Sunday, June 29, 2014


My world has been narrowed quite a lot in the last several weeks.  Although I agreed to the terms of hospice care, I am always surprised when the next "thing" comes up and the response I get.  That's not to say that I am dissatisfied with the service.  In fact, I've been quite pleased with my experience.  I recently had an episode in which I slept from 9:30 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. the following day.  That, my friends, is a lot of sleeping!  The nurse came out to make sure I was ok (I was).  Since that initial day, it has happened a couple more times.  On that first day when the nurse was here, I was surprised that I didn't get the reaction from her that I expected.  She was very, very calm.  Not negligent, not uncaring...just calm.  I suppose that's how it goes in the hospice world. 

I have a deep longing to be done here.  If I were to be really truthful, I would tell you that I am disappointed most mornings to open my eyes and figure out that I am still here.  I honestly thought I would have been taken home by now.  Of course, the plans I make for myself rarely coincide with the plans that God makes for me.  So, I spend a lot of my time thinking about heaven.  What will it look like?  Will I get to spend some one-on-one time with Jesus?  Will there be lines to stand in to wait to meet the heroes of my faith:  Moses, Noah, David, Peter, Peter (to name a few) like the queue at DisneyWorld? 

"Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man all that God has prepared for those that love Him."  1 Corinthians 2:9

My mom wrote this verse for me and hung it on the wall where I can see it often.  It is a promise I cling to with all my might.  I know that there must be some reason that God is keeping me here, still alive, instead of swooping me up to be with Him.  I certainly do wish I could understand it.

Instead, Monster marches on.  Although my pain is well-managed, it has been necessary to take extra measures lately to ensure that that continues.  I recently switched from oral meds to a pain pump.  Were you to ever see me, you would notice the giant needle that is stabbed in my chest, or you might widen your eyes at the iv tubing that is attached to me, which must be carried everywhere I go.  Everywhere.  There's no question that the pump is the better option...I was taking as many as 30 pills each day.  Still, it is cumbersome and only so much tubing will stay put in the cute Vera Bradley bag I tote around.

All that medicine is making me do weird things.  Example:  I had a dream where I was quite insistent that Princess Lovely come for tea.  This was overheard by my mother, who is still giggling about it.  Princess Lovely--ha!  I also have had several instances where my hands will move while I'm sleeping.  A few nights ago I tried to feed myself some imaginary yogurt with an imaginary spoon, only to wake up and find that things were just as I had left them when my eyes were closed.  There was no spoon, no yogurt--just bedsheets.  Bummer.

You might be wondering how my three little cowboys are holding up.  Truth be told, I'm kind of wondering the same thing. It is like pulling teeth to get them to talk about it, and when we begin to scratch the surface, I get so nervous! What I do know for sure is that they are frightened and insecure--even though we are trying so hard to make it okay for them.  Three individual little people = three individual needs.  The hurt is huge.  At times, it feels insurmountable.  I have some guilt, because when this is all said and done, I get to be the lucky one.  They have to stay here and learn to live without their mom.  Some days seem good, and other days are very emotional and difficult.  You would not waste a prayer on my three precious boys.

How about some good news?  Ally's Wish is booming!  Due to the generous support from so many, wishes are being granted!   The Harrison family just returned from their trip to DisneyWorld.   Angie was able to spend time in the parks each day with her husband the their three children, making memories that will last.   Additionally, we have another mom whose wish we are already working on!  She has meticulously journaled throughout her long fight with her Monster, and now she wants to have her journals bound into a book.  That will be the next project for the team.  It thrills me to no end that this foundation exists to make wishes come true for hurting families!  As always, you can support us financially and make a difference to other people.  Simply go to and click on the "donate" button.  Thank you!

Please pray.  Please pray that the days, however many there are left, would pass quickly--but not TOO quickly.  Please pray that I would have discernment in making decisions and that the hearts of those who love me would be prepared.  I am fully, 100%, no-questions-asked ready to go home.  I'm thankful---SO thankful--that this space is only temporary.  You can have all this world, but give me Jesus. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

From This Side

I have great friends who remind me daily that I am loved.

I have a great family who takes care of me and shows love through their sacrificial giving.

I have three little boys who are my world.

And I have Jesus, who is faithful and unchanging.

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  Psalm 73:26

Many of you know that Psalm 73:26 is my life verse.  These are dark, scary days when my flesh and my heart actually are failing.  These are days when I desperately need something to cling to, and this is it:  Jesus.  He has given me everything I need.  Admittedly, there are times I take my eyes off of Him, and that is the very second I begin to flail in overwhelming waters.  I start to drown.  I can not--not for one second --take my eyes off of my Light.

I have recently experienced a minor (felt major to me!) medical emergency where I could not get enough oxygen.  It felt like there was not enough air in the whole world to help  me breathe in a cadence that would sustain my life.  So. Very. Scary.  We called hospice to help, and eventually I got it under control.   It was an eye-opening experience for a lot of reasons, the main one being this:  When I need medical help--REAL medical help for a REAL medical crisis--I'm not going to go to the hospital.  I'm not going to call a doctor.  There will be no emergency room.  I'm going to call hospice.  Nurse will come and she will hold my hand.  Mom will tell me "It's okay," over and over again.  I will feel panicked, and I am very, very afraid of that.
It's a bad feeling to live in fear.  Especially when I know that the fear is unnecessary.  Jesus will take care of me.  But from this side, it's hard to see how that will happen.  From this side, it's dark.  From this side, it is terribly frightening.
I have so much.  But from this most hidden thoughts bubble up.  He is enough.  But how can it all possibly come together for good?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Catching Up

The good news never stops.  My computer died.  Apparently, according to my IT-gifted Hubby who is supper amazing and I have not said enough about through this ordeal, it was a tragic, nothing-could-have-stopped-it death.  Irreversible.  Bad news for someone who passes many of the hours of the day online. He has been there with me through the roughest parts from the beginning and to even blog about it is too hard.


The computer I'm using now is one that Hubs managed to resurrect "just enough" from the family electronic graveyard (What?  Doesn't your family have one of those?!?).  He pulled a power cord from the mix-and-match pile that fortuitously made the green light come on.  Ahhh.....sweet relief! 

Baby has taken a liking to Goliath's euphonium.  90% of the time, Goliath fails to put the instrument fully away in its case, which is more of a temptation than his youngest brother can handle.  I doubt I will ever fully get used to that which sounds like a dying animal in my front room.

Little Middle is playing baseball for the first time.  Unless you are a baseball mom, you can NOT understand the feeling of the knot in the pit of your stomach when your little guy steps up to bat.  No amount of time spent in the batting cages or balls tossed in the backyard can prepare either one of you for the enormous pressure of wanting needing to make the aluminum 'POP!' sound when the bat and ball make contact.  The pressure is SO intense, in fact, that when the pitcher (whose mother is biting her fingernails 2 rows in front of you, by the way) pegs your little man with the ball on his fifth pitch, you have to restrain yourself from rushing the mound to hug him because your kid just walked to 1st base!!!  And so it goes...until the next time he goes up to bat.  There is not enough Xanax on the planet for this wonderful walk into the world of beginning baseball.

