Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September Draws to a Close


Today we celebrate the first anniversary of our son-in-law, Philip's, kidney transplant.

Philip, we rejoice with you over the new life that you have been given. You endured the years in kidney failure and on dialysis without complaint. You continued to strive forward and work upward of 60 hours per week, even while on dialysis to support your family. Not many people could have achieved that.

Your bravery and courage as you faced the transplant were inspiring. Although our hearts ache today for Amber's family (your donor), we rejoice with you over reaching this one year milestone in such awesome health.

I praise God and thank Him for keeping you in His care. May you be blessed with a long, healthy, happy life. Celebrate life!

A Thank You To Family of Kidney Donor

A year ago yesterday, a family lost their 17 year old daughter in an automobile accident. Her grieving family made the decision to donate her organs. Fortunately, for our family, our 28 year old son-in-law (who was in kidney failure and on dialysis) was the recipient of one of her kidneys. I wrote this letter to her family.

To the mother/sisters who selflessly donated their daughter’s/sister’s kidney to our son-in-law:

Nearly a year ago, on September 29, our family received the long anticipated call from the IU transplant coordinator that a kidney had been obtained for our son-in-law. He was 28 years old and had been on dialysis for several years due to a genetic kidney disease called Alport’s Syndrome.(His brother also has this disease.) We made a hurried trip to IU Medical Center for the transplant performed on September 30, 2007. All the while, we knew that another family had suffered a lost of a loved one in order to give our son-in-law a new life.

He had managed to continue working full-time while on dialysis. His wife (our daughter) is a Type I (insulin-dependent diabetic), so their lives were consumed with medical concerns. Our son-in-law did well on dialysis while our family prayed for a long time for a new kidney that would be a perfect match for him. He had received one previous call from my transplant coordinator that a potential kidney had been found and after going through the excitement of that call, he was told it was determined that the doctors were not confident transplanting that kidney since he was such a young person. That was very disappointing. And while we prayed for a healthy kidney, in our hearts, we knew that someone would have to lose their life in order to give him a new life.

Our son-in-law recently received your letter (from donor's family). It was very touching and humbling. We hadn’t anticipated our response to hearing from the donor’s family, but it touched us deeply. Suddenly, we had a name and a life story to attach to the new kidney. I am so sorry for the loss your family had to experience to give life to our family. Your gift is a gift that we consider absolutely priceless and selfless. To tell you, “thank you” is so inadequate.

I pray that God has given you peace and comfort and strength to continue on without your precious daughter and sister. We can only imagine your grief and the empty hole that has been left in your family. It was encouraging to hear Amber was a Christian as our families are Christians as well. Our son-in-law has not have one complication during the transplant or recovery and he has never had one sign of rejection. Amber and Philip were a perfect match!

With gratitude beyond mere words,
Philip's mother-in-law

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy 50th Birthday to My Friend Terri

Unfortunately, my OSU trip was today, the 50th birthday of one of my dearest friends, Terri. So, I am missing her party this evening as I recuperate from our long journey. I have known Terri for over a dozen years. We raised our daughters together and have many wonderful memories stored in our hearts. We crafted and baked ourselves crazy each Christmas. Terri is a wonderful, Christian wife and mother. She is inventive, creative, resourceful, faithful, joyful, peaceful, funny, hard working, and a faithful friend and prayer partner to me. I pray God will bless her and all areas of her life as she celebrates today and for many years to come. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TERRI!

Some Photos from OSU Trip

These are photos of the Ohio State University Medical Center where I see Dr. Byrd and a photo of the lobby of our hotel where we stay on these trips.

We've Returned from Ohio State

We have returned from our visit with Dr. Byrd. Dr. Byrd and his staff are very kind, professional people. I only wish the drive was shorter to consult with them. I met one of my CLL online buddies from Florida at OSU, so that was a neat bonus.

The skin lesion on my leg, (that has been biopsied twice) was determined by the OSU team to be a leukemic infiltrate. This means that the leukemia cells are now emerging through my skin. They took one look at the biopsy report and the lesion and didn't bat an eye that it was an infiltration. They said we could expect more, but to remain vigilant with any and all lesions (biopsy, etc.) due to my increased risk of skin cancer.

My hemoglobin had improved from 7 when I was last hospitalized in August to 9.8 today. I have made it during daytime hours without oxygen for the past few days. So that is a praise! The hemoglobin should be 12-14, so I still have a way to go for it to be in normal ranges, but it is nice to just be able to breathe comfortably on my own without oxygen.

Dr. Byrd and I have agreed upon a tentative plan (and I state "tentative" as we all know how quickly the best leukemia plans can change directions) to try to get me through the winter (flu season and increased risks for infection) without any heavy chemotherapy or other treatments. I will see Dr. Byrd again in December. His fellow said that "band aid" type treatments of things like high dose steroids could be used if my very enlarged spleen continues to increase and needs reduction. (Spleen is 10 cm below the left costal margin -- no wonder it feels as though I tote around a full term baby all the time).

Then the plan is to return in March to OSU (post-flu season) to readdress the topic of treatment with Revlimid (the treatment I declined in July because I was not comfortable being in an early phase of a clinical trial. More data will be available for consideration in March). There will also be a couple of other clinical trials opening in March, Dr. Byrd told me, as well as FDA approval of the drug Flavopiridol is expected.

Dr. Byrd and the fellow also talked to me about transplant -- they said we have to make all decisions in the context that I will be headed to transplant one day -- they said that every year advancements are made and survival rates improve. So each year that I can survive, is a year closer to a better chance to survive a transplant. I do not have a sibling match for a transplant, so we will have to turn to the National Donor Marrow Registry to find a matched unrelated donor for me. When that time comes, we may need to call on friends and family to be tested to see if anyone is an unidentified, secret "twin" to me! Wouldn't that be scary to learn that you are my genetic twin? YIKES!

Severe right hip and back pain flared up on Saturday, so the trip and walking were difficult. I look forward to physical therapy tomorrow to try to work out that pain. We appreciate your prayers.

This is a photograph of the front the Ohio State University Medical Center where I see Dr. Byrd and team:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ohio State Visit

We arrived in Columbus, Ohio, earlier this afternoon. I'm spending the evening researching some various treatment options, so that I will be well informed for my consultation tomorrow at Ohio State. The accommodations are very nice at the Hilton-Easton (a suburb of Columbus). The trip takes just under five hours to drive.

We had a pleasant drive over, beginning with an initial stop to visit Little Man. He was glad (as always) to see his Grampy and Grammy. He welcomed Grampy with yet another dirty diaper. (After our having three children in diapers at the same time, Grampy is quite skilled at diaper changing.) Little Man has "matured" into a Big Man today -- he lost what remained of his umbilical cord. I told him he is a "Big Man" now!

The trip passed quickly as I worked on writing a grant in the car. My husband didn't think I would be able to work on my laptop AND help him drive (I'm not certain what he was insinuating with that comment)!

Three other leukemia patients with whom I have contact via online support groups all have their appointments with Dr. Byrd tomorrow at OSU. It is possible we might have a leukemia reunion of sorts in the waiting room. It will be nice to have faces to put with e-mails. One patient is from Ohio, one from Florida, and one lives only about an hour away from us.

We ask for and appreciate your continued prayers for wisdom and discernment for me as I face and make difficult treatment and medical decisions.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Bridge Through Time

Photograph copyright Stacie

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Prayer for Today: September 25, 2008


Today we praise You, Lord, for knowing us so intimately. We are ever-grateful that You alone know us, because You have searched us. It comforts us and we praise You for knowing “…when we sit and when we rise…..you discern our going out and our lying down; You are familiar with all our ways.” (Psalm 139) Our world is facing challenges and dangers everyday, but Your protection and peace comfort us.

