Sunday, January 29, 2012

Loving Our Future

We have been without cable for a very long time. It's been years since we have enjoyed the luxury of channel surfing just for the sake of it or vegging out to some random reality t.v. program. Though, I must say, it has definitely been missed.

We recently decided that the absence of television in our home was keeping us "out of the loop". This thought came about after we mistakenly thought we had missed the elections in November of last year. Only to realize we were a year early. Okay, maybe we are a lost cause?!?!? However, we have re-introduced television (basic channels only) in an effort to get back in the game and stay updated on current events.

This morning I was taking advantage of the wealth of information t.v. supplies, by watching political programming. The topic of discussion was the recent clashes between Romney and Gingrich. The few clips they showed left me in shock. Is this really the picture of our nation? Two men who throw jabs at each other every time an opportunity arises. Whatever happened to common decency? Or love for your neighbor?

Don't get me wrong, I totally get that this is what happens in the political arena. People are fierce. But, it also turned me off completely to the presidential race. How am I supposed to learn anything about these two potential candidates except the fact that I don't want either of them in office? One commentator suggested that these fiery exchanges are only the tip of the iceberg for this race, and that these insult-laden discussions are the worst they have seen in decades.

Well, I am taking a stand against this and running a little campaign of my own entitled - Loving Our Future. The recent political debates are not the only impetus for this campaign. Pete and I are givers at heart. We love to give when we see a need and it gives us great joy to see that need met. Most of the time we give financially but at the moment, we are unable to do so due to our recent financial burdens. So, for a while I have been wondering how I can serve the Lord without giving financially. The love campaign is designed to do just that; by giving the gift of love wherever needed.

Love looks different for everyone. For you it might be spending quality time because is so hard to come by in these days of busyness for the sake of being busy. Or maybe, a meal shared with those you love. Or offering to pray for someone in need. These are all ways God's love can be displayed.

My challenge to you is that you would love more. Pray that God would use you to genuinely love others. Pray that God would help you to take the focus off yourself for long enough to focus on someone else. These are my prayers for you and for myself.

Along the way, I will be posting demonstrations of love as the Loving Our Future campaign progresses. We have been so truly blessed by the constant outpouring of love we have received during our time of need and now it is our turn to give back.

Thank you and God bless,

With love,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Anniversary Love

It all started four years ago today in the midst of a snow storm. When my friend's car lost control in front of us and hit a snow bank almost causing a multiple-car pile-up, I was terrified. Little did I know that that moment would pale in comparison to situations to come.

Now, here we are, four years later and we've survived! Roughly six moves later, including two international moves, the births of our two children, three dogs, the purchase and renovation of our home, months spent apart, international travels, mountain climbs, and one cancer diagnosis leave us where we are today.

Along the way there were many times when I found myself wondering how I could ever love him more or be more proud of the man he was becoming. For example, the day he took the place of the delivery room nurses and heroically coached me to push during each contraction until our little Isabella Grace arrived safely. Or the times he painstakingly organized each international move; accounting for every possible delay. I am also very thankful that he has appointed himself passport manager. During our many travels abroad I would often find myself exclaiming, usually on our way to the airport, "Where are the passports?" Only to realize he had already thought of that. Thank goodness! Then there are those little moments when I am dreading unloading the dishwasher and open it only to find he has already done it. Explaining in his words, "I wanted to leave you a little reminder of how much I love and appreciate you." Or the time during his last deployment when he wrote me love letters every week which were projected into the future in order for him to paint me a picture of where he would like to see our relationship and our family in the years to come.

These examples are only the tip of the iceberg and I am so grateful to God for bringing us together. We have had our trials and each stage of our lives brings with it new challenges. However, being the perfectionist he is, he has taught me to keep striving. I have learned so much from the few years we have been together and look forward to the many years to come. Although, our current circumstances are tough, I have never felt closer to him than I do today. He has taught me that with love for each other and faith in God we can do anything. I am so blessed to be able to call myself Mrs. Peter St. Germain and I cannot wait for the adventures to come. I love you more than words can express and thank God for the man you are.

