Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We're Back!!

The boys on the subway
OK, we are back! Vacations rock, don't they?! We had an AMAZING time in Washington DC. We had 2 days for traveling and 9 days for sightseeing. We took a day off right in the middle to rest our weary feet, but we did and saw A LOT.
Dave showcasing some fossils

We had four of the kids with us the whole time, with the fifth coming over for 4 days at the beginning of our trip. It was so wonderful having the whole family together, warms my heart. We all experienced our first subway ride on the Metro, quite the experience. Day 1 we left the hotel with plans for the zoo, as we boarded the Metro we saw tons of people all decked out in St. Paddy's attire. We found out the was a shamrock festival at RFK stadium. Hmmmm, sounds like fun, right? Well, as the train filled with the revelers, some had begun the "celebrations" already and were quite loud and merry. Upon second thought, we surmised it would probably be better to find something to do that didn't involve thousands of drunk people. We got off at Metro Center station and headed for the Museum of Natural History. It was amazing, as I am sure I will describe everything, amazing! After that we had some yummy burgers at Ollie Burgers, the dude reminded me of the soup nazi. :)
Iwo Jima Memorial
Arlington
Day 2 Davis flew in on a red eye and as soon as he got there we headed out to Arlington Cemetery. It is so beautiful there. Lots of walking up a big hill but we made it up, wheelchair and all, just in time to see the changing of the guard and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. Then we saw the Iwo Jima memorial. I always forget how big it is, and so beautiful.
Day 3 we hit the National Archives, which was awesome. How amazing to see all those documents that birthed our country. Then we headed to the Air and Space Museum. Again, the history is so amazing! I love seeing all the supplies the first astronauts had with them, and the story of the Wright brothers.
Day 4 was spent at the Holocaust Museum. All I can say is wow. It always amazes me that it started with one evil man and that he attained so much power. To think that one evil man is responsible for so much death and destruction, unbelievable. I pray we never let that happen again.
Day 5 was spent RESTING our weary feet! I've never walked so much in my life!
Day 6 was TONS more walking but so worth it. We saw the Washington monument, the WWII memorial, which was beautiful. The reflecting pool was all torn up, redoing the bottom, so that was a bit of a bummer. Then we saw the Lincoln memorial, one of my favorites. Then we walked through the Korean memorial and the Vietnam memorial, again, beautiful. I think that was the day we walked by the White House and I got a great picture of the family standing in front of a big bus (with the White House behind it of course). It drove by at just the wrong time! We also discover a Law Enforcement Memorial that we didn't know was there. Dave found a couple of names of officers he knew and he had attended their funerals. I'm really glad we found that.
Day 7 was spent at the Museum of American History, I loved all the pop culture stuff, Dorothy's shoes, Archie and Edith's chairs, the original muppets, etc.
Molly and Isaiah overlooking the Potomac
Day 8 we rented a car for the weekend and drove to Mt. Vernon, Gen. George Washington's estate. Wow, it was so amazing. The view of the Potomac River is beautiful, they have kept the opposite shore line from being built up and it still looks like it did 250 years ago! I guess at one time someone wanted to build a waste treatment plant over there and thank God it didn't happen. The Mansion and his tomb were my favorite. At one time he had 8000 acres, the property is currently 500 acres.
Day 9 we drove to Gettysburg, PA. My favorite day of the trip. Although we were all a bit tired and grumpy, the pivotal battle there during the civil war just fascinates me. We took a self guided tour of the battlefield with a CD that took about 2 1/2 hours. The battlefield had more than 1400 memorials to different battalions and platoons and companies, some very small and some spectacular. There was also a great museum about the civil war.
Goofy on the plane home
Truly, the trip of a lifetime. Memories that will never be forgotten. It was such a blessing to have spent so much time with my family and the only thing that would have made it better is if Davis could have spent the whole time with us.
P.S. The best food day was s'mores table side at Cosi.
mmmmmmmmm, s'mores













If you're brave, come browse ALL the photos!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Washington D.C.

OK, y'alls, we are headed to DC on Friday, any last minute ideas for must see stuff? Please post your ideas here. Thanks!