We repent of our shortcomings, Father. In our humanness, we fail You and our fellow man. Forgive us, we ask. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139) When the searchlight of Your Spirit shines brightly on our lives and hearts, we become acutely aware of those areas in which we are failing You. Prompt us to repentance and to strive toward living our lives that are pleasing to You. Whether it is unforgiveness, strife, doubt, fear, or pure unbelief, purge our lives of those traits that are displeasing to You.

We rejoice, Lord, that even though many of our bodies appear broken and beaten up right now, that we can be comforted to know that Your hands created these temples we reside in each day.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.”(Psalm 139)

Thank You, Jesus, for Your ever-listening ear. We are most grateful that You are near to us, Lord.

In Your Name we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Request for Prayer: September 24, 2008

I have started the first component of the alternative treatment without complications. Please continue to pray for God to use this therapy in an amazingly, healing fashion. Also, we will be returning to Ohio State University's Arthur James Cancer Hospital this weekend. Please pray for Dr. Byrd to have wisdom and understanding for all of his recommendations for me. In addition, please pray for traveling protection for us.

Many of you will receive prayer e-mails from my dear friend, Tina. She has been such a faithful friend and recruiter of prayers for me for over 12 years. Usually, if Tina e-mails you, a new request for prayer has been posted on this Blog or I am hospitalized and in need of urgent prayer.

Colossians 1:9-12

"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I Believe in Angels!

Hebrews 1:14:
"Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?"

Some background information for my readers to consider before reading about my experience today: Many of my readers know that today I have been planning to begin the new alternative treatments that I have been discussing with the University of Washington researcher. In addition to the two treatments that I am beginning this week, the researcher also stated that I could take Pawpaw http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pawpaw .

As with past treatments, I always pray and ask the Lord to give me a sign that I am to proceed with my intended plans. I trust His ways far more than my ways, therefore, I always ask for God's help and guidance. Thus, I have been intently praying the last few days for God to give me that sign that I was to proceed with today's plans to initiate treatment with these two new products.

Fast forward to around noon today: I needed to take Vitamins C and E along with a spoon of a dairy product such as a natural ice cream or yogurt to aid with the digestion of the new treatments. I went to our local pharmacy and purchased those three items. I returned to my car and was leaning over the console, attempting to put my ice cream in a cooler so that it would not melt on the drive to my doctor's office (where I was scheduled to take the first treatment).

Suddenly, I sensed that someone was watching me. I sat up and there was an elderly woman with snow-white hair peeking in my driver's side window. Although startled, I smiled and asked her, "May I help you?"

And she replied, "Would you like to buy a bag of Pawpaws?"

At that very moment, the connection had not been rendered between my heart and mind and I told her I didn't think so. She walked around the side of the building and I had my "ah ha" moment. I had been praying for a sign from my Heavenly Father and I believe with all my heart this was an angel He sent to ask me if I needed a bag of Pawpaws (the third element of this treatment protocol)!

I put my car into gear, knowing that I wanted to find my "Pawpaw Angel" and purchase that bag of Pawpaws she had offered to me. And she was nowhere in sight. I circled the building and there was no elderly woman, no car or truck selling Pawpaws from the tailgate or trunk, no one.

I immediately called my husband, Mom, daughters, and best friend and told them about my encounter. We were all reassured that an angel had truly been in my midst, sent to comfort, reassure me, and to provide that "sign" that I had been praying for all week. After all, how many times have you gotten into your car at CVS to have an elderly woman ask you if you'd like to buy a bag of Pawpaws?

And as my best friend and I reflected on the phone and realized how foolish it all sounds to be battling cancer and have a combination of a plant from China, a fatty acid, and a Pawpaw plant taken with a spoonful of Haagen-Dazs natural vanilla ice cream to battle leukemia. We were both reminded that Jesus moistened some mud with his saliva and patted it on a pair of blinded eyes and they opened and were able to see again.

Isaiah 55:8 “ 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD."

I confidently proceeded to the doctor's office and took the first product of the protocol, knowing that it would not harm me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Family Heritage III

This photograph is of my husband's great-grandparents (maternal).

Family Heritage II

This photograph is of some of my maternal grandmother's family members.

Family Heritage

I believe this photo would have been taken in the late 1930's of my mother-in-law, her parents, and siblings.

Drumroll Please......

Can you hear the roll of the percussionists as I make this announcement?

I completed the IVIG without complications today. I am feeling poorly tonight with nausea, headache, and light sensitivity. These are not unusual side effects from infusing thousands of people's immunoglobulins into my veins. It appears that some of the new "visitors" must not be welcome in my system.

And now the announcement requiring the drum roll .....

Tomorrow, I will begin the alternative treatment that I have been discussing with researchers at the U of Washington. Another alternative treatment will be introduced on Thursday. The product being introduced tomorrow is an ancient herb used in China to treat malaria. Traditional medicine is running out of options for me. Given that there is no clear cut path for me to follow into conventional therapies, I have elected to pursue this treatment path. I have been in contact with other leukemia patients who are using these products with success (one has seen substantial shrinkage with his spleen and my monstrous spleen would welcome some shrinkage)!

Please agree in prayer with me that I will not have serious reactions to these products and that All Mighty God will touch and work through these products to induce relief and healing for me. Also, please agree for God to continue to provide the resources to purchase so many products that our insurance is not covering for me.

I Will Trust

Another prayer partner of mine, Lynda, from our CLL online group, posted this photograph on our site. It was taken at the Canaan in the Prayer Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Right now, I do not understand why my body is rebelling and suffering as it currently is and how it has for the past 12 years. Yet, I know and I trust that He alone understands and therefore, I WILL TRUST HIM.

I hope Lynda won't mind my posting on my Blog this poignant photograph that she shared. It is a powerful reminder to each of us.

Treatment Day

Do you ever notice how time will pass quickly when you are not looking forward to an event (treatment day at the oncologists' infusion center)? And, conversely, time drags by ever-so-slowly while waiting for an anticipated event (Lil Man's arrival).

Well, 28 days have flown by quickly and today, I find myself receiving my treatment that is supposed to enhance my immune system. This IVIG treatment costs over $8000 every month. If my insurance carrier would only give me that $8000 per month for world travel versus IVIG, it would be a much more pleasurable use of funds.

When I consider that one immunoglobulin IV requires literally thousands of blood donors to produce it, I have mixed emotions. This one immunoglobulin treatment requires thousands of blood donors to produce it for me. So I am filled with gratitude and and gratefulness for the people who donate life blood for patients like me. Yet, it is a bit disturbing to reflect on that many different people's blood flowing through my veins.

As a side note, we dined at a Chili's Restaurant in Indianapolis last night. We noticed that Chili's is a great supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Memphis, TN) where children with leukemia and other cancers are treated. We once lived in a Memphis suburb and watched first-hand the wonderful work that was performed at St. Jude's. On September 29th, if anyone dines at a Chili's Restaurant, they will donate 100% of all profits that day to St. Jude's. Dine out and help a child with cancer. (Online donations also accepted on their website for this vital cause!)

For more information on Chili's : http://www.chilis.com/ourcommitment/default.asp

For more information on St. Jude: http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f2bfab46cb118010VgnVCM1000000e2015acRCRD

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Request for Prayer: September 21, 2008

Please uplift me in prayer tomorrow as I will return for my 8-hour treatment (IV immunoglobulins). Pray against any serious reactions and that the blood product will be pure and free from any infections, etc.

Also, we have friends who are leaving on sabbatical to China. Please pray for them and their family as they embark on this new adventure. I believe they are leaving tomorrow, so I know that they will be on my heart as I receive this treatment.

