Thursday, January 31, 2008

Update 1-31-08

My Dad had night sweats again last night. The hope is that the cancer won't get too aggressive prior to his first dose of maintenance chemotherapy on Monday.

Rod's Dad has been in the hospital for about 1 1/2 weeks now. He had some kidney stones removed and also had some fractures in his back repaired. They have recently done a bone marrow test and are doing blood work to look into the status of the leukemia he is fighting.

Thank you for keeping both of our dads in your prayers.

This morning I wanted to curl up on the sofa and stay there. Thankfully, I already had a morning planned with my MOPS table. When depression calls, it was much healthier to get out and visit with people.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kids say the ...

Nikelle excaimed to her Daddy tonight that there was great news! "Daddy, Jaycie is going to have a baby!" Daddy's response was "Oh, no." Nikelle corrected him. "It's not 'Oh, no', Daddy. It's Congratulations!"

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thanks, God!

My plan was to go and visit with my parents this past weekend as the girls were better and dad's blood counts were up. Mom called me Friday to ask if it was o.k. if we postponed our visit until later in the day. For the first time in a long time, Dad did not have to expect a visit from the home nurse and he desired to head to the farm. Personally, I thought it was a little cold for the farm but hey, more power to him.

They went out to breakfast in the morning and drove to the farm. Bundled in snowsuit and boots, they took a trek across the farm. A layer of thin ice covering the tall grass gave them each a nice fall. Thankfully, the ice was deceiving and there was no water underneath! They must have spent a good 1-2 hours walking around the property.

When we saw them later in the afternoon, Dad told me that he was on his 7th consecutive day of feeling well (painkillers help in this effort). It was a nice visit. We watched some home videos and had some good conversation. The girls helped Grams make pizza and even had the opportunity to toss the dough in the air.

It was a full afternoon that can make one forget somewhat the gravity of this illness he faces every day. At least for a moment. It was a good visit and I'm grateful he was feeling so much better.

He never dreamed he'd be able to walk that much again and it was very uplifting to him. Thanks, God, for such a good day!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Book Recommendation

“A woman’s disappointment in men, circumstances, God, life, money, kids and the future can cause her heart to wander. If she’s single she may turn to fantasy and self-gratification, hurting her potential to develop a healthy sexual connection with her future husband. If she’s married, she may start comparing her husband with every other man, and when she does, he always comes up short. She may obsess over all that he is not and all that he could be. She may express her desires for him to be different and better, creating criticisms and complaints in almost every conversation. It becomes so serious that she begins to feel entitled to something better, someone who can meet her needs the way she deserves. Unknowingly she betrays her husband with almost every thought of him and someone else she views as superior. And with each comparison comes a greater and deeper disconnection between the two of them and the increasing likelihood that she may fall into an emotional affair or even a sexual one. But even if she does neither, her rejection of her husband destroys the potential for her to experience the fulfillment she longs for.”

A few years ago, my friend, Jaren, recommended that I read the book Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge. To say it was eye opening is an understatement. Above is an excerpt from the foreword of this book. Women are emotional beings. We are attracted to men because of an emotional attachment. Shannon explores this in depth in her book. I highly recommend it. It has changed my relationships.

It’s not that I believe men and women cannot be friends. However, I do raise caution in my friendships with men. My time and investment need to be in my husband. Sad to say, there have been times where my time and investment have been more with other male friendships. Upon reading this book, Rod and I discussed it and I am now more aware and conscientious about my friendships and the level I allow them to grow. I attempt to focus on my friendship with the wife in our “couple” friendships and encourage Rod to grow deeper in the friendships with the men.

Honestly, I would say this was an extreme change for me. I’ve always formed friendships with guys easily. Even in grade school and high school, I was their friend while they looked to my friends for the dating relationships. What I’ve found in guarding my heart in this transforming way is that God has blessed me with some truly deepened female friendships. I still have many male friends, but I keep up fences that are there to honor God and show love to my husband and respect for my marriage.

If you are hesitant to agree with me, I’ve been in those shoes. Please let me encourage you to read this book and allow God to speak to your heart. We are now studying it as a small group. Well, the women are studying this and the men are studying Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn. (Men, highly recommend that one to you.)

I ask the question, is your spouse/marriage worth it?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

These Days

It seems like I spend the majority of my time these days between the bathroom and the sofa. I cannot get enough sleep and the toilet bowl calls my name quite often. I was hopeful that some medication my midwife prescribed would help the situation. Although it has made me somewhat more functional during the day, it has yet to completely stop the nausea. Wishful thinking, I suppose. I am hopeful that come March, I will be productive in my life once again. To those women who endure this for the entire nine months (and more than once), you must be saints!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Loss of Brain Cells

I don't know how true it is, but I've heard it said that women lose brain cells with each pregnancy. My mom loves telling a story about my dopiness from my pregnancy with Jaycie. Bringing it up again the other day, she advised me to post it on the blog.