Recovery 2

Dave did amazingly well after surgery. He had surgery Monday morning and we left the hospital Wednesday morning. my parents stayed until Friday to make sure we were all settled in, what a blessing they are. It was so nice to know they were here with the kids. I could focus on Dave and didn't worry about the kids at all.
The first few weeks after surgery Dave did great. Almost no swelling, no headaches, no fatigue. He just wanted to get back to work. Then we had some issues trying to get him off of the steroids. Most of that story is in this post ~ ER. Then we had a second trip to the ER, described in this post ~ Flat Tire. I think with the combination of coming off of the steroids and the build up of chemo in his brain he is just a mess. He also started his first round of oral chemo the last week of February, he takes it for five days, once a month.
He is extremely fatigued, won't eat or drink and it takes me an hour to get him take his meds. He is not combative, he just keeps saying OK, I'll take it. Then fall asleep with his pills in his hands. We got some great stuff from Vemma, sort of like liquid vitamins, that I cannot get him to drink. If you could all continue to be in prayer for him we would appreciate it. We leave for Washington D.C. on Friday for a ten day vacation. I think we might rent a wheelchair so he can see everything without totally wearing himself out.
So the last month has been a challenge for all of us to say the least. We had a guest pastor today from San Diego. Pastor Jurgen was amazing, and as God usually does, his sermon spoke directly to me, to our trial. He spoke about breaking through. About persistence, continuing with prayer and praise and requests from God. He taught from Matthew 15. There is a woman who's daughter is demon possessed, she cries out to the Lord for help. When Jesus ignores her and the disciples try to send her away she continues to cry out. When Jesus said I came for the children of Israel she kneels before him and cries out for mercy, when he likens her to a dog she calls him master and says even the dogs eat the crumbs from the table. Then Jesus says she has great faith, then heals her daughter! Had she chosen to leave, or be offended at being called a dog and march away, her daughter would not have been healed. It definitely encouraged me to continue to pray for Dave's healing, regardless of how discouraged I may become, or what the doctors have to say. To press on, to have faith, to be obedient. I did the sermon no justice, but there ya go.
Dave goes for an MRI Tuesday, please pray for a clean scan. Thanks again for all the prayers and support.

P.S. Yay!!! He just drank his Vemma!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bottom of the Second

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The week before his second surgery was a good week. I had spent 16 weeks struggling with "the peace that passes all understanding".

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

I had a sense of peace but still wasn't at that point of transcending all understanding. My understanding was that I might lose my husband, and how could any good come of that????
About a week before surgery Pastor Juan spoke about letting satan curse us with our own tongue. It was almost an epiphany for me. I had been letting this go on for years. I was able to take my own thoughts captive, to stop the forever running tapes of "I'm a loser, ugly, fat, failure, etc." they've tried to sneak in a couple of times in the last two months, but I refuse to listen. I am a child of the most high God!

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

Also, three days before the surgery we were in Phoenix for his MRI. Now Dave is not a communicator, I on the other hand, can talk communicate all day.  there was lots of drive time, so I tend to ramble. I was going on and on about my struggle with true peace in this whole situation. Dave actually interjected several times with many words of wisdom. About having faith, him knowing all would be as the Lord has planned, and not worrying.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Luke 12:25

So in my passionate ramblings I said "I just want the peace that passes all understanding!" several times while banging on the steering wheel. I guess I finally meant it, because the gracious Lord granted it. From that moment on I have felt peace regardless of the "what ifs", or how Dave is feeling that day, or what the doctors have to say. I now have the faith to go wherever God wants to take us. What I want doesn't matter. I still pray for complete healing for Dave, but I know whatever happens, to God be the glory.
So Dave headed into surgery, he was grateful for the doctors who wanted to be aggressive. He was not into the wait and see thing, he wanted to fight as hard as he could. Both of my grown boys waited with me until surgery was over. They got to see him for a minute or two in recovery before they left. I was grateful for their support.
The surgery was successful, all tumor removed, as well as dead tissue from the radiation. Th surgeon said only healthy pink tissue left. They also placed 8 chemotherapy wafers directly on the tumor bed, the most allowed. Praise God!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Between Innings

