Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye 2007!

As I look back over 2007, there is much to thank God for. I have been able to accomplish much and He has been revealing Himself to me in a whole new way this past year.

The common question now is “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” I don’t have one. I’ve made them in the past but here’s my thought on it all. Why do we need the changing of a calendar year to commit to doing things better? Better health. Better body. Better finances. Better relationships. These and many more tend to be the topic of such New Year’s Resolutions.

I do like to look back over the past year and plan for the upcoming one. My goal (not resolution) is to become healthier overall. I want to make better choices when it comes to eating. I’d like to be more active overall -- not just because I've set a goal of completing a marathon as I did in 2007 - but on a daily basis. It doesn't even necessarily have to be "exercise". My family could highly benefit if I just choose to be active with cleaning my house!. There is always room for improvement when it comes to my choices with relationships. And I have yet to conquer the finances, so it shouldn’t take too much to see improvement in this area either.

My biggest desire for better health, however, is my spiritual health. I want to “Be still and know God”. My thoughts run rampant. I find it very difficult to quiet my mind as well as my heart. Still, it must be possible. I’ve experienced it before. God longs to speak to me and I need to take time to listen. With all that goes on in this life, I think investing more time in my relationship with the God of the Universe is likely the best step towards a healthier me.

Here's to a healthy 2008!

Dad Update 12-31-07

I just received an update from Mom. They have found swollen lymph nodes through the CT scan and will execute the same form of treatment he had most recently. The IV drip of chemotherapy should start today and he'll likely be in the hospital for at least seven days. If I recall correctly, the IV drip will happen for four consecutive weeks each Monday.

Doctors did find something on Dad's liver. Please pray that it is simply a cyst or something that is of little or no concern. Mom said she is not going to express too much concern about the liver unless the doctors do.

Dad is quite discouraged that he must undergo the chemotherapy once again. He responded well to this chemotherapy last time and we just pray that side effects are not as extreme as the ones that took him to the emergency room in the past.

How great is our God. He allowed our family to cherish a Christmas celebration together and the doctors are still pressing forward with treating my Dad. There is still much hope. There always is hope with our God.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dad's back in the Hospital - Great is our God

The splendor of the King, Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice, Let all the earth rejoice
He wraps himself in light, And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at his voice, And trembles at his voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, all will sing
How great, How great is our God

Age to age he stands, And time is in His Hands
Beginning and the End, Beginning and the End
The Godhead, Three in one, Father, Spirit, Son
The Lion and the Lamb, The Lion and the Lamb

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, all will sing
How great, How great is our God

You're the Name above all names, You are Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing how great is our God

How great is our God, Sing with me
How great is our God, all will sing
How great, How great Is our God

How great is our God, Sing with me
How great is our God, and will sing
How great, How great is our God

This is one of the songs that was sung in church this morning. I could not hold back the tears. This song has brought me to tears in the past but this morning I found myself asking why? I think the answer is a question. Do I believe these words we sing?

Dad went back into the hospital this morning. His white blood cell count jumped from 13 to 40. We knew it was on the rise and that wasn't a good sign but we were still hoping and praying. Doctors have told him that he has pnemonia. They have yet to come in and discuss the cancer and what the plan of action is, however.

To say this is discouraging is a bit understated. Dad was so hopeful and confident that he would make it to the stem cell procedure this time around. This is where the questioning comes in. Through all of this can I confidently sing, "How great is our God, sing with me"?

My heart is heavy. This is the first Christmas without my Grandpa Tuttle (Dad's dad). It would have been nice to have Dad at the family Christmas party today. Yesterday, he was able to celebrate with us at Grimaldi Christmas (my mom's side). I find myself asking, "What would one more day have done?" Still, I can't wonder. I can't question. I must be thankful that he was able to celebrate yesterday and not question today.

I was talking with my Dad's sisters and his mom today. My Aunt Val reminded me of a saying. I don't remember it in it's entirety. However, I do remember the important line. "Faith looks up." Without keeping my eyes on God, it's impossible to continue to hope.

As I struggle in my heart and ask God, "Why?", I need to remember that He is still in control. Eternity is still what matters and He can still heal Dad. He has healed the lame, the lepers, the blind and even raised the dead. Certainly, he can heal Dad from cancer. And confidently, I know He will heal my Dad. Whether Dad lives or dies, he will be healed. I will choose to look up and keep my eyes on Christ. He is the only way to get through this.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dad Update 12-26-07

Dad will go to the hospital tomorrow for a scheduled CT scan and blood tests. The hope is that he will be able to have a stem cell transplant in the new year.

There is concern that his white blood count is quickly increasing. He has been having night sweats and a fever as well as some shortness of breath. Our prayer is that he is just battling some type of infection although the fear is that the cancer may be attacking again.

Dad and Mom went to "the farm" today. They took my Dad's mom with. It was good for my Dad because "the farm" does his heart good. He even bundled up and walked around a bit. I desire so much to be able to spend time again this spring, summer and fall with him and the rest of my family at "the farm". He even gave each of us a lantern and air matress for camping there.

All we can do is continue to pray and wait on the Lord.

A Common Christmas

Christmas and the days surrounding it can often be a blur. My prayer was to intentionally cherish the time shared with our loved ones this year. Rather than think ahead to the what ifs of the future, I wanted to embrace the moment.

Heading over to my parents for breakfast Christmas Eve morning, my emotions were unsettled. I didn't know what to expect as we walked in the front door. Concern attempted to consume me as Mom had just informed me that Dad has been having night sweats and running a fever once again. Praying for an infection rather than the feared alternative, I wanted to be prepared for anything.

It was just a common Christmas celebration. To be honest, it seemed a little strange. Shouldn't our celebration this year have been different? Maybe we could have sat around listening to stories and sharing memories of past years. Possibly home videos would have made this year special. With all that has happened in the past year, I had expectations of a sentimental Christmas.

Other than the interruption from Dad's home nurse, we had a rather ordinary celebration on Christmas Eve Day. The breakfast feast was overabundant as always. The kids still begged to open presents. Dad donned the big red suit filled with stuffing and passed out candy canes. Mrs. Claus was by his side once again and helped to calm the uncertainties of the little ones. There were board games and card games. Christmas music and movies. The kids played with no care in the world.

Before we knew it, we were out the door for the annual Christmas Eve celebration with Dad Carlson's cousins and their families. The atmosphere was festive as always. This is one moment we thank God for our minivan as the kids walk away with mountains of gifts. This family is more than generous! (Jaycie had a breakdown the next day demanding more presents -- she kind of got into the spirit of greed.)

The girls woke up to find presents from "Santa" under the tree on Christmas morning. We were off to Rod's parents' house in time for lunch where the girls found plenty more gifts to be unwrapped. Good conversation was ample and the girls were well behaved at all the parties. We ate numerous meals with cookies and pies. There was even time for Scrabble and Spoons.

And it was over. Just like that. No big revelations. No extraordinary memories. Just an ordinary Christmas. Common celebrations like every other year. I cherish them because next year holds no promises. We must cherish every moment we are blessed to have together. I'm grateful for the blessing this year to have a common Christmas to cherish.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dad Update 12-22-07

I haven't given an update on Dad recently because not much as changed since my last post on December 12th. We do hold to the saying that "no news is good news" with this situation. Still, I thought I would post an update for those of you who are curious as to his condition with Christmas a few days away.

Dad's blood has been holding. The numbers are not rising but they are not dropping either, which is good. Today, his Christmas gift from the home nurses is an extra bag of blood and platelets. He doesn't necessarily need blood right now but they think it would be nice for him to have an extra boost going into Christmas. So, once again, thank you to those of you who donate the gift of blood. It truly is a Christmas gift for my dad this year.

Dad has been eating. He weighed himself the other day and he is up to almost 170 lbs. He was hoping to be at 165 by the time he heads into the stem cell transplant so now he has set his goal higher. He doesn't have to be concerned at all about what he eats this holiday season! (He'll likely lose it all again with the stem cell transplant.) As I left their house yesterday a line quoted by Mrs. Claus in Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer seemed appropriate -- "Eat, Papa, Eat! Nobody likes a skinny Santa. Eat! Eat!" Dad's hope is to play the part of this jolly old soul for the grandkids again if he's feeling up to it.

Mom was able to enjoy some time taking Traci's kids shopping as she has done in years past. She was also able to attend Nikelle's school Christmas program. And yesterday, she was able to spend a little time with Laney during Maty's school Christmas party. In my opinion, she has been in desperate need of a little normality during this time. Her grandkids are her the best way to bring joy into her life!

It is such a comfort to my heart to anticipate celebrating Christmas as a complete family. This is the best gift this year. Thank you for praying for my parents -- and my entire family. My heart swells as I count all the numerous people out there lifting up requests to God on our behalf. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Be Still and Know

I'm feeling as if life is making it impossible to focus on the true meaning of Christmas. The "to do" list never seems to fade and there is always some sort of responsibility getting in the way of quieting my heart and remembering what this season is all about.

Last night on the radio Mary Did You Know was playing. This song does something to my heart that no other song can really do. If you need a reminder of the reason for this season, take a look at this video. I hope it can quiet your heart a bit as it did mine.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stay away from the egg nog!

