I would like to introduce you to the Harrell family. This is Bret (dad), Jennifer (mom) and Dylan (age 4). They also have a sweet baby girl McKenna Paige who is just over a year ol (she and Clara were born just 5 months apart – they will be great friends one day!). Dylan is one of the kids from the Adventure Zone where I have been privileged to know and serve with Bret and Jennifer for the past couple years. They are incredible teachers who LOVE on kids every week and a sweet family. And we've become good friends with them outside of church as well! They need your prayers.
A few weeks ago on July 26th an MRI revealed that Dylan had a very large brain tumor. He had been having headaches for a few months and the MRI was more "to rule something out", but turned out to reveal shocking news that would begin this time of trial for the Harrells. I got a call from Bret the next morning about Dylan's tumor (Thursday July 27th) and I got off the phone and just wept – I was in such shock and heartbreak for them. I began praying immediately and have been confident and grateful that we have a big God who can do absolutely anything, and loves Dylan infinitely and immensely. I won't ever understand, "this side of heaven," why these kinds of things happen, but I do trust God and His tender mercies. I went up to the hospital that afternoon and when I walked in their room, Jennifer was in bed with Dylan, just holding him. It was almost more than I could bear! They truly are some of the most thoughtful, caring people I have ever known – NO ONE deserves this kind of thing, but especially them! The verse that kept coming to mind was Psalm 27:1 — The Lord is my light, and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the stronghold of my life, of who shallI be afraid?
The next day (Friday) Dylan had surgery to remove the tumor. Unbelievable answered prayers and praises were the outcome as they were able to remove ALL of the tumor and Dylan had NO side affects or changes after the surgery. I got to visit them a few times and was amazed at his recovery and the strength of this family. They even went home that Monday, just a couple days after his surgery even though they had been told to expect up to a week in the hospital. Dylan has been back at church the last two Sundays and you could look at him and never even know he just had brain surgery. In fact, the picture above is taking on the first Sunday they were back, just a little a week AFTER his surgery! But, despite the successful surgery, the tumor has to be analyzed to determine if it was cancer or not. It has been almost three weeks since the surgery and the Harrells are still WAITING on results. The tough part is they keep being told, "you will know in three more days," and then they're told to wait again. Carrying that burden has got to be the hardest part. There have been so many miracles along the way, it has been amazing to witness. The pathology has come back "inconclusive" and sent to a specialist for further review. I am going to copy and paste from an update directly from Bret and Jennifer and would ask you to join me in praying for Dylan and for his family as they endure this time of waiting…
from the Harrells:
Dear friends and family,
Be patient. Walk by faith. Trust in the healing powers of the Lord. Pray. Wait a little longer. That is what God is asking us to do right now.
I can't say that we understand why. I can't say that it has been or is going to be easy. Quite the contrary. It is incredibly trying and difficult. Emotions run rampant all over the map. Most of the time we are hopeful and confidant that we are going to get the benign result that we so fervently desire and pray for. However, there are moments that creep in where we dip to some low points. God is good though, and His grace is enough. He picks us back up. We continue to see and feel His mercy and love daily.
Dylan continues to feel great and has no lasting effects from the surgery. As many of his friends can attest, he is pretty much his usual, wonderful self! He's taking everything that has been thrown at him in stride (he doesn't know that we are waiting for results) and moving right along. Remarkable!!
Right now, the pathology is still being read. Thus far, it has come back inconclusive. So, it has been sent to the best pathologist in the country to read it. Please know that we are not considering this a call to hit the panic button. Instead we are holding fast onto hope. It is our belief and prayer that they haven't found cancer yet… and they aren't going to. God's hand has been closely surrounding Dylan from the very beginning of this — think back to all of the miracles so far… finding the tumor with headaches as the only symptom, complete removal of the tumor, no sickness in recovery, home in 4 days, no pain, no lasting effects… — and it is still surrounding him. We don't believe that this has all been for nothing. God loves Dylan and is taking great care of him!
With all of that said, here is our prayer request for you, and any others you choose to share this with. (There can never be enough prayer.)1) Accuracy, clarity and wisdom for the pathologist.2) Complete healing and restoration for Dylan.3) Strength, faith and courage for our family.4) That this would be used to further God's kingdom and bring glory to Him.
Thank you all so much for your support and prayers. They are felt and appreciated! We will keep you posted… but it will be at least mid-next week before we know anything.
Jennifer and Bret
As you can see Jennifer and Bret have amazing faith and trust in the Lord. I know they will appreciate your prayers… And let this be a reminder to you (as it was to me) of how precious our little ones are, how fragile life is…and how we should love and cherish them every day as we do not know what tomorrow could bring. Now, go hug your own kids or someone you love…and pray!
1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.