Back to Dave's story. Like I said we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with all the kids home. This always fills my heart. It always seemed cliche to me, until my boys grew up and moved out. Now to have all my kids under one roof brings me more happiness and contentment than almost anything else. And the next few weeks were a nice break from treatments or doctors visits. The Phoenix doc wanted an MRI at three weeks after treatment, but the Sedona docs were not in agreement. They said this was too soon and could produce "psuedo-progression". The brain being so irritated by the radiation that it appears as if the tumor has grown. We were inclined to follow the advice of the specialists in Phoenix so an MRI was scheduled for a week before Christmas.
We enjoyed the break, preparing for the holidays, shopping, putting up the tree and lights. He was also working full time and thoroughly enjoying his job. He had his MRI and we went see the doctor in Sedona. The report said there was a small amount of tumor regrowth and lots of irritation and swelling from the radiation. He recommended we wait 2-3 months and have another one done. In the mean time we were to start his monthy chemotherapy, which was twice the previous dose for five days each month, for a year.
The Zanot Christmas Tree
Christmas came, which was wonderful. We spent the morning opening presents and the spent the evening at my friends house with her kids and some of her relatives and friends. She made a great Christmas dinner, which was a huge load off my shoulders, I wasn't sure I was up to the task. Then we all had a blast singing Glee karaoke! It was perfect, surrounded by friends and family, having a ball, just the way Christmas should be. Dave was feeling good and nearly back to a 100%. There was almost a sense of normalcy.
Lean On Me!
Lean On Me!
But we knew better, we knew this would be a long and hard fight, yet I still wasn't prepared for what came next. Two days after Christmas we went the specialist in Phoenix. She looked at the MRI and asked what the doctor in Sedona had said. Before we could finish telling they wanted to wait and see, she said no no no no no. You cannot take a "wait and see" attitude with brain cancer. If we wait and see and the tumor grows to the other side of the brain, then it becomes inoperable. She said she had seen pseudo-progression before and she did not believe his MRI showed that. This was tumor regrowth and we should operate again, now. She said had the surgeon she preferred been on call she would admit him now. She said not to be alarmed, it wasn't an emergency, but these tumors required aggressive treatment. And praise the Lord the tumor was in a place where they could afford to be been more aggressive. So plans were made for a pre-op MRI on Friday January 7th and surgery for Monday the 10th. My parents would come stay with kids and I would stay at Dave's Aunt and Uncle's home in Scottsdale.
All I could think was, here we go again. He was just almost fully recovered from the first surgery. Now they're going in again?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Love and Marriage 5

Well, Dave came home. As I said I was not super fond of him at this time. One thing I had learned from all of this is that Love is a choice. It is not something that just happens to us. There is the initial attraction and passion, but for long term it must be a choice. We had both chosen to stop loving the other, to stop putting the others needs before ours. Instead of listening for God's still small voice I had been proclaiming loudly for two years, once you divorce me, it's over. After the divorce, I made the choice not to love him anymore. So now I had to make the choice to love again. It wasn't all that difficult to start feeling after I had starting acting on it. Sometimes our actions need to precede the feelings. Sometimes we wait around for those feeling to come, I believe acting them out brings them to us faster. God is faithful, I prayed that the love would come, that I would not fight it, and it did. We began planning our wedding and discussing our future. I was confident that divorce would never be an option again, but that takes faith too. I can't make Dave's decisions for him, but I believed his renewed commitment was more than a passing feeling, that he too had chosen to love me, forever.
the newly reunited family
Dad walking me down, with sister Stephanie watching


You may kiss the big tall bride! Mom wiping a tear. I love this pic of the boys. Shows their personalities perfectly.

All the fam with some close friends.

My sister Stephanie, my cousin Angie, GG, Me, Mom, sister Kristi, cousin Mariah.
We were told to be goofy, not everyone complied.....

Click on the pics to enlarge!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Flat Tire

