Monday, May 18, 2015

The Scary Clown

Psalms 68 4-6

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing; 
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

I knew that we'd end up back in the hospital when Grace threw up for the third time that week with lots of pain and no fever. I was relieved that she'd finally be getting help and that I wouldn't have to keep calling, reexplaining to each different nurse who took the Fast Track calls, and trying to convince them that Grace's wasn't ordinary constipation that could be cured with laxatives. Although I was glad we were going back I had hoped that we wouldn't be doing hospitalization stays anymore. It resurrected many feelings from last year.

Driving to CHLA I spent some time praying. I asked God that if He could use us at the hospital during this visit, that He would. Especially since I knew that our stay wouldn't be fighting for Grace's life and that I'd have a little more to give, so I prayed that God would arrange our stay so that His will would be done, and that our time there could help someone else. 

When we were admitted the sun was just setting and the city lights were starting to glow. We had an East facing room on the pediatric cancer floor, four stories up. Everything in the room seemed exactly as it was the last time we were here. Lisa, our PCSA  (nurse assistant) that night started taking Grace's blood pressure and temperature. From her bed, a good ten feet from the window, Grace looked outside and exclaimed, "that's a scary billboard!" Lisa and I both looked up and saw the "Poltergeist" clown which I think is scary too.

"Grace you solved the mystery," Lisa said, "there is a three-year-old girl next door who has been crying all day saying, 'the clown in scaring me,' and 'please make the scary clown go away,' and we have not been able to figure out what she was talking about." After she finished taking Grace's vitals she rushed out of our room to the one next door. Finally she was able to make the clown go away.

I was very proud of Grace for helping the other girl and told her so. But I was very upset about the billboard company who approved such a scary poster in plain view of a children's hospital. These kids have very frightening, and very real, life-threatening fears to deal with. We lived at CHLA last year for over three months, but many of the kids at the hospital live there even longer. Often their only connection to the outside world is the one window in their room. They shouldn't be terrorized by a scary clown when they look out to the rest of the world, especially as they fight for their lives.  

I took a photo of Grace with the billboard behind her, as she sat on her hospital bed, right before the thunderstorm hit. I posted the photo to Facebook with the name of the billboard company and their phone number and asked everyone we knew to call and complain. I went to bed expecting to have to call some more the next day. I was ready for the fight.

When I opened the shades the next morning I couldn't believe my eyes! There was a white billboard! The scary clown had been taken down, in the night, in the rain. I started to cry. I hadn't really expected any resolution, especially not overnight. Someone heard our plea to help the kids at the hospital and cared and did something at great personal cost to make it right.

I later discovered that the Hermans, our new friends from Camp Ronald McDonald, knew an executive at FOX and called him to let him know about the situation and he worked quickly to take it down. He also sent gift bags over to the hospital to apologize for the mistake.   

As I got thinking about it, I realized a few things:

One, the power of people working together gets things done. 

Two, that God heard the cries of a scared three-year old and put a plan into action to help her. He brought in a team to help her. He used Grace and her excellent communication skills. Lisa and her knowledge of the girl's cries and who was there at the exact moment when Grace noticed the billboard. Me and my iPhone camera. All of our Facebook friends who called. The Hermans who we just befriended and their connections. And finally the top executive at FOX. All for a three year old who was scared. 

God has shown his tenderness to us so many times, and this most recent example has really touched me. He is a God who takes personal interest in the small details of our lives. He listens to the unstructured, unreligious, small cries of a three year old.  He doesn't assign us to an angel and put our requests through the bureaucracy of heaven. 

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." Psalms 34:17

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