Love always,

your wife

Friday, January 20, 2012


The past couple of days have been tough on us all. Pete has started to experience the real side effects of chemo and as a result has been feeling down and frustrated. I have found it difficult to maintain the positivity in the house, therefore I decided to retreat into my own little bubble. Many of you might be wondering how that's been working out for me - it hasn't. So, I am once again ready to confront this reality because that's the only choice I have.

 This morning we received a prayer quilt from our church back in Abu Dhabi. It was such a blessing and a welcomed reminder that people are praying for us all over the world. As a result I began to ponder the many blessings this situation has brought along and let me just say, they are abundant.

Many of you might remember the ever-changing Facebook updates posted around November 2010 in which I announced or exit from Abu Dhabi due to Pete's job. Shortly after that we decided we were staying put but then once again decided to return stateside. I know many of you were quite confused by all the changes and so were we.

When Pete's company first decided they would be cutting his position in Abu Dhabi we were shocked. We thought he was safe from the all too common effects of the poor economy. Well, we were wrong. Once they revealed they would be offering him a position in New Hampshire and then re-sended their proposal, instead offering him the opportunity to stay in Abu Dhabi in exchange for a lower salary; we declined. That's when we decided to take our chances and move back to the states. But what we we going to do? Where would we go? After all, Pete had already decided we would never return to California. Taxes were too high and it just wasn't where he wanted to be. Me being the compliant wife, I agreed. After all, always love a fresh start and a change of scenery. At one point we honestly considered throwing darts at a map!

When I suggested he return to school, there was really only one option for us; to return to California. That change would afford us the luxury of being near family, a school-system I was familiar with, and a university within biking distance. It was the perfect choice!

When we made the big move, Pete had no job offers. We had even decided that if he was offered a job, he would turn it down because it would interfere with him pursuing his education. To our surprise and dismay, he was offered a job right away. But not just any job. A job which would allow him to expand his career and still allow me to stay home with the kids. So, he accepted. Our plans were once again proven to be incorrect.

In retrospect we can see exactly why this all happened. While in Abu Dhabi we were not paying into state disability as we had no affiliation with any state; we were expats. However, all that changed when Pete began working for his current employer. Had our current situation come to the light during any other time, we would not have been eligible for state disability benefits. In addition, could you imagine what might have happened if he had gone back to school? What would we have done without health insurance - how could we have covered the medical expenses? These are just a few of the ways our plans were foiled in an effort for God to allow His will to be done.

In addition to these abundant blessings, one very real blessing is the gift of family time together. Before Pete came home from his last trip to Abu Dhabi, he came to the conclusion that we had been apart for 50 percent of our relationship. That was a shocker! So, it's no surprise that we are very blessed by our new found time together. It has given us so many opportunities for growth as a family and as a couple. 

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. Let this be a reminder that God always knows what He's doing in our lives.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give young hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

With love, Alysha

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Prayers Needed

Many of you have asked how you can pray. Tomorrow marks a week since Pete's second chemo infusion which means that we are anxiously awaiting the passing of the next week in order to finish off this round of chemo. Anyways, Pete has not been feeling very well the past couple of days. His appetite has been almost non-existent which means he is losing weight rapidly. During his last chemo session he lost 6 lbs. which is a lot for him since he's skinny to begin with. So, please pray for an increase in appetite and that his stomach would settle enough to eat in order to at least maintain his weight. Thank you in advance for your prayers.

With love, Alysha

A Drop in the Bucket: Part I

As a caveat to this post, I have to state a disclaimer: this thread is the first part of what was initially intended as a personal journal of mine dedicated to Izzy & Lucas that I was going to title "Lessons for my Children". Though as I began writing the first page, I was already editing it and wanting to add thoughts to it as if it were going to be a book i'd eventually publish. So what better forum than to post each "episode" here. As a warning, it has a somber tone as it is looking ahead to if our worst fears were realized but also from the perspective of someone who comes out on the other end a survivor and what can be gleaned from it. So this will be a series of sorts intermingled with other posts from Alysha. I hope you find inspiration from them as that is their intention and that you all may take the words with love and maybe, just maybe, it'll have an impact on your own life.