I got a flat tire today. Both literally and figuratively. Dave had a visit to the ER early Sunday morning. He got up to get a drink of water at 3am and had a seizure in the kitchen. Miraculously he did not hit his head. I had not been asleep at all and heard him go down. It was a small one but he was confused and weak. He has not had one since the beginning of this whole thing so it was a little scary. It took him a while to collect himself, them when I got him up his legs did not want to cooperate. I almost called 911 because I could barely get him to the bed on my own. We ended up successfully getting him in the car and making it to the ER. After five hours and blood tests, blood cultures, EKGs, a Cat scan and talking to his doc in Phoenix they determined it was a seizure and not just a fall. He had also had the chills earlier in the evening and a high pulse so they infused him with some antibiotics for good measure. He was MUCH better when we left, clear headed and could walk fine. We decided he took his anti seizure meds too late the night before, that won't be happening again. They also upped those meds.
Then Wednesday Dave lost his job. They did not feel he was healthy enough to properly perform his duties. I am grateful to them for keeping him as long as they did. He was a brand spanking new employee when he got sick and they have been very kind and patient. It was a rougher night for me than for him. He knows God is in control, as do I. I just wish I could take it all for him.
Then on the way home today from picking up Isaiah at school we got a flat tire. I managed to pull into a gas station. I went in for a soda and asked the clerk for advice on who I might call. I almost just called Big O, I didn't care about the cost I just wanted to get home. But then I thought I might as well ask for advice, maybe someone who could help would hear me. No offers of help were forthcoming, and I have changed a tire before, so I headed back out to the car. Then the very nice clerk came running out saying she called her boyfriend and he was coming to help. They were my angels today. We also saw someone we knew at the gas station that agreed to take Isaiah home so he could get right on his homework his video games. Another angel to the rescue.
After all that the car kept stalling, we had tae kwon do and I had to help my fifth grader write his rough draft for his paper on an Italian composer that is due tomorrow. Geesh! Like I said, this week was rough, but praise God his mercies are new every morning! Just something about the beauty of the morning, I knew God was with us and we would get through this day, this trial, just fine. So there was no way I was going to let a little ole flat tire (real or emotional) get in the way of that.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Discouraged

This weekend had me feeling a bit discouraged. I feel completely inadequate to handle the particular challenges of our life right now. I don't know how to do it all. Comfort the kids, help them cope with their Dad's illness. Properly take care of Dave but still be his wife. I don't want to turn into his nagging nurse/mother. I can't keep my house clean, but I've never been able to do that. I'm gaining weight and sleeping to much. And fear has been raising it's ugly head.
But this I do know, when I am weak, He is strong. I've never felt weaker....

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Pick Up Your Cross

And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:27

What does it mean to you to pick up your cross and follow Jesus?

Leave your comments here!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Long Island Little Lady

A guest posting from Ruthie Rodgers:

I met a 95 year old woman from Long Island yesterday, she was my guest at Ihop. She was beautiful, dressed spunky, makeup, jewelery, bouffant hair and lots of spirit. I asked her the secret to long life and then she asked: What did you want to know? I told her about the divorce and relocating, she held my hand and told me i would be okay, told me I was young and beautiful, that love would find me again. Her husband died 5 yrs ago and they had been married for a near 75 yrs. I cried at her table, but this beautiful little woman with big hazel eyes blessed me with her love...I hope to live to 95 & keep blessing people with my love. He keeps sending me angels disguised as humans with his message of love and I keep dropping the message, I don't know how to keep pushing forwards...but maybe God is doing the pushing for me right now.


Anyone have any advice on how we can hold on to his message, how we can keep pushing forward even when we don't feel the love or feel the strength to push on?
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Love and Marriage 4

I hated him. Over the last three plus years I had felt many different things towards him but this was a first. Hate. A strong word. I had felt shock, sadness, betrayal but this was a whole other level of emotion. I had given him, our family another chance, fully believing I was doing the "right" thing. I was crushed. Also, I had now put my fiancé on the roller coaster ride. He was right there to comfort me and I accepted it. Our relationship continued.
I apologize but my memory of the exact timeline is pretty fuzzy. I am thinking the above mentioned incident happened late fall of 1992. I think around early 1993 Dave came back, saying he had made a terrible mistake, twice. The Lord had surrounded him with some pretty dedicated Christians. He had become very involved in a local church and I believe the Holy Spirit was convicting him. He said that he belonged with his family, would I give him one more chance?

OK. Did I mention that hate thing? After the final betrayal I thought there was no way in hell this family would ever be repaired.

I think sometimes the Lord lets it become irreparable before He steps in. Then there is no doubt a miracle has occurred.

