Thursday, September 20, 2012

Praying for Ashley

This week has brought so many wonderful answered prayers. We are still holding out hope for even better news tomorrow after Ashley goes to Seattle. We are so thankful for each and every person that has sent us their prayers, love, and well wishes. Ashley's Facebook page has continued to rapidly gain friends and fans. We are so blessed to know that people from all over the world are praying for Ashley. Please continue to keep those prayers coming.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Strength Comes From

Years ago I posted a blog about breastfeeding that made some people upset. When I later wrote a blog apologizing I had a friend remind me that it is my blog for a purpose; to express my opinions, faith, and just to write. She said that you should NEVER have to apologize on your blog. In saying that I never want what I have written to purposely hurt or offend someone. I know that yesterday's blog could have come across as blunt or as a direct attack to someone dealing with cancer in their life. That was not my intention. The reason that two specific cancers were mentioned is that more than often when someone hears that a young woman has cancer they assume that is breast cancer. Also, there was a lot of confusion about the placement of her original tumor and many thought that the diagnosis was liver cancer. I wanted to clear the air. I will also admit that I struggle when I get emails from people sharing their horror stories of chemo and losing their loved ones.

In saying all of the above I will say that one of the most important life lessons that I have been taught is that NO ONE has the same story. I have been reminded of this over and over again in the arena of prematurity. Just because my son was born early does not mean that his story is the same as someone else. More often than not when I visit a parent in the NICU or provide support to a fellow preemie parent I just want them to know I am here for them. It is not my place to share stories unless they ask advice or for my opinion. I know that they are scared. I can try to imagine how they feel, but I am not them and do not know for sure. The same situation applies for cancer. When I found out that Ashley's cancer had come back I was at work and completely lost it. My dear friend and co-worker immediately dropped her work and came over to rub my shoulders and provide a hug. She didn't need to say anything. Her older brother just went home to heaven a couple of weeks ago because of cancer and the unspoken emotion between the two of us meant so much more. It is a hard life lesson to learn, but often the best words a person can hear is I am here for you, I love you, and I will pray for you. I know that those words provide a lot of strength.

My strength truly comes from the Lord. He has provided me with an amazing family and a great network of friends. I feel very loved. I know that the Lord doesn't give us cancer. I know that he doesn't want to see us suffer. He wants us to be with Him in heaven and if we have to face trials in our time here on earth to show someone that God exists, than I firmly believe it is the desire of His heart to use it as part of our testimony. Life is not easy; but I don't believe that it is supposed to be.

Isaiah 40:28-31  Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,   the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint,   and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary,and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;   they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary;   they shall walk and not faint.

As you are praying for my sister there are tons of my friends and family that are also fighting their own battles with cancer. Let's pray specifically for these people and in general to pray for a cure for this HORRIBLE disease. Please pray for continued clear screenings for Peggy Lee, Shelia Wallace, and Jamie Olsen. Pray for  Bill Archibald and his continued battle with cancer. Pray for my co-worker Heather McDaniel that just celebrated 1 year cancer free. Pray for my dear co-worker Marie LeJeune's husband and father to their 4 kids, Nathan Meyer. Also, pray for Bob Bateman who battles this disease daily. Feel free to add your name to the list. Cancer does not discriminate. It does not care if you have a family, friends, or a life ahead. God does care about your family, friends, and the life you have. God wants to provide healing, love, and strength during this horrible battle. Let's keep praying...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Just Another Day

Yesterday was my 31st birthday and I found myself saying the phrase, "just another day" several times. I tried not to dwell on the fact that I quite possibly might be hearing very bad news that evening. My sister Ashley and I had planned to spend the day together, but after hearing that her cancer was back on the 5th it was much more important that she went to her first oncology appointment instead.

When she called me right before dinner she hesitated to share the news, but I prompted her with the phrase again. Even though we both knew that her saying the following information would ever change it from being just another day. My baby sister has stage 4 terminal cancer. It is called leiomyosarcoma. It is NOT breast cancer, liver cancer, or whatever cancer your mother, father, brother, or sister has. (I say this kind of with irritation because I am SO tired of her cancer being compared to others.) I realize that cancer has touched so many people and that each person has a story that somehow identifies with hers, but it is not the same. This cancer is very rare and unfortunately has now became stage 4 with spots in both her lungs and liver. The original site of surgery has no regrowth.

What does this mean? This means that once again my sister is going to start the fight for her life. She is a natural fighter that still has hope and LOTS of fight in her. She will be getting a second opinion next Friday to see if there are any other options. She is such a vibrant beautiful wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend that no one wants to believe that there is nothing out there to take this all away. We are all choosing to pray with purpose that there is something better than the clinical study that she has been offered at OHSU.