Of course, real life continues to barrel its way straight through our family.  Kids can say and do the darndest things, but Monster threatens to cover their light with his darkness.  Truthfully, each morning I open my eyes, and I am disappointed.  What I would really like to have happen is that I could go to heaven one night while I sleep.  Wouldn't that be perfectly lovely?  Fall asleep and transition from this stupid broken world into the next beautifully perfect one.  Talk about a dream come true!

I have "settled" (a term I use super-loosely) into a daily sick routine.  I still get up and wake the boys up at their appointed times each morning.  This is my favorite.  I think, especially for the littles, that it helps promote a sense of normalcy, i.e. "Mom's face is the first one I see in the morning.  That is right.".  We get them fed, dressed, and out the door, usually on time, with lunches in their hands and completed homework in their backpacks.  I know that's a lot more than what a lot of healthy parents are able to do, so I try to be thankful.  Honestly, though, it's not enough for me.  I can't believe that I, who was once such a hands-on, do-it-all mom, have been reduced to a watch-them-shovel-in-Lucky-Charms mom who considers it a successful morning if she doesn't vomit in front of them.  

After they go to school, I breathe a sigh of relief, take my first handful of many pills, and make my first big decision of the day:  to shower or bathe?  Yes, I do one of the other each day.  Both are wrought with perils that an ordinary person might not consider.  A shower means that I need to wash my hair, a problem all in itself.  Fortunately, I have added to my repertoire of medical equipment a shower chair.  I hate it just like I hate all the other stuff.'d be surprised how helpful it has been in doing something as simple as washing my hair.  I had one morning when my sweet daddy was here that I asked him to help me wash my hair over the kitchen sink.  It was the day after that that the shower chair was delivered!  A bath...well, who doesn't like a nice warm bath every now and then?  Especially when they don't feel well?  The problem with that is that I keep falling asleep in the bathtub.  It's happened so often that now my caretakers (i.e. Hubby and Mom) have strict instructions from Nurse to keep a close eye on me.  That eye that she has in mind is closer than I will allow, so we've had to compromise with sponge baths a few times.  

After I get cleaned up and changed into fresh pj's, it's time for a nap.  Yes, even though I just got up, it's time to go back to bed.  Very often, I will sleep for another 2 hours (or longer).  Truthfully, I wish my body would allow me to sleep even longer.  There are points in the day that I think would be better if I just let go and slept straight through.  

When I wake up, sometimes I eat lunch, and sometimes I eat nothing at all.  It all depends on how I'm feeling.  I can't seem to hold interest in my books.  I've always been an avid reader!  But right now, for example, I am at the halfway point in a new book by one of my favorite authors, and I just can't feign enough interest to talk myself into reading further.  What a letdown.   I'm not much of a TV or movie person, but a lot of times I leave it on for background noise.  What else am I going to do?

I don't drive anymore.  Correction:  I can drive, but I don't.  I am taking so much medication (23 pills a day to be exact, and that's without "extra" stuff like phenergran for nausea or Xanax for my 6th grader stress), that who knows what is happening to my response times, my reflexes, etc.  So I depend on Hubby  or the occasional friend to get me where I need to go.  It's not really that hard to work out, because I don't leave the house much.  Still, the loss of that independence stings.  It's amazing how I never seemed to care about just getting out of the house for no reason before, and now that I can't, it really feels like it matters.  The Bus just sits in the driveway, seemingly taunting me.  

Anyway, back to the rundown of my day:  The boys come home in the afternoon, and then the craziest thing happens.  I swear that as soon as the door opens and I hear the first, "Hi, Mom!", my stomach starts to hurt.  I become uncomfortable in my own skin, and that horrible feeling increases over the next several hours until the clock mercifully allows me to take bedtime meds and I can sleep.  I don't know why those two things have to intersect, but that is what happens nearly every. single. day.  I hate it so much, because I feel like I don't spend nearly the time with them that I want to.  They come in my room and tell me about their day, of course, but I'm no match for them.  Most nights I have reading time with Baby, usually some math or some other can't-wait-to-be-done assignment with Little Middle, and then Goliath will come in and demonstrate his newest playlist for me before bedtime.  I am so thankful for these times with them, but again:  it's not enough.  I've fallen hard.  And every day is a tough reminder that I'm not what I used to be.

So that's a typical day.  Of course, weekends are a little different.  I have been trying very hard to make Little Middle's baseball and Baby's soccer games.  Hubby and I sat out in the crazy wind on Saturday morning cheering for a bunch of second graders who were falling all over themselves.  Hilarious!  But even that felt bad to me:  I used to be the team mom.  I went to every practice, I set up the snack schedule, I made sure he had his cleats, his socks, his shin guards for every practice and game.  Now I have no idea how it all comes together each week!  Of course, I'm not so arrogant as to believe that the world of soccer needs me to make it all jive.  I simply miss being an integral part of my children's lives.  And I'm at a loss how to achieve that feeling of closeness again in this new world.

The boys seem to be doing well.  They have each had their own mini-breakdowns from time to time, and that is to be expected.  I don't think you live knowing that your mother is dying and not have issues.  School teachers, counselors, coaches, church personnel...they're all on board with us.  There are people falling over themselves waiting and wanting to help the 3 little cowboys.  And for that, ya'll, I am unbelievably, overwhelmingly thankful.  Crazy thankful.  God has been so gracious to put our family in a place where we are cared for and loved on.  There's no way that the boys could be carrying on so well if they weren't in the middle of a you-are-loved cloud everywhere they go.  Life is hard enough, and a curveball like this can really alter the course of one's entire life one way or the other if we let it.

I still worry, of course.  I spend a lot of those empty hours in my days worrying.  Some days I feel like all I DO is worry.  I love this translation of a well-known verse:  "Don't fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."  (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG)
This Scripture offers an option:  Instead of worrying, pray.  And don't just pray asking for things, but offer up praise.  I love that.  If I am doing it right, I shouldn't just ask God for his watchcare over my sons.  I should praise Him!  And there's plenty to praise Him for:  He is big enough to handle my requests.  He loves the boys even more than I love them.  He has good plans for them.  And before I know it, my need to worry is replaced with Christ.  A sense of God's wholeness...I can't think of anything better to have on this earth until I can get to heaven and be remade!

I don't know how it's going to happen.  A lot of days--more often than not--I get bogged down with the imaginings of everything that can go wrong.  Raising three children with two parents is a huge job.  Raising three broken, hurt children with only one broken, hurt parent is an astronomical, how-can-it-be-done job!  But my God knows.  He knows our hurts, and He can heal.  That's what I pray for:  healing for my sons.  I don't want them to ever forget me.  But I do want God to use the experience that this hurt and loss is/will be for something spectacular.  I can't even imagine yet what it could be!...But God knows.   And I trust Him with them...even the one who never takes his ear phones out of his ears just to make me nuts.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ally's Wish

 Cancer is a lonely place to be.  Instead of planning out dinner menus and baseball schedules, I'm making end-of-life plans.  Instead of dreaming up the next family vacation, I'm fretting over life insurance policies and trust funds for the boys.

