious blonde haired blue eyed girl. I don't know if it ever fully becomes real. And maybe I don't want it to. I do know that I will never forget this pediatric cancer world now though. The eyes of other moms as they hear news that shakes them to their core. The dad's as they helplessly watch their child struggle. The other siblings as they can oftentimes get lost in the shuffle of consults, drugs, side effects, hospitalizations, heartbreak, and enormous life changing decisions. No one goes untouched. For some nothing in their life goes untouched. Friendships can be forged, while others fall apart. Finances take a hit. Emotions are raw. Fatigue seems to be a constant companion, even if sitting on a hospital couch is the only thing the day entails. It's not an enviable journey for anyone. Nothing compares to having your child's health. Nothing except for knowing their eternity is safe in the hands of a loving Savior. It's truly the one thing that keeps me sane, or semi sane."

A loving Savior! Through this devastation Holly's faith is inspiring. They have chose Jesus in their most desperate time. They have chose Jesus to hold them together when everything feels like its falling apart. They have chose to "find joy, in a days filled with angst. Peace in days of looming uncertainty. Hope among statistics that only illicit fear. And strength when weakness is all we seem to feel. And somehow God shows up in our most ugly, uncertain times".

Please join me in praying for the McRae family, for their precious Kate (who also is amazingly inspiring, but thats for another day) that God would touch her and heal her whole body from the tippy tippy top of her head to the bottom of her toes. For more information on Kate's story and the most current prayer requests go to

This is Holly and her precious girls. Photos by Tiny Sparrow Foundation.

This is beautiful Kate.

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