Thursday, August 23, 2012

Like a desperado waiting on a train

This morning I awoke to an empty house, a scary experience for me. I need people around me as much as possible right now, even though it goes against my anti-social inhibition. My father and step-mother, who are visiting for the week, are leaving early from their hotel to go up to the new house in Red Bluff to finish painting. Alysha stayed up at her mom's house with the kids last night after starting the painting earlier last night. Being alone with my own thoughts is not a good thing right now. I was thinking about when we were down in Phoenix at Cancer Treatment Center of America, how everyone and everything about the place is so cheery you can't help but feel uplifted even after receiving the worst of news about your condition. I was reflecting how I have 1 more week of radiation and how when someone finished their radiation or chemo treatment, they rang a bell to celebrate, to make the patient feel good, for something to be about them, even tif the thing they are celebrating was the most horrible experience they've ever had to go through. But it feels good for someone to cheer for you even if it was just a kick in the balls. Here though, back in 'small-town Cancer Center USA' where normal people can afford the care, i'll finish radiation next week and be sent out the door with a bill still wondering if it did any good and where my treatment will go from there. No fanfare, no joy. Back in Phoenix, they do everything in their power to keep your spirits high. Mine right now; they're already digging the hole. I woke up early this morning lethargic, hardly able to move, everything sore and achy, no energy, no positive attitude, alone, nothing left. I cried in my oatmeal.

I write about staying positive, about the power of hope, the power of faith and prayer. Then I wake up to days like today. I'm usually surrounded by people who are willing to help so i'm not overwhelmed, so I don't have to make decisions, something that's becoming surprisingly difficult for me to do, weird, but it just takes too much, my mind can only handle one thing at a time and when something is thrown at me demanding that I adjust to decide; I hit overload. Many people are on standby waiting to be able to fulfill any need that arises to help us, but I don't know how to even help myself anymore. We have only one car, i'm not on the insurance, Alysha drives me everywhere but loading the kids up in the car requires planning so what really needs to be done is all that gets done. I can't just run down to the store, or go get my hair cut (which is in major need of a trim), i'm starting to fit in with the Chico crowd; unkempt hair, wool socks on with sandals (my feet still get cold even in this heat). So much of life right now revolves around moving to this new house in Red Bluff so we can afford to live by renting out our house here in Chico which after much work over the last year, has become home, everything i've worked for in my adult life, where we want to raise our kids, where we became a family. The stress of moving to a place that feels far from home, making the kids adjust, again, feeling like I need to help in the process but feeling inadequate to do much; it's more than I can take right now. It shows in my marriage; almost every conversation lately has ended in an argument, i'm short on tolerance with the kids and with noise and chaos in general. I don't like that, and my family deserves more than that from me, I just don't feel emotionally capable of being bright and shiny and patient. I feel more like just a patient.

To rid myself of at least some of the negativity I feel, I dunk myself in the hot tub to let it melt away. Shortly after my Dad appears on the back patio and I splash some water on my face so the dripping water will camouflage the tears that are still rolling down my face. I'm not exactly sure why i'm crying again, I don't try to dig too deep into it, I just am. I vent a little to him and he leaves to go get coffee for us all. I lay still and soak. I focus on the still reflection of the water then a tear drops onto the calm surface. It ripples and blurs; just like how I feel. Maybe tomorrow will be better. I think i'll just try to pass today hiding in as much solitude and calm as I can find, waiting for it to turn into a better tomorrow; like a desperado waiting on a train.

Friday, August 17, 2012


The other day, while Lucas napped, Izzy and I looked through every single photo album on the computer. We ooed and awed in unison as we reviewed each pic from her birth, life and travels abroad, the birth of Lucas, all the way to the present. It was evident that we have been blessed by some very precious memories of time spent together.

So, without further adieu, here are just a FEW of the photos I thought were deserving enough of a repeat viewing. Don't worry, they'll be more. Enjoy!

 My whimsical princess. Swinging is one of her favorite pastimes. 

 My active boy!