I have good people in my life.  Really.  I have GOOD people in my life.  A few weeks ago, I met a group of friends for dinner.  I had no idea why we were gathered, but I quickly found out that it wasn't just to talk about hedghogs, our kids, and shampoo.  No, they had something much bigger and more important.  Something that made me forget for a while that my life is not what I want it to be:

Ally's Wish is a new foundation put together by my amazing friends.  The purpose of Ally's Wish is to grant wishes for other mothers with terminal illness.  Spread joy.  Give hope!

I can not think of a more fantastic way for my legacy to live on.  It's not often that I am without words, but I was at the dinner table that night.  My friend Missy explained to me how she had been praying faithfully for me (which I knew she had been).  Like so many of us, she wanted to do something.  She wanted to put something behind her words.  But she didn't know what.  So...she kept praying.  And one morning, God gave it to her.  She immediately called the other friends, and Ally's Wish was born.  They had the whole thing put together and finished before they ever even presented it to me.  There was not a fear that I would say "no".  Because God was at work...there was something so much biger happening than what any of us could ever do on our own.

 At dinner that night, they asked me what my wish is.  They wanted mine to be the first one granted.  They said that I should dream big.  They said that I should think outside the box.  They said that I am loved, and that people want to help.  

So, I am thrilled to tell you that my wish is for this blog to be published.  I don't necessarily want it to be on a shelf in every Barnes & Noble across America, but I want it to be published at least so that each of my boys can have a copy of their own--a way for them to remember that their mom loved them with every inch of her heart.

Maybe you want to help.  Maybe God is leading you to bring hope to other sick mothers the way these friends of mine have brought hope to me.  Maybe you want to donate or volunteer.  Go to our website and look around.  I hope your heart is touched and you are moved to help.  On behalf of moms like me who love their kids and will have to leave them sooner than we want to...thank you.  Thank you for being an instrument in God's hands.  Thank you for reminding us that there are still good things to be had, joy to fill hearts like ours.  He is a good God.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Little Middle!

Dear Little Middle,

Happy 10th birthday to my little man!  And what a little man you are indeed!  You have grown and changed so much this makes my head spin to look back!  All the while, you give us great reason to look ahead.  Dad and I are SO unbelievably proud of you.

This year was finally the year that you started to outgrow your Lego mania.  For five+ years, I never thought you would want to do anything else as much as build Lego sets.  Those nasty little blocks have nearly taken my foot off more times than I can count during late-night bedtime checks!  And yet your love affair with Legos persisted.  It's what you asked for for birthdays and Christmases.  It's what you spent your saved-up dollars on at Target and how you spent long hours sitting in the game room.  Do I think you are completely over your Lego love?  No way.  But the good news is you've passed it on to your little brother...a legacy not lost.

This summer you experienced one of your first heartaches when your best friend moved away.  M had been your best buddy for two years.  You guys did everything together--games, swimming, running between each other's houses--and it broke your heart for him to leave.  To tell the truth, it broke mine, too.  You were a little lost this summer, but you have slowly found your way again.  There will never be another M, but you are learning to spend time with other friends and still have fun.  Did I tell you that I'm really proud of you? 

In the fall you started 4th grade.  4th grade?!?  How is that possible?!?  It took little work on my part to convince the powers that be at school that you deserved needed to be with the same amazing teacher that Goliath had.  And, boy, am I glad I did!!!  You, even more than your older brother, have shown me the crazy-good perks of having a teacher who is also your friend.  Just yesterday morning, you were freaking out a little bit about the did I?/did I not have math homework over the weekend? question.  I was able to text Mrs. C and ask her, thereby diverting a crisis.  It pays to be friends with your kid's teacher!

You do well in school, although you would obviously rather be spending your time doing something outside the classroom.  You consistently perform better in ELA/spelling/grammar than you do in math & science.  Your brain is wired like your mama's, and seemingly no amount of patient coaxing by Mrs. C is going to change that!  You like weird science experiments, though.  We could mix baking soda and vinegar together every day of the week and you would never tire of it.  The messier, the better!

Speaking of school, you got a great gift this year!  Our school district is on the technology bandwagon, and is investing in iPads for every student.  4th grade was on the first deployment list this year.  For WEEKS, all I heard was, "When I get my iPad, I will __________" and " I will download ____________ app when I get my iPad."  And then....the day was HERE!  I had to go to school and stand in a crazy line--not at all too much to ask of a mom with the happiest son on the planet!  You love that thing!  You have become very proficient at using it, and it's been more than one occasion that I've needed to ask you an Apple question.  We laid down rules early on, and you are near-perfect at obeying them.  Thank you for not being a technological nightmare kid.

The Year You Were Nine has been a year with joys of its own, but also plenty of sadness.  Just recently we had the very worst family meeting that you could ever imagine:  the one where we shared the news that I am not going to get better from The Cancer.  That news was met by a staggering silence on your part.  No crying, no yelling, no nothing...just an awful, dreadful silence.  I don't blame you one little bit. Since that day you have actually been a little more hands-on.  You have hugs a'plenty when I need one.  You are almost always happy to come down and sit for a spell to catch a show on Disney Channel or to do math (ugh) homework in my company.  I don't really care what it is, as long as I get to be with you.  

Little Middle, you have always been my happy-go-lucky, laid-back son.  You easily have a smile on your face and you laugh fast and loud.  I think you are one of the best ideas that God ever had!  I wish so much that I had been able to give you different news on that night, or at least tell you that we are in the middle of a bad dream from which we will surely wake up very soon.  Neither one of those is true, though.  It seems that our family's bad dream can't be stopped.  I want it to be different for you.  It appears, though, that God has a plan for you that is opposite of the one I would have written.  I don't understand it, but I choose to trust Him, and I pray every day that you will, too.  Remember, sweet love:  We serve a big God who loves us and is always in control.  One of the ways I know that is because that same God gave you to me!  I didn't deserve the happy, calm baby that I met at the hospital on that beautiful spring afternoon.  All I knew was that God had chosen us to be together.  And I'm so glad that He did!  I have loved every single day I've gotten to spend with you.  No matter how many days we have left to be together, I will make the most out of them.  You are precious to me, little man.  Never, ever wonder if your mom loves you...because she does.