A Drop in the Bucket: The Leak

     Whether confronted with or reflecting on a life-changing or even life-threatening event, one can't help but ponder: have I accomplished everything I wanted to, have I loved enough, have I made a difference, will I be remembered? It puts everything into perspective. If that event doesn't make even the slightest change in your life, if you carry on saying, thinking, acting, eating, praying the the same as before; you've already lost. Everything happens for a reason. If the purpose of your journey past something traumatic or simply profound passed you by shrouded in the shock and sadness or even anger or depression it brought with it, then you ARE lost. We all have a choice of how we will allow things to affect us. More than the best medicine and the most highly complicated medical procedures can cure, faith and a positive attitude are far more powerful healing tools, as a body may be broken, by it's spirit will sustain it.
     In today's cliche society, a person faced with a prognosis that carries a definitive 'shelf-life', may be inclined to accept that as the focus of their remaining days and compile a 'wish-list' of things yet to be accomplished; the ephemeral "bucket-list". Great adventures always dreamed of, far away lands dreamed of visiting, coveted possessions never afforded. Whatever the desire, the list of things one could imagine 'checking off' before their time is up would bring joy, satisfaction, and a sense of completion culminating in a sigh of "Now I can die happy." But what will it gain you? What can you take with you when you go? Most importantly, but contrary to today's perspective: what have you left behind? Will you be asking yourself in the last days; have I lived just but a drop of the full bucket I wish I had or was my life something that inspired, and will continue to inspire in others, a love of life, compassion, faith, strength in all things, love and wisdom that will someday, long after you're gone, overflow the bucket from just that one drop.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Surrender

That's it. I surrender. I give up. Time to wave the white flag. I'm tired. I want a break. I quit.....doing this alone. Tonight my father-in-law wanted to take us out to dinner so we could relax. He said it was intended to give us a break. I declined by saying that taking the kids out to eat is never a break but instead chaotic and added, "I never get a break anyways." I'm left wondering if this is a true reality or a self-imposed restriction?

As I shared before, I have never felt more called to serve my family, than I do now. It is definitely a labor of love. I enjoy preparing foods which will offer them complete nourishment and I enjoy maintaining a clean home where they can feel comfortable and relaxed. But there comes a point when a labor of love can suddenly become a burden and I'm there. I've drifted away from God in hopes I can control this but I can't. In fact, it's totally out of my control and the more I try to control it, the more I will find myself drained, disappointed, angry, resentful, and without hope. So, I'm admitting that I cannot do this myself. I need help.

Yesterday was Pete's second chemo infusion. It went well and he felt great all day. I was secretly rejoicing, feeling we had crossed the threshold. Until he realized he forgot to take his chemo meds in the morning. It was too good to be true. Once he took the meds the side effects began to set in. I went to bed burdened and heavy laden wondering how it could be that the very medicine intended to "cure" him actually made him feel worse. It makes no sense to me.

I was left pondering the same thing this evening after I began reading a book recommended by a friend about alternative treatments. It tugged on my heart strings and I found myself yearning for something different for Pete; a cancer cure free from the devastating side effects of chemo. A quick fix. I found myself angry that all the dietary supplements and changes I have initiated are no competition for chemo's vengeance.

So, I guess this is just me admitting I'm at a loss. I'm admitting I can't control this. I'm offering it up to God once more. Placing the situation in His hands. This is really ALL I can do for now.

Thank you again for your constant prayers, love, and support. We are so truly blessed by all of you.

With love, Alysha

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lone Wolf or Leader of the Pack?