Every year we have a Christmas tradition that just kind of happened. Jaycie reminded me of it the other night while we were running errands.

“Grandma got run over by a reindeer…” was playing in the car as we drove to the grocery store. Jaycie knew it was a familiar tune from watching home videos. “Gaga. Papa,” was all she said to identify the song. Sweet, I thought. Not because she thinks of my mom when she hears the lyrics to this song. Rather, because every year when “Santa” comes to see the grandkids, we sing and dance to this tune that has become so very familiar in our family.

We have footage of my dad dancing with the kids. (It happened to be a year he opted out of playing the part of Kris Kringle.) We didn’t dance much growing up but we make up for it on Christmas Eve Day!

Funny, I never thought a song that speaks of "[Grandpa] drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel" could bring me such a mixture of emotions! So, what unusual traditions does your family practice?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A little Education

Nikelle's new dream for her future is to be a teacher. She told me she wants to attend school every day because she loves it so much. Her favorite person to "teach" is her little sister, Jaycie. The other morning as I was giving the girls a bath, Nikelle was in this mode of playing the educator.

It's routine to lather them up with lotion after bath time due to dry skin conditions. This particular morning, Jaycie was mesmerized by a mole that Nikelle has directly above her sternum. I was busy with the lotion and almost missed the life lesson Nikelle was giving her little sister.

"You'll get one of these when you turn 5-years-old, Jay Jay." I didn't want to burst her bubble as she was so proudly instructing her little sister. Still, I felt that I should to clarify. "Not everybody gets a mole in the middle of their chest when they turn 5-years-old, Nik."

I couldn't help but crack a smile. Nikelle just assumed that because there are certain changes that happen to our bodies as we get older, that this was one of them. I can only hope that's the only type of education she'll give her sister on the facts of life!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Time is Here

Last week I was quite excited as I got ready for church. I was able to fit comfortably into a pair of jeans I hadn't worn in quite some time! This gave me some good self-esteem as I headed into the week.

This Sunday, let's just say those jeans weren't quite as encouraging! That's what happens when I choose not to deny myself anything! I have eaten mindlessly and intentionally -- eating just because I wanted to. The results: I've been rewarded with an unhealthy, unhappy weight-gain this week (and I'm not talking just a 0.2 pound gain either).

My goal is to be mindful about what I put into my mouth this week. I need to intentionally deny myself different foods and be choosey about the calories I allow myself. I know better but Christmastime is one time I like to celebrate! (This is the mindset that gets me into trouble.)

Too bad I can't celebrate daily with others as well as daily by myself and still fit into my clothes!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Best Christmas Gift

The other night at the cookie exchange, I was reminded of how I really don’t appreciate my husband like I should. I’d like to blame it on 11 years of marriage – too much time passing by. However, the reminder came from Janet Swank whose married years have well surpassed my own.

The question was “What is the best Christmas gift you have ever received?” I’ve been asked this question a lot lately in different e-mail surveys and such. Still, I couldn’t really come up with that “special” gift. That is, until Janet mentioned hers. “Well, I was engaged on Christmas Day,” Janet started. My hand went to my head. How could I possibly forget what a special gift Rod gave me on that Christmas night in 1995? As Janet spoke, I was recounting my own memory and beating myself up for not being more of a romantic.

As I was talking to Rod about it, he assured me that all was well. As a matter of fact, he confessed to not really thinking about that moment anymore either. The justification I’m now giving is that the gift wasn’t actually under the tree or at a party. As a matter of fact, because it wasn’t given to me at a special moment like that, I had decided I wasn’t receiving a ring that day. (Despite the fact that I had accidentally come across the ring in the glove compartment of Rod’s car while looking for a tissue – oops! And despite the fact that we had already received premature congratulations from one of his relatives earlier in the day.)

We were on our way home from all of our Christmas celebrations and I had given up. I allowed myself to go to sleep. (It’s one of my favorite reasons to be a passenger rather than the driver.) When Rod woke me up, we were outside of The Plush Horse Ice Cream Parlor in Palos Park, Illinois. At this point, I knew what was going on because this is where Rod decided our relationship could become more than just friends.

We got out of the car, walked over to the bench where Rod had previously asked me to date him and he got down on one knee. I took the glove off my left hand, but he was adamantly attempting to take my right hand. He told me he had thought of all kinds of wonderful words to say to me at that moment but couldn’t come up with them right then. Would I marry him?

Has it seriously been 12 years since that moment? Why is it life can suck the memories from us? Why is it that after two kids, romance is not all it was cracked up to be in the earlier years? Where did my appreciation for my husband go over time? Honestly, Rod did give me the very best Christmas present that Christmas years ago. I realize with every passing year just how very blessed I am to share my life with Rod.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Hot Chocolate

It’s refreshing to the soul to get together with others who share the same purpose in life. Maria Beck hosted a MOPS cookie exchange last night. On one hand, I was hesitant to attend, as it would mean another night filled on my calendar. Still, Maria Beck is a woman of God whom I admire and an event hosted by her can be counted on to be worthwhile.

Last night, Maria lived up to my expectations and some. She really planned the night well. There was a purpose and she even sent us each home with a reminder of the purpose – a mug with hot chocolate. The reminder is to keep our eyes open for little reminders that God loves us. Maria did that last night simply by opening her home.

As I looked around at the room, I realized that almost every woman there was someone whom I have an extended relationship with outside of MOPS during some season of life. It was a good feeling to be reminded that so many care. Our seasons of life as well as the friends that go with them may change, but God’s love for us is constant. Friends are a reminder of His love for us.

Is your life too full to appreciate the gift of others God places in our lives? Is your schedule too jam-packed to stop and notice others in need of a reminder that God loves them? Are you running around crazy busy unable to stop and appreciate another human being God has placed in your life?

My perspective has changed this year. I’m learning to appreciate every moment I’m given with those I love. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Thanks, Maria, for the great reminder that if we just open our eyes we can experience God’s love… even in something as small as a cup of hot chocolate!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Breathe (Another Dad Update)

I was just reading in the Book of Amos this morning how God altered what was intended to happen in the future because of his pleading. So, why is it that we pray and pray and pray yet when something good happens that is really in direction correlation to our prayer, we hold our breath? At least that seems to be the situation with me here today.

Dad met with his doctor today. To the touch, there are no lumps to be found on his body! Dad is more hopeful than he has ever been since the start of this war with cancer. The word is that they will perform a bone marrow test at the end of the month. If there are no signs of the cancer, he will begin the stem cell procedure in the beginning of January. I don't know whether to cheer or cry or breathe. We've prayed and hoped and continue to thank God. All seems to be going exactly as hoped for.

We will get to celebrate Christmas like we do every year -- on Christmas Eve with my both my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. I will no longer have to tell Nikelle that we don't know what will happen every time she talks about celebrating Christmas at Grams' and Papa's. We'll be together for Christmas!

God is so good! He deserves and needs the credit here. Thank you for praying with me and please continue to pray that no obstacles will come as we wait. Pray that Dad can remain out of the hospital, infection free, and that the bone marrow test will be clear. There is still such a long and hard fight ahead of him. But today, I'm extremely grateful that this Christmas is one we can celebrate together!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Comfortable in my own skin

If you’ve never been to a Weight Watchers meeting, let me tell you, the first experience can be a little unsettling. You sit in a meeting room filled with people who celebrate a 0.2-pound weight loss. That’s right. If a person loses any kind of weight, even if it isn’t a full pound, we clap (and tell each other we’re burning calories at the same time). There are times I feel a little bit like standing up and saying, “Hi. My name is Tristi. I’m a food addict.” Even still, I’ve been attending meetings since 2003 and Weight Watchers has been highly effective in helping me maintain my weight loss.

The leader at last week’s meeting spoke about something that has stuck with me this week. She asked how many of us liked to eat when we were bored. So, I raised my hand. I like to eat for any reason possible. If boredom is an excuse, so be it. Then she followed up her question with another question. How many of you are the same people who say you don’t have enough time in the day to get things done? I could tell she was going somewhere with this and wasn’t so certain I wanted to hear what she had to say.

On numerous occasions this week, instead of eating, I chose to accomplish something. My Christmas cards are in the mail. Tomorrow morning, the plan is that Nikelle and I will begin baking cookies. I have a much cleaner, organized home than I have had in months. In general, I feel much better about myself as I go to weigh in this week.

I may not be at that magic number yet. (I’ve been yo-yoing for 2 years now.) That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I make healthy choices. What matters is that I am comfortable in my own skin.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dad Update 12-10-07 and The Reindeer Run

When I called my parents' house this morning, Dad answered the phone. He was able to tell me he was feeling decent this morning and spoke with hope about the future. That was good for my heart to hear.

He went to the hospital today for another IV push of chemotherapy as well as lab work. They decided he needed another platelet transfusion but all else seems to be as it should. He will meet with his doctor on Wednesday and we look forward to hearing what the next step will be.

Dad's appetite is still strong. He is a skinny man these days so it's always encouraging to hear that he is eating. He has also been working to fight dehydration on a daily basis as well.