At the end of my pregnancy with Jaycie, I was trying to decide where Nikelle should go during labor and delivery of her sibling. Should she spend the night with my parents, my in-laws, or one of my siblings? Really uncertain as to which decision was best, I discussed the situation with my mom. "What did I do with Nikelle last time?" She could not control her laughter as she repeated my question, "What did you do with Nikelle when you were giving birth to Nikelle?"

It's a story she loves to tell over and over again. At least those lost brain cells leave memories to laugh about!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Dad Update 1-21-08

Dad went in today for his final IV push of this round of chemo. His blood counts were extremely low still but the doctor said he was in need of the chemo.

He has been receiving some type of blood transfusion just about every day for the last week or so. He'll meet with his doctor next week to discuss the next step for this "maintenance chemotherapy". It's strange to report with nothing to "hope" for (i.e. the stem cell transplant). Still, I'm grateful he's with us today.

Jaycie still says "Papa. Sick. Better. God." It's a good reminder from my little girl that we still ask God to heal him despite the doctors discouraging reports.

We haven't visited in almost two weeks. Jaycie had a snotty nose last week when I was planning on visiting and Nike has now come down with the same bug. That's a bit frustrating but I don't want to expose him to some sort of infection knowingly with his white blood cell count down near .5.

Thank you to each of you for your continued prayers. I know the sincerity behind your words "we're praying" and I'm grateful.

Please remember to include my father-in-law in your prayers as well. Although I don't believe he'd appreciate my updating everyone on his condition on my blog, he still battles this slow-growing luekemia and he's in our prayers just as often as my dad.

In the darkness

I wrote this yesterday but hesitated to post it. Giving some honest answers to some caring people yesterday actually helped me through this darkness somewhat. So, I am going to share this post. Not because I’ve lost faith. Not because I want sympathy. Simply because it’s reality. My identity as a Child of God does not mean life is simply peachy. It just means I know there is hope – even in the darkness.

Everything in life seems to point to the future. Planning for tomorrow. School. New Life. Dreams. Celebrations. Vacations. So, what does one do when everything inside of them screams “NO” to the future?

This seems to be my life lately. I don’t dream much. I don’t really have many desires, either. I’m allowing this earthly life to suck me dry. I cried this morning during communion. Christ came to earth specifically to die. He did it all for us. Still He came… willingly…to die…for me.

I’m grateful. I truly am. Without that, the current circumstances of life would be truly unbearable. Still, I battle with my emotions. I hurt and fight to stay out of the depression that desires to take over my soul.

I know the choices I must make to prevent this depression from winning. I know God is where I must turn. I am confident that if I allow him to penetrate my heart and feel and give my feelings to Him, that He will carry me.

Unfortunately, I’ve made the choice to turn on the television. Here I don’t have to think. Here I don’t have to feel. It would probably do my life good to get rid of the television in our home. Yet I make excuses and continue to battle to stay out of depression. I’ve made my choice and know it’s the wrong one.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2-year-old praise

Jaycie and I were by ourselves last night. She was playing quietly with her magnetic train and I was resting. "Mommy. Broke." She beckoned me to fix her train. Placing the cars all back together, I received praise from my 2-year-old daughter. "Good girl, Mommy." That might just be better than a thank you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Not blogging

I haven't been much into blogging these days. Mainly because I've been so sick. My mom may not be right when she says my life is too easy. However, the other kid has a due date of August 31st. Rod and I are soon to be outnumbered!
Most days, I just want all of this with my dad to be a bad dream that I wake up from. Dad had another IV push of chemo on Monday. His white blood cell count is around .5 and they are starting him on antibiotics because he might be fighting something (sore throat and sores in his mouth). Other than that, there's not too much to report.

My niece, Sabrina (she'll be 16 this Spring), sent me this poem yesterday that she wrote. She agreed that it was o.k. for me to share it on my blog.

Seasons

Spring is around the corner,
Winter can not stay for long;
For it is just a season that lasts and now it's gone.
The snow will soon melt away,
The flowers shall then bloom.
I see the trees shake off the snow and say that it is time.
It has been a long winter and trials we've been through,
But spring shall come again and make everything new.
For we all have a season of winter it's true,
Wait the spring will come again and the sun shall warm you.
For eveything has a season and God will bring us through.

