Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Answer

“I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice, and he gave ear unto me.” Psalm 77:1 

God hears our prayers.

I think it is important to write down the ways God answers our prayers.  Important because it serves as a reminder to praise Him, but also as an account to reflect upon while we wait for His answers to current needs. It strengthens our faith.

Jeff is doing so much better just after two days of the steroids.  The nausea is gone, and the headache is much improved.  Now we wait to see if it will also help his vision.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I am exhausted.

Jeff's treatment was over a week ago, and while the procedure itself went well, he has been on bed-rest since Monday for a spinal headache. The house doesn't care, the laundry hasn't offered to do itself, the grass keeps growing , and the school year started anyway. I can't keep up. And I can't keep the kids quiet enough. Cooking? I can't even do that right and gave myself food poisoning yesterday. I feel constantly distracted.

These are the days when I wonder if God is paying attention. (This is not going to be one of those uplifting posts, I'm afraid.) Today I didn't hide my frustration with the pharmacy who refused to dispense Jeff's prescriptions even after I had called first and they assured me they were ready to pick up. They were filled according to the computer, but the doctor's office was unclear on the dosage instructions for one of the medications and so I could not have them. I still don't understand why they would not give me the other one at first, but I insisted that I wasn't leaving without it. I was really trying to hold it together, and I'm afraid I could have been so much more gracious about it. They finally decided it would be okay to give me the one without questions, so I checked out. I cried the whole way home.

Why does this have to be so hard? I want so much to handle this with grace, but some days, the stress of this gets to me. I know God really is paying attention, of course. Today He is stretching me, and it is terribly uncomfortable.

The pharmacy did finally get the medication issue straightened out, and I was able to pick it up before they closed. I'm praying that between the two medications, Jeff will start to improve. I'm going to go to sleep and rest in the knowledge that God loves us and wants to be our source of comfort.

Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 Rest sounds good.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Be Still

morning fog

There’s just something about waking up early to discover everything shrouded in light fog that makes you want to be quiet.

To be still. 

Maybe that’s one of the reasons God allows suffering.    Maybe in the midst of a situation where we can’t  see very far down the path, we more easily rely on His guidance.  Maybe He doesn’t heal right away or find us a new job right away because once we’ve stopped squirming and crying in resistance and come to a form of acceptance that this is our path, He has an opportunity to reveal more of himself to us. We come to learn that He is able to truly sustain us through the most difficult of times.

“Be still and know that I am God.” the Psalmist wrote.  God wants us to get to know Him, but we get so busy with the everyday.  In the book of Job we find  a man in the midst of terrible suffering, anguished  in his pain,  wearied of trying to defend his virtue to his visitors. God speaks to him and says “Stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.”  He wanted to get Job’s focus off his own suffering and back on the power and goodness of God. 

It’s good be still.  To be amazed in the glory of the rising of the sun, to marvel at His imagination in the design of His creation, to reflect on the wondrous ways God has answered prayer in the past, to just be, recognizing that each breath is a gift—this is what it is to be still.

Scenic Sunday

Friday, August 21, 2009

Beautiful Ending to a Good Day

Hello, all.  We had a good, albeit long, day at the Cleveland Clinic yesterday.  Traffic was not too heavy in the morning, which is a huge blessing.  That drive really stresses me out sometimes.  The lab was running on-time, so Jeff got right in for his blood-work.  The tests showed that his blood is still 100% donor, and that means his marrow remains unaffected by this recurrence in the brain.  That is great news.

We met with Jeff’s oncologist then, who explained the treatment plan.  At first he said he was still uncertain how many treatments Jeff would need.  This was because they’ve never caught this type of recurrence before the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) contained blasts.  (The spinal tap from July was clear.)  Typically, there is a treatment regimen to clear the CSF of blasts, then the spinal chemo once a month for 12 months.  As he was explaining this to us, he decided to go ahead and treat Jeff aggressively.  He won’t need a treatment regimen to clear the fluid since it is already clear, but he will receive the monthly chemo for 12 months.  Since he had one injection pro-actively at the time of diagnosis in July, and one yesterday, he has 10 more to go.