I completed the Reindeer Run on Sunday with appropriate weather for the month of December. Dad's words were in my head the entire run as though he were running right beside me. Reality is that Dad physically running a race is too far into the future to ponder. However, the race he is running every day is inspiration for my life.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Dad Update 12-8-07

Dad was released to go home last night. I talked with my mom this morning and she said he fed the fires during the night (they heat their home with wood burning stoves) when he'd get up to use the bathroom. She said that he requested steak and potatoes for breakfast so he's definitely working on getting better. It always feels good to share a positive report.

Dad will go in Monday for another IV push of chemotherapy as well as some lab work. On Wednesday he will meet with his doctor and have more labs done. Looks like we are headed in the right direction once again.

As far as the internal bleeding is concerned, the two tests they performed revealed no signs. They could do one more for the upper intestines but seem to have decided that the blood and platelet transfusions corrected the situation.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Change of Plans

I had an appointment scheduled to give blood last night but had to cancel. I started to feel a scratchy throat and the start of a cold. As soon as I get rid of this bug, I will call and go in to donate. It's a promise I'm making to myself.

Here is Eva's final post on blood donation:

Blood Donation: The Why

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Gift of Blood

My friend, Eva, has been a guest blogger on our Pastor's blog this week. She is encouraging us to consider donating blood.

I have had every intention of donating since completing the marathon. Thanks to Eva's prompting, I now have an appointment scheduled to donate blood.

I am overwhelmed with the realization that Dad is alive today partly because others have donated in the past. If you donate blood, here's a big thank you from me. You may very possibly have been directly responsible for my dad receiving the gift of blood and consequently, life.

If you have not given blood in the past, I am encouraging you to read Eva's posts and take the time to consider giving blood now. You can click on the following links to see her posts:


Blood Donation: Another Idea for Service

Blood Donation: Where to Give

Blood Donation: What to Expect

Blood Donation: Obstacles

Dad Update 12-6-07

When the doctors did the upper GI tract scope yesterday, they found no signs of internal bleeding. They still may consider doing a lower GI tract scope in the future. Currently, he is holding his blood. The numbers are not rising but they are no longer dropping which is good. It is possible that all the blood and platelet donations he has received are helping to fix whatever problem he was experiencing that caused the bleeding.

This morning the doctors performed the test for infection on the bronchial tubes. We do not know the results of this test yet. Dad was hoping to talk the doctors out of doing the test. They must feel it is important because he consented after discussing it with them further this morning.

Dad is feeling better. This is good news. My brother, Uncle, and Grandma were all able to talk directly to him on the phone. Any bit of positive news is something we hold on to.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dad Update 12-5-07

The test for infection through the bronchial tubes is on hold. Doctors need to do a scope to check the digestive system for internal bleeding as Dad is not keeping the blood like he should. They should be going through the throat into the upper GI to check the digestive system this morning.

Please pray for infection to stay away and for wisdom for the doctors to determine what is going on so the problem can be fixed.

Dad ate a doughnut Sunday morning and didn't eat again until yesterday morning when he had a sausage and egg mcmuffin. He has not eaten since then as it made him feel terrible. Please pray that he will be able to start eating again, too. He cannot afford to be losing anymore weight. Understandably so, Dad is quite discouraged and feeling pretty lousy. My parents could really use all the prayer they can get right now.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dad Update 12-4-07

Dad received three bags of blood during the day yesterday and two more last night along with a bag of platelets and a bag of something to help the platelets stick together. After the fourth bag of blood, he had enough energy to get up and walk to the bathroom.


His breathing is better. The cardio ecogram that was done came back leaving no concerns about his heart. That was good news.


The CT scan revealed spots on his lungs that bring concern about an infection. It could be nothing but doctors plan to go in to the bronchial tubes without scraping to test for an infection later today or tomorrow. (Not really certain how they are going to do this but they need to be prepared to fight an infection should one be attacking.)


It is believed that there is bleeding in his gastrointestinal tract. Rather than do anything invasive that could introduce infection, doctors have come up with a less intrusive plan of action. Dad will receive platelets around the clock until his platelet count is up to 75. (The highest my mom has heard of it with dad is something like 29.) The hope is that this will allow the bleeding to stop. (Platelets assist in the clotting of blood.)


Dad missed the scheduled IV push of chemotherapy yesterday. The team of doctors decided that he will go ahead and receive that today. Their #1 concern is fighting off the lymphoma/leukemia. They do not believe that this chemo will have a negative effect on anything currently going on with dad. The doctor said that they will go ahead with the chemotherpy schedule and just continue to "sweep aside the side effects as the come".


It seems inevitable that dad will be in the hospital for a while. Although this is not his desire, it is important he be under the watch of the doctors right now.

Thank God for the wisdom He gives to doctors. It's encouraging to hear that they are still fighting this cancer.

Goodbye "Precious"

My sister had to put their dog to sleep yesterday. "Precious" had turned 13-years-old the day before the attack. Three weeks later, she seemed to be doing well. Just this Sunday, Traci had told me they were going to quit spoiling her quite so much because of how well she was doing and the amount of time that had passed. Yesterday morning, Traci woke up to find Precious vomiting and having uncontrollable diarrhea. The veterinarian said all her organs were failing.

There is a lot of sadness in their home. The kids are trying to cope with the loss of their pet. At the same time, they're trying to keep perspective. They were able to give Precious a lot of extra love and attention that they may not have given her prior to the attack.

Precious was an older dog and was having health problems before they took her back from Mom and Dad. For a year, they were able to love her and experience the gift God gives us in animals.

Traci and Sabrina gave Precious a grave in my parents' back yard. Mom was able to direct them over the phone right next to the graves for our three dogs from childhood. Cassandra made a cross to place on the grave. You could say it's the end of an era. Precious was a pup of our childhood dogs and now they all have a spot in the backyard they enjoyed running around in so much.

Question Answered

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. – 1 John 3:16

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13


I previously shared that I was asked the question, “When you say the words ‘I love you’, what do you mean?” After pondering this question for some time, I gave my definition of to the inquirer.

Love is sacrifice. “I love you,” says you mean more to me than myself. God is love. Therefore, when I say, “I love you,” I am telling you that God’s love flows through me for you. I want what is best for you. When you hurt, I hurt. I want to experience life with you.

I think the key to this conversation with my inquirer is found in 1 John 3:18.

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

We must back up our words with our actions. If not, our words become cheap. It is so easy to throw around the words “I love you”. The important thing is that there be sincerity in our words (Romans 12:9).

I have learned to say these three little words more often to the people I cherish. I trust that my actions support my words.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dad Update 12-3-07

Dad is still in the same condition: weak and unable to catch his breath. However, he is able to rest. The doctors are growing cultures to see if there is any infection. Those will take a couple of days to get results. Today, dad's hemoglobin counts are low. There is concern that he may have internal bleeding. Tests will be done to determine if there is anything internal they cannot see. He had a platelett transfusion yesterday and will receive blood today. His vitals are all normal and the prayer is that doctors will be able to determine what is wrong so they can get him fighting through this again. Mom told me to read Psalm 4 last night before going to bed. Instead, I'm reading it this morning.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for Himself; the Lord will hear when I call to Him. In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord. Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. -- Psalm 4

Sunday, December 2, 2007

911

Dad called last week and asked if there was a time that all of my siblings could get together with him to talk. We scheduled that time for this morning. A couple of days ago Mom called and informed me that Dad was really hoping for some specific doughnuts that he’s only been able to find here in Joliet. This morning, I picked them up to take along for our time together. Mom had put a turkey in the oven at Dad’s previous request as he never was able to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner.

Dad has been having a difficult time catching his breath lately. He also has been having some issues with his stomach and/or intestines, which has been creating some problems. Despite all of this, he was still wanting his family to come over today for some conversation.

I walked in the door with Nikelle. (Jaycie needed to spend the day at Rod’s parents because she came down with a bad cough and I didn’t want to risk exposing Dad to those germs. Rod received a call from work as we were walking out of our door this morning and had to take care of some technical problems before he could join us.) Dad was sitting on the couch trying to catch his breath from walking up a flight of stairs. My brother, sister-in-law and nephew were upstairs already. Shortly after I pulled in the driveway, my other brother, my sister and their families arrived as well.

Dad decided to challenge himself to conquer another flight of stairs to sit in the dining room rather than remain in the family room. He did it but could not catch his breath after that point. He informed us that he could hear what we were saying although he wasn’t able to respond much. We did have a little bit of conversation where he could answer me here and there. He also managed to eat a doughnut or two before the commotion began.

Knowing he needed to use the bathroom before the home nurse arrived, he was accompanied by my mom and oldest brother down the stairs. When he reached the bathroom (after two flights of stairs), he practically passed out. This is where he succumbed to the fact that he couldn’t get himself feeling better today. My brothers brought down a dining room chair so they could carry him back up to the sofa.

Dad was cold and clammy. He was sweating profusely and was really looking like a cancer patient at that moment. The sight of my Dad wrapped up in blankets on the sofa; skinny and frail was not an easy picture to accept. My sister-in-law, Fiona, took his pulse. It was strong. Mom took his temperature, which was quite a bit below normal. After a telephone conversation with the home nurse, mom prepared the suitcase for the hospital.