I agreed to meet Dave in a public place to talk. It was the craziest thing. It was as if it were business meeting and we were negotiating the terms of a contract. No feeling on my part, not for Dave anyway. I was only wanting to do the Lord's will. And how could putting our family back together NOT be the Lord's will. I mean it's not as if i were getting back together with a drug addict, or an alcoholic, or an abuser. I was very practical about the whole thing. No romance here, I just came with my list of "demands" that he had to agree to. Of course he agreed to anything I asked of him, he seemed pretty desperate to make things right. So the " deal" was made. Every single person I knew, family or friend, thought I was nuts. And my poor now ex ex fiancé. I gave him his own roller coaster ride. He was done, had things not worked out again I would not be getting any comfort from him. I have since learned that there is only one place to ALWAYS find comfort, and that is in my Lord.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Recovery



Back to Dave's story. I really want to get caught up. This is a picture of him the day before we went home, after his first surgery. Like I said before, we had help from my sister and my parents. What I didn't expect was the amazing, overwhelming support of the community. I literally didn't have to cook for four months. Two freezers were given to us and are now completely filled with meat and veggies and prepared food. Officer Jackie from the department Dave retired from organized three fundraisers that raised an amazing amount of money for medical bills. Sergeant Kevin organized a softball tournament at the last minute that was awesome. And officer Stephanie made some awesome t- shirts and sold about 300 of them! A local auto body shop GAVE us their loner van to replace our totaled one. A local orthodontist GAVE us Molly's braces. It was overwhelming. I didn't know how to properly say thank you to these amazing gifts. We also received tons of cards, lots with checks included, unbelievable. Some of the people sending money, the last contact they had with Dave was being arrested! That is the impact he made on that city. After 21 1/2 years of giving to the people, they were now giving back. God is good. My provider. And they were all praying, friends, family, accuaintances, strangers, Facebook family. The support was amazing, and has kept us going. Please don't stop praying!
Dave recovered well but slowly. He had some major twitching in his hands that took a couple of months to go away, he did everything slower, walking, talking, eating. He went back to work about six weeks after the surgery, at the same time chemotherapy and radiation started. The first week proved to be too much and he ended up working part time during treatment. His main side effect of treatment was extreme fatigue. He had 33 radiation treatments. Monday through Friday for 6 1/2 weeks, and took oral chemotherapy every day for those 6 1/2 weeks. His last treatment was the day before Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful holiday with all of our kids and our oldest brought his girlfriend. It was a great and truly blessed day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Encouragement!

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:35,37

Brain cancer CANNOT separate us from the love of Christ! We are more than conquerors through him!
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Love and Marriage 3

Where's the drama? I can hear you asking. Believe me, there was plenty. I cried so much I thought I would run out of tears. Funny how you never do. In the first two months of our separation I lost 50 lbs. No kidding. Near as I can remember, I just stopped eating. I made sure the kids were fed and just sort of forgot about myself. I don't remember being conscious of it, I just recall people suddenly commenting on my weight loss. Oh, you look GREAT! Of course they had no idea of the tortured feelings inside. It was weird, like if everyone was complimenting you on your weight loss caused by cancer.
Anyway, there was lots of drama, things we shouldn't have said, things we shouldn't have done. But there is couple of reasons I am not sharing those details. I am choosing my words very carefully because:

My children can read.

The details would edify no one, it would be like gossip.

I don't want to embarrass anyone, including (especially) myself.

So let's continue. After 2 years of separation and about a year of divorce I was engaged to a very nice man. A fireman in fact, I guess I have a thing for civil servants. I can't remember exact timing, but I think about 3 or 4 months later Dave came to me and said he wanted his family back.

Oh

Really?

OK, this sort of throws a wrench in things. Really Lord? That's what I was thinking. I fought hard for my family for two years. I told Dave repeatedly, once you divorce me, that's it. And NOW he wants to come back? I told Dave I would think and pray about it. I told my fiancé, he said he of course wanted me to say no, but he would be patient with me and respect my decision.
After not too much agonizing I felt obligated to my kids to at least try to put my family back together. I felt no great burning passion for Dave, but I did feel that I had to try. So I broke up with my fiancé, he was surprisingly understanding and it was a very calm conversation. Daddy came home that night after work and saw me hugging ex fiancé goodbye. Daddy freaked out, ran upstairs to kiss the boys, then left, saying he was not coming back.
OK, now I hated daddy. I had finally gotten off of the emotional roller coaster of the separation, then let him back in my heart and I get this? More pain and drama?
I WAS PEEVED!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dazed and Confused?

This blog is not turning out exactly as I had envisioned. Originally I was planning on telling of our journey with brain cancer. Catching up on the last 5 months then sharing our experience in real time.

So far I have yet to catch up on our story.

I have shared real time stories.

I am sharing the story of our marriage, separation, divorce, and remarriage.

I have not finished telling that story.

I have also shared random thoughts, family pictures, and anything else I felt like posting.