How did she know? Ashley had been going in for check-ups every 3-4 months since her original surgery on September 8, 2011. The cancer was rediscovered during her annual check up on September 5, 2012. She did not have any symptoms prior to this. She still remains healthy and full of fight.

What you can do? Pray and pray some more. We all appreciate the love support and prayers. Eventually I will probably be asking for further help for tangible things once she begins chemotherapy. Ashley believes with her whole heart that the Lord will use this for His purpose and that her one wish is that no one's heart is hardened to Him after hearing this news. Our family remains faithful. None of us have lost hope or our faith. We will continue to pray for another miracle. It might sound selfish, but I firmly believe that God will provide my sister another miracle. Let's join together to pray for that one. Our directed prayer is that Ashley will survive and live the life that God intended for her to live. Hug your loved ones, let little things go. Our greatest commandment is to love one another and I plan on doing that each step of the way.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Little Man Goes to School

Our little boy started school on September 10th as excited as could be. He loves school, his friends, and his teacher. I know that he will have a great year at Grace Community Church's preschool. As he came down the steps on his first day he jumped into my arms and said that his day was great and that he listened very well. I think that his daddy took it kind of hard that Bronson didn't beg us to stay longer. I think he had the whole big boy routine covered.

Bronson brings pure joy to my heart and I am so thankful for him each and every day. The stories that he shares at night about his daily adventures are wonderful. His is bright beyond years and I can't wait to see him grow in life and intelligence as he begins his educational journey. I pray with all of my heart that he continues to love school as much as his mommy.

I spoke to my director the next day after Bronson began school about how his desire to be certain things when he grows up keeps changing. He has continued to say that he wants to be a police officer, but I also found it interesting that his only complaint about school was that he was hoping to hear and learn more about God. I explained to him that he would have chapel days that would devote time to that. He said, "Mommy, that is the most important thing for me to learn." It opened my eyes to pray with even more purpose for my son. We don't often hear people saying that they wish their sons to grow up to be pastors, but why don't we. I will pray that my son loves the Lord, his family, and seeks a profession that he loves and can use his faith to serve others.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bronson Stories

When asked to go bowling he thought we asked him to go bullying and accepted but thought it was a bit weird that we were asking him to play fight all night.

When he prays he thanks the Lord for sending his son to die for us.

Does not forget anything and constantly uses movie lines in appropriate conversations.

Is at the age where he repeats EVERYTHING. Latest embarrassing moment was when he pointed at an older waitress at a local restaurant and asked if she was the "crappy waitress." so bad for so many reasons.

Told me not to stress about him starting school because he is excited and will be learning a lot.

Apparently his daycare provider is a really good wife because she finds things for her kids and listens well. Mommy and his daycare provider's husband are okay, but not the best like Daddy and Jenny because we sass our kids. We are guessing the sassing means we tell them what to do. (According to Bronson)

He uses his hands to get the point across and consistently repeats phrases that we say to him when we are frustrated or trying to discipline him. The latest was, Mommy what is up with your attitude this morning? Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? (He gets in trouble when he is disrespectful, but sometimes I also struggle not to laugh)

The latest funny moment was his philosophy on children; he calmly told us he doesn't mind other kids but just can't stand when kids are constantly crying about stupid things. He says this is his reason for liking older kids better.

Changed Man

If someone would have told me last year that my dad would be one of the biggest pillars in my life, I would not have believed them. Although my regular visits had went well with him the cynic in me (partially the CJ academic in me) had never seen someone completely recover while in the CJ system. I am very joyful to say that God is bigger than any criminal justice theory or rehabilitation program. My dad knows Jesus Christ and has let Him completely change his life. He truly is a new man. I reflected on this during my personal time this week when I realized that the old dad is GONE. I am so happy to see all of his anger, hurt, and frustration replaced with love, joy, and Peace. God is sooo good. I think with my dad's permission I will ask him to share his testimony on here soon. I am so thankful for the relationship that I now have with my dad and that he is the dream come true Grandpa to my son and nephew. God has answered my prayers beyond my requests. Sometimes the response might require a huge trial, but God NEVER fails.

As I spend some time reflecting this week on the past year I will close with one of the hardest phone calls I have ever had to make and how God already had it under control. Last year on August 10th my baby sister received the news that she had cancer. My dad was not in a position to go and visit. When I shared the news with him over the phone his response was calm and he instantly began praying God's promises. He kept me from losing it and reminded me that God would provide healing. I believe that my dad spent the majority of the next month in round the clock prayer and my sister was healed. I am so thankful that God provided such a peace and showed me in this interaction that my dad had changed. The old dad would have freaked out; the new dad reassured me with scripture and prayer. Of course no one is perfect but I am so thankful to say that the Lord has made my dad a new man.