The nurse walked in and immediately called the doctor. They recommended calling 911 and getting Dad to the nearest emergency room. There was so much frenzy as we tried to convince the nurse that Dad needed to go to Loyola and we would drive him. We all did what we thought needed to be done in order to help. Dad just couldn’t do it. We conceded and the ambulance was on its way.

Dad kept saying over and over again, “I’m going to die.” We all surrounded him and assured him we loved him. He told us, “You need to let me go.” We assured him that he was free to go if that was what God allowed. Dad could not calm himself down. He just kept crying and saying, “I’m sorry.” Mom looked at us and said, “And can it be.” My sister and I joined her in singing the old hymn. At the chorus, the paramedics came in.

I recognized one of the paramedics as the husband of Nikelle’s Cubbies leader from AWANA last year. I went outside to talk to him and informed him of the comfort I found in seeing him there.

The younger kids all went into Grams and Papa’s room to watch the ambulance through the window. I went upstairs to hug my older nieces as my heart broke to see them watching this. The paramedics placed Dad on the stretcher, gave him some oxygen and began transporting him to the nearest hospital. My brother, Will, followed in his vehicle as mom rode along with Dad. The rest of us felt the need to continue on with the day and take care of things we thought needed to be done.

A few hours later, Rod and I went to pick up Jaycie from his parents’ house. Thankfully, my mother-in-law offered to keep the girls overnight. I accepted the offer with relief.

Rod and I stopped at Silver Cross Hospital to visit Dad in the emergency room on our way home. He looks like a cancer patient. I believe we still face what we’ve faced these past 9+ months. We’re back to one of the more difficult moments on this roller coaster ride.

He’s being transported to Loyola now. That brings comfort because they know him there and they are experts in treating cancer. Hopefully, they will be able to give him something to make him comfortable and find out what is causing all these problems. He was going to have to visit as an outpatient tomorrow anyway. My prayer is that God will allow him to go home again soon.

Dad told me at the hospital that he just wants to live or die. He hates this in between junk. I think it’s the fighting that’s so difficult. Whether it’s through living or dying, I know God is our source of peace and rest. It’s in moments like these that we have to remember that.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” – Psalm 62:5

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christmas Tradition







One special tradition my dad put into practice took place every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Growing up, we didn’t go out to eat much. We weren’t a small family by any means and Dad worked two jobs and came home late every night. However, our birthdays and this time of year were an exception.

As a family, we looked forward to Saturdays during the holidays. Dad set these moments aside as a special treat for his kids. He would take us out to dinner and we would walk around different area malls to look at Christmas decorations.

Dad wasn’t sure if I remembered this tradition when I talked with him the other night. I assured him that it was a memory I was already planning to share on my blog.

I remember specifically that we would eat at the green McDonald’s when we would visit Lincoln Mall. Dad would let us order whatever we wanted off the menu. He probably knew there was only so much our stomachs could hold. Still, we would each order at least two sandwiches! My poor mom would walk to the counter with her “list” in hand while we sat at the table until she called us to help carry the food. It always took her a while to get back with the order, as she had to continually tell the workers that they had forgotten something. I’m pretty certain the McDonald’s staff were always thrilled to see our family leave.

I remember eating at Chi Chi’s when we would head to Fox Valley Mall. There was one instance while we were enjoying the decorations at the mall that I recall vividly. In general, we didn’t purchase anything at the mall. We were simply there to take pleasure in the lights and trees and such. This particular Christmas, however, mom decided to purchase porcelain dolls for my sister and I while dad kept us entertained elsewhere. If you know me well, it’s very difficult to surprise me due to the fact that I pride myself in such discoveries. Despite her efforts to have the gifts double bagged, I could still see what she purchased and announced, “You got me the doll I wanted!” Boy did that announcement change the mood for the evening. You’d think I would learn from experiences like these to just keep my big mouth shut!

Dad reminded me that we would eat at Shakey’s Buffet when we would enjoy the decorations at Orland Square Mall. I do remember this being one of our favorite restaurants although I wasn’t 100% certain that it was part of the Christmas tradition.

Duff’s was the restaurant to visit at Jefferson Square Mall. This was a unique buffet where you would stand in an area and the food would move before you in a circle. You had to grab it fast! If my memory serves me correctly, dad also took us to see a movie one Christmas season at this mall as well.

I assured Dad that he did Christmas right in my eyes. He informed me that it’s because his dad kept Christmas special for him. I certainly intend to keep Christmas memorable for my children as well.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Nike's recent thoughts on Heaven

When we were leaving my parents house the other night (after the cherished conversation with my dad), Nikelle made an inquiry. “Mommy, when will Papa be able to go to the farm again?” I tried to keep the emotion out of my voice as I simply stated, “I don’t know, Nikelle. Papa has to get better first.”

Why was I blessed with a child that treasures moments as much as I do? It would be so much easier if I could just be alone in my thoughts. “Mommy?” I made myself listen to her rather than entertain my consuming thoughts of sadness. “If God has a farm in heaven, that’s where Papa would want to be.” It was more of a statement than a question. I shook my head in wonderment as the tears began to come, “You’re right, Nike. Papa would want to be at God’s farm.”

Where do these thoughts come from? “Yeah,” she continued. “He would have pigs… and goats... and sheep... and...” The excitement coming from her voice made it medicating for my heart. “There’d be cows at the farm, too… and roosters.” She was amplifying what my dad told me earlier. “If I die, I’ll be going to a better place.”

“Mommy, why don’t we hear roosters when we wake up?” I allowed myself to come back from my thoughts to live in the moment as Nikelle continued with her thoughts. So we talked about people waking up to rooster calls.



(On a side note: Her imagination runs wild. There aren't even any animals or buildings for that matter at Papa's farm yet. It's just some property with a picnic shelter and some ponds.)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:1-4

Caution

Rod and I have seen the previews for the movie, The Golden Compass, numerous times. It looks very appealing...especially after seeing Narnia and the similar effects they seem to use. However, this is the second e-mail I've received on this movie so it's worth the caution:

I thought you would like to know some info about The Golden Compass....
The Golden Compass, a new movie targeted at children, will be released Dec. 7. This movie is based on a first book of a trilogy by atheist Philip Pullman. In the final book a boy and girl kill God so they can do as they please. Pullman left little doubt about his intentions when he said in a 2003 interview that "My books are about killing God."The movie is a watered down version of the first book and is designed to be very attractive in the hope unsuspecting parents will take their children to see the movie and that the children will want the books for Christmas.The movie has a well known cast, including Niclole Kidman, Kevin Bacon, and Sam Elliott. It will probably be advertised extensively, so it is crucial that we get word out to warn parents (grandparents) to avoid this movie. You can research this for yourself. Start with this article on Snopes.com, then go to Google. http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

I was also able to find this http://www.family.org/entertainment/A000001212.cfm on Focus on the Family's website.

Just a little FYI in case you haven't received this caution.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Conversation with Dad

Nikelle loves surprises. As I dropped her off at school yesterday, I informed her that there would be a surprise when I came back to pick her up. I told Jaycie of our plans after she woke up from her nap. When Nike walked out of her classroom and inquired of her surprise, I encouraged Jaycie to share it with her. “What is it JJ?” Nike squatted down to inquire of her little sister. “Papa”, Jaycie whispered. Nikelle’s eyes lit up the same way Jaycie’s did when hearing of the news. There were no complaints about not being able to play on the hill after school, as we jumped in the van to see my parents.

Mom called earlier in the day to tell me to bring my VCR with me. Dad had just cleaned theirs and it was working better. Since we have the same players, he thought he would do the same for ours if I would just bring it along. This little gesture lifted my heart in a way I cannot explain in words. Dad fixing my VCR: this is normal and there are so many days I just long for a little feeling of normal.

As the girls and I drove to Mokena, we sang songs. My heart just hasn’t been into the Christmas music this year as it generally is. For the first time this Christmas season, my heart was with the music yesterday. Christmas and my Dad. They almost go hand-in-hand.

This is something Dad talked to me about. Whether he should live or die, he wants us to remember to celebrate Christmas. He’s looking forward to celebrating with us this year. Still, the reality of the aggressiveness of this cancer looms. I informed him that I remember everything about the Christmas traditions he held so tightly to. I’ve already been writing them down this year for comfort.

Mom played with my girls in the dining room. I sat a distance away from Dad and talked with him for quite some time. (The room is set up so he has his sofa and we can come visit as long as we don’t have close contact with him.) One topic of conversation was “the farm”. Tears fell from my eyes as I informed him that I honestly don’t see myself enjoying the farm without him. The tears well up in my eyes even now at the thought.

Life without my dad: it’s a reality I do my best not to think about. He quoted Philippians 1:21 “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” While it is a comfort to know there is the hope of heaven, I shared with him that it’s us left here on earth for which my heart aches. He responded with “You’ll blink and this life will be over. Time on earth here will pass quickly. Really, it will.” (Today I read 2 Peter 3:8 in the One-Year-Bible reading which states “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” That was comfort straight from God confirming Dad’s words yesterday.)