Thank you to all of my prayer warriors -- you are great and I love all of you!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Early Morning Visitors

Ouch, my late night of not feeling well and blogging was not a good idea. Early this morning, two of our favorite visitors arrived at our home. Lil Man brought his Mom to visit his Grampy and Grammy. We have all voted and it's unanimous: Grampy is the baby "hog"...... when he's around, it is a battle to get one's time with Lil Man.

Naturally, Grampy went for Lil Man and was proudly toting him around the house, trying to teach him his telephone number (we are a family of over-achievers) and then the noise! Fear struck in Grampy's eyes and heart. He knew that sound and rumbling from his past parenting experiences. It was dirty diaper time. Our daughter and I told him that it was his project from there on. He insisted Lil Man was too tiny for Grampy to change, but we didn't waiver. And off they went to the nursery. He hadn't lost his touch and in no time at all, Lil Man was clean and happy (but still didn't quite have his telephone number memorized)!

Living Through Others' Journeys

If my health permitted, I would travel all of the time. There are so many places I want to visit and experience. As a youngster, my parents jokingly referred to me as, "Let's Go" because I always wanted to be on the go. I have slowed to a creeping, crawling pace for the time being. Thus, for now, I enjoy hearing and seeing photos of others' travels.

One of our daughters and son-in-law have been in Nevada. They have experienced the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. Our daughter went alone on the daring rides atop the Stratosphere. Below I have pasted from their website, descriptions of some of these rides this daring daughter rode over 1000 feet in the air. (She did not inheirit this daring spirit from her Mom.)
Read these descriptions of what our daughter subjected herself to:

Big Shot - Shoots passengers straight up 160 feet at 45 mph (over 4 Gs) until they are 1,081 feet above the Strip.
X-Scream - A giant teeter-totter that propels you 27 feet over the edge of the Tower, 866 feet above the ground.
Insanity, the Ride - A massive mechanical arm extends 64 feet over the edge of the Tower and spins you at a force of 3 Gs for a truly mind-bending experience.

Our son-in-law, the baseball guru and ultimate St. Louis Cardinal fan, was delighted to meet in person former Cincinnati Reds' players Johnny Bench and Pete Rose. He is returning home with an autographed baseball.

This photograph was taken from an airplane window of the Grand Canyon.

They stayed at Planet Hollywood. This is a photograph of their hotel.

Such is the life of the travel reporter, who from the comfort of home, through her Blog, she reports on the travels of others. Perhaps, one day, I will be on the road again.


Until I became ill enough to spend more time than I can comprehend in a hospital, I had no idea how much of a patient’s direct care is overseen by nurses and not the doctors. Literally, a patient’s life rests in the hands of the on duty nurses for most of the day and night. Most physicians will make rounds once or twice a day and are available by telephone, however, the nurses carry much more responsibility than I ever imagined for patient care.

I could write a book (and probably a couple of lawsuits) about the good, the bad, and the ugly side of nursing. I have had nurses who excelled in all areas of nursing. They were compassionate and caring. They nursed because it was their passion, not for a paycheck. They listened to me and my concerns. They respected the fact that I know my body and my disease better than anyone else. They were detail oriented and focused on following my physician’s orders to the smallest detail.

On the flip-side of that description are the nurses who entered the career because of the numerous job openings in the field and for no other reason. They are sour spirited and hateful. They treat my family rudely and disregard my input into my care. They have given me the wrong medications and I have developed hospital acquired infections because of their negligence.

As with all careers, there are exceptional performers and then there are utter failures. Unfortunately, with nursing, people’s lives and health depend upon the performance of the nurse. Mistakes and negligence by nurses can result in a decline in the patient’s status or even death.

This year one of our daughters graduated with a BSN (Bachelors of Nursing) and she is pursuing her Nurse Practitioner Masters Degree. When she entered nursing, I will be the first to confess and repent, that I doubted if this is what she was called to do with her life. That was one of my biggest misjudgments of my life. She studied and strived to learn all that she could in college so that her patients would not suffer at her hands as I have at the hands of ill-trained nurses. She had seen the superstars of nursing who have cared for me over the years. She had personal life experiences to steer her on the path of becoming an exceptional nurse.

Our daughter has not disappointed her professors, preceptors, patients or parents. Families have repeatedly complimented on her bedside manner and compassion for them and their loved one. She is diligent to follow orders and to methodically review all medications and procedures for her patients. It is my dream that as she completes her Masters degree in a nursing field, that she will one day return to the hospital, where I spend so much time, to do her part to improve patient care and outcomes.

I know, as a nurse, our daughter will save lives and touch lives; give hope and gain hope; and will do so with empathy, kindness, and consideration. She has proven her Mother wrong.

When you're a nurse you know that every day you will touch a life
or a life will touch yours. ~Author Unknown

Faith and Pleasing God

“…Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
(Hebrews 11:1)

We hear much chatter these days about faith. People will tell one another, “You have a lot of faith!” Or someone might state, “I have faith in God,” as a confession of their beliefs. Or individuals will validate each other with a casual, “I have faith in you”.

I love the eleventh book of Hebrews – the faith hall of fame, as it might be aptly titled. The writer of Hebrews, considered by most to be the apostle Paul, tells us in the very first verse of this chapter, Now faith is being SURE of what we HOPE for and CERTAIN of what we do not seen.” (Emphasis mine) I cannot fathom a better description than this and it is a description and definition that is certain to challenge us when meditated upon and carefully digested.

It is only by these certainties that there IS a God, He is listening and interceding for His children, that we, the servants of God, may survive in the dangerous, fallen world in which we live. By that faith, we are promised that we can overcome our ultimate enemy, Satan, as he goes about attempting to steal, kill, and destroy the children of the Most High God.

By that deeply embedded faith, as God’s children, we are capable of fighting the enemies and battles of this life – staring down the lion in the lion’s den as Daniel did or praying against a contemporary enemy who threatens our very being. (1 John 5:4: For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith”).

Ultimately, it is by this faith, when carried throughout life until the last breath we inhale, that we are given the ultimate victory over the grave. (I Corinthians 15:55: O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”)

I love to read of the “by faiths” of what each believer noted in Hebrews 11 accomplished ….. Noah, Abraham, and Moses to name a few of those faith-filled believers who have gone before me and whom one day I will join in Heaven. I especially appreciate the comment made about Enoch: “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5)

How awesome to have a life end like Enoch’s – he didn’t die, didn’t suffer, didn’t have to plan a funeral, he was simply “taken by God”. I wonder what my modern day family would do if God should just decide to “take me” one day – I wouldn’t suffer or die in a hospital, He would just sweep me from my earthly home to my Heavenly home? I would hope they would read their Bibles or my Blog and see that this could be possible based on historical, Biblical accounts and wouldn’t file a missing persons' report on me!

But even more striking to my heart, are the final words in the description of Enoch: “…he pleased God”. There would be nothing I would rather hear from my Heavenly Father than, “Child, you and your life were pleasing to Me.” Can you imagine the Lord of the Universe whispering that into your ears? Can you visualize that moment when the Lord gives you that ultimate pat on the back? All too often, we spend valuable hours and days, trying to please man, when, ultimately we need to be focused on pleasing God with our hearts, our mouths, our deeds, our lives, and our faith.

In closing, this Scripture is especially meaningful to me: I Thessalonians 2:4: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who tests our hearts”.

May our lives be pleasing to God. May our faith be strong. May we never fail Him.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A New Term for the Medical Vocabulary

A new word has unfortunately crept into my medical vocabulary -- vasculitis. There is some speculation, as we await biopsy results, that this skin lesion on my leg could be indicative of vasculitis. I hope and pray that this will not be the case and if it is the case, that this will be a one-time bout with that disease.