With my whole heart,


Friday, March 14, 2014

Bellies, Beds, and Body Bags

I have a Monster growing inside of me.  There is no denying his existence, nor his growth.  Yesterday, I looked like myself.  A little rough, yes, because I was in dire need of a good hair-washing and some fresh pajamas.  But other than that, I looked like me.  This morning I got up and I look like me .... at 5-months pregnant!  Seriously.  I called Nurse in a bit of a frenzied panic.  How could this happen just...overnight?!?  She calmly told me a story about abdominal disease and fluid build-up.  I not-so-calmly asked her what we could do about it.  Her answer?  Nothing.  That's what.  We do NOTHING about so much accumulation of fluid that I look like my former pregnant self.  Wha..........????  This just keeps getting better.

Then, I went on a little field trip with Hubby and Daddy.  We went to a funeral home.  I'd been there before, when my friend lost her own daddy in a sad and sudden way.  I had no real emotion going in.  Actually, I felt a little detached.  Maybe that's why I was so surprised to see a dead person first thing upon entry.  She was just laying there in a room off to the side, surrounded by floral sprays, waiting for her friends and family to come pay their respects.  I actually whispered out loud, "There's a dead person over there."  Stating the obvious didn't help, but it broke the ice when the funeral director came out at that exact moment.

He seated us in a conference room that was not spectacular by any means.  I could have been at any company in Anytown, USA.  This room was only set apart by the collection of urns in a glass case in the corner.  The Director took a seat at the head of the table and started his spiel.  He did a good job.  We were well-armed with a list of questions and ideas, and Mr. Director provided all the answers that we needed.  He also gave us some good information about cemeteries in the area.  Since I am lacking in this area of expertise, I felt grateful.  Did you know that not all cemeteries have perpetual care?  If you are a local, this might explain a lot to you like it did for me.

I never realized how many decisions there are to make for a funeral.  I have been working on a few things on my own at home, but WOW!  Who knew?  One of the most important decisions to make is the choosing of the casket.  We were quickly educated about the differences in steel grades, wood types, and then we were allowed to enter The Casket Room.  It wasn't like the casket rooms that you see on TV and such.  There were only 8 full-size caskets in the room.  The rest of the displays were just cut pieces of the casket with a pull-out display from the wall.  Weird, but efficient.

I found one I liked.  I mean, I guess I like it.  Again, weird.  Mr. Director regaled us with a tale of a husband and wife who visited The Casket Room and asked him to take their pictures inside their caskets of choice.  Why?  What in the world is wrong with people?!?  I guess that's one way you can really be sure you're getting what you like.

While I held up pretty well through the funeral home experience, I must confess that I am a little freaked out by the thought of bugs and creepy-crawlies and, um, elements getting through.  Hence the need for an outer burial container, but still....ew.  That's the only thing that really bothered me.  I was pretty calm as Mr. Director went down the list of  his a la carte menu.  We selected some things we really wanted, and drew question marks beside others that require decisions.  Then we thanked him for his time and went on our way.

For as much as I had been dreading this visit, I suppose it went relatively well.  I did it, and I'm proud of myself for that.  I feel like taking care of these things is a way that I can take care of my family.  They don't need to see to all these little details and worries if I can do it for them while I'm still here.

Right now I am waiting for Nurse to come.  This will be the third appearance she has made at my house this week.  Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinking a 3/5 ratio of nurse needs isn't that great.  She's coming to access my port (which I haven't used since last spring--almost one year).  They are going to "feed" me some of my medications through my port so I have fewer pills to take.  It's a lovely thought, because I have got some pills!  Mom bought me one of those old-people pill organizers.  It's the supreme version:

Nifty, huh?  Every one of those little spaces is filled up with pills for me to take.  Every. Single. Day.  It's a lot.

Update:  Nurse has come and gone.  She totally threw me under the bus to Hubby and Daddy about not wanting to use the wheelchair.  Which I don't.  I was thinking maybe we could take it when we go to look at cemeteries.  Seems appropriate.  She managed to access the port with minimal discomfort to me.  I am most thankful.  The port has always been a difficult thing to deal with.  Maybe now I know that the medical staff just weren't doing it right!

I now am receiving methadone through the mediport.  I am hooked up to it, which means I must carry it with me all the time, everywhere I go.  Ugh...I hate that.  Just looking at the unattractive bag which houses it, I am already freaking out, wondering how I will carry it around and what I can possibly wear that will hide the tube sticking out of my chest (and disguise my giant belly).  Again:  ugh.  These are problems I didn't sign up for when Monster came nosing around.

Also, this afternoon we are expecting delivery of a hospital bed.  Nurse asked me how I had been sleeping, and the answer is, "Not well."  I even take Ambien, the magic med, every night, and I am still waking up several times each night because I am crazy-uncomfortable.  It's like she can read my mind.  Nurse said that is due to the swelling in my abdomen, and that laying flat will become increasingly difficult.  Then she gently reminded me that I could have a hospital bed that can elevate my head and/or feet, and it would probably be a great time for it.  I agreed, even though it's about the last thing in the world I want to have in my possession (except a wheelchair).  So there is one coming.  I think that the only twin sheets we have left are Goliath's old ones with the camo pattern.  Mom suggested that I send Daddy to Target to buy pretty new ones for my "new" bed.  Or maybe I'll just sleep on the camo sheets for a few days.

P.S.  Just in case you ever need to know, "disaster pouch" is a nice way of saying "body bag."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Come One, Come All!

We are so incredibly blessed to live in a community where we are surrounded by people who care about us and look for ways to show it.  One of those ways is coming up this Tuesday, March 4:

A few things:

*You DO NOT have to have a paper flyer to show when you come in.  You can show the flyer on your phone, or just mention to your server that you are there to support the "3 little cowboys" family.
*The event is open all day, not just at dinner time.  You are welcome to go to Chili's for lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, or dinner--or all of the above!
*For every friend that eats at Chili's and mentions our name, our family will earn 15% of the amount of that check.
*The event is open at the Chili's restaurants in Flower Mound (3040), Justin Road, Lewisville, Hickory Creek, and Denton.

You, our friends, our community, sustains us.  You have shown us unwavering support and unending love.  This event at Chili's is one of the things we have pointed out to our little cowboys as a way that God cares for us because people care for us.  We thank you in advance for your help with this special event, and mostly, we thank you for just being YOU!!!  Each of you is a huge blessing to our family!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Living With Grace

It is a struggle, as I sit down to write this evening, to form all of my thoughts into a cohesive format.  This day...oh, my.

It started as a regular day with regular cinnamon toast.  Then Nurse came.  Ten minutes into her visit, I knew I was going to throw up, and promptly did so.  Maybe I have not made it clear here before, so I will do it now:  I hate vomiting.  It's for sure in my top 3 things I despise.  Right after I returned from brushing my teeth, Nurse re-introduced the prospects of "assistance equipment," including an oxygen tank and a wheelchair.  She first introduced the ideas during her visits last week, when I quickly and distinctly turned her down.

I lost the battle today.  I am now the horrified owner of a WHEELCHAIR, which you will NEVER see me in.

She left, and then I threw up twice more.

THEN, my sweet Goliath came to me to confess that he "accidentally" read something on my iPad that was hurtful to me, so it was also hurtful to him.  He was full of questions and a little bit angry.  That caused me to ask more questions and be a little a lot angry all over again.

