Monday, September 5, 2016

A Season of Change

I never really to the time to be thankful for the stability in our lives or realized how much I truly loved it until the past few months when my little pocket of the world started to shift......some small little tilts and a couple of seemingly gigantic drops and turns.  

Ecclesiastes 3 tells me "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
     a time to be born and a time to die,
     a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
     a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
     a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
     a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
     a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
     a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
     a time for war and a time for peace."

I know it's true, but I'm not so good with change. 

The biggest, most obvious change around here is that M is gone.  There's an M sized hole that exists right now.  Our family space in this place we call home has been forever altered.  That almost sounds too dramatic a statement to make about a child that has 'just gone to college'.  Trust me, I hear it all the time.  And yes, at some point, he will make it back to this house, and he will sleep in his bed...........but I will tell you this, it will never be the same again.  I simply don't have words for what it feels like for this mama to have a son in college.  It's a bit different for me because of the whole homeschooling factor.  I never chose to homeschool my kids to completely separate them from the world.  That was never how our homeschool operated anyway.  But, especially for me with M because he was and always will be the first, every step he took and achievement he got was also mine.....when he graduated from elementary to middle school, his teacher did too.......then on to high school, and his teacher got to go there too.......seriously, I think that I was more excited and relieved than he was when his college acceptance letters started arriving.  You have no idea what stress was lifted from the shoulders of this mama/teacher/principal/school counselor when there was proof written in black and white that I hadn't managed to screw this whole homeschool thing up!  But now things have changed......he's off to college, but I am not.  I am so excited for him!!!  But it's so strange to be left go from a front row seat, to the nose-bleed section.....headed for just reading about the whole experience in the newspaper.  That part is a bit different for me than for traditionally schooling moms.  I'm actually ok with that part.  He's been pretty much on his own as a dual enrolled college student for a couple of years anyway.  What I haven't quite adjusted to is the the simple fact that I miss him.  I really like him as a person.  I miss him showing up in my room late at night to chat; I hate that he won't be texting, "mom, you want to join me for lunch?"  It hurts my heart to know that I may, in fact, never get that text again.  I don't know what the future holds, but I know that it will never again be like it was just a few short weeks ago when all three of my kids slept in their beds in my house just about every night.  When he does make it home, it will be to visit............and he will be different.  He won't be the teen that left my house.  He will be the man that he is becoming every moment of every day.  I'll always be his mom, and he'll always be my baby......but it's all too clear to me that it will never be the same again.  So I've given myself permission to mourn that that season of my life is over.  That doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to the seasons that are ahead.....just giving myself permission to remember and acknowledge what was and that it's ok, maybe even great, that I loved it so much that I miss it terribly.

Yes, this is definitely a season of change around here.  Maybe I'll write about some other of those changes soon. For now, I'm going to sleep.


You Know It's Been Too Long When....

Well, I guess I just took an unintended 3 1/2 year break from this old blog.  Really, I have no idea what it was that made me step away...........probably more of a drift that just kept drifting.  Whatever the case, about a month ago I got the itch to put some words on the screen again.  Yes, it has taken me a month to get back here even after I had the desire to do so.  I've got issues!  And finally, tonight, for whatever reason, I was determined to make it back.  You see, a couple of times in the last month, I'm made attempts to get back here.  But it seems that when you can't remember the email address associated with your blog log in, it can be a bit difficult to figure out how to get back in.  Issues.....remember.  So tonight, I decided I was going to dig through my 'keeps' folder in the filing cabinet with the hopes that at some point in the past I was smart enough to write down my login information somewhere.  It took awhile, but I did finally find a crunched up piece of paper with the info I needed to get me back here I am.

I did read the last post I wrote so very long ago, but not the ones before.  So I'm going to do a VERY quick, like shorter than Reader's Digest quick, very boring summary of where I find myself today....
We'll start with the whole "Meet the Family" section. What is says about me is still true, though we've been married now for 22 years......seriously, a lifetime, how did that happen????  And I have had a few birthdays and am now 40-something.  C is still as amazing as he has always been, just a little more 'distinguished' with the hair if you know what I mean.  M, oh my M, he's---GULP---18 now.  He grew up to be this amazing tech genius, and he's left me for this foreign land he calls college.  That whole process is what really kicked up my need to get some feelings out here, so I'm sure you'll hear more about it soon.  K is still stuck in the middle, He's almost 16 now and is confidently driving me everywhere with his learner's permit. He still loves sports, especially soccer.  And D is still my baby girl; she's just all grown up and 13 years old now.  She took her last chemo pills on May 20, 2013.  I'm sure that her journey which is also my journey will be discussed here as well......really, it's thoughts about that part of my life that have partially brought me back here too.