Still, I hate that this reality is in our face every day. My heart hurts continually when I think of what tomorrow might hold. As I reiterated to him last night, I can only live for today. I at least find comfort that this is Biblical (Matthew 6:34). My heart and mind cannot cope with the future. He said it’s the potential for pain that makes it so difficult to think past today. I’m pretty sure he’s hit the nail on the head.

There was conversation about God’s power and how we know He can heal Dad if He chooses to. I shared with Dad how I am praying for God to show us that “He is the Lord” by healing him. Dad asked me what it means if he doesn’t survive this battle with cancer. He wants to be certain that I realize God is God even if he leaves this earth. I gave him assurance that I know God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). I do understand the reality that he may not be with us next year. Yet, I still choose this hope to carry me through today (James 5:15-16).

I will forever treasure this conversation with my Dad last night whether I can continue to have more conversations like these or not with him.

“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things – even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.” – 2 Peter 1:12-15

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

For Sentimental Reasons

Next weekend is the Lifetime Fitness Reindeer Run that I talked Dad into completing with me last year (the picture I have plastered everywhere is from that run). I want to run it again this year but it looks like I’ll be doing it alone. I wanted a family member to run with me for sentimental reasons. I had talked my niece into it until she did a practice run outside in the cold. Not something she’s up for and I don’t blame her. It’s an adjustment learning to run in the cold. My sister-in-law, Fiona, would do it with me but unfortunately, she is still having issues with her IT band from our marathon training and cannot run. I want to run the 3.1 miles. Dad was pushing me to do my best last year and I want to keep that mentality this year.

My solution is to wake Rod and the girls up nice and early and drag them with me so I have family there at the start and finish of the race. During the race, they can enjoy the race day festivities with Santa or watch a DVD in the van.

I’m grateful I have such a supportive husband. I doubt there is another man in the world that would put up with me. God knew what he was doing when He gave Rod to me. I’m so grateful that God allowed Rod to get this job where he doesn’t travel anymore. I need him with me during this season of life and although he still has to work long hours, he’s home. The grass often looks greener on the other side but if we look closely, we would realize it is pretty darn good right where we are. We just need to appreciate it. Oftentimes, I take Rod’s love for granted. He lives the words “I love you” every day and because of him, I know what those words mean.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dad's Home

I just received a phone call from my mom that they're home again! Dad actually drove home from the hospital and wanted to stop at McDonald's for some breakfast. It's good to hear that his spirits are up. Now they are getting ready to watch Christmas movies. My heart swells to hear this report. Every bit of good news is something I cling to. He still has quite the battle and I'm certain he's far from feeling good but it does something for my heart to know he is home and excited to be there. Thank you for your continued prayers!

I love you?

I was asked a question the other day that got me thinking. When we say the words "I love you" what do we mean? My first reaction was "I love you" means "I love you", kind of obvious, don't you think? Then I thought about it a little more. "I love food." "I love that song." "I love that outfit." "Love it!" "I love you." No wonder the question was raised. If you told someone those three words, "I love you" and they followed up with "What does that mean?" how would you answer them? I figured out my answer and shared my response with my inquirer. It was good to ponder as those words can be thrown around without meaning so easily. What are behind the words "I love you" when you say them?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dad Update 11-26-07

Dad is on his final chemo for this week. He is very hopeful that he will be able to go home tomorrow. Last night they took him off fluids and his weight was down to 144 pounds. He's fighting a very terrible disease and it's little reminders like these that keep us facing reality. At the same time, we are still very hopeful. Mom just went out to get him Portillo's for dinner. He has continued eating some things and that is an answer to prayer.

He will begin steroids tomorrow along with nuprigin. The prayer is that he can go home, get his blood counts back up, that the cancer stays away and that he is able to put on some weight again and avoid infection.

God is so unbelievably good to us!

Get Over It!

Overeating. It’s a word most of us can relate to coming off the Thanksgiving holiday. In my mind, I had planned out the food I would eat over the holiday so I could feel good about myself heading into this week. My plan quickly unraveled and I failed. I can beat myself up over my bad choices or I can learn from them.

I am slowly learning different triggers that cause me to overeat. When I am overtired, I eat mindlessly hoping I will get some energy as a result. Being over hungry prevents my mind from registering “full”. I eat whatever is convenient when I am overscheduled. And when life is overstressed I eat whatever comfort foods I can find in my pantry, fridge, or anywhere for that matter.

Overtired. Over hungry. Overscheduled. Overstressed. If I am facing one of these struggles, it is possible to overcome my bad eating habits. These past few days, however, have been jam-packed. Numerous times throughout this week, I’ve been struggling to keep my energy up. I’ve been overtired. We haven’t been eating at home and therefore, have not been eating at my usual mealtimes leaving me with that over hungry feeling. Overscheduled is an understatement as I haven’t been home for much reason other than to sleep since Thanksgiving morning. And facing the holidays and life in general has created stress that is over the top. My response is to overeat.

I wake up in the morning with every intention to eat well and yet lately I’ve eaten everything in sight: doughnuts, pizza, numerous Thanksgiving meals; birthday cake; leftover Halloween candy; etc. For a stretch, I will eat very well. I’ll be mindful of what I put into my mouth and avoid empty calories. Then there are these days where I can’t get control, have no time to plan and give in to every temptation I’m faced with.

Today, I’m choosing to move on. Every moment is a choice. I am able to control what I put into my mouth. I can continue to make excuses and beat myself over my bad choices. Instead, I will identify my trigger points and get over it! After all, every day is a fresh start.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dad Update 11-25-07

Dad will finish his last continual 24-hour chemo drip today around noon. Mom expects that today will be a fairly uneventful day which is good.

Tomorrow dad will receive another IV boost of chemo as well as a new chemo that he has not had before. This new chemo has the potential of some serious side effects. Please pray that he can avoid any side effects once again. He would really like to go home on Tuesday. The doctors have told him it will all depend on how his body responds to this new chemotherapy.

They took dad off his antibiotics a couple days ago. So far, so good. The fever must have been just accompanying the cancer and is gone now that the chemo is being effective. Dad said the lumps are dissipating as well. His white blood cell counts are dropping like expected with the chemotherapy. Please pray he will avoid infections.

So far, everything is going as well as can be expected. God has clearly been protecting my dad from terrible side effects as well as infections so far.

I received a phone call from him yesterday for my birthday. (I don't normally speak directly to him.) It was good to talk with him. He said he is very weak and the nights are rough. Still, he is alive and fighting. That's the important thing.

"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 1:6

A Little Perk

My body simply does not adjust to this “fall back” time change. No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot keep my eyes open past 8:00 p.m. It’s pathetic, I know. My poor husband gets zero time with me. The only way I survive past the time when the little hand reaches the 8 on the clock is if I am out for the evening. Even then, I struggle to stay awake and others pay for it in the days following because I’m so crabby from losing sleep. (Not to mention it’s also an excuse for me to eat too much. There’s really a connection between being overtired and overeating for me. But that’s another topic.)

There is actually a perk to my predicament. I wake up early. I have an internal alarm clock that wakes me up for some reason. Every day this week I’ve been up between 3:00 – 5:00 a.m. At this point, I’m certain some of you are struggling to see how there can be any sort of perk involved. Really, there is.

I love time by myself in the morning. During this time slot I can be fairly certain the girls will continue to sleep for at least another hour or more. So, I go into our bathroom, sit on the floor and open my Bible. The bathroom is just my one place I can go to be free of interruptions (at least when Rod is home to prevent them from bolting in).

The bathroom is my sanctuary. I like to turn on the space heater, get toasty warm, read, write and pray. God has met me there every morning this week. Honestly, if I simply make the time to join Him, I believe He’s always there waiting for me. Not necessarily in my bathroom per se. He’ll meet me wherever I go to find Him.

I could share so many verses I’ve been reading that have brought comfort to my heart this week. In future posts, I probably will. Today, however, I found Psalm 119:74 inspiring. It’s from our One-Year-Bible reading.

“May all who fear You find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in Your Word.”

What would it be like to know your hope in God allow others to find in you a cause for joy? I want this for myself. There are many verses I would like to be able to have applied to my life in the end. This is definitely another one I’m adding to the list.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Revelation

Growing up, I was always the youngest. At home, I was the baby of the family. My classmates at school were all older than me due to the later birthday cut-off date. Once again, I was the youngest of my "peers" in our small church youth group. (The ages ranged from 13-22, as the college-aged group was included as well.)

Needless to say, when I married Rod, I was able to keep this “young” complex. (Rod is 7 years older than I am.) As we’ve met new friends and gotten involved in different small groups, I’ve always been one of the youngest. Until recently, that is.

It was one of our first small group meetings this year that it dawned on me. The newlyweds in our group were talking about college. Another couple with a toddler could relate well to this “era” being discussed. I honestly was not hearing much of what was said at that point. Calculations were going on in my head as I realized I was no longer part of the “young” crowd.