In the midst of contemplating from what angle I would approach writing about the tenuous grasp I have on and still dynamic nature of my recent cancer diagnosis, we picked up a book yesterday entitled: 'Eat Right For Your Type', which guides the reader through eating right for your blood-type. Maybe an odd topic, but it was actually recommended by a chiropractor who was evaluating Lucas for possibilities for countering the unknown cause of his constant ear-infections. When reading about my blood type (O+), I was struck by an explanation that us Oh-Pos's are deeply rooted in ancient hunter-gatherer characteristics and resistant to changes. (Sounds familiar). The book went on to describe that ancestry linking the dietary habits of early Europeans and that the life of a hunter-gatherer greatly revolved around a solitary-by-nature mindset. Just today I was driving up into the foothills getting Lucas to sleep, on a state highway bordered on either side by two canyons. Far off on one side, I saw a split where the canyon diverged and left a little plateau on the high spot with a solitary pine tree standing tall upon it. It reminded me of a certain favorite spot of mine near Donner Pass up near Lake Tahoe where a similar solitary tree stands, growing out of a rock, overlooking Donner Lake far below. Places like these speak to my soul and to my own solitary nature. It speaks of how much in my life has been seeking out ways to reach a higher feeling through solitude and isolation. Since learning of my illness, I've yearned for that feeling again that I've found so often before hiking in the beautiful isolation of the Desolation Wilderness, climbing a snowbound peak, skiing powder in Alaska, or visiting my dear friend the bonsai tree. These things brought me to a meditative place where nothing else existed except for the moment.

At times as of late, I've been overcome with feelings of frustration or anger at 'the moment' and can't seem to find a source outside of strenuous adventuring to funnel all my feelings and worries through. Going to work for 14 hours a day, saying goodmorning to my family then trying fruitlessly to sleep while they went about their day just to wake up and do it all over again; that wasn't easy either, but it was familiar. That's still a farcry from the life I want for us, but now that I'm home everyday and the kids have gotten used to me being around, I feel we've never been closer but also know that it won't be able to stay like this indefinitely. The extra time I thought I'd have is eaten up by the demands of family life, though willingly and being a clear responsibility as a parent and a husband, I've still struggled with the desire to just be alone. I've found however, that in order to find the 'Zen' I'm looking for, I can't have all of one and none of the other. As with anything that requires sacrifice in life, it must be a fine balance between many things.

The new found bonds I've been able to develop and make stronger with not only my two beautiful children and my amazing wife but with a multitude of friends and acquaintances from recent times and long ago, has done much for my heart and soul. My utmost priority is staying healthy at all costs in order to provide (hunt) for my family and surround us with (gather) the love and support of all those praying for us so that our spiritual and mental health does not suffer. I seek only peace and happiness for my family and cannot do it alone. That is why we have you, our faithful and endearing friends and family to help us through. Balanced with this of course is a need deep within myself to escape to where I can contemplate and focus my own energy on healing from the inside. Though I can't retreat on a whim and go spend a week in the woods at random, tempting but not fair to those who still depend on me, I can still seek out that solitary tree on the hill, whether hopping a fence and trudging through a canyon and over a river to get to it or just visiting it in my mind during one of the few brief quiet pauses in our day here at the rodeo (our house). The need to compensate for the lack of the physical activity that used to define my life is staggering and surely the source of many of these feelings. Skiing, biking, climbing. These were an outlet to release any and all frustration and worry and a way to center myself and reset. Finding alternatives has been hard, but I know with the help of my eternally supportive and encouraging wife, I will find that outlet, though regretfully in a tamer form, once again and allow myself to harness the energy into a healing one as well as a supportive one to continue to be the best husband, father, son, brother and friend those that I love deserve.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Power of a Story