So if you are dazed and confused, I apologize. And thank you for hanging with me and offering words of encouragement. I have enjoyed blogging much more than I thought I would, and it has been good for my soul.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Love and Marriage 2

So I prayed. My most persistent prayer was asking the Lord to give me the words that Dave needed to hear so our family could be repaired. I prayed that ALL the time. I remember vividly just repeating, give me the words, speak through me, over and over. I think I actually allowed it to happen a couple of time because Dave will still bring up things I said then, and how they affected him.
I had made it clear to him that I did not want a divorce. If that's what he wanted he could take whatever steps necessary to make it happen, but I was not going to file. He could not "decide" what to do, come home or move on. Permanent limbo was not an option, and as the weeks turned into months and the months to years he received a lot of pressure to make up his mind. Pressure from me, so I could move on. And pressure from his friends and family.
Finally he decided divorce. I insisted on sole custody, and promised no interference or restrictions for visitation. He didn't fight that at all, and he had the boys often. They were only 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 when it all started. So about 2 years after we first separated we were divorced. I had told Dave over and over, that I wanted my family back together, but once he divorced me, that was it. I would finally move on.
Those years of single parenthood were hard, very hard. I remember being so excited I got a raise to $7.50 an hour. How we ate, much less paid rent, I'll never know. I did receive some state help with day care costs I think (it was so long ago, seems like a lifetime!), but that's all. I have the utmost respect and empathy for single parents. It is such a huge burden, it's hard to be a parent when there is two of you! And child support came every two weeks automatically from his check. He was and still is an excellent father. I never had to ask more than once for any kind of help and he was always there for his visitation, he never ditched his responsibility to them.
We adjusted to our new situation and we moved on. I met a very nice man who also had two small boys and we became very close. He met my family, we vacationed together. A year or so after the divorce the new man asked me to marry him, and I said yes.
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Mercy

From Charles Spurgeon's "Faith's Checkbook"
Mercy to the Undeserving
February 14
He that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. (Psalm 32:10)

O fair reward of trust! My Lord, grant it me to the full! The truster above all men feels himself to be a sinner; and lo, mercy is prepared for him: he knows himself to have no deservings, but mercy comes in and keeps house for him on a liberal scale. O Lord, give me this mercy, even as I trust in Thee!
Observe, my soul, what a bodyguard thou hast! As a prince is compassed about with soldiery, so art thou compassed about with mercy. Before and behind, and on all sides, ride these mounted guards of grace. We dwell in the center of the system of mercy, for we dwell in Christ Jesus.
O my soul, what an atmosphere dost thou breathe! As the air surrounds thee, even so does the mercy of thy Lord. To the wicked there are many sorrows, but to thee there are so many mercies that thy sorrows are not worth mentioning. David says, "Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart." In obedience to this precept my heart shall triumph in God, and I will tell out my gladness. As Thou hast compassed me with mercy, I will also compass Thine altars, O my God, with songs of thanksgiving!


From Faith's Checkbook Mobile Devotion Android app - www.WhitneyApps.com
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spring?

We got our first daffodil two weeks ago! Ain't it purty?
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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Love and Marriage 1

I've had a request to share our unique story of love and marriage. I'm not sure how long it will take or how much I want to share, so this is part one.
Dave and I met while I was going to college at NAU. He was born and raised in Flagstaff and I grew up mostly in Northern California. It was my first year at NAU but my second year of college. I only stayed for one semester and found out I was pregnant right after I got back to CA. I was 19 and not interested in a shotgun wedding. Dave and I stayed in touch by phone and letters and cards. I can't remember if he came to visit while I was pregnant, but he came when Tom was born to see his baby boy. I still remember the look on his face the first time he held him. It was as if he was holding a fragile china doll he just knew he was going to crush.
We had grown close over the months of our long distance relationship, and continued to do so. In May of 1986 he drove to CA and brought Thomas and I back to AZ. Five months after that we were married in Flagstaff, next to a trailer home with a bathtub full of beer. It was a nice inexpensive ceremony with family and friends. We were young and poor after all. Two years later we welcomed a baby brother for Tom. Davis came four days after Christmas, best gift ever. In October of 1988 Dave got the job with the Sedona Police Department. 21 1/2 years he had that job and we never could afford to live in Sedona.
About six months after he started that job I believe Dave just woke up one day feeling overwhelmed with his life, his responsibilities. Within days we were separated. I was in shock, never in my wildest dreams thinking I'd ever be divorced. Had I ever imagined this scenario, I figured I'd be drowning in sorrow, oh woe is me, the whole bit. But it actually brought me straight back to the Lord. As a young adult, mother and wife we had never found a church. I have been born again since I was twelve, but drifted from the church after high school. Dave had been raised a catholic, but had no burning desire to attend mass. I had immediately cried out to the Lord, in true anguish. I loved my husband and my little family and had no idea what to do next. So I prayed.