Stupid day.

What I really want to do here, though, is tell you about last night.  This conversation happened:

Goliath:  So Mom, you know how you have that cancer?
Me:  Yes.  Yes, I do.
G:  Well, I need to talk to you about something.  I'm not sure if it's wrong or not, though.
Me:  You can tell me anything, buddy.
G:  You know I would do anything for you, right?
Me:  Yeah....
G:  Every night when I go to bed and I say my bedtime prayers, I pray for you to not have to have cancer anymore.  And a lot of nights, I pray that God would just give me your cancer instead.  You know, so I could be sick instead of you.
Me:  (Solid, streaming tears)
G:  Is it wrong for me to pray that, Mom?

I think at that very moment I understood for the first time how sad my parents must be.  Because the very thought of my baby having to go through this horrible, wretched disease made my head spin and my heart nearly split in two.  At the very thought.  

I somehow managed to keep my head on and I dried up my tears.  I told my precious baby boy how God doesn't want bad things to happen to us, but they do because we do not live in a perfect world.  I reminded him how God wanted perfection for us (remember the Garden of Eden?), but sin messed that all up.  I said to him that God has a good plan and great ideas for all of us, and as Christ-followers, one of the hardest things we have to do sometimes is to BELIEVE that is true and TRUST Him to see it through.  Yes, even if our mom has cancer.  Yes, even if it turns our lives upside down.  Yes, even if it sucks.  (I allow this boy 'o mine to say the word "sucks" only when it is used in combination with the word "cancer."  True mom story.)  
Then I said to Goliath that while I don't think he's necessarily wrong to pray this particular prayer, that I wish he wouldn't do it anymore.  Simply because I can't stand the thought that God could choose to answer his prayer.

No more than I can believe that I gave birth to a person who would do anything for me.  He's only twelve--and I totally believe he would do it if he could.  Grace is getting something you totally don't deserve...and if being this kid's mom isn't grace, I don't know what is.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


This is a weird time in my life.  I've tried to think of other, better words.  Lonely.  Scary.  Sad.  Weird.  I am working on creating--and accepting--a new normal for myself.  This week, I've resigned from one of my last just-for-me activities, a volunteer position at Goliath's middle school.  I simply don't have the energy or the physical stamina, to go and push buttons on a copy machine.  It's really unbelievable to me.  

I feel a little lost.  I feel easily replaceable.  It truly stuns me when I go out during the day and I see the little old man down the street preparing the soil in his gardens for the spring planting.  Or when I hear the stories from my friends of what they've been up to, or notice the neighbors coming and going while I sit in the front room.  Really....I don't expect that the world will continue to go like it always does--because I'm not in it.  My husband is slowly but steadily taking over a lot of my stuff at home.  My mom, and this week my dad, has been here taking care of me and doing a lot of the work.  My darling housekeeper is even coming two days a week instead of her usual one Tuesday to help out.

While I am so appreciative of these people who love me and are helping with the transition process for my cowboys, my old self wants to jump up and do it all--just because it is mine to do.  I want my mom to have her life back, my husband to just go to work and leave the running and the scheduling and the cooking to me, and I want Amparo to...well, I honestly don't mind her coming twice a week. I've finally found the solution to the laundry problem!!!

Mostly, I want my life back.  I'm not angry or anything.  Just sad.  Because I had this great world made out of kids and noise and food and preschool and friends and shopping and taking care of things and church and activity and sharing and being a part of people.  I mattered.  And it was meaningful and sometimes messy, but wonderfully beautiful life.  Now I have....what?  A good bed and a quiet room and a few pairs of pajamas that I wear all the time.  It pales in comparison.

A friend posted these words on Facebook last week from Jesus Calling:

"Thank Me for the conditions that are requiring you to be still...Instead of resenting the limitations of a weakened body, search for My way in the midst of those very circumstances.  Limitations can be liberating when your strongest desire is living close to Me...My strength and power show themselves most effective in weakness."

The day I read that, I wrote this in my journal:

"It's hard to be thankful for these conditions.  I overdid it yesterday, and I paid for it today.  It's so frustrating!  Why can't I have at least a semi-regular life where I can do at least a few normal things?  Can my limitations really be liberating???  Strong word.  Oh, for grace to trust Him more!"

I want to be thankful.  I really do.  Being still is hard.  Being weak is harder.  I know God is in this new chapter.  But the quieter it gets, the harder it is to hear Him.

Oh, for grace to trust Him more.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Insomniac Blogging: Thirteenth Edition

1:41 a.m.  Indescribable leg pain has me wide awake.  My hospice friends say the pain is most likely caused by tumors pressing on nerves in my legs and hips.  Can't think of a better reason or time to blog, can you?

--This is my newest prized possession:
I am reading it cover-to-cover, music-nerd style.  I have a long history with the hymnal, starting circa 1980, when I needed something to do to pass the time during the sermon.  When I was growing up, before the giant screens hit Baptist churches all across the great South, we actually used the hymnal as part of the church service.  In my growing-up hymnal, I knew that "Holy, Holy, Holy" was #2 and "Victory in Jesus" was #89.  My new red hymnal is a little different, but I am having a fabulous time singing my heart out in bed (and yes, Kelvin, practicing the Hallelujah Chorus)!  Smile.

--Campbell's advertises 32 feet of noodles in one can of their chicken noodle soup.  This grosses me out so much!  We will not be eating CNS at our house anytime soon.

--Baby:  Mom, which super power would you rather have?  Flying or web-slinging?
Me:  Flying, for sure.
Baby:  Me, too!!!  (...happily skips away....)

--The weather lately has been crazy.  I know it doesn't compare to my friends up north, but I am pretty tired of winter, and wish it away quickly.  This little guy (given the name "Olaf", of course) turned up on the hood of my car last week with the latest snow/ice/stuff that fell from the sky.

--Baby has been on a roll lately.  He makes me laugh like no other.  This happened while he was working on his latest rainbow loom creation:

Goliath:  How do you make that?
Baby:  You'll understand when you're older.

--Later on today (much later), the Child Life Specialist that works for my hospice company is coming over for her first meeting with my cowboys.  I've talked to her on the phone several times, and while I find her to be somewhat chatty, she's certainly pleasant enough.  I hope the boys think so.  I expect that their little guards will be WAY up, talking to a stranger about Mom's Sickness.  It's a meeting that I think is necessary, but I'm not looking forward to it too much.

This is a little snapshot of my sweet nephew Truett.  He's two months old now...isn't he great?!?

--Hubby's sister is on the countdown to her little one!  My new niece should be here sometime in the next 3ish weeks...Audrey has been texting me pics of the adorable clothes, shoes, and nursery that is waiting for that sweet baby girl.  The cuteness is almost more than I can handle.  So excited!!!

--While we're on the subject of being an Auntie...

Seester is having another girl!  Reese the Niece is going to be a big sister! 