We had quite a bit of time to wait between that appointment and the procedure time, so we walked over to the main hospital to have lunch.  Au Bon Pain is one of the redeeming points of having to spend a day at the Cleveland Clinic.  :)

Then we headed down to radiology where Jeff’s spinal chemo would be administered.  There were some delays with getting the drug mixed and delivered, but it still started fairly close to the scheduled time.  (This is done in radiology so that they can see exactly where to place the catheter.)  After the drug was administered, Jeff was required to lay flat for one hour.  So we left Cleveland about 4:15.  Traffic was a bit congested, but not yet to typical rush hour proportions.   Overall we had a smooth drive home.

Last night was also parent orientation night for our local schools. Since I was the only parent representative from our family available, I decided to attend Megan’s.  (I understand that they don’t want to draw this out over a whole week, but I hope they are understanding that I cannot possibly be in three schools at the same time on one night.)  I could have probably made it to the last 15 minutes of Ethan’s, but the sky opened up as a huge thunderstorm rolled in, and I just wanted to get home.

As I was pulling into our neighborhood, the storm was moving out and the clouds cleared behind me to reveal the sun.  I thought to myself, “This is perfect conditions for a rainbow.”  I turned the corner onto our street and this was the scene that greeted me.


I thought it was a lovely way for God to welcome me home.  The sign of promise-- what a wonderful reminder to thank God for the blessings of the day!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Still, Small Voice

I am so grateful that when Jesus ascended back into Heaven, he promised that the Holy Spirit would come to dwell within each believer.  I am convinced that the peace I’ve come to know is a gift from the Holy Spirit.  His voice isn’t audible, but if you are paying attention, it is unmistakable.  It is a still, small voice—thoughts of scripture that suddenly come to mind just when you need them; gentle tugs at your heart as you hear a message or a spiritual song. 

Whether it’s convicting or comfort that you need, the Holy Spirit is gently dealing with your heart.  I knew it the day I realized that Jesus died to pay for my sins.  Though I was in a room packed full of other campers, I knew just as surely as I know my own name that God was talking to  me.  He was compelling  me.  I responded immediately and as my counselor read to me John 3:16, I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and be my Savior. 

That was 34 years ago last month.  What a blessing to accept Jesus as a child.  I had plenty of opportunity to exercise childlike faith.  I fully accepted that the Bible was God’s divine word and I still trust it as such.  Years of Sunday School and VBS provided a motivating environment to learn Bible verses.  (Yes, the teachers gave us reward stickers or ribbons, but I tell you what—I still know those verses!) I do remember the teachers telling us that the reason we learned the Scripture was actually given to us in the Bible (of course!).  Psalm 119:11 says “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  and later in verse 105 of that same chapter: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

The path of my life has been rather ordinary, I suppose.  The last ten years have had some sections that felt increasingly difficult, but that Still, Small Voice kept reminding me of God’s goodness.  In each test, there has been a Scripture that came to mind to bring comfort—to light my path, if you will.  With Jeff’s initial diagnosis it was 2 Corinthians 12:9, the verse I have featured in the blog banner.  When he relapsed, it was Isaiah 26:3-4 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.  Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the LORD Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

The verse that keeps speaking to me this time is found in Ecclesiastes 3:11.  It says, “He hath made everything beautiful in His time.”  Now, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that there is really nothing pretty about cancer.  But that Still, Small Voice keeps assuring me that this is just  a part of something beautiful that God is making.   And I am listening.  And trusting.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


This experience has been quite a bit different from the first two episodes. The previous diagnoses were followed with immediate hospitalizations that lasted one month the first time, two months with the relaspse. Then months of return trips to the hospital. There was a daily confrontation with the disease for all of us.

This time around, while perhaps more serious, our daily life has remained fairly normal. Jeff has been able to return to work part-time which means there has been little upset in our kids' routine. We are enjoying Jeff's days off which resulted from his being unable to operate until his vision clears.