Written by: Sabrina N. Larson

To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven. - Ecclesiastes 3:1

Friday, January 11, 2008

My life's getting too easy

A little while back, my mom told me she thought my life was getting too easy; that I should have another child. I'm not so sure about that but I have gotten somewhat lax on caring for my children. Now that Jaycie is two, she and Nikelle generally play pretty well together. I don't have to watch them 24/7 as long as I keep my ears open. I enjoy this age.

This morning I wasn't too energetic. I decided to take a rest on the couch while they were playing. I guess I drifted off. Nikelle woke me up, "Mommy! Mommy! Jaycie has a poopy diaper and there is even some on the stairs!" That got me up off the couch.

We aren't actively pursuing potty training quite yet. Still, there have been numerous times Jaycie will use the potty chair. I bought pull-ups to encourage her and it's been quite convenient. She even changes herself at times.

I flew up the stairs (carefully watching where I stepped) and found her in Nike's room. Thankfully, she had not yet attempted to change her own diaper.

I needed to get started with my day and they were due for a bath today anyway.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

An Apple A Day

I stocked up on fruits and vegetables yesterday at the store. When I have healthy snacks in the house, I tend to eat healthier. After coming home, I looked in the pantry for a snack. Remembering the apples I just bought, I went to the refrigerator and pulled one out. As I washed it, I anticipated the refreshing, satisfying bite of a crisp, crunchy, juicy apple.

Biting into this apple gave me no such kind of satisfaction. It was mushy and soft on the inside. What a disappointment! I don't know why an apple can appear perfect on the outside but the inside is nothing like that outer reflection.

I can't help but compare this apple to myself. So often, my outward appearance (as well as the reflection I put on for others with my personality) may not match what is going on inside of me. What a disappointment to find out that a person you thought you knew well is really nothing like the facade they've been putting forth. It might do us all good if we attempted to match inside and out. Of course, that would mean we'd have to clean up the inside... and that could take a lot of work.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Mrs. Fix-It

Nikelle received a Charlie Brown ornament this year for Christmas. On it, the Peanuts characters are playing hand bells to a familiar Christmas carol. Since she enjoys watching A Charlie Brown Christmas over and over again and her class played the hand bells in her school Christmas program, it seemed like the appropriate ornament to remember 2007. It was until her little sister decided to get a hold of it and pull Linus off. The poor little guy could no longer play the bells. Rod said he would take care of it later (we needed super glue).

This is where I take on the part of the “good” wife. I went to the store and purchased the necessary adhesive. After returning home, I walked past the ornament left on the kitchen counter a few times before it seemed appropriate to fix it myself. After all, Rod has an overwhelming amount of work to do this week at the office. And I reasoned, “Who can’t apply a little super glue?”

I don’t know what happened exactly. After I finished “fixing” the ornament, not only did Linus no longer play the hand bells; the entire ornament forgot how to play music. Frustrated doesn’t even begin to describe the way I felt. I attempted to forget about it and leave it for Rod to deal with (like I should have done originally). “This is why I don’t play the 'good' wife,” I rationalized.

Tonight, Rod and I spent some time together attempting to fix the Peanuts ornament. (No matter how hard I try to “forget” about that type of a problem, it just drives me batty!) Thank God (and I mean that sincerely), we were able to fix the ornament so that it plays music once again and Linus plays hand bells with his head back on. (Did I forget to mention that he lost his head in the process? I did feel like biting somebody’s head off, but this was getting a bit ridiculous!)

Some people might say that God had nothing to do with fixing that ornament. I, however, know that God cares about every detail in my life. With all that’s going on these days, I think He knew I needed that ornament fixed. It might just be a little reminder from Him to let me know that He cares even when we start feeling a bit lost in heartache.

Thanks again, Lord!

Think on These Things...

I desperately want to hope. All around me it seems like others are attempting to dash my hope.

I got some information about a particular cemetery for my dad this morning. I know it needs to be done… and I’m more than willing to help. Still, this phone call made it all a little more too real. All I want to do is cry.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I want to sleep, too. There are few greater things in this world than sleep. I go to sleep with my mind spinning, unable to focus on anything – or cope with anything for that matter. When I wake up, for a few short seconds, I’m refreshed and think all is well in this world. That’s when it all quickly comes back to me: the realties of this world; the lack of hope out there for so many; the stresses of the day. Yet in those moments of sleep, God works and refreshes me so I can face tomorrow.

Yesterday morning, our Pastor spoke of an unexpected loss for one of our church families. He discussed some of what was said at the services. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8. The verse was referenced to remind us that we have a choice. We can choose the way we allow our thoughts to be occupied with every situation – including tragedies.

I don’t want the rest of my dad’s life to be spent with my tears. I want to treasure the time he has left with us. Tears will happen. After all, I am human. However, I cannot be consumed with death. I must choose to think on these things in Philippians.