Angry

I've experienced a lot of anger in the last ten months. It started April 9, 2010. A phone call came from Dave's boss, the chief of police. This was around 6:15 am. This had never happened in nearly 25 years as a cop. The chief asked Dave if he could come in and see him at 7:30 am. Without a question Dave said yes. I spent the entire time Dave was getting ready yammering on about what I thought was going on. Did something happen at work yesterday? Are you in trouble? Is someone on your squad in trouble? What do you think he wants? Of course Dave had no idea and just wanted to get over there and see what was up.
He got laid off, that's what was up. No warning, just thanks and don't come back tonight. What? Are you kidding? Nope, not kidding. After 21 1/2 years of exceptional service they could not afford him anymore. The two highest paid sergeants were laid off. After all these years of getting to know this city and it's people. After serving as a D.A.R.E. Officer, a school resource officer at the high school, a detective, a bicycle cop, a mounted patrol, fire arms instructor and a sergeant.
It was shocking, heartbreaking, confusing and, now what? Dave was his calm cool collected self. He actually handled the whole thing with grace, dignity and integrity. He was shocked and upset, even went to a city council meeting to express his thoughts publicly. But he was faithful. He knew the Lord had a plan and he was ready for it. He even told me he felt like it was God's practice run for him before the cancer diagnosis.
Me on the other hand, I was mad, really mad. And I stayed that way too long. I spent months wanting to kick the city council in the shins...really hard. I'm not a violent person so that's pretty hard core for me. :) The feelings of betrayal were overwhelming. I know it was naive to expect loyalty from a business entity, but I did. I thought if cuts had to be made, it would be last in first out. Had NO IDEA Dave was anywhere near the chopping block much less on it.
All these years of calling myself a faithful Christian. Proudly (first mistake) proclaiming my faith no matter the circumstances. Ha. Easy to do when your circumstances rock. We owned a home, two cars and a motorcycle. We had five wonderful children. I was able to retire the year before from a job I had for 21 years. We were far from "rich" but we had everything we needed and more. And now this. How unfair! ::footstomp:: My daddy used to say a fair is a place where you buy balloons.
Instead of trusting my Saviour, knowing He wants the best for us, I stayed angry.

For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm. Plans to give you hope and a future. Jer 29:11

Despite knowing the Lord has these amazing plans for us, I chose to hang on to the anger, right up until the moment Dave was diagnosed with brain cancer. It's amazing how perspective changes the view so dramatically. Losing a job seems so tiny compared to the battle we now face.
God has freed me from that anger, as well as the few flashes I had right after Dave got sick. God and I had a few screaming matches in the car, which, by the way, is an excellent place to throw a fit. You can scare strangers instead of your own family. But He understands, and he still has amazing plans for us, of this I am sure.
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Friday, February 11, 2011

ER

I realize a lot of you aren't caught up with our story but I wanted to post about our trip to the ER Tuesday night. Dave is currently about 4 weeks post-op from his second brain surgery. He was only in the hospital 2 days and has been recovering remarkably well. He had very little swelling, little to no pain, and has been wanting to go back to work since he's been home.
We were sent home from the hospital with a schedule to wean him off of his steroids within a week or so. The steroids help keep the brain swelling down but they also wreak havoc on his body. Near the end of the schedule and just two days before our follow up appointment with the doctor, Dave just sort of checked out. He was awake and aware but completely apathetic to everything around him. Doc decided he was coming off the steroids too quickly and was suffering some brain swelling. The steroid dose was pumped up and then we began weaning again, but much more slowly.
He finally finished about a week ago. Monday he woke up with some swelling in his right eye. It was odd, so long after the surgery. He also had a headache, which he had not been dealing with at all. I waited and watched. Tuesday he woke up with his eye swollen shut and a bad head ache. I was concerned with brain swelling so I called down to Phoenix to see what the doc thought. I could only speak with the nurse and she said to see his primary care doc and if the swelling or pain got worse that we should head to the ER. The primary couldn't fit him in right away and said we should go to the ER so they could do a brain scan. He was feeling better so we waited. By the evening I decided we were going whether he agreed or not. He wanted to shower before we left and ended up passing out in the shower. He was out for just a second, and thank God, he did not hit his head. Just landed hard on his bum. We headed straight to the hospital. They got him in pretty quick, but of course they have none of his records or scans here. All of his care has been in Flagstaff and Phoenix. Doing my best not to be the rambler, I tried to put the last five months in a nutshell for the ER doc. He agreed and thought that the shower incident was probably not a seizure. Then they took some blood, did a scan and did an EKG. He said everything looked good, didn't think Dave would have to go back on the steroids. Which was my main concern. Then he spoke to the on call doc in Phx, who has never seen Dave, and he sent us home. OK. Little to no answers, four hours later, and a missed dinner. Dave's now exhausted and starving. Will call the doc in Phoenix and see what's next. Thanks for all your prayers.
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Posterous