My last post here was on January 20, 2013.....that was 1,324 days ago.  I'm not the same person as I was then----shocker!!!  The changes have been good and bad I suppose. I guess we'll all see those revealed as these words go from my fingers to the screen.  One thing I am certain of is that my God has not changed in those days that have passed...........He is ever faithful to be exactly who He has always said He is and will, not so much.  But I still want to say yes, so here I am.  Hopefully posting a little more regularly than every 3 1/2 years of so :)


Sunday, January 20, 2013

One Step Closer To What?

And now, on to the post that I thought I was writing a couple of minutes ago.....unless, of course, God has something else I mind:)

Each day of my sweet girl's treatment for cancer has been marked off of the calendar with gratitude that we survived that day.  That hasn't changed, but over the last month something has changed.  For so long, I have repeated to myself, "We're one step closer.". It's a true statement, but as I have finally begun to see the end of treatment in the not so distant future another question has come.  One step closer to what?  I remember back at the beginning telling people that I just couldn't wrap my brain around 2 1/2 years of treatment.  So we took it one day at a time, one treatment phase at a time.  Now here I sit with only 4 months of treatment left , and I marvel that we have made it to the point that I can see that endpoint at all.  It seemed so far away 2 years ago, but now it's rapidly approaching.

And now the question step closer to what?  Well, one thing is obvious; one step closer to no more daily chemo.  What most people assume is that that brings with it great excitement and a feeling of conquering the beast we know as cancer.  And there is some of that for sure.  One step closer to being cured.  But the backdrop is what no cancer mom wants to talk about because it is perhaps our biggest fear.......relapse.  Are we one step closer to a cure or one step closer to relapse.......the question, one step closer to what?  The truth is that only time will tell because no one on earth knows the answer to that question.  The truth is that you start this journey with only one thought in mind....cure.  But somewhere along the way your are met with the reality that relapse is a very real possibility.

Now I know what many well meaning people will say at this point.  You must think positive!  Most kids do NOT relapse.  Eighty percent, in fact, never hear the word leukemia again.  I'm a pretty positive person, but I'm also a numbers girl and a realist.  Here's what I would tell you about 80%.......80% means that 1in 5 kids WILL, in fact, relapse.  That doesn't sound quite as good.  I'll also let you know that well less than 1% of kids will ever have cancer in the first place, and I've already been faced with experiencing that 1%.  Which means that facing 20% seems all that more likely to me.

So back to the question that is rattling around my step closer to what?  If I'm talking cure or relapse, I honestly don't know the answer.  But this question is way bigger than cancer.  One step closer to.........Jesus or Satan?  Now you might think that is a bit dramatic, but I believe it's always one or the other........harsh but true.  What I've learned is that each steps take has significance here; each choice I make matters.  And then there's the truth that points to peace and makes all the other questions pale in comparison.  THE step closer to what?........Heaven and the arms of my Savior.  Between here and there will be either cure or relapse, or perhaps both.  But the destination will not change.........each and every step in every one of my days brings me one step closer to Heaven.  Thank you Jesus!



My Excursion

Life is a journey.........most often a journey filled with many ups and downs, twists and turns.  I've begun to think of this life as a trip through this place that is my temporary home.  This trip has many different excursions; you know, those delightful little trips that you take while on a trip to see or experience a little of what the area has to offer.  Some of these excursions last for a day,some for a season, some for years, and others that span my entire lifetime.

For the past two years, I've been on what I thought was a little side trip through pediatric cancer.  Some days the truth of that is still hard to precious daughter has cancer.  How is that even possible???  Kids aren't supposed to get cancer, and especially, my kid is not supposed to get cancer.  Pediatric cancer is something that should happen only in the St. Jude Hospital commercial;  it's something that happens to "them", not to "real" people, and certainly not to my daughter!
But then I look no further than my kitchen counter, and I see the evidence of reality in the bottles of chemo pills lined up and the medicine calendar waiting to be checked off.  And I am forced to acknowledge that this is my reality.  And with that present reality comes the realization that, for me, this is no little side trip that will soon come to an end; this is also my future.  This is a part of the world that I will never choose to leave.  This is a little gift.....a place to seek and to share the God I love......not just for this day, but for all the days I have left on my journey through this temporary home.  God has woven a love for these kids and their families into my heart, especially for their moms and their siblings. I don't know what that looks like in the future for me, and just know without a doubt that I won't ever be leaving this part of this world because the love it too deep and too wide to deminish this side of Heaven.