Today, it’s official. I turn 30. To be honest, I’m not the least bit upset about turning 30. Yes, this number confirms the recent revelation I’ve had that I’m no longer “young” but I’m far from upset.

For me, my birthday still remains to be two things:

1. This is a day we all celebrate my birth. What gets better than a day about me? and

2. This is a day where I can personally thank God for another year of life. It is another reminder to thank Him for the many blessings He has rained down upon me in the past years.

My dad used to read verses in church prior to leading the congregational singing. One day, in particular, I recall a verse he read for my mom’s birthday. Today, I thought it was appropriate to sum up my own:

“I was young and now I am old.” – Psalm 37:25a

I am so thankful for another year of life!

Friday, November 23, 2007

From the Harvest to the Hope

Yesterday we spent the day at my brother, Trent's. He and his wife had a wonderful spread. They do a great job on the food. We always have more than enough. He does an incredible job with the meat! He has a smoker grill that he uses and douses a lot of it with brown sugar. Yum! Needless to say, I ate more than I needed to.

Today I woke up early to catch some shopping deals. I was able to get everything I was looking for and even had time to pick up my two oldest nieces for a few hours of shopping (a Christmas tradition) and some lunch.

Tomorrow we transform my parents house from the Harvest to Christmas. We are hopeful that Dad will be able to come home later in the week and we'd like him to be able to enjoy some of his favorite Christmas movies with the decor surrounding him.

The good news is that this new round of chemotherapy looks like it is being effective. He still has one more round of the 24-hour IV drip after this one and then a big day on Monday with more chemo. He's really hoping to go home on Tuesday. Our prayer is that complications continue to stay away and that all will go well so this can happen.

It was a strange holiday with him at Loyola. At the same time, it made me appreciate my siblings a little more.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Psalm 100

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His,
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dad Update 11-21-07

Dad is still on his first 24-hour chemo IV drip. So far, the medication he is taking is keeping the nausea at bay. We are thankful for that. Later today, he will have a 4-hour infusion of more chemotherapy so we will see how his body responds to that. He is still continuing the 24-hour chemo drips through the weekend. Doctors have him on the lasix pills to help reduce the amount of water retention in his body. So far, so good.

There was a power outage in Maywood last night. That means no ice in his water this morning. That's a bit disappointing for him. Normally, I'd say "Oh, well. It's just ice." With this situation, I feel a bit disappointed with him. There's not too much that he enjoys these days so when something small like that is unavailable I want it for him. They'll have it for him soon. The ice machine just needs to be cleaned out and restarted before he can have it.

Just little things to appreciate and be thankful for.

Forbidden Christmas

I hate the way Christmas is commercialized so early in the year. My dad has taught me to appreciate every little thing about Christmas and that is hard to do when it’s put in front of you before you even take the kids trick-or-treating.

Dad knew how to keep the holidays special. Anything Christmas was forbidden in our home until we were on our way home from the Thanksgiving feast. That’s when Christmas broke loose! Christmas music. Christmas movies. Decorations. Shopping. They were all kept special because of this.

That might be why my heart always sinks a bit every time I see a Christmas display or hear Christmas music prior to Thanksgiving. It makes me want to avoid shopping all together... until Friday that is!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dad Update 11-20-07

I just had a lengthy conversation with my mom. It’s always comforting to me to be able to have those talks with her because they generally include the Bible. It’s just something that I need.

Today dad begins a continual 24-hour drip chemotherapy that he will receive all the way through Saturday (it will end Saturday night). His body is really experiencing the effects of this cancer. He sweats constantly (his clothes get drenched). He is taking in all kinds of fluids but doesn’t get much fluid out (other than the sweating). His stomach is bloated and his ankles are swollen from all the fluid in his body. Previously, we had been told that the fluids protect his organs from the chemotherapy and so he just needs to deal with it. At the same time, doctors are considering giving him some more lasix pills to help combat this problem. The cancer and all the drugs affect his mind as well. He told my mom this morning that it takes him a while to remember where he is and what is going on. This is such a terrible disease. My heart just hurts that he has to experience all of this.

There is so much information to take in. I just can’t get it all straight in my head. Basically, the doctors have stepped up to “ramming speed” (if you’ve ever watched Ben Hur – one of my dad’s favorite movies). They need to get this cancer out of his body and there is no time to mess around. He has some very tolling weeks ahead of him. God and God alone will get him through this. I’ve been praying that God will heal my dad and show us all that “He is the Lord”.

Mom told me that they are in a double room at Loyola right now. They don’t foresee anyone joining them this week as it is Thanksgiving and the doctors are trying to get their patients home for the holiday. Therefore, last night, one of the nurses encouraged mom to use the extra bed in the room to sleep on rather than the two chairs she generally forms her bed out of. This is encouraging that she can get some rest as she cares for dad. Please pray that she, too, remains healthy through this battle.

One further note: Dad’s white blood cell count is going to drop. He’s going to be very prone to infection. Great caution is going to need to be taken and visiting won’t be the same. It’s so crazy to think that last year at this time we were celebrating our last Thanksgiving with my Grandpa (Dad's dad). We said that this year Thanksgiving would go back to the way it was in years past. Little did we know... Please continue to pray for my family this holiday season.

Give thanks to Him

To be honest, Thanksgiving this year is not an easy one for me. I need to keep the purpose of the holiday in mind in order to celebrate. Food is a struggle for me so it can't be about the feast. Family will not complete at the celebration so it's hard to say it's about the family. Thankfulness is the constant for this holiday.

I keep saying that we have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. This morning I asked myself why I say that. Then I started to thank God. It was a detailed list. Again, I say we have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. What are you thanking God for?

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” – Psalm 100:4,5

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dad Update 11-19-07

As always, thank you for your continued prayers for my Dad. Mom called this morning to tell me that dad will be in the hospital for at least one week. He received an "IV push" this morning and will continue to receive those every Monday through December 10th. He will have some form of chemo every day through Saturday. He will then begin to receive chemo pills on November 26th. Beginning the week of December 3rd he will receive nuprigin every week through December 19th. If his blood counts cooperate, we expect he should be able to go home every now and then after Monday. However, we really don't have any idea how any of this is going to play out. We do know that they will not be looking at the stem cell transplant until at least sometime after the 19th of December. We continue to pray and trust that God will use this set of treatments to beat this disease.

Please pray that he will be able to eat some during all of this as he is still quite thin and weak. Please pray that the chemo will be effective and he will beat this thing! Please pray that infection will stay away as well as complications. Please pray for their spirits. Pray that God will provide them with the strength that they need. Mom asked that any questions and requests for updates be filtered through me as dad is too weak to talk and she's just really not up to updating everyone at this time. Thank you all for your prayers.

We pray you have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving as we know we do.

Rainy Day!

I just took Nikelle to school. I find rainy days so refreshing to my soul! There's something about the cool air and the smell of rain... Am I the only person out there like this?

Some helpful advice...and my scale

I have really received some helpful advice from my previous post “Is there a problem with my scale?” (I had the Morning Star chicken nuggets in my hand at the grocery store, Kelly. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it.) Some of the advice was sent directly to me through e-mail and I think it was the advice that resonated with me the most. Therefore, I thought I’d share it with you as Thanksgiving is now just days away.

“…The more I told myself no, the more enticing the food became…what I have arrived at is that no food in and of itself is bad food…I normally eat pretty well but if I want a candy bar I eat one. I eat it slowly and enjoy it completely with no guilt. Then I go back to eating well. One thing that has also helped is that 98% of the time I will not eat past the point of "no longer hungry." I stop before "full." Another thing is that if I want to eat something and I know that I've been indulging too much that day I'll tell myself that tomorrow is another day...if I REALLY want that bowl of ice cream but I've already eaten cookies, I say, "tomorrow I can eat ice cream." When I'm at special gatherings I don't eat anything that I normally eat. Like on Thanksgiving I usually don't eat the roll or the mashed potatoes because those are things I can eat anytime. That way I'm not stuffed at the end of the meal even if I have had a nice helping of [insert food here] (I only eat it once a year).”

These have been some thoughts I have really been trying to consider as I’ve faced my struggle with food each day. To be honest, it has helped. Not every time, but overall, it has helped.

Yesterday I attended a baby shower where I encountered the buffet. (It helped that I didn’t have Jaycie with me so that I could think a little more clearly.) I took Nike up to get her food first. (This way I was able to see what there was to eat before I filled my plate.) After I got her all situated, I went back for my salad. I sat down to eat it and enjoyed some good conversation. Then I went up for my meal. I chose some corn, a small amount of smashed potatoes, some beef and chicken. I chose not to eat the skin on the chicken and again enjoyed some good conversation as I ate. I did not feel a need to go back for a second helping even though I kept thinking about it and was encouraged to get more. When it came time for cake, I said I would share a piece with Nikelle. Still, I was given a small piece of chocolate cake to which I did not refuse. I recalled the above advice that I could eat it and enjoy it without guilt because I was at a special occasion. To be honest, I even went home and ate the chocolate covered pretzel stick (a treat I truly enjoy). I figured I had gone for a 30-minute jog prior to church that morning so I was ok.