Vasculitis is an auto-immune disease. In other words, due to the suppression and distress of my own immune system, it is confused. Thus, my immune system begins attacking parts of my own body as a foreign invader that the healthy immune system would only attack a bacteria or virus, for instance. In this suspected form of vasculitis (Leucocytoclastic vasculitis), my immune system could be attacking my own blood vessels. If this disease advances, it can begin attacking one's vessels in the vital organs (very serious).

Please agree in prayer with me as we await the results from this second biopsy that this lesion will prove to be nothing serious. If Leucocytoclastic vasculitis is diagnosed, there is a chance that it would need to be treated with chemotherapy (and you probably recall what the OSU oncologist told me in July about my odds of surviving chemotherapy). We'll try to forget that remark for the time being.

God has never failed me. I am trusting Him for long life and restoration of my body as it is so broken right now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Confess: I Have an Addiction

Friends, I am concerned. I may be developing an addiction. I need support from all of you. It has been diagnosed as a Lil Man addiction. I searched for a definition for addiction and from the Encarta Dictionary: “An addiction can be devotion, great interest in a particular thing to which a lot of time is devoted.” There you have it folks, it is official – I have a Lil Man Addiction.

Next, I went off seeking a 10 step program to help me with my newly diagnosed addiction. I needed answers as to what I should do about this addiction. It appears that Grandparentitis (medical term for the Lil Man Addiction) is treated and addressed a bit differently from other addictions. This 5 step program includes:

--Begin exercises in increasing devotion to the grandchild. Most grandparents and grandchildren only benefit from this type of mutual devotion.

--Be prepared that this great interest in the grandchild only will increase with time. Know that time will become meaningless during this addiction – it won’t matter if the grandparent does without food, sleep, or employment because each and every moment will be replete with spending time with the grandchild or thinking about spending time with the grandchild.

--Spoiling the child as a sufferer of Grandparentitis is virtually impossible. All grandchildren who have been spoiled by grandparents have developed into normal, intelligent, and exceptional individuals.

--Sleep may be interrupted by this addiction. Grandparents may find themselves requiring less sleep than thought to be normal so that they can do online shopping at night for the grandchild, craft scrapbooks for the grandchild, or rush to 24 hour photo labs to print the latest photos.

--Grandparents with this addiction can be easily recognized -- they are swarming the aisles of Babies R Us purchasing everything and anything that says GRANDMA or GRANDPA. Another easily recognizable trait is the new clothing worn by the grandparents that say slogans such as: "PROUD GRAMMY" or "GRANDPA AND PROUD OF IT"! Addicts need help to avoid over purchasing such gimmicky items.

Disclaimer: In no way do I want readers to perceive that I am minimizing the seriousness of addictions. I know many families and individuals are destroyed by actual addictions. This post was written strictly from a grandmother’s heart full of love and affection for her grandchild.

Cooking May Be Hazardous to Your Health

On one of my August Blog posts, I added this disclaimer to my writings about being placed on oxygen:

Afterthoughts: Do I dare cook on a gas stove and wear oxygen at the same time? Could preparation of dinner result in a fireball? Does this mean I am released from kitchen duties? Perhaps, the lack of oxygen has already destroyed brain cells.

Upon receipt of all of this oxygen equipment, the oxygen company's representative did not tell me anything about the risk of cooking on a natural gas powered stove while using oxygen. So I continued to cook on our gas stove, day in and day out. Somedays when I feel especially bad, I pull up a chair and cook 6 inches from the burners. I continued to do this with the oxygen flowing freely.

This past week my new representative came with a delivery of oxygen tanks. Jokingly, I asked him, "I'm not at risk to cook on a gas stove with my oxygen on, am I?"

He quickly responded, "You aren't cooking with your oxygen on, are you? Oh, no, that is very dangerous. It could blow up you and your house!" He even told me I should shut off the oxygen 30 minutes prior to turning on the gas stove.

YIKES! I wonder how close I came to an explosion from just trying to steam squash or sear steak? Can you imagine my disdain if I had blown myself up just cooking dinner (especially after battling leukemia for 12 years)? That would have made for a fiery obituary.

There is some humor in this post, but I also hope that other readers who might use oxygen will be aware of this very real danger.

The Man in the Chair

Today I learned that a man in the chair next to me, during many of my treatments, died. His name and photograph on the obituary page were more than daily news to me, he was a cancer warrior like me. He shared a common disease. We received treatments at the same cancer center. We both shared our love for the Lord.

The mention of his wife’s name in the obituary reminded me of the kind woman who knitted constantly as she sat hour after hour, day after day, beside her husband, as he received his treatments. I never saw that man sit alone during his treatments. At last count, she had knitted twenty-something afghans. We would chit chat throughout our shared days and came to know each others’ situations and families.

As I have reflected so many times from my chair in the chemotherapy room, that small environment is reflective of the world around us. All different skin colors, sexes, religions, diseases, and attitudes sit in those chairs. Some are believers while others are not. A portion is fighting and a portion is giving up. The man in the chair never gave up. He was a brave warrior and he fought the good fight against a very bad disease called cancer. I am grateful that I know we will meet again in our Heavenly home. He knew what was more important than saving his physical body – it was being certain he was saved and his eternal life was destined.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Medical Update

The skin lesion on my leg was re-biopsied today. All fungal cultures, bacterial cultures, and gram stain reports returned as negative. Thus, we still do not know the source of the skin lesion, thus the reason for repeating the biopsy.

I am facing many difficult decisions regarding treatment options, so I appreciate your continued prayers. I need the mind of Christ to be active in me so that I can discern the best treatment pathways to pursue.

A Prayer for Today: September 18, 2008

Dear Lord,

Praises to Your Name! We are most grateful that we have a Heavenly Father who deeply loves us. Thank You, Lord, that we are heirs to Your Kingdom. We are fortunate and blessed that we can be called children of the Most High God. There is no God like You. Let our hearts be ever praiseful and grateful for all that You do.

We are regretful for our sins. For we know that Your Word instructs us in Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” That word ALL reminds us that there is none of us who is righteous or deserving of Your forgiveness and Your gift of eternal life. When we seek You, we will find You, so Lord we come seeking and asking Your forgiveness of our sins. Help us daily to remember to confess our sins and not allow them to interfere with our relationship with you, Lord. You are faithful and just to forgive.

Father, I ask that You will gift each of us with the fruits of the Spirit so that our lives will be a testimony to You and our lives will draw others unto You. In a world that appears to be spiraling out of control, the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness) operating in one’s life will shine brightly. Let us live our lives with less focus on US and more focus on YOU.

As I recall the writer of Philemon’s words: “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers…”, I must mention the prayers and petitions to God that exist. There are so many needs, Lord and I am comforted to know that You know each need and the perfect answer for each prayer. Holy Spirit, prompt each of us daily to pray for the upcoming presidential election. Let Your will be done, Lord, and place the man in office who will uphold Your views and Your teachings in our government. We are trusting You, Father, to intervene in our country and to overcome the evil and ugliness that surrounds us.

Thank You, Lord, for being ever-present in our lives. Draw each of us into Your Word. Help us to carve out more time in our daily schedules to spend in prayer and study time with You. Increase our faith. Use our lives to witness to others who might not know You. And let us remember THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S – whatever each person’s battle might be, the Lord is equipped to handle it, if we will only seek His assistance.

In Jesus’ Mighty Name we pray. Amen.

When A Child Is Born, So Is a Grandma!