This is not the post that I set out to write this morning, but I guess it was the post that god had for me for this moment.  It's a gentle reminder of His call, met with a whisper from my heart......yes, Lord.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from one of my pastors.  It seems that another member of our congregation had told him that I might be a good person to ask to share a part of my faith story.  To be honest, when I read the email, I quickly clicked away and told myself it was probably intended for C.  But God wouldn't let it go at that.  So about 1am under the influence of codeine laced cough syrup, I sent an email that said yes, I am willing to share.   I had to say yes before my mind had time to think of all the reasons to say no.
Then, on December 23, I found myself standing in our sanctuary speaking about how the Prince of Peace has been active in my life in the last two years.  Some intersting things happened in my heart there at that microphone, but those are stories for another day.  For now, here is some semblence of what I shared with my church congregation.  We have 4 different services every Sunday morning; I spoke at each one.  These words are some combination of the things I said at the four services, at least as I remember them. 
I am not a gifted public speaker.  I am here because I know the Prince of Peace.  I asked Jesus to be my Savior 32 years ago.
Many of you are familiar with my family's story over the last two years, some of you have been a part of our story with your prayers and other gifts, but some of you are not. So I'll start at the beginning. On January 14, 2011 around 11pm I left my house with my 7 year old daughter, D, and headed to the ER. I took a change of clothes for both of us, my cell phone charger, and my Bible. I remember every moment of the drive on the icy roads. We arrived just before midnight. By 12:30, I was standing in the hallway of the ER hearing the doctor say, "You're daughter has leukemia. That's cancer. Are you ok?" My immediate response was, "Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday, and He'll still be the same tomorrow. I should probably call my husband.". I called C. I have no idea what I told him. It really didn't matter; he'd already hit google with her preliminary blood work info and pretty much knew what the diagnosis was going to be. Our entire conversation took less than 30 seconds. Then I started to go back into D's treatment room. The doctor stopped me. She was sure I was suffering from shock. They wanted me to sit, to eat a cracker, to have some juice…..really just to react in what they deemed an appropriate manner.  They took my blood pressure. I had never been so calm in my life. I'm going to let you in on a little I merged from 575 onto 75 on the way to the hospital, I heard a voice say, "She has leukemia.". You see, God's better than Google; He didn't need any info from the doc to get the diagnosis right. I was not in shock; I was in peace. John 14:26-27 says "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.". This is Jesus speaking; this is His promise. The story I just told you is of me living that promise. 32 years is a long time to hear God's truth over and over. The Holy Spirit was faithful in reminding me of what I knew to be true......Jesus is the same today as He was yesterday, and He'll be the same tomorrow. This truth brought me the peace that Jesus promised.
The same Bible that went to the ER with me that night stayed with me going home and back to the hospital many times over the next 6 months, but I didn't open it. Not even once. The only scripture that I physically read was that on notes and cards from friends and the many placed around my house by a friend. But the Holy Spirit was very faithful to remind me of all that Jesus said. I didn't read the Bible as I usually would because the Spirit was so very clear. In many ways, I wish that I could go back and stay in that time. God was so very close in a way I had never experienced before.  Cancer has given me more than it can ever take away.
But time goes on, and I am human. And that closeness diminished. Many of you have experience with cancer, and you know that at times it seems like you have more bad days than good. In one of those times God lead me to the 16th chapter of John and these words from verse 33. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." This is His reminder that He has overcome whatever I will have to face. And in that reminder, He once again offers peace. This is a verse that I still often cling to on most days.  There is nothing I will face today that He hasn’t already overcome, and there is nothing that the doctors can tell me next month that He hasn’t already overcome.
When I did pick up my Bible again, I went to the Old Testament. That's always my go-to place. I need the unending love and power of God the Father that I read about there. One day I found myself reading in the book of Isaiah. I read these words, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal." (26:3-4). I read and reread these scriptures for days. And I prayed that God would help me to keep my mind steadfast and trust in Him. He had shown me that was the key to real peace. And during this time, while snuggling in her bed watching a movie one afternoon, D looked me in the eye and asked, "Mommy, is leukemia going to kill me?". As much as I wanted to tell her NO!, I didn’t because I had promised that I would never lie to her.  I looked back at her filled with a perfect peace and told her the truth. "It might, but dying here on earth simply means you get to start living in Heaven sooner."  Her response was short, "I guess Heaven's not such a bad option" and she returned to watching the movie. As tears ran down my cheek, I thanked God for His peace, for keeping my mind steadfast and my trust intact, and for being the Rock eternal as Isaiah said.  When your daughter asks if she is going to die, eternity becomes really important.  God is faithful even then.
I'm far from perfect. I still fall into fearing for myself and for Danielle. But the Spirit is still faithful in reminding me of the promises of Jesus. And Jesus is still in the business of giving peace......yesterday, today, and forever.
There is great blessing in saying yes.............I'm so glad that I did.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