 Lucas and dada, September 2011

 Mommy and Lucas, December 2011

 Sister and brother, December 2010

 She dressed herself, October 2011

 Izzy Joy! July 2011

She finally fits into her yellow "Clown" shoes, July 2011

 Contemplating, July 2011

 Yummy!, July 2011

 Lucas bright eyes, July 2011

My little devious man, July 2011

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hope Floats

You don't typically think of 'Hope' as a dynamic entity. Lately however, 'Hope' to me has been a fluid, ebbing persona of its own that changes faces as seamlessly as a fleeting breeze wisps away certainty leaving behind only doubt. Our own concept of hope relies on where you perceive your best chances for getting out of a certain situation lies. Ideally, my hope would lay in a cure for cancer, but there is none. Does that mean i've lost hope? Certainly not. I know there's no surefire cure and that many people i've met and have read about have had successful outcomes with their own battle with cancer. Their stories are all different because their situations are all different. Many cases are successful due to the ease with which their disease can be eliminated by removing affected areas or organs. My case is different in that my affected areas and organs are inoperable due to location and intrusion of the masses into or around sensitive nerves, blood vessels and bones. My current path of completing radiation therapy after 2 more weeks may allow for surgery for the resection of the rectal tumor if an MRI of the area shows that there is no such intrusion. My current symptoms and pain lead both myself and the doctors to believe that this surgery has a high chance of being contraindicated by a potential complication of this nature. Does this mean i've lost hope? A little. Even if the scan shows that surgery is a viable option and the resection is performed, it stills leaves the inoperable masses on my lungs and the phantom mass on my liver that they can't "definitively identify".

My sense of hope has definitely wavered as my levels of pain and overall discomfort has continued to increase and spread. All I can and have done, is to attempt to target and lessen the levels of pain emanating from several sources. Each one requires being targeted differently and each has it's own set of other side effects from the nature of the why there is pain to begin with and from the medicine used to treat it. It's been an ongoing struggle, but yes, I still have hope. Some days it's still hard to identify what that hope is in however. With the pain under control, I can think more clearly now that the ominous feelings of helplessness and futility aren't overwhelming me and drawing me deeper towards despair. I can say I have hope in trying every option we possibly can; finish radiation, do the surgery if it is an option once evaluated after radiation, try the last type of chemo that is offered. So far none of these paths have really shown to provide any improvement. The surgery will eliminate many of my problems, but still leaves many others. It's like how they describe when a terrorist or tyrannical leader is eliminated; it's a great victory, but others are right there to fill in the void left behind. All these thoughts weigh down my will to remain positive, but as Alysha has said several times lately; hope should not be destroyed by putting faith in those who cannot and will not give you a positive outlook, that being the medical community. They can't offer a cure, so they offer comfort. They can't guarantee anything about the future so they treat the present. That doesn't give you much hope. And I have struggled with what Alysha has stated so fervently as of late; that our hope is with trusting that God will deliver me from this.

I am faithful and am grateful for the ability to have restored the faith in others who have read our posts and are inspired through grace by our words to seek out the Lord and His love in their lives as well. We do know however, that me making it through this may not be part of His plan for me. That makes the concept of 'Hope' through 'Faith' a very flexible and even surreal presence as you have hope that God will heal me but through faith, though you accept whatever is in store for you which may not include being healed. How does hope work in this case. Should I have hope or faith? Is it ok that I am still angry that having faith may hold no hope for me? I do not doubt that my fate will take me from this earth much earlier than I should be, but I hope that I will have the time to spend with my family before that happens that will be meaningful and allow time for me to nurture my children to instill in them the virtues and morals I want them to carry with them through their lives. So I have faith, and I accept my fate. Though my hope now lies with the 'here & now', that I make every moment count, if my back is hurting and I have no energy, you will still find me smiling and pushing Lucas around the patio in his toy car or holding him even though it kills me to kneel down to pick him up. I am determined not to give in to the anger and frustration this brings daily, to not succumb to the pain and allow it to make me short of temper and in a foul mood, that's not how I want my children to remember me, it's not the husband I want Alysha to have to deal with, I want to and will be the father that smiles through the pain to play one more game of knights and dragons and be the husband who helps with the chores even though i'm exhausted and takes the time to give my wife a break, watch the kids, rub her back and still be present to encourage and support her through her frustrations and stress, to reassure her when she is in doubt. Our plans and worries about what the right treatment to do or what diet to follow, what supplements to take honestly in the big picture, doesn't matter. Trusting each moment we have to God, submitting to His will and putting Him in each second of our day, that's what will get me through. Even if it's not to a miraculous recovery, seeking Him when the kids are pushing me to the end of my patience but smiling and calmly dealing with them instead of loosing my temper and getting angry and yelling, pausing to take time to listen to Alysha when she is wanting to share something with me instead of half listening over my shoulder while sitting at the computer or reading a book, these are the things that by investing quality and intentional time to be the person I should be, this is honoring God and honestly just living better. We should all strive to live that way anyways, but having a trial such as mine truly teaches you the importance of doing that and instead of giving in under the enormous weigh of what it brings, shrugging it off by simply putting your worries and trust in God, it gets you through the obstacles much more easily than struggling through them needlessly.