My grandmothering duties continued today. Lil Man and his Mommy spent the day at our home. What joy! What excitement! What energy these little people require! Even more exciting about this visit was that Mommy was very exhausted from Lil Man's sleepless nights (that's not the exciting part) which meant she had to sleep today and Grandma got to be Grandma!

And how would one define that statement? Well, it all began with changing my first TWO dirty diapers. You know you are a Grammy when even changing diapers is a thrill and becomes a topic for the Blog. Lil Man and I rocked and talked (I talked - he listened). And we tried to take numerous self portraits with the camera but just couldn't get us quite lined up so we have several photos of Lil Man's forehead and his mouth and the side of his head. We will have to practice that technique.

Lil Man's Great Grandma was able to come visit and hold him for awhile. He is so blessed to have so much loving and supportive family to surround him. Grampy was a bit jealous that he was missing out on the action. If he wasn't so young, I think he would be opting for early retirement so that we could both spend time with Lil Man!

Tomorrow, Lil Man's Mommy has an appointment, so guess who has been recruited into action for tomorrow? That would be his Grammy. I have two doctors' appointment in the morning and then will have the joy of spending time with Lil Man again. Despite the pain, cancer, fatigue, and bad reports, how can I do anything but fight with all my might so that Lil Man will know me for a long, long time?

For My Technically Challenged Readers

Now, I include myself with my "technically challenged readers", so don't assume I know more than you! Some of you have written private comments to me about the Blog and stated that you were not able to post your comments. I believe I have reset the settings so that everyone should be able to leave a comment without a Google account, etc. If you still have problems, please let me know and I will try something else.

If you've e-mailed me a private comment, please try to re-post it to the Blog.

Thanks for reading what's on my mind and in my heart.

What God's Word Says About Patience


Romans 8:25
But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure.

James 1:3
Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

2 Timothy 3:10
Now you have closely observed and diligently followed my teaching, conduct, purpose in life, faith, patience, love, steadfastness....

James 1:4
But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.

Hebrews 10:36
For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised.

2 Thessalonians 3:5
May the Lord direct your hearts into [realizing and showing] the love of God and into the steadfastness and patience of Christ and in waiting for His return.

Galatians 5:22
But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness...

Colossians 1:11
[We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy...

2 Thessalonians 1:4
And this is a cause of our mentioning you with pride among the churches (assemblies) of God for your steadfastness (your unflinching endurance and patience) and your firm faith in the midst of all the persecutions and crushing distresses and afflictions under which you are holding up.

Instant Everything

Have you ever paused to consider that we are an “instant society”? We want everything instantaneously, quickly, immediately, or in the twinkling of an eye!
Forget about patience, we want something and we want it NOW.

I don’t know about you, but I meditate on how much stress this “instant society” places on us. Let’s consider some of the “instants” found in our lives:

Instant breakfast
Instant potatoes
Instant messages
Instant credit approval
Instant automobile quotes
Instant gratification
Instant relief
Instant tea

If we approach this logic from another angle, let us reflect on other technologies, services, and items that provide results quicker than ever before.

Debit cards – instantly deduct funds from your account
Text message – instantly gives messages to you, no matter your location
Online ordering – you name it and it can be delivered overnight to your door
Pay at the pump – instantly pull away as soon as you fill your tank
One dose antibiotics – forget 14 days’ worth of pill taking

We would assume that all of these quick fixes to about any life need or problem would be making our life easier, less stressful, and freeing up more time in our daily agendas. Yet, I see the opposite occurring. People are more stressed. Calendars and agendas are more packed. Cell phones keep us bound to incoming calls. Text messages and instant messages are instant means of communication, void of much compassion or connection with others. How many “instant” financial solutions (payday loans, instant credit approval) have proven to be devastating to families?

I might not be in touch with this fast moving, instant society. My heart and life longs for a slower pace and a return to personal interactions with our fellow man. Neighbors are too busy and their lives to hectic to even connect. Families spend less and less time together as they rush through their days and collapse from exhaustion at night.

I will seize the slow paced life and all that it entails, anytime.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Niagara Falls: Monument of Power Divine

Photograph copyright Stacie

No place that I have ever visited has reminded me so much of God's power and might than my vacation to Niagara Falls. The thundering, rumble of an incalculable volume of water roars through the ears of visitors. "There is a God" is imprinted on a visitor's spirit. I especially appreciate these opening lines from James K. Liston's poem, "Niagara Falls: A Poem, In Three Cantos":

NIAGARA FALLS! stupendous, beautiful,
Enduring monument of Power Divine!
Thy white-foam pillars ever moving stand,
And ever standing move harmoniously
To the rough music of the dashing spray,
And roaring tumult of thy boiling base.


Have you noticed that this is a generation of stuff? It has not been too many decades ago, that a family would have been delighted to have a two-car garage for parking and for storage. After all, the average family in the 1950’s might store the family Christmas tree, some of Dad’s hand tools, perhaps a lawnmower, and maybe one automobile in their garage. Have you looked in your garage lately?

Stuff has invaded and robbed the lives and more importantly, the time of our generation. Two car garages have grown into three and four car garages (mainly filled with stuff and not cars). Storage units have sprung up all across America to hold what stuff doesn’t fit in the four car garages. Americans are spending hard earned income to store junk! Closet size is increasing in new construction and these new super-sized closets now require organizational racks and fixtures to hold even more stuff inside the closets. Entire stores are based on selling organizational supplies. Storage totes in all sizes, shoe organizers, tie organizers, gift wrapping organizers – see what I mean? We are a nation of wasters, hoarders, and spenders.

And what bothers me more than the physical space that all of this stuff demands is the mental space that it invades and causes the mind to be preoccupied with sorting, storing, cleaning, organizing stuff. After I developed leukemia, I began a quick, clean sweep of our home. Stuff robbed time from me and since I didn’t know how much time was at hand for me, the stuff had to go! Clutter will clutter one’s mind as well as one’s living quarters. Clutter requires time. If I purchase an item, then an item of the same type must go (to someone in need or to a thrift store to support the homeless, for example). By following the “item in, item out” rule, stuff doesn’t accumulate. I also tried to go through our home and purge items that we had not used in the past year or so. Freedom comes with purging one’s closets, garage, and home. Try it!

Lastly, one of the reasons I detest our country’s focus on material increase and stashing stuff to the ceiling in every room, is the time that is taken from our relationship with God when we become a society of "stuffers". Stuff requires attention and maintenance. Just think of the blessings that would come if we purged items we don’t need, give them away, and experience not only the joy of giving, but also the freedom from stuff. Time is a precious commodity in our all-too-busy world. If we will just take a few moments and assess our homes, closets, garages, trunks, and attics, we will see that our loads could be lightened in many aspects of having the yard sale of all yard sales.

Start purging today! Give away! Sell! Toss it to the curb! Do whatever it takes to free up some of your time for God and your family. Stuff will never thank you but God and your family will reward you when you toss the stuff.

Infectious Disease Consultation Today

I saw the Infectious Disease doctor in Indianapolis today. I am more confused than ever. All of the blood cultures, gram stains, fungal cultures, and bacterial cultures returned as negative (from Friday's biopsy on the skin lesion) with no growth as of today. Yet, he still wanted to start me on antibiotics. I kept pushing for the logic behind this order and I just don't understand it.

There was not enough tissue from the lesion to order pathology, so it appears I will have to have another biopsy this week -- I am hopeful that I will be able to send this to an outside lab for review (given problems with local lab).

Most upsetting from the appointment was a comment made by the doctor. When I kept asking for suggestions as to what I could do to help my immune system, lessen hospital admissions, etc., he replied, "Stacie, you know that you have a terminal disease and very limited function of your immune system left. There is not much any of us can do to help you."