God is Bigger Than My Questions

Two days ago I heard some news that maybe really shouldn't have effected me so much...........but it did.  A sweet little two year old that has been through so much in her short life was once again thrown back to the front line in the war for her life.  As I type, doctors--experts in the field--are trying to come up with a plan to wage this fight again.  And so, the questions come...........the big ones.........the ones that I don't have answers to or the answers I do have are just not very satisfying........

Where is God?  Why is this happening to this little girl..........AGAIN?  What is the purpose?  WHY, WHY, WHY????????

God is right here.......I know that.........I feel that..........I believe that with everything in me.  But that in no way takes away the pain.  I can come up with reasons why and give this situation purpose in human terms, but those are shallow at best..........and they do nothing to make me feel better.  And so, I am left with the question, why?  and the answer...I DON'T KNOW!  I'll be honest...........I would really like to know why these things happen.  But God knows that I don't need to know.........heck, I probably wouldn't even understand if He spelled it out for me.  He promises that all things work together for the good of those who love Him.............He does not promise that all things work together to make Amy feel like it is good for her or so that Amy can clearly see that it is good.

And then just to up the trust meter a little bit, the following story broke nationwide yesterday..........  A drug that every expert in the country says that my baby girl needs to kick leukemia's butt may not be available when she needs it.  That terrifies me and makes me more than a little bit angry!  They value a HUGE profit more than they value with what most of us would consider a nice enough profit anyway.  It's frustrating!  But like I said on our caring bridge site........God can heal my girl with or without methotrexate........I know that; I believe I must choose to LIVE that.

God never promised an easy life here (in fact, pretty much the opposite), but He did promise never to leave me.  I am thankful.

And on a side note, if any of you want to 'key' to our caringbridge site, please leave a comment here, and I'll think about letting you in ;)


Monday, January 23, 2012

Feeling Deeply

The last 10 days have been hard for me emotionally.  And for the last 10 days I have been doing my best to keep moving through the pain.  But today, I just really felt lead to slow down and even stop and to just feel it all........feel it deeply..........and hopefully to let it go.  Over the last week I have said "see you on the other side" to 11 kids ranging in age from 2-13.........way too young to pass.  I hate what cancer does to our children!!!!  In addition to that, several that are in the midst of the fight have recieved not so good news........and that hurts too.  I don't know, it just seems like for every one bit of good news, there have been 4 or 5 bits of bad news.  Most of these friends are of the online variety with just a few 'real life' ones thrown in.  I have been advised to 'step away from the computer' by some who I know just want things to be easier for me.  But there is a firmer, more consistent voice in my heart that says that this is where He is sending feel their hurt and share their burdens.  I may 'only get to type on a keyboard' but it is what I am called to do.  Their names are on my heart in constant prayer..........they feel much closer to me than most of the the people I actually see in person.  We are sharing real life..........more real than we wanted to know about.  We also share the ups in our lives right in the midst of the downs. 

So, I'm not going to change in how I share my heart, but I am going to change in the way I deal with it.  No more charging through the pain........I'm going to pause, to feel, to feel deeply..........and then let it go.  I am going to celebrate our good news as if it were my own.  I am blessed to share real life with these cyber friends and the in person friends God has brought my way.

I am going to enjoy each moment with my own three and make the most of the time that I get to have my hubby.  Living life and saying yes with each breath...........saying yes to the moment whatever it may hold.  Give your kids a hug and say a prayer for those that would give anything in the world just to hug their babies one more time.