--Buck and Grandmama, this picture is for you:

The cowboys opened their bank accounts, and they say "Thank You!"

--I think that Valentine's Day is a "holiday" that Hallmark made up to boost sales.  It's silly, if you really think about it.  We should be expressing our love for people each and every day!  Before you go off thinking that I am a big V-Day grinch, you should know that each night this week I am writing on paper hearts something I like about each of my boys and hanging them on their bedroom doors.  When they wake up in the mornings, they are eager to find their new heart and see what Mom really thinks of them!

--It's tough to make blogging interesting when I never go anywhere or do anything.

--Goliath attended his first Revo weekend (aka Disciple Now) a couple of weeks ago.  I have had a hard time with the idea that I am old enough to have a kid who is old enough for Revo!  DNow weekends were my favorite growing up!!!  Well, except for that one year when my foot was run over by the car I was riding in for the scavenger hunt.  That was a downer!  I have been so excited for my little boy--who isn't so little anymore.

--I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping 
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.
Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping. 
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer. 
                                         Psalm 6:6-9

--I am going to try to go back to bed now.  Goodnight.  I'll see you tomorrow!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Day I Told Them the Truth

Dear Cowboys,

I feel like although I desperately want to forget it ever happened, I need to commemorate in a small way the Day I Told You The Truth.  One minute, we were a regular family of five playing a board game.  The next minute, we were a group of broken-hearted people.  The game lay forgotten for hours, until I pulled myself together enough to clean it up.  I don't think we'll be pulling it out to play for quite a while.

There is really  no good way to break terrible  news to the people you love the most.  I struggled for days with what to say to you, and all I could really think was, "This is so unfair.  This is so unfair."  Every interaction with you became all the more precious, because I knew that you were walking around in a bubble, of sorts.  A bubble where your little world was intact and safe...a bubble that I was going to burst.

And burst it I did!  I'm so sorry, heart boys.  I'm so very sorry that we live in a world that is not fair.  I'm so sorry that after all this time and effort, I haven't been able to beat this thing.  I'm sorry that I can't stay with you.  I'm sorry that I couldn't protect you.

I will never forget your blank looks.  I was telling you the awful truth, but doing my best to avoid using scary words.  I don't know if you really did not understand, or if you just didn't want to know.  Whatever it was, I knew I had to be straightforward.  So I started saying things like "not much longer," "dying," and "not going to get well."  It felt like plunging into a freezing cold body of water.  I couldn't seem to get enough air, and there was no way to go back and undo the huge jump I had taken.

Oh, loves.  Your sweet faces were almost too much.  I wanted to reach out and touch you...hug you...comfort you, but there was no room for that.  The closer I moved to you, the farther you moved away from me.  It was almost as if my physical presence was too much for you  One of you moved to Daddy's lap.  One of you continued to stare at me, as if you didn't even know me.  One of you got up and simply walked out of the house.  I expected different reactions from each of you, as God made you so wonderfully different.  I was not prepared for such dramatic responses.

In a weird way, I was touched.  Your strong reactions definitely showed me that you love me.  The news I was delivering was not easy, and you demonstrated that you were hurting.  I a m crazy-thankful for the intense feelings you have for your mama, because they mean that I matter.  The Monster has had a way of making me feel inferior in the worst ways, but you three never fail to bring out my best.

I guess that's the key.  There is no doubt that I was created for this.  There are lots of other things I do, people I know, places I go, identities I have in this life.  But all of them pale in comparison to being your mom.  There is nothing else I want to do.  Being your mom makes me a better person.

We will make it through this, my sons.  I hate--HATE!!!--that you are suffering because of me.  Because of my sickness.  Not a single days goes by that I don't pray for physical healing so you can have the mom you deserve to have.  Not one night do I fall asleep before I've begged God to guard your hearts and pave your ways.  Not one.

As hard as it is to understand (I don't fully understand it myself), I want you to KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is good.  I do not believe that God caused my cancer, but he did allow it.  He is still good, and He loves you even more than I do.  Cling to that truth with all that you have, babies.  I am.

And let's hold on to one another.  Whatever time I have left to be with you, I want to be meaningful time.  I want to soak up every delicious minute of laughing with (and at) you.  I want to create beautiful memories for you, even if we have to hurry up and squeeze all of those memories into a short time period.  Let's do it.  Let's live big and love bigger.  I already love you all so much. 

With my whole heart,


Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Good news first:  Hubby has a job!  There is a whole back story of an interview, a staffing recruiter who dropped the ball,  a prayer time where the two of us petitioned the Lord and honestly poured out our hurting hearts, and then a whirlwind 24 hours of contacts and circumstances that only our good, never-lets-go God could have orchestrated.  He starts on Monday.  His first paycheck will come in at just about the time we expect that the "reserves" will run out.

Huh.  Just in telling you that mini-story, there is light shining through the darkness that has been this day.  I actually intended to pour out my sad, hurting heart again here to you this afternoon.  I meant to tell you about pain that refuses to be managed and the gray, Eeyore-ish cloud that was above my head when I woke up this morning.  I wanted to tell you that I cancelled a coffee date with a friend and I have let my phone go to voice mail because I simply couldn't get past myself.  I intended to tell you that I haven't even changed out of my pajamas today, and if I were to be really honest, I would have confessed that I could not wait until the cowboys left for school this morning so I could get on with the business of feeling sorry for myself.

Deep breath.

I flipped open my laptop to do just that, and Hubby said, "Oh--are you going to write about the job?"

I didn't tell him that his brand new, answer-to-many-prayers job wasn't even on my radar.  I simply replied, "Of course!"...and I acted as if that had been my intention the entire time.


It's a weird thing about being diagnosed with a terminal illness...your perspective changes almost instantly.  I'm not talking even about the initial diagnosis.  For seven years now, I have had some treatment up my sleeve.  There has been a "next thing," something else to try--some reason to believe that certainly, surely there was no way that God was going to let me die.  No, it's the part where there is no more medicine or technology or earthly intervention that can fix it.  The part where the doctor looks you straight in the eye and says, "I'm sorry.  There is nothing else to do."  I've always seen the world through pretty black-and-white lenses.  It's one of the best things about me, and it can also be one of the worst things about me.  But now, almost overnight, my perspective has been even more narrowed.  I just want to get straight to the bottom line.  Only a few things really matter, quite a lot of other things don't matter much at all.

People matter.  Families matter.  Time matters.  Jesus matters.

It's also super-easy to forget the things that matter and to self-focus.  It is, after all, ME who is sick.  I am the one who has to deal with stuff no one my age should have to think about:  hospice services, wills and other legal documents, funeral arrangements.  Sometimes my pain can be managed, other times it is unbearable.  Nearly everything I do requires hard work:  showering, helping with 4th grade fractions, explaining my decisions/feelings to everyone.  My life has been turned upside down by this wretched Sickness.