Once again, I hope this insight inspires and encourages. Thank you so much for everyones continued love and support. With all my love,


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Thank You {Your Prayers Have Made a Difference!}

We are so blessed by the community of believers that has surrounded us throughout this whole ordeal. Tonight's event of Prayer and Fasting for Pete was just one reminder of the love and support we have experienced during this trial. Thank you for reminding us to believe again in the healing power of Christ.

Many of you have probably felt the change in our attitudes as Pete's condition has progressed; I know we sure have. And for the past couple of months God has been constantly reminding me to "just believe". God has been challenging one of my greatest fears of the worst still happening in spite of my faith that He can heal Pete because, in the end, I'll be thankful I believed while I could.

God also prompted me to change my attitude when, most recently, I came across a friend of a friend on Facebook who's sweet little girl, Jenna, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The faith of Jenna and her family is so inspiring and has taught me to believe once again. You can find her incredible story here. Please remember them in prayer as Jenna starts chemo tomorrow. It's interesting how cancer can create a camaraderie which forces the afflicted to band together. God's Got This!!!

So, thank you to our wonderful friends near and far that continue to act as God's hands and feet. You are certainly making a difference.



The other day I went to the pawn shop to sell some gold. Don't worry, we're not that hard up! It's just, with the impending move and the downsizing, we have been purging like crazy! So, I got together those old dolphin earrings I got for my 13th birthday, some outdated black hills gold, and a few gifts from old boyfriends and decided to head down and see what I could get for it.
As the attendant went through the treasures I set before her, she set one piece aside, a little fake-diamond studded violin pendant that obviously didn't pass inspection. As I cringed at the thought of having to return home with the hideous piece of costume jewelry, I was reminded of the story that led to that pendant being placed in my hands.
When I was 19 years old I went on an intercultural exchange to Ecuador, S.A. There were many things that happened within that almost-year abroad that made it quite a learning experience. But, there is one story I will never forget.
As an exchange student I received $50.00 a month from my sponsor to use towards any expenses I might have. One particular month I decided to put the stipend aside so I placed it in the top drawer of my dresser for safe keeping. One day when I went to go look for it, it wasn't there. I was a little surprised but thought I must have misplaced it. However, as I retraced my steps I realized something had gone awry. So, that evening I asked my host sister if the maid had ever stolen anything from her. Of course, her response was no but I told her the story about the missing money anyway.
A few days later I was at school and I looked up to see our maid peeking through the window of our classroom. She motioned for me to come outside. The minute I stepped outside, tears began to fall from her eyes. She had been approached by my host father and her job was threatened. She literally dropped to her knees and pleaded with me not to tell the truth about the missing money; the fact that she had stolen it from me. She explained to me that she was struggling to make enough money to support her family and needed the money to buy school books for her children. My immediate reaction was one of shock and disdain, "But you stole from me!" I thought. But as she pleaded with me, I became aware of the level of her desperation. Her job was on the line and if she was fired, her children might suffer. So, I told her not to worry. I would go to my host family and tell them I had misplaced the money and was sorry for accusing her of stealing. In exchange she gifted me the violin pendant.