I have always been fascinated with people and I have had the honor of meeting some truly beautiful people, inside and out. I have always felt that everyone has a story to tell. Some are filled with excitement and adventure while others are riddled with devastation and loss. Stories are so powerful because they are real. A person has endured that story and lived to tell it.
I have had the pleasure of hearing some of these stories during my travels or stints of living abroad. I have met people living in landfills and listened to them pour out their fears around not being able to feed or clothe their children. I have met homeless people on the streets of San Francisco; desperate for a warm bed and a shower. I have met domestic servants who have given up their dreams of ever being married or having a family of their own because they were obligated to start work at a young age in order to support their family back home.
Many of these stories have pulled on my heart strings. They have left me laying awake at night in prayer and petition before God asking him to change these circumstances. And then I realize that even children of God suffer and go through difficult times. But the real blessing comes when we share our story to bring glory to God. Each of these circumstances, though trying, can be used to honor our Father. There may be someone out there who needs to hear YOUR specific story because it will speak to their heart. This is exactly why we struggle in life; because our story could bring someone hope.
I have always wondered if anyone was reading my blog and if it was really worth the time and effort. It turns out people are reading it and they are inspired. That's a great feeling. It is my hope that God might use these words to speak to someone in the midst of their own battle and that it will give them hope.
I also know that my husband has a story. His is perhaps more powerful than mine or maybe I believe that because it is somewhat of a mystery to me. At the moment, his story is being hidden within. However, I believe that in time he will feel the need to release it. I mentioned to him that the cancer support center at Enloe has had a difficult time maintaining interest in a colorectal cancer support group and suggested he start one. He replied that he didn't think he had lived "it" for long enough to lead a group. I beg to differ. I know he can and will be used when he is ready.
Please join with me in praying that he will begin to reach out to others. It is my hope that God will prompt him to release his story. I know it's a good one. Now here's hoping he realizes it.

With love,

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Learning Curve

The past couple weeks we have been on a steep learning curve. Pete just finished his first session of chemo and is enjoying his one week reprieve from symptoms and pills before the next session. We have spent this time learning all we can about cancer; including natural treatment methods, dietary supplements, and how to best nourish our bodies.
I found it quite comical that as Pete described our new dietary changes to a friend he explained, in all seriousness that we have pretty much take everything out that has calories in it. Seriously, wow! And that was when I realized I was being a bit too stringent with this holistic regimen we have undertaken. So, I let him have a banana smoothie with coconut milk and ice cream. LOL!
But really, now instead of following one method to the T, we are taking bits and pieces of what we learn and putting it all together to create a supplental treatment regimine that's best for our family. Our daughter Izzy is also embracing the changes in our household. This morning she enjoyed her oatmeal with flaxseed and honey. And every morning she is excited to help me make her dada's juice.
And it's not just our immediate family that has been inspired with a push towards healthy living, but our extended family as well. My 13 year old little sister has recently pledged to complete her first 5k run and has just started training. This is just one example of how the recent circumstances have caused us all to take charge of our health.
All this has also encouraged me to reevaluate my role as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and follower of Jesus. It has taken me a while to realize that in order to fully serve my family and others, I must also be at m best. That means I have to take care of me first. It's fair to say that I've never before realized how vital my role is to maintaining our family dynamic. That's why when I consider working outside the home, despite our current financial burdens, I cannot bring myself to do it. I could not imagine leaving my family during this time of desperate need.
I have also realized, more than ever before, that it is only the love of Christ that can sustain us. There have been times when I have felt so incredibly lonely. As if people have all but disappeared from our lives. I feel as though we are now viewed differently by others, yet all we want is to return to life as it was before all this happened. The other day I was contemplating all this when it hit me that Jesus is the only one who will never leave us nor forsake us. These words began to resonate with me and just when I was feeling down the Lord sent an unlikely relative to encourage me and share her testimony. What a blessing it was to speak with her and hear her testify of her undying faith in God in the midst of life's trials. And she also shook me a bit. She Reminded me that our circumstances could always be worse. We ARE blessed.

God is slowly but surely doing a work in us.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. I. All your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Thank you for your continued prayers, love, and support. With love, Alysha