( Quick story:  When Goliath was three, Seester and I had a garage sale at our parents' house.  While we were working ourselves to death in the Houston hellish inferno weather, Goliath and Abby Dog were watching us from a window.  Thus, my small son witnessed the patrons who wheeled his tiny bicycle out of my parents' garage and tried to buy it from us.  His comment to his Nana:  "Those are wretched, wretched people!"  That is how 'wretched' came to be one of my very favorite words of all time.)

"These are uphill, into-the-wind challenges you are facing.  They are not easy.  But neither are they random.  God is not sometimes sovereign.  He is not occasionally victorious.  He does not occupy the throne one day and vacate it the next.  "The Lord shall not turn back until He has executed and accomplished the thoughts and intents of His mind" (Jeremiah 30:24).  This season in which you find yourself may puzzle you, but it does not bewilder God.  He can and will use it for his purpose."  --Max Lucado, You'll Get Through This

It's not about me at all.  Some days, like today, I need to breathe deeply and take a few steps back in order to get a clear picture.  This Sickness--this life--is not at all what I thought it would be.  I didn't plan on this or want this or even see it coming.  But my uprooted plans and my changing circumstances do not change who God is.  Not one little bit.  He remains the same, whether I have a "good" day and I feel like my old self, or a bad day, and I barely manage to brush my teeth.  (Hmmm...did I brush my teeth this morning?)  He is sovereign.  He is good.  He intends great things for me, and he is determined to see them through to completion.  There is comfort in that for me.

Truth be told, I've hated this day.  It's dark out now, and I will be glad to go to sleep and put it behind me.  Tomorrow, my new hospice nurse is making her first official visit.  I'm not sure I'm exactly looking forward to that either, but I am certain that my Jesus has already gone ahead and paved the way.  Just as he made provision for Hubby's new job, he will take care of this new chapter of the journey.

Don't you wonder how people who don't have Jesus get through life?  I think about that all the time.  My darkest days are still lined with victory.  I hope that you know him, friend.  I am so grateful that I can have hope to fall back on when the days are overwhelming.  I'm so thankful that all the pieces of my life are in his hands.  Tomorrow is a new day.  Great is his faithfulness.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Not Forgotten

Life for the past 9 days has been a crazy roller coaster ride.  I alternate between bouts of tears and moments of peace.  I have done my best to balance my  need to be with friends and loved ones with my almost insatiable desire to be alone.  I have read my Bible and I have heaved huge, you-don't-know-what-you're-doing sighs at God.  I have laid in bed and I have gone to Target.

I have also done quite a bit of worrying.

It wasn't too many weeks ago that I told you that my husband had lost his job.  Truth be told, it was a terrible way to end a terrible year...and a terrifying way to begin a new one.

I suppose it goes without saying that we need him to be working.  Insurance alone is absolutely necessary (and crazy expensive).

He is looking.  He has made some contacts, and had a few interviews.  So far, though, nothing too solid or promising has come his way.

We paid the January bills, and then we started crunching numbers.  Every which way we trimmed it, there were more bills than money.

And so I worried.  I despaired.  I fretted.  And yesterday, I threw a pity party for one:  ME.  I sat on my comfy bed in my warm house in my clean, soft pajamas, and I used my computer to read about hospice services.  And I cried.  Goodness, did I cry!  Finally, after a couple of hours, I slammed my laptop shut and I said to God only three words:  "Where. Are. You.?????"

This afternoon, Baby brought in the mail.  He likes to sort it into five piles:  Hubby, Me, Goliath, Little Middle, and his own.  (Today, his and Goliath's piles were empty, but Little Middle scored a hunting magazine!)  When he ran back outside to play, I went through the stacks again.  Bill, bill, W-2, advertisement, sweet card, sweet card, more bills....and an envelope.  Curiosity got the best of me and I opened it.

Inside that ordinary-looking envelope was a check.  Are you sitting down, friend?  It was a check payable to Hubby for the exact amount that we need to make our next mortgage and insurance payments.  THE EXACT AMOUNT.  To the dollar, what we had discussed and agreed that we need.

God was there.  He has been working, even as I have worried.

We are not forgotten.

I collapsed into a chair, and with fresh tears streaming down my cheeks, I called my husband.  I told him, and he simply said, "Praise God."  

Friends, we do not know where the money came from.  All we know is that our very real God met our very real need with a miracle in the mail.

Isn't that just like our Lord?  To show up in an unexpected, unusual way to prove that his promises are 100% true?

So many things remain unknowns in my life.  There are inquiries to be made and caregiver interviews to be conducted.  There are details to be attended to and decisions to be made.  There are unthinkable conversations to be held with my three little cowboys.

But my question from yesterday has been answered :  "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)

I still have goose bumps on my arms, and I'm sniffly from crying.  But my heart...oh, my heart is refreshed.  No doubt that could have happened without such a blatant miracle.  I am so incredibly thankful.  Thankful for the miracle in the mail...thankful that I belong to a God who loves and provides...thankful that I am never beyond his reach or outside of his care.

We are not forgotten.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?  Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."  Luke 12:6-7

Saturday, January 11, 2014

All I Can Say

Lord, I'm tired.

I have fought this Monster for a long time.  Seven years.  Nearly the entirety of my Baby's life.  I have had surgeries.  I've been hospitalized multiple times.  I have done chemotherapy...five times.  I lost my hair, my eyebrows, and my eyelashes.  I've given up my dignity and my spirit has been crushed.  I endured radiation as long as I could.  My skin has been burnt to a crisp.  I've traveled the country, made countless appointments, and researched until my eyes were crossed.

Lord, I'm so alone.

No one understands--really understands--what it feels like to be me.  I have an army of friends and family who have walked with me and stood in the gap for me.  But nobody fully can understand the fear of laying on that CT scan table over and over again, month after month, year after year.  No one else can really identify with that feeling I get in my stomach while I wait for the phone to ring with news--that is always bad.  No one sees the way people look at me with pity or worse, look at my children.  No one but me can read the precious cards that come in the mail that all say, "I am praying for healing,"...and then wonder why God isn't answering that prayer.

Lord, the dark is creeping in, it's creeping up to swallow me.

God and I, we've stayed up a lot of nights together.  Seven years equals a lot of insomnia.  There have been nights where I've cried, nights where I've begged, and nights when I've tried to ignore Him altogether.  (That never worked out great for me.) We've had days, when I've been alone in bed, and I could literally feel the disease--the darkness--moving closer.

I think I'll stop, rest here awhile.

I had an appointment with Dr. F this week.  I was very clear as I explained to him how I have been suffering.  I told him how radiation has made me SO UNBELIEVABLY SICK, and how I feel like I made a deal with the devil by agreeing to do it.  I am weak, and crazy tired.  I calmly listed out the symptoms I am experiencing, and then sat back, swiped at the frustrated tears falling down my cheeks, and listened as my entire life changed...again.

It is time, he said.  

And this is all that I can say right now.