One of Jeff's collegues wisely advised that no matter the outcome, we could never get this summer back so he should make the most of it. No sense dwelling on uncertainty or moping around the house. Aside from the headaches, Jeff is fairly healthy. So we determined to use his extra days as opportunities to make memories with our kids.


This past week was our last chance to plan some activities before chemo this Thursday and then school starting the next week. We took the kids hiking and rafting in a nearby state park on Wednesday and Thursday. And we spent yesterday at the beach with some dear friends.

We are determined to find the blessings--to focus on the good, to celebrate the joy. We have so much to praise the Lord for even in the face of cancer.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Good Day

I had one of those empowering got-so-much-accomplished-today kind of days yesterday. I love those! Let's see, I had to take the van in to have a seal replaced. They finished it earlier than expected so I had time to run to the grocery store. Did about 5 loads of laundry, took the kids to the park, hit the nature store on the way home, made phone calls,paid bills, cooked dinner, cleaned up the dishes, then assembled dinner for tonight as well (Crock-pot chicken). And then Megan and I even had some time to scrapbook together.

Interspersed throughout the day, I received such encouraging messages and e-mails from friends. You are a blessing and I am so grateful for you!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chemo’s coming

It’s been about a week and a half now since Jeff finished radiation. The oncologists’ office called to say that he would be starting chemotherapy on the 20th of this month.

I still don’t know much about the treatment plan. And I know basically nothing about this type of recurrence. There’s nothing at the library on it, and even the specialists could only find three published studies in their medical journals, none of which suggested a clear treatment plan. When the people who are supposed to know this stuff tell you they don’t know yet how many treatments we are going to do, it is a little disconcerting.

I know their goal is to knock out this tumor before the cancer cells find their way back to the bone marrow where leukemia usually takes hold. (I’m still really fuzzy on how they ended up in his brain in the first place.) Since the drug will not cross the blood-brain barrier, these chemo treatments will be injected through a catheter into Jeff’s spine. (Think epidural and you’ve got the basic idea.) The cerebrospinal fluid will circulate the drug around the brain and the optic nerves where Jeff’s tumor is, killing off any cells that the radiation may have missed.

You probably have even more questions. Questions don’t scare me, so if you ever want more explanation, just ask. I’ll do my best to clarify. Questions foster learning. I ask them all the time.

When it comes to questioning God, you can be sure I have. But not, perhaps, in the way you might imagine. My questions are not angry or full of self-righteousness--though I can understand when people do that. And I do wonder “Why him?” and “Do we really need to do this again?” But really my questions are more along this line: whispering to Him that “I just don’t understand.”

Asking: “How will we do this?”

and: “Was there some lesson we failed to learn

the last time?”

My husband is a godly man, and I can think of plenty of reasons why he does not deserve this. And if God used cancer as a way to punish sin, then I would feel justified asking those angry questions. But the truth is, we live in a world marred by sin, the effects of which are violence, death, and disease. Those were not part of God’s perfect plan for this world or for us, but those were the consequences when sin entered the world. Cancer doesn’t care if you are a Christian or not, it just happens.

So if cancer wasn’t God’s plan, why does he allow it? Why doesn’t God just heal people right away? Those are good questions, too. I don’t know why. But I do know that He promises to work it out for good, and for His glory. Somehow, these experiences are part of a plan that God is working out to make something good. And for today, just knowing that is enough.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Friday, August 7, 2009


I set up this blog so that I could have a separate place to write about my feelings and thoughts as my husband battles leukemia yet again.  Some of what I have wanted to write lately seems too heavy to post on my other blog which has become more about nature and photography more than family “stuff.”  Still, I imagine it will be hard to completely compartmentalize my thoughts to just this site.

It is my sole intention to write as I walk beside my husband through this valley.  I often read back over the journal I kept the last two times and marvel how God gave us grace for the journey.  As you read along, I hope you will be inspired to deepen your own relationship with God.  And if you are encouraged by what you read here, well, that’s just an added blessing.