Joy. Joy. What a way to start the day! What a way to encourage people! What a sentence I need to forget ASAP (as soon as possible)! So, I return to God -- my only Hope and Healer. I'm counting on HIM to pull me through this concern and all future infections or leukemia complications.

If you ever consider consultation with an Infectious Disaese doctor, let me remind you of this -- everyone being seen at this type of specialist's office is infected. In the waiting room today, I sat with someone who had MRSA, another with a staph infection, and another with a fungal infection. I never felt so invaded by germs in all my life. I wonder if the benefits of seeing him outweighs the risk to me. I ever-so-slowly reached in my purse, plucked out a surgical mask and slapped it over my face. I used hand sanitizer on my hands, purse, phone, any surface that entered that germ ward. Microorganisms beware! Fungus flee. Bacteria bolt. I'm used to fighting your kind.

Please keep praying.....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Biopsy Update

My doctor just e-mailed me. Thus far the blood cultures are negative. The fungal and bacterial cultures from the biopsy are negative. These are not final reports but she said they are encouraging. But these reports also take us back to not knowing what is going on with the skin lesion on my leg.

There was not enough of the biopsy sample to be sent for pathology, so it looks like I will have to be re-biopsied. I will see the Infectious Disease doctor in Indianapolis tomorrow. Maybe he will have a suggestion. I am curious if the leukemia could be infiltrating my skin?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Solo Babysitting

This evening I was blessed to babysit Lil Man for the first time, all by myself. Our daughter needed to grocery shop, so I sat in the car at Wal-Mart and babysat my first grandchild. Oh what a delight!

He was peaceful and slept most of the time. He would open his tiny, dark brown eyes and peek at his Grammy every so often. I sang to him (and he didn't complain like others do)! I prayed for him. I tried to teach him to sing "Jesus Loves Me" but he wasn't picking up on that quite yet. I told him how I would always defend him and would protect him in a big, mean world. We had a delightful hour and ten minutes together.

I marveled at his perfect tiny toes and fingers. And admired his gorgeous button nose and tiny lips. I held him tight and kissed his tiny head. I thanked God for the life He had given to me so that I could embrace moments like this.

Request for Prayer: September 13, 2008

Please continue praying for me. We are still awaiting definitive answers from Friday's biopsy and the suspected MRSA. I hope to hear results tomorrow or on Monday.

Monday I must travel to Indianapolis to see the Infectious Disease specialist. The following Monday I will have another 8-hour IV immunoglobulin treatment. And the Monday after that I am to return to Ohio State to meet with my leukemia specialist. In between these appointments, I have physical therapy and acupuncture every week as well as appointments with my family physician, oncologist, and dermatologist.

At times, I feel as though I am on a "hamster wheel" running, running, running and going nowhere except to and fro to doctors' appointments. The irony of this is that people who feel this badly do not feel like going to this many doctors' appointments, including those with long-distant travel.

I am blessed that my family physician does make house calls for me when I am unable to make it to her office. This is unheard of in modern medicine and is a service that is so welcome at times.

I am in need of:
-strengthening of my immune system
-healing of leukemia
-improvement in ongoing pain
-being able to stop using oxygen 24/7
-having wisdom to know which treatment is best for me when I travel to OSU

Thank you for your prayers.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Invasion of the Giant Mushrooms

These giant mushrooms have been appearing in our yard, suddenly overnight after heavy rains. I did some reserach and believe the species of the mushroom is Macrolepiota rachodes. It is also known as the Shaggy Parasol.

Update on Biopsy

I just returned from the doctor. She biopsied the skin lesion and sent it away for cultures, etc. We should have a preliminary report in the morning. Blood cultures, lactic acid level, and a CBC were drawn. We are awating the remaining results on those. The lactic acid level was normal, so that can be good news as an elevated level can indicate sepsis (infection in bloodstream).

We are going hour by hour. If my temperature worsens or if I feel worse, I will be admitted to the hospital to begin IV antibiotics/antifungals. I am so tired of going to the hospital, so I am prayinig that this will be nothing serious.

Thanks for your continued prayers.

Request for Prayer: September 12, 2008

Please offer extra prayers for me today. I had a round, red skin lesion appear on the back of my calf. Yesterday, my doctor photographed it and sent it to IU for dermatology review. Their initial report findings are suspicious for MRSA. I desperately need for this to not be the case. We are trying to gather information from my leukemia specialists and infectious disease doctor to determine what needs to happen. I just can't end up in the hospital where I cannot visit Lil Man. Please pray.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Prayer for Today: September 11, 2008

Precious Father,

Today I rejoice at the gift of life. The arrival of our grandson has imprinted on my heart and mind that You alone are the giver of life. I praise You for that gift. We might think we are the captains of our life ships, but You alone are deserving of that title. I praise You for the minutes, hours, days, and years of life that You have imparted to each one of us. Let us never take a moment for granted. Remind us daily of the treasure that each moment of life truly is for each of us.

John 10:10 informs us that: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Lord, You know how we all mess up and fail You. For those times, actions, deeds and thought, we seek Your forgiveness. Thank Your for allowing Your Son to die on the cross so that we might be forgiven. Today, I specifically ask forgiveness for when we doubt You. Forgive us when we allow the enemy to come and steal, kill and destroy aspects of our lives – both physical and spiritual.

Life events, pain in our bodies, bad reports, and disease itself can pry our focus off of You and Your promises and cause us to doubt. This Scripture tells us that You have come to give us not only life, but ABUNDANT life. When we doubt You, we are not fully believing and trusting for this ABUNDANT life. Forgive us, Lord, when we don’t fully grasp and embrace these promises that You have given to us.

Jesus, we believe and know You are listening to our prayers and You are interceding for us to the Father. I always hesitate to mention specific needs and requests, as in my humanness, I forget some of what I should petition You for, so this is why I am most grateful, that you are forever interceding. We ask that issues of pain will be resolved for those of us who battle pain in our bodies everyday. I ask that infections will resolve completely and speedily for others.

Thank You, Lord, for being our life Partner. I cannot imagine my life without You. You are my Everything. You are my Hope and my Healer. You are my Strength and my Savior. You are my Life.

In Your Name we pray, Amen.


Photo copyright Stacie

When I reflect on liberty, I am grateful for freedom, independence, liberation, and autonomy. The Encarta Dictionary defines liberty in a few varying ways:

(1)Liberty is a right to choose – the freedom to think or act without being constrained by necessity or force.

(2)Liberty is freedom from captivity or slavery.

(3)Liberty is a basic right – a political, social, and economic right that belongs to the citizens of a state or to all people.

I thank God for the privilege to live in the land of liberty - the United States of America. Our freedoms are so plentiful yet we often forget to reflect on that fact. I read of humans in other countries and nations who are restrained and their freedoms are constrained. If ever they could experience the freedoms that Americans possess, they would be flabbergasted.

I am thankful that I am free to vote and elect officials of my choosing. I am grateful for the absolute privilege to worship as I so desire. I am thankful that I was able to decide how my children could best be educated without interference from the government. I am thankful I can proudly fly my country's flag outside of my home without fear of persecution. I am thankful for my liberties as an American.

Yet, I am even more thankful for the liberty (freedom) that I have found in my relationship with Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:17 encourages us: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." What an amazing Promise from God's Word. As Christians, we are not to walk in condemnation, fear, and bondage. We are to walk in liberty, absolute freedom, in Christ Jesus.

Another favorite passage of Scripture is Isaiah 61:1: "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners." Our world today is filled with captives. Most are not behind the bars of a correctional facility. They are bound and imprisoned by the bondage of sins such as discouragement, addictions, broken relationships, or fear. Isaiah tells us that the Holy Spirit has anointed him "to proclaim liberty to the captives..." Should we be any different?