I am sick because of the progression of the disease.  I have used up all of the treatment options, and there is simply nothing else to do.  He is recommending that we start looking at hospice.  He doesn't suggest that for patients unless he can estimate that the remaining time left to live is six months (or less).

Lord, didn't you see me crying?

I was barely aware of the tears that persistently fell.  I hung on every word that Nurse Allyson spoke about hospice:  where to look, what to ask about, how it works.  I nearly missed my sweet Dr. F, out of the corner of my eye, reach for the Kleenex box.  It took me a moment to figure out that he was crying, too.

And didn't you hear me call your name?

It ended with Dr. F just asking me to let him know what I decide.  When I give the green light, he and Nurse Allyson will go to the ends of the earth to help me find the right people, get the right meds, and be as comfortable as possible.  They both hugged me, and I walked out of there, stunned.

Of course, nothing that he said was a real surprise.  I think I felt it in my body long before I heard the words.  There is simply a bit of shock value to hearing someone verbalize such absolutes.  

Wasn't it you I gave my heart to?

Six months.  Or less.

I wish you'd remember where you sat it down.

There is still the idea of the clinical trial at MD Anderson.  It is Dr. F's belief (and I have no reason to doubt him) that the trial would not result in any significant extension or quality of life for me.

There are decisions to make.  Many hard decisions.

And this is all that I can say right now.
And this is all that I can give.
And this is all that I can say right now,
And this is all that I can give, that's my everything.

I've walked with Jesus for a long, long time.  I don't claim to know everything, or to understand why he does what he does.  Not by a long shot.  As the darkness creeps closer, I have to dig deep to get back to what I do know is Truth:

1) God loves me.
2) God will take care of me.
3) God is always in control.

These are The Three Things that I have taught my boys.  The four of us have recited them over and over again until we were red in the face and they were rolling their eyes at me.  But The Three Things have never been more important than they are now.

This is all that I can say right now.

"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."  Psalm 73:23-26

Yes, that's my everything.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy Birthday, Goliath!

Dear Goliath,

Today is your day, buddy!  I could write here about this day twelve years ago--the day that you made me a Mom.  I could retell the story you've heard hundreds of times.  You know, the one where it's snowing outside?  The one where I look out the window off and on for nearly 14 hours of labor?  The story of the day that the hospital waiting room was filled to the brim with people who were thrilled about you?  

Yes, I could tell you all of that.  But instead of talking about how Aunt Jenny gave you the nickname "Gloworm," let's talk about how you've grown.  Because really, I am just as astonished about the person you have grown into as I was about the baby that was born on January 2, 2002.

The Year You Were Eleven had plenty of highs and lows, for sure.  In a lot of ways, you are predictable.  All of the parenting books and websites and experts warn that when kids reach your age, parents should expect mood swings.  (Um, no kidding.)  I have been prepared for you to want to spend less time with us and more time with your friends.  I was ready (I thought) to work harder and to ask more questions in order to keep up with what's going on in your world, because your world is increasingly becoming more yours.

In more ways, though, you are unpredictable, just because that's who you are.  Often, when I think that I've got you figured out, you find a new way to surprise me.  I don't mean that in a bad way, sweetness.  I just mean that you manage to keep me on my toes!

One of the ways you have surprised me this year has happened as you have continued to develop your personal interests and hobbies.  It has been fun (mostly) to watch you!  Especially since you started to middle school last have a lot of opportunities to try new things, and you are being fairly picky about how you spend your time.  This time last year, I never would have thought that there would be a target set up on our back fence for you to practice archery.  You saw something you wanted, and although you get frustrated, you continue to practice and fight for your spot on the team.  I'm proud of you for that.  Alternately, I really thought you would enjoy band.  Maybe I should have worried a little more when you couldn't decide on an instrument--the euphonium wasn't even in your top 3 choices!  You like it, but you don't love it.  We'll see.

Speaking of middle school...Oh, my.  There aren't really words to describe how I felt on the first day of school as I watched you and Henry cross the street and walk into that giant building.  I felt helpless!  I've only had that feeling one other time in my life--on the day you started school, and I left you sitting at that little table in your kindergarten classroom.  When I could no longer see you, I drove home and cried a little.  Of course, you aced your first day of kindergarten and had the same success on your first day of 6th grade.  Sniff.

You are now halfway through your first year of middle school.  You've been to your first school dance--and enjoyed it.  You had to sort through some relationship drama, but that seems to have leveled off and you know who your friends are and who to distance yourself from.  You are doing well in your classes.  Well, except for math.  I'm afraid you take after me when it comes to mathematics.  Sorry, dude.  Fortunately, you still like to read--also like your mama!--and you really enjoy your ELA class.  Overall, I have been impressed with your adjustment to middle school.  I often feel overwhelmed by it, but you seem to have a solid grip on what's going on.  I am very proud of you!

Another big change this year happened at church.  Our student ministry was restructured to include 6th grade--that's you!  The leadership is doing a great job, and you have made a seamless transition.  I am so thankful for that.  With a little pushing from me, you decided to be part of Priority.  It makes me laugh (to myself) that I have to, um, "encourage" you to go to rehearsal most Sunday afternoons, but how you always have such a fun time with your friends and tell me great stories when I pick you up.  Why can't you just go willingly and save us both the trouble?!?

You got a cell phone this year.  I want you to know that this was a  HUGE decision for Dad and me.  More so for me--your dad was on board early on, but I needed some convincing.  I haven't admitted it to you yet, but you should know that I'm glad now that I agreed.  It has come in handy on more than one occasion.  It also is our go-to punishment item--the first thing to get taken away when your behavior calls for consequences.  Gosh, you hate that!  ;)

You know what else you hate?  You despise cancer.  You are reluctant to deal with it, and very reluctant to talk about it.  That's making it tough.  You know that I am sick--maybe sicker than I've ever been--but you don't want to discuss it.  I press on, though.  I am determined for you to talk to me, even though it's hard.  Believe me,'s hard for me, too.  But I love you so much!  Way too much to just let it go.  So I will continue to try to gauge how much is too much, what is safe ground and what will push you too far.  Here's a small reminder for you:  God is in control.  There is nothing that this life can throw at us that He can't handle for you if you let Him.  Your mom loves you, but your God loves you infinitely more.

Life with you is a grand adventure, Goliath.  Some days are up, other days are not quite so easy.  I would not trade a single one for ANYTHING.  Each night at bedtime (sometimes I tuck you in, other times it's the other way around) when you hug me, it feels like the greatest thing in the world.  All the craziness and busyness of the day melts away, and I am taken back in an instant to that fantastic snowy day in 2002 when I first hugged you.  No matter what you do or where you go, I will be there.  No matter how big you grow and how diverse your interests become, I will be there.  Because, sweet one, that's what love is all about.  

Thank you for letting me be your mom and accompanying you on your life adventure.  You carry around a huge piece of my heart, and there is no one else who I would want to have it.  I look forward to what this new year will bring us and where it will take us...I love you so much!

Happy Birthday, amazing son.