Bottom line: I feel good about my experience yesterday. I never experienced that “I’m stuffed” feeling that I would normally encounter. I enjoyed a good visit with family and conquered a small battle for one moment that is a constant struggle for me. It’s a good feeling heading into the week of Thanksgiving.

I hope the above advice is able to help some others as it has helped me. By the way, I’m hopeful my scale is working as the numbers have gone down slightly. Either way, I was able to comfortably wear an outfit to the baby shower yesterday that I wanted to be able to fit into before my birthday. That, in and of itself, feels very rewarding.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Check It Out

Kelly Newton's post today spoke to my heart. Check it out here:

http://kellynewton.wordpress.com/2007/11/17/two-voices/

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my absolute favorite holidays. Growing up, we always went to my Dad’s parents’ for the feast. All my aunts and uncles and cousins were there and my highlight was always the sweet potatoes! I LOVE sweet potatoes. Maybe that’s a strong word but I do thoroughly enjoy them. When I think of Thanksgiving, sweet potatoes come first on my list – not the pumpkin pie.

Another reason I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving is likely because it usually involved some celebration for my birthday. I was born on Thanksgiving Day in 1977 so I tell everyone that the purpose of our national holiday is to give thanks for me. Yes, I know, I think very highly of myself.

On a more serious note: There is so much to be thankful for this year. The focus of Thanksgiving is to have a grateful heart. What an awesome reminder to give thanks for everything God has done for us. Topping my list this year is good health. It’s a gift. We need to thank God daily.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dad Update 11-16-07

Well, the doctors called my dad and told him he needs to be at the hospital Monday morning for another round of chemotherapy. Although this was not the news we were hoping for, it was expected. Dad's white blood cell counts have been very high and he has noticed a lump growing under his arm once again. He will be in the hospital all week but we know it is necessary. I am grateful that he is still here fighting even if he will not be eating a feast with us on Thanksgiving Day. A lot has been going on with my family. It seems quite overwhelming at times. Still, God does not change. That, in and of itself, is a comfort to me. I know I can place my trust in Him and he will care for all of us.

Thank you for your continued prayers. Please pray for him as he endures this next round of chemo. Pray that infection stays away, that there are no complications and that this will effectively fight off the cancer.

I sincerely thank God for each of you.

The Tuttle Family


Here is my family at "The Farm" over Labor Day weekend.
From Left to Right Bottom: Therin (Trent's son), Nikelle (my daughter), Maty (Will's daughter) and Mongo (one of Trent and Beth's dogs)
From Left to Right Middle Row: Trent (my brother), Will (my brother), Dad (also named Will), Cameron (Traci's son), Tommy (Traci's husband) and Thomas (Traci's son)
From Left to Right Back Row: Beth (Trent's wife), Me, Jaycie (my daughter), Rod (my husband), Fiona (Will's wife), Elena (Will's daughter), Mom (Dorothy), Cassandra (Traci's daughter), Sabrina (Traci's daughter) and Traci (my sister)

I'm the youngest of four siblings. Trent is one year and two days older than I am. Will is next in line and Traci is the oldest. Just thought I'd give you some faces and names to go along with those prayers.

Psalm 34:18

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Seems Appropriate

The lyrics to this song have been going through my head all day. It seems very appropriate that I post them now.

Still I Will Worship You

I know that You are strong
I know You're more than able
to save me from whatever
ever comes my way
I know You are a Healer
I know You can deliver
I know that You can rescue me
but even when I cannot see Your hand
when You move in a way that I would not have planned
still I will worship You
I will worship You in the midnight hour
I will worship You when I'm in the fire
I will worship You when all hope seems gone
I will stand and proclaim that You are my God
I will worship You
I will worship You
I will worship You

The Ache in My Heart

This morning my heart is hurting – a lot. I just found out that my cousin, who had just announced to everyone that she was expecting, had a miscarriage. My heart hurts for her and her husband. It’s a pain I’ve never had to endure firsthand but my heart has more compassion for everyone who must experiences loss these days.

We are in one of those waiting moments with Dad. He had the bone marrow test yesterday and we are hoping for some results by the end of the day on Friday. I know he is extremely concerned. That concerns me. He knows what he is going through. He knows his body. I assume he even likely knows when the cancer is attacking again. He has a fever. This causes him to sweat a lot at night and not sleep well. The doctor didn’t really have anything to say about any of this. That almost makes it more difficult. I hate this part. I really do. I’m scared that if they tell my dad that he needs another round of chemotherapy prior to the stem cell procedure that he’ll want to quit fighting. I know he is feeling as though he cannot handle anymore. At the same time, I know it is only God’s strength that has pulled him through this far and it is only by God’s strength that he will continue to pull through.

Rod asked me the other day if I’m scared to feel happy. He asked if I’m worried that if I feel happy that I’ll have to feel sad as well. My response to him was tears. Later I pulled out some paper and this is what I wrote:

There’s an ache in my heart that continues to tug
But there’s no time to stop; through the day I must plug
The girls need their meals; there’s a schedule to keep
Still the pain in my heart runs so very deep
Numb is the only way I know how to feel
For all other feelings are just all too real
Fear crowds in daily or so it does try
Comfort is found only when to God I do cry
Today is the moment I must live in right now
For strength and peace I ask as my head I now bow

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Power of Prayer

About the time when I was in 5th grade, our two dogs, Tandi and Royal, were lost for 4 days. We lived on 5 acres surrounded by corn and soybean fields. We also had a creek running alongside our property. The dogs had run away numerous times before, but we always found them somewhere down the creek. This time, however, we could not find them.

It was four days of heartache as we looked and prayed. My Uncle made posters announcing a reward if anyone found them. There is one moment, in particular, that I remember from this experience. My mom, siblings and I were sitting around the dining room table praying before Dad got home from work. We prayed that we would be able to find both dogs, that they’d be all right, and that we wouldn’t have to pay the reward.

The next day at school, my sister’s teacher happened to be looking out the window and commented that there were two dogs in the schoolyard. My sister went to the window, asked to call my mom and went back to class (she was always very responsible with her education). We lived in Mokena and the dogs were found at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort (about 8 miles away next to a major road).

I firmly believe God answered our prayer to show a little girl how powerful He is. I have always been able to point back to that moment, despite how silly the request may seem to some.

My sister’s family just had a similar experience over the past few days. Their youngest, largest dog (Cinnamon) attacked their oldest, smallest dog (Precious). They came home to find blood all over their hallway and “Precious” lying on the floor dead. The dogs never really got along so they always made certain to keep the dogs apart when they were gone. This time, however, the measures just weren’t enough. As Traci was explaining to the kids about what happened, my brother-in-law, Tommy, came up with Precious in his arms telling Traci to call someone because she was still alive! They rushed her to the emergency clinic. Precious had lost huge amounts of blood and was in shock. She has no ears and has a large gash in her neck.

Yesterday, my sister paid us a visit to show us that Precious was better and going home! (She knew Nike had been praying for her - we all were.) I was simply amazed to see Precious walking around. She does look pretty bad. No ears. A large gash in her neck. Shaved. Nikelle couldn’t even handle looking at her and certainly did not want to pet her. Still, Precious was able to walk around and seems very happy to be home again.

The veterinarian said that in all his years of practice, he had never seen an attack to this extent let alone see the animal live! Instantly, our response is “Wow! What a fighter! She’s an amazing dog.” My sister’s response is more accurate, “We have an amazing God.” I believe that my nieces and nephews have learned a lesson in the power of prayer just as I did at a young age.

All of this encourages me as we pray for my Dad. It reminds me that God cares for His creation. He cares for the animals and cares so much more for us. We read this in Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” We could paraphrase it in my life like this: “Did I not return both the dogs without your having to pay a reward? I protected Precious from death. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered (with losing and gaining and losing and gaining the little hair he has from chemotherapy, these words are very valuable). So don’t be afraid, your Dad is worth far more to Me.”

Reading in the Book of Ezekiel, God has impressed on me that His purpose in everything is so that we will know that He is the Lord. I am praying that He will show us all once again that He is Lord by healing my Dad from this terrible disease. I believe in the power of prayer!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Looking for Input

This past Friday was my parent/teacher conference for Nikelle. I had an informative visit with her teacher and found out my child is an average kid. Thank God for that! At the same time, her teacher informed me that I need to start thinking about first grade! Arghhh! I do not look forward to sending her to school all day. Well, honestly, there might be some perks...but there are so many reasons for my hesitancy. Mainly, it's SO out of my control. It's going to be a huge learning experience in trusting God next year.

So, here are our two options: Pershing and Eisenhower. Both our public schools. Eisenhower you have to test into. Class size is supposed to be smaller. I've already been receiving input from Amy as her children attend(ed) Eisenhower but I'm looking for any other input I can receive. Pershing is much closer (I could just drop her off). Eisenhower she'd take the bus and leave at the crack of dawn (although I know I could always drive her, too)!

I hate having to think about all of this now. I really don't want to but I know it's necessary. Private school is not an option due to finances and I have no patience to home school. I also support the public schools. I felt it was a profitable experience for my relationship with God. I received a lot of ridicule and learned how to take a stand. At the same time, Rod and I have always said we will take things one day at a time and one child at a time. If the school we place them in is not working for them, we'll reconsider our options.