As His children, we should each be actively sharing the Good News with those who are bound by sin and unbelief. God has so much more to offer the captive. Liberty in Christ is like no other. We are free, free indeed, when we accept Christ to rule and reign in our lives.

I rejoice today in the liberties and freedoms I have, both as an American and as a Christian. I will never take these liberties for granted. Never. And when my spirit and mind are tempted to give up or give in, I will always remind myself of what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:45: "And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts." Over and over I will return to God's Word (precepts) and be encouraged to pursue the paths to liberty and freedom, both in the natural and the spiritual realms.

Schedule of A New Grandma

I thought that you might want to know what the schedule of a new Grammy looks like.

Birthday of Grandchild.
Thirty hours without sleep, shower, or make-up at the hospital. Digital camera burning through batteries left and right. Hold grandson and tell everyone how alert, precious, gorgeous, and smart he is at birth. Fall in love with him.

Day 1 after his birth.

Drive 70 miles round trip to visit grandson. Digital camera burning through more batteries. Hold grandson and tell everyone how alert, precious, gorgeous, and smart he is at one day old. Crazy in love with him.

Day 2 after his birth.
Drive 70 miles round trip to visit grandson. Digital camera burning through more batteries. Photos printed and Grandma's Brag Book is filled after two days. Hold grandson and tell everyone how alert, precious, gorgeous, and smart he is two days old. Heart is about to burst with love for him.

Let Us Never Forget: 9/11

Few historical events will be remembered by our generation as the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. In a moment, I can return to the exact location, activity, and emotion that surrounded me as I watched the attacks on our country unfold.

At the time of the attacks, our daughters still lived at home. My parents called me and told me that they were in their car but the radio announcer had said a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. The girls and I turned on the television in one of our daughter's bedrooms and we sat on the edge of the bed, watching the events unfold. I sat, as a mother, confused and bewildered -- trying to make sense of what my eyes were witnessing. Was this an accident? Was the USA being attacked by another country? Was this a terrorist attack?

I immediately thought of my husband. At the time he was assigned to a chemical depot where the nerve gas, VX, was being destroyed. Concern crept in as I realized that an attack by foreign or domestic enemies of the USA might select a target such as this chemical depot.

After we had viewed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we switched between stations. Suddenly we saw large plumes of smoke and dust and before our eyes, the first of the Twin Towers disintegrated. We looked at each other and asked each other the inevitable question, "Did we see what we thought we just saw? Did that mammoth structure collapse, floor upon floor, before our very eyes?" The elite of Hollywood could not have scripted and filmed such a drama.

My heart sunk. As a mother, I sat, paralyzed, not knowing what I should do or say to our girls. I had never imagined such a horrendous happening in our country. And I had not prepared what I would say or do in such an event. I whispered up prayers for God to stop the attacks and to comfort the broken people who had lost loved ones.

I knew the death toll was going to be staggering. I gasped as one network captured the terrifying shot of individuals jumping to their death from high above New York City. They had determined that suicide would be better than the fiery inferno that had ignited around them. I will never forget those mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers having to make such a horrendous life or death decision.

As the days passed, my heart broke -- both for the families of lost loved ones and for my country. I knew America would never be the same. Perhaps we had lived with our heads buried in the sand -- believing that our powerful nation was beyond the armed hand of our enemies. The attacks rattled my confidence in the security of my country and the future of my children.

Seven years later, the images of 9/11 remain vividly implanted in my mind. Today I passed a field filled with American flags with a sign that read: LET US NEVER FORGET. We must continue to support our troops' efforts to fight terrorism, evil leaders, and terrorist regimes. I am grateful to the families who have sent their sons and daughters to fight to defend our family's freedom. I am humbled by the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives so that my children and grandchildren may live in a safe country, free of terrorist threats.

Let us never forget. Too many lives were lost. Too many families suffered. Too much changed on that day for us to forget.

Photo: Little did our family know, as they posed before the World Trade Center in 1998, that this NYC landmark would be destroyed in less than 3 years.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I know for many, gossip and an interest in other people's affairs is invigorating. The sales of gossip tabloids, celebrity magazines, and other media focused on the lives of others bring in billions of dollars in revenues for their publishers. It is obvious that gossip is enjoyed by many.

Personally, I detest gossip. I have no interest in the lives of celebrities or people I don't know. I suppose my own life has always had enough of its own drama that I don't need to waste brain-space on the drama of others.

I believe that women especially have to battle against gossip. Gossip surrounds us in the workplace, on television, at the gym, even in online chat groups. It is imperative that we retain and recall what God's Word instructs us about gossiping. As one reviews these Scriptures, note the traits listed in the same verse as gossip -- strife, jealousy, angry tempers, wickedness, greed, murder, malice. It is obvious, in God's economy, gossip is a serious offense.

From the New American Standard Bible:

Proverbs 20:19
He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip.

Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances...

Romans 1:29
being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips...

1 Timothy 3:11
Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.

1 Timothy 5:13
At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.

2 Timothy 3:3
unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good...

Titus 2:3
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good...

Little Man Arrives

Finally, I am a Grammy! After a 22 hour labor, Lil Man arrived into this world. Naturally, we all believe he is the cutest, smartest, and most charming baby of all times.

He had a challenging entrance into the world. He had an early bowel movement and inhaled some of that and the cord had started to wrap around his neck. His respirations were very rapid so he had to be taken for observation. By then, I had been without sleep for over 30 hours, was exhausted, but I asked my husband to take me in the wheelchair (with oxygen) to find Lil Man. We found a window where we could see them tending to him and I sat there to begin my prayer vigil for him. It was my first time to have the tangible face and being of our Lil Man to pray for and pray we did.

God is so faithful and within 3 hours of his birth, his coloring improved, respirations returned to normal, and he was given a clean bill of health and returned to his Mommy and Daddy. God had erased all discussion of Intensive Care, feeding tubes, oxygen and IV's for Lil Man.

He weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces. He was 23 inches long. He has brown eyes and brown hair -- a fair amount of hair covering his tiny head. He is preparing to leave the hospital as I type.

My beloved family physician who has cared for me all of my 12 years + of leukemia was on hand for the delivery. She wept with us as I held Lil Man for the first time. I rejoiced that the Lord had given me these years to experience being a grandmother. I am madly in love.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blogging from the Hospital

Lil Man has decided to make his debut. I am writing on my Blog from the hospital waiting room. We arrived around 9:15 PM and are anticipating a long night of anticipation. The pain of labor and delivery will soon be forgotten when everyone sees Lil Man for the first time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lil Man's Official Due Date: Sept. 8, 2008

Nearly half of today has expired. Thus, in my best estimations, if Lil Man is to arrive on his officially stated due date, he has 12 hours and 30 minutes remaining. An arrival before the end of September 8th appears possible, not probable.

You must realize that we are a timely family. Rarely, if ever, will any of us be late for an appointment or scheduled event. Lil Man is upsetting our family's focus on timeliness. I suppose he is teaching a lesson in patience.

Yesterday I told our daughter, that parenting is at its most simplistic while Lil Man dwells in the womb. He is sheltered from outside dangers. He requires no effort on Mother's part to feed, diaper, or console him. He is simply snuggled in his protective environment, taking time for the occasional bout of hiccups or kick to his Mother's ribcage. He blinks. He sucks his thumb. Life is simple, warm, and sustained by God and the umbilical cord connecting him to his Mother.