As I explained this story to Pete this afternoon I was overwhelmed by the emotions of pain, despair, repentance, and forgiveness it uncovered. Not only did I decide to forgive her but I essentially took the blame for her wrongdoing. In the eyes of my host family, I was an ungrateful, accusatory little American girl that had disrupted the flow of their daily life. However, in the end, the maid kept her job and I moved in with another host family.

But, as I held that little violin today, I was so thankful for that experience. I was also very grateful that it didn't pass inspection the other day at the pawn shop. You see, now that pendant has so much more meaning than it ever has before. It has become a metaphor for God's grace. How many times have I come before my heavenly Father, just as she came before me that day, with tears in my eyes, begging for forgiveness and pleading that he would make it all right?
The answer---too many times.

I am looking forward to the day when I will be able to explain to my children the significance of that insignificant piece of jewelry. I hope they'll be proud of their momma. But most of all, I hope they'll thoroughly understand the depth of their Father's grace. Sometimes all it takes is one of those real life moments for us to fully understand the flawless love our Savior has for us, and I thank God for THAT moment.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weary Mom {Seeking Rest in the Midst of This Mess}

It has been a long time since I've blogged. Partly because I haven't had time, but mostly because I have been living in a whirlwind of sleep depravation and self-doubt. As each day sneaks by I find myself wondering what I have done with my time. Have I used it to do something meaningful or have I just pittled away this precious resource God has granted me?

Over the past couple of weeks I have been really hard on myself. My mind is so often filled with thoughts of self-doubt, frustration, anger, and criticism. I find myself wondering if I'm a good mom. If I'm capable of carrying the weight of our family through this trial. I sometimes get angry at myself for not being more present for my kids and for Pete. After all, we have no idea how much time we have left together, shouldn't we be making the most of it, not plodding through the days as if each passing hour is a burden?

In the midst of all this, God stops me and reminds me to give myself a break. He constantly reminds me that my circumstances are unique and are not to be compared to that of anyone else. Maybe I shouldn't be trying to hold myself to such a strict set of standards that most everyone is incapable of meeting, not just myself?

The truth of the matter is that I'm weary. In fact I am so weary that I find it difficult to make it through each day. I am snippy and tired. I'm anxious and withdrawn. I'm fake and clouded. I'm more weary than I have ever been in my life. My burdens are so intense that I find it impossible to make sense of any of it. Often times I sit before God and plead with Him. I ask him why I have to be bombarded by these trials. In fact, it's not enough that my husband is sick, but we have to move away from our family home, and our sweet little Lucas wakes 5 to 10x per night. I can't take it. I have no idea where to begin to make this all better and I feel helpless.

Last week's message at church was about finding rest. During that message God was speaking directly to me. I needed to know that it was okay for me to seek rest and rejuvenation even if it meant time away from my family. I need to take care of me first before I can take care of anyone else.

Throughout the week I have been tentatively taking steps towards this goal and it looks like it might finally come to fruition in a few weeks. I will only be away for a few days but I am in great need of some restoration for my soul.

I was also prompted by one of my favorite blogging moms, Brooke McGlothlin, to incorporate a few other methods of finding rest when I read her heartfelt blog post on rest for the weary mom. You can find it on her blog at  Surprised by Life. Last night, as I laid awake with Lucas for hours starting at 2:00 am, I realized that in the midst of my daze, I am missing out on so many precious moments. I must make it a goal to capture more of those moments, both for the future when our children want mementos of the time they shared with their dada, and for myself too. This is exactly why #6 on Brooke's list resonated so much with me.

So, it looks like God is leading me in the right direction, I only need to keep moving forward. As always, thank you for your love and prayers. Although we may never know the plans God has for us, he has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us. It's times like these that make me cleave to that promise more intensely than I ever have before. Thank you Lord for your promises and your never ending mercies. You are a breath of fresh air when all around me seems hopeless.