Again, it's between Pershing School and Eisenhower Academy. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dad Update 11-12-07

Please continue to keep my dad in your prayers. Specifically, my dad's white blood cell counts are quickly on the rise. Although this seems like a good thing, the nurse expressed concern that this could indicate signs of an infection. This morning, my mom told me that dad does have a fever. With a normal person, a fever is no big deal. With dad, there is so much that hangs on this. Please pray that he can fight quickly an infection that may be trying to attack his body. More importantly, please pray that this is not the cancer attempting to attack him again. We so desperately want him to be able to get into the stem cell procedure quickly. Still, we trust God for all things and know he is still in control.

Rest in Hope

Yesterday, we were enjoying our first day of rest in quite some time. I pulled out my scrapbook materials while Rod prepared to watch the Bears game. When his parents called to invite us over for dinner and a visit with some extended family, we knew to accept the invitation. Afterall, who knows what tomorrow will bring? It was a good dinner (that I didn’t have to cook) and a nice visit with Rod’s parents, sister, Aunt, Uncles and cousin, Erin.

Erin is the one who inspired my post for today. As we were talking last night about the many daily struggles we face, we admitted that most of the time, there are always people in worse situations. That’s why she forwarded me this link: http://www.jenniferireland.blogs.com/. This is a blog that details a woman’s courageous battle with cancer as well as the effect of the battle on her husband and two little girls. From what I read, she was diagnosed with cancer shortly after the birth of their second child and lost her battle with cancer early this year. Her girls were only 4 and almost 2 at her death. The pain this family must have endured and yet the posts on this blog still show hope. Tears soak my face as I read through their struggle. Today, I lift a prayer that God would wrap His arms around this family during this holiday season as they experience their first Thanksgiving and Christmas without their loved one.

Hope. It’s’ an amazing gift from God. That was going to be the topic of my post today before receiving this link anyway. I am so grateful for HOPE. Without it, how would we get through one day? I’m hopeful that today will be a day filled with joy. I’m hopeful that Dad will beat this terrible disease. I’m hopeful that even if the holidays are celebrated this year without my Dad present, that we will have many celebrations to come. I’m hopeful for eternity. Eternity is where we will no longer have to say goodbye. Eternity is where we will no longer have tears. In Eternity, rest will be plentiful.

“Faith is being sure of what we HOPE for and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dear Friends...

I just finished today's Bible reading from the One-Year Bible. Hebrews 10:23-25 are the verses I'm rereading and thinking on at the moment.

"23Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

This is what I love about my friends. I want people who inspire me to walk with God. I love to surround myself with people who encourage me and give me ideas as to how I can reflect God's love to others. I don't want to surround myself with people who are complimenting me left and right. I don't need those people who are just going to make me feel better about being me. I need people who will challenge me! I want to grow! Thank you to each of you who do this for me.

So, what are we doing today to encourage one another and to spur one another on toward love and good deeds?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Food on the Brain

How ironic is it that in my post about rereading this typo appears?


“Even a food is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” – Proverbs 17:28

I think about food when I don't even realize I'm thinking about food!

I've now corrected my last post with the correct wording of the verse:

“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” – Proverbs 17:28

Thanks to my dear friend for pointing it out!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Open Mouth; Insert Foot

Do you ever have that feeling seconds after you part a conversation? Why is it that I continually think back upon a conversation and want to duck into a hole? I cannot believe I say certain things. Really. I’m not sure what I’m thinking at times. Did that really come out of my mouth? Did I actually say that to that person? That’s what I love about writing. You can reread and reread and reread before you send it. Whether it’s the old-fashioned letter writing, e-mail or a blog. We can reread what we write before we allow others to "hear". I need to stick more to writing and do a little less talking.

“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” – Proverbs 17:28

Dad Update 11-8-07

Dad met with his doctor yesterday. The doctor told him that he must have 9 lives. He will meet with the doctor again next Wednesday (the 14th). A bone marrow test will be done. If the bone marrow shows now signs of the cancer, he will not need the additional chemotherapy. They will be able to put him into the stem cell preparation instead. Please pray that there will be no signs of the cancer so he does not need to go through an additional chemotherapy. Please also pray that he can eat and gain weight. In addition, we are praying for his blood counts to go back up where they need to be. He also needs the strength to exercise. Thank you for your prayers and I will inform you of the results of the bone marrow test when it is received.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Necessary Experience

Back in March I wrote an entry in my journal that went like this:

Tuesday seemed very normal. During swim class, Jaycie went and stayed with Grams because Papa had felt good enough to go to work. Grams took Jaycie to the park and was able to experience a taste of normalcy for a moment. Nike and I returned after swim and we had macaroni and cheese for lunch. Mom and I discussed the Bible. Jaycie went down for a nap and Nikelle and I walked over to the “Mokena park”. Nike enjoyed being “in charge” and leading me all over the park. Great Aunt Harriet and Cousin Richie brought dinner and we watched the girls run, dance, sing and squeal on the upstairs porch waiting for Papa to return home. Once Papa ate dinner, we showed the video from Nikelle’s spring musical he was unable to attend and talked a bit about how he was feeling.

It was a necessary day to experience. Reality quickly flooded in again as the doctors laid out the treatment plan on Wednesday.


Yesterday was another one of those days.

It’s been a month since Jaycie has seen my parents. Every day she asks about “Gaga and Papa”. When she asked yesterday and I told her we were going to their house to visit them, her face lit up with a huge smile. During the drive to Mokena, she asked numerous times for them. Then we pulled into their driveway. “Papa. Gaga. House.” Excitement filled the air.

When my mom opened the door, she was just as excited to see the girls as they were to see her and Papa. “Loud” does not even begin to describe the rest of our visit. Squeal after squeal. Smile after smile. Dominos were spilled all over the wood floor. Imagination turned the Dominos into telephones.

“Papa” just watched from his sofa and smiled. He looked better than he did on Sunday. I told him that. Actually, he looked really good considering. I told him that as well.

More squeals. Coloring. Juice. Playing with the dollhouse. Someone at the door. Great Aunt Harriet came once again and brought dad and mom some blueberry pie. Cousin Richie harvested some more broccoli out of dad’s garden. (It always does dad’s heart good to know people are consuming the food he enjoyed growing. He doesn’t want it to go to waste.)

Singing. Playing the piano. Moving chairs around the room. Medicine.

Oh, yeah. Medicine. Still need to remember all of this in the midst of the moment. Grams went to get Papa’s medicine to warm it up for when it needs to be administered.

J: “Papa meds?”
Me: “Right, Jaycie. That’s Papa’s medicine.”
J: “Papa sick?”
Me: “Right, Jaycie. Papa’s sick.”
J: (Working at folding her hands) “Better?”
Me: “Right, Jaycie. We ask Jesus to make Papa better.”

Back to playing. Squeal. Upstairs. Downstairs. Looking at Photo Albums. Time to get Nike to Awana. Time to meet Daddy at Grandpa and Grandma Carlson’s for some time with them. Driving away.

Nike thinks aloud, “I wonder if Grams will be outside to wave goodbye.”

My heart sinks as I know this ritual is a highlight for the girls. “Probably not, Nike. It’s cold and Grams needs to take care of Papa.”

We drive around the circle drive and I slow down just to be sure.

I smile as I see Grams come out the door and down the stairs. “Bye.” “Bye.” “Bye.” She yells as she waves her arms.

In the midst of everything, she knows the importance of this ritual to my girls.

“Bye.” “Bye.” The girls wave and squeal as we pull away.

My emotions are tangled. Ecstatic that my girls were able to have such a wonderful time with my parents. Disheartened because they are a little too educated on the battle with cancer. Grateful that my girls know who is in control and I pray.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Need a good laugh?

Nikelle attends a Kindergarten at a Lutheran church down the street from us. This week they are talking about baptism. Naturally, Nikelle has raised some questions. Thankfully, I am aware of what they are discussing this week so I could be prepared to answer her.

"Mommy, have I ever been worshipped?"

I held back my laughter as I said, "No, you have not been BAPTIZED."

The more I think about it, the more I laugh.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Dad Update 11-6-07

Dad is home again. He will see his doctor tomorrow just to talk and possibly see when things will get scheduled next. Seeing as how they don't have any bone marrow tests scheduled, it's unlikely that we'll know too much until the following week.

Dad is much weaker than before he entered the hospital but I visited him on Sunday and he looks much better than I had expected. There is a good slice of his tongue missing but I was still able to understand everything he said. I can't understand what he's going through in any way. I'm just grateful that God continues to provide him with strength and bring him through all these obstacles that keep coming his way.

My prayer right now is that through a miracle, he wouldn't have to go through another round of chemotherapy but just go straight to the stem cell procedure. Even still, I know God is faithful and will carry us through whatever is ahead.

Mom has to go to the Board of Review today for their tax appeal. It seems crazy to me that they have to continue to fight things like this amongst everything else they are dealing with. Still, God's hand is shown as Dad is home so it is easier for mom to do this. I'm praying for peace and a fair outcome in this situation.