When Lil Man arrives, that cord to his Mother's placenta will be severed. A new connection to his Mother will emerge -- the connection between a Mother's heart and her child. A relationship that nothing can ever dissolve. The bond will swell to a thunderous crescendo when she directs her gaze into his eyes for the first time. Her heart will be stolen. Her life will change. Lil Man will reign supreme in the lives of those who love him.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Creativity Blitz

Have you ever experienced chapters in your life with wide-ranging titles? Perhaps a period of years was punctuated with raising children and all the liveliness associated with such tasks. Or another life chapter is reflective of the adjustment to an empty nest – children spreading their wings and flying the coop while the parents adjust to the quietness, the emptiness.

A new chapter in my life book has emerged. I find myself submerged in a “Creativity Blitz”. This blitz occurred without warning. One summer day, I found myself in a writing, creating, photographing, designing frenzy. Perhaps it is my body’s attempt to camouflage the pain and brokenness of my physical body with things lovely. Or I’ve considered the possibility that an infusion of creativity is enabling me to live life fully in the midst of a summer fraught with all things medical. This bombardment of my mind with new projects is thriving as it guides my hands, heart and mind.

The desire to return to my love of writing and the creation of my blog was the first sign of the Creativity Blitz creeping into my midst. Always the writer, I suddenly discovered myself awakening during the night with topics for essays or poetry. My mind which never rests, began composing narratives faster than I could type the words. The stacks of papers and journal entries became overwhelming and the thought to establish a blog emerged. A new medium by which I can compile my writings for generations to follow had immense appeal. Thus, the birth of the blog!

I had buried my photography passion for many years. And while I must admit the motivation to purchase a new camera came mainly in the form of a new grandchild, I also felt the creativity burning within me to begin a photography project focused on the numerous covered bridges in our region. I had never visited all of these historic bridges and decided that the travel to all of the bridges, combined with a photographic record of the bridges, would be yet another creative project that would expunge pain and facing difficult medical decisions.

I have continued through the summer, editing and designing an electronic newsletter for a local nonprofit organization. While I have a graphic eye for artistic projects such as this and it combines my love of writing, I never fully arrived at a summer project solely focused on artistic, mixed media endeavors. Enter my world a woman named Pat.

Pat is a fellow voyager on this leukemia journey. We “met” online through a leukemia support group. She has amazing artistic abilities and she has spurned me on to the place I am today of adding endeavors in mixed media and fiber arts to my ongoing “Creativity Blitz”. She mailed me a creativity package from Maine and I am in the midst of completing my first mixed media creation.

The summer of 2008 – I’ve truly had no other summer like this one. I’ve never found my creative, imaginative, inspired spirit moving like it has these past few months. The physical pain has been immense this long, hot summer. The decisions that I have faced this summer have been overpowering yet have been tampered by things beautiful that have entered my life.

I can rest in bed, feeling physically unwell and unable to participate in many of the activities I so love. Yet, in that quiet, restful place, I have been joined by my creative writings, photos, art endeavors, graphic design projects, and other objects that are beautiful. I am grateful for this foray into creativity. It has been healing and helpful

A New Heart

Ezekiel 36:26
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

My heart rejoices at this passage of Scripture from Ezekiel. God promises to each of us, that He alone is the ultimate heart surgeon. He alone can work a miracle in the hardest of hearts. He can bring love and peace to the stony heart. God can develop forgiveness and love in an enraged heart. He can evoke joy and hope in the broken heart.

This radical heart transplant is performed on each of us when we accept Jesus as Savior and make God the Lord of our lives. There is nothing difficult or challenging about this process. His Word tells us: BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved! When we simply admit our sins and shortcomings to God; believe that God allowed His Son Jesus to be sacrificed on the cross for our sins; and confess with our mouths that we accept Jesus in our lives, the surgery is performed. No need to try to fake this process, God is all knowing. God looks at the heart while man looks at the outward appearance. I John tells us that “…God is greater than the heart and knows all things.”

God then gives us that new heart. He places His Holy Spirit into our heart and dwells there. Everything looks differently when this occurs. As this verse from Ezekiel tells us: “I will take the heart of stone……” God alone is able to perform this type of repair on a broken heart in a broken life. Is this not reason to rejoice?

Today, if your life is in disarray and shambles. If your heart is broken, and you have no where to turn, you can turn to the “heart surgeon”. God is waiting to repair your broken heart. Simply ask the Great Physician to heal your heart, your life, and your hope.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Too Expectant of Grandparents!

Lil Man is being stubborn. Absolutely NO signs of him yet. My husband and I had a hysterical prelude to Lil Man the night before last .....

Evidently I opened my cell phone about 3 AM to check the time and must have hit #2 on my speed dial which is to my husband's number. So, his phone begins ringing, he jumps up saying, "It's the baby! It's the baby!" Then he realized it was my cell phone calling his cell phone. HAHA. We were both confused and couldn't figure out why I was calling him at 3 AM then it dawned on me I must've hit speed dial when I checked the time. Oh well, it was a good trial run for how fast we can both jump out of bed when it's the real time for Lil Man to arrive.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Prayer for Today: September 2, 2008

My Precious Father,

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! I praise You, Lord for this beautiful day that you have presented to us. Your handiwork seen all about us is awesome indeed. How could we ever doubt Your presence and Your power when we simply glance around the world surrounding us? The Heavens stay suspended above us. The grassy meadows and stony mountains stay anchored to the earth. The ocean’s ebb and flow and stay in place by the might of Your hand. Species of flowers and trees and insects are too numerous to recognize or number. What other explanation for this glory could there ever be?

There is none like You, Lord. We are so blessed to be called Your children, knowing how many times we have failed You. Forgive us, Lord, for our sins and our failures. Keep the longing in each of our hearts to want to be more and more like You each day. Remind us when we are on treacherous trails that could lead to our sinning against You. We know that our lives will be more and more blessed as we grow more and more obedient to Your Word. I am grateful that there is no condemnation for those of us who trust in You.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39). Living in an ever-changing world, we rejoice that we can depend upon nothing ever changing and separating us from Your love, Lord.

Thank You, for Your listening ear and compassionate heart. We are confident that You know our many needs before I feebly attempt to recall each petition. Today, we ask for Your attention to be diverted especially to those who don't know You. I also ask that You touch and heal broken bodies, broken relationships, and broken lives. Move mightily on our behalf.

We are eager with anticipation as we wait for Your touch and Your answers to our petitions. More importantly, Father, we place our focus on You and Your Word as You make and mold us into the children You long for us to be.

I love you, Lord. In Jesus’ Precious Name I pray. Amen.

Happy Birthday Dr. S.!

Today, the life of an extraordinary woman is celebrated. My beloved, respected, and much trusted family physician, Dr. S., celebrates her birthday. From the heartland of Iowa, this outstanding woman was born and raised and ended up planted in my Hoosier backyard. I know God planted her for a clear plan and purpose. Her amazing medical mind, dedication to her patients, openness to alternative therapies, and attention to details have saved my life many times over.

It is amazing to reflect on the years that Dr. S. has cared for and treated my family and me. She cared for our three little girls and now will care for our grandson. It must be an intriguing field of medicine in which to practice, where one can treat generations of a family unit.

Happy Birthday, Dr. S.!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Events and History

Today our family and friends gathered for a Labor Day picnic at our home. We enjoyed each other's company, an array of delicious food, and some competitive basketball games. To the dismay of the younger generation of "20 something" guys, the "40 something" guys were the basketball champions. In the words of Nat King Cole, "the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer" are drawing to a close. Not being one to enjoy the heat, humidity and bugs, I am ready to embrace the beauty and coolness of autumn.

Excerpted from the Department of Labor website:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a celebration of the creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on Sept.5, 1883.

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.