My ultimate hope is not that Dad will be healed. If that were the only hope I had, there would be much reason for tears. However, my hope is in Heaven. That hope is for eternity. When thoughts begin to press in about the future without my dad, I need to choose to direct my thoughts to eternity. We'll be together forever praising our God. That can bring me peace.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The gift of today

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

Not everyone is given this gift I have been given. God is teaching me to cherish each moment with my Dad -- and all my loved ones for that matter. I have been given this gift. The knowledge that life is short is all too clear to me. Many lose someone in an unexpected moment. God has allowed me to prepare my heart for the moment that may come all too soon (although I continue to pray for a miracle).

I’ve always pictured my future with family parties -- my parents in attendance. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, etc., were envisioned with a full family. My children playing with their cousins while their grandparents watch their interactions. Why wouldn't I hope for a future this way? After all, it's how I grew up.

Reality is that we don’t know how much longer my Dad has with us. “Months and months” are now what we are hearing. Maintenance chemotherapy will allow Dad to live his life with us and we need to cherish each and every moment. Rather than wonder if Dad will see my kids grow up, the doctors have narrowed my mind to wonder if he'll live to share Easter with us. Still, I choose to believe in a God that works miracles. Living in today, I'm thankful his white blood cell count is now down to 7. We have the hope to have him with us tomorrow.

This is the day that the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.

Latest Report on Dad 1-2-08

The leukophoresis did what the doctors were hoping for. The procedure brought Dad's white blood cell count down into the 50's. It seems as though the chemotherapy he is on is also working as his white blood cell count is now in the 30's.

He is on the second day of this 5-day chemotherapy regimen that goes through Sunday. On Monday he will have another IV push and start steroids.

Dad is very uncomfortable from being overloaded with fluids. His weight is now up to 195. In his own words, he's "like a tick that's ready to pop". They will administer lasix in an attempt to relieve him somewhat. However, they need to be careful because the fluids are protecting his organs.

Today, we find joy in this little bit of good news. God continues to bless us even during such hard times.

I can't help but think that sometimes when things look incredibly impossible to us, that's when God chooses to work miracles to show Himself to us.

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." - Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27

Do I trust you, Lord?

I was reading in an old journal of mine this morning where I wrote the lyrics to an old Twila Paris song. They seem to come straight from my heart today. Yesterday brought some news from the hospital that attempts to steal our hope. Dr. Smith informed Dad that the stem cell procedure is on hold. The stem cell procedure is on indefinite hold. They are also talking about "maintenance" chemotherapy.

Sometimes my little heart can't understand what's in Your will, what's in Your plan.
So many times I'm tempted to ask You why?
But I can never forget it for long. Lord, what You do could not be wrong.
So I believe You, even when I must cry.

Do I trust You, Lord? Does the river flow?
Do I trust You, Lord? Does the north wind blow?
You can see my heart,You can read my mind,
And You got to know that I would rather die than to lose my faith in the One I love.
Do I trust You, Lord? Do I trust You?

I know the answers, I've given them all but suddenly now, I feel so small.
Shaken down to the cavity in my soul.
I know the doctrine and theology, but right now they don't mean much to me.
This time there's only one thing I've got to know.

Do I trust You, Lord? Does the robin sing?
Do I trust You, Lord? Does it rain in spring?
You can see my heart,You can read my mind, And You got to know that I would rather die than to lose my faith in the One I love.
Do I trust You, Lord? Do I trust You?

I will trust You, Lord, when I don't know why.
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die.
I will trust You, Lord, when I'm blind with pain!
You were God before, and You'll never change.
I will trust You.
I will trust You.
I will trust You, Lord.
I will trust You.

"I the Lord do not change." -- Malachi 3:6

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Dad Update 1-1-08 and Comfort for my Heart?

Dad's white blood cell count has jumped to 140. (They were wanting Dad to go to the emergency room when it was only at 40 to give you some comparison.) Currently, they are going to perform a procedure called Leukophoresis (LEW-kuh-for-E-sis): In this form of treatment, blood is drawn from the body, cleansed of white blood cells, and returned to the body minus the excess cells. This procedure could take about 4 hours. The goal is to lower the white blood cell count so they can administer chemotherapy once again.

At this moment I feel like I am being asked if I truly believe all these words that come out of my mouth? Is this God I believe in still the same God even as I watch my Dad go through such a difficult times? If there are any Bible verses that come to your mind right now for me, I'd more than welcome them. I realize it's difficult to know what to say to people who are experiencing trials like these. Please know I welcome prayers and God's Word to comfort my heart.

Thank you for your prayers for my Dad.