Anyone ever use posterous? What do you think?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Catch Up

Back to our story.....my sisters and brother in law sat with me while Dave was in surgery. It turned out to be a very quick surgery. Only about an hour and forty five minutes. Which seemed really fast for what I assumed was a very carefully precise procedure. He woke up finishing a conversation he was having with his sister before surgery. That was very encouraging. He had 25 staples in his head, would've been great for Halloween, but he'd have them removed before then, dang it. The doctor did a great job following his hair line so when his hair grew back the scar would be covered. As the days went by the only things he seemed to be having trouble with were time-lines and he was a little shaky and slow. He couldn't remember if certain things happened last week or that morning, he still struggles with that a little now, 5 months later. The shaking, which was more like twitching lasted a while. We still don't know if that was from a medication or the surgery, or the seizure for that matter. And he was definitely in slow motion for a couple of months. He did everything slower, eating, thinking, talking, walking.
Two days after his surgery he pushed himself a little too hard and he had two small seizures in the hallway. Very scary, but praise the Lord he has not had another seizure since then. He is on meds, but I know a lot of brain tumor patients continue to suffer with seizures even after surgery and treatment. Two days after that, which is now six days from the accident, he was able to come home.
I am a crappy housekeeper. I am such a crappy housekeeper that it is the main reason I was hesitant for my sister to come help me with the kids. Thank God she ignored me and came anyway. Our bedroom was a maze of piles. Piles of clothes, newspapers, paperwork, and just general junk and crap. I am not a hoarder, but if I had no family to care for I am sure I would be one in the making. My amazing sister turned it into a real live hospitable bedroom in two days, with three not so cooperative children to care for at the same time. They were protecting their mommy's crap. Especially my oldest daughter, whom I've had more time to influence with my hoarding tendencies. But I had given my sister free reign to toss/give away whatever she wanted. And I promised not to complain or even ask about anything I couldn't find. So she did! Thank you Stephanie, I had a wonderful, pleasant room to bring my recovering husband home to.
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Life and Loss

I was out and about today. We live in a small town and everywhere I go I run in to someone I personally know and lots of people I casually know. I always get lots of inquiries about Dave, which is nice, nice to know people are still thinking of us and praying.
But today I realized that everywhere I looked I saw people with stories of loss. I remember them. I remember them personally telling me their story. Whether it was at church, on the phone or in the grocery store I could recall their words, their story, their pain. I remember offering words of advice or comfort, offering assistance with anything they needed. Telling them I would pray. But I also remember thinking, thank you God that is not me, not my pain. I feel bad, knowing instead of thinking what I could do for them, I was thinking "whew". All these stories of loss in our town. Stories of lost love, lost children, lost health, lost life. How arrogant of me to think I would never have a story of my own. Imagine the stories I don't even know. I realized life is FULL of loss, it is an integral part of life. It is something we deal with from the moment the baby bottle is empty and we're still hungry.
Praise the Lord life is also full of gain, of joy. We must remember this in the midst of our losses. This too shall pass. We can't have one without the other. To constantly protect ourselves from loss also keeps out the joy. I realize this is no great revelation. But it did help bring a few things a little clearer into perspective.
The Lord is still working on me, that's for sure. He uses lots of little everyday things to show me He is here, He is in control, and some times I just need to be still and listen.
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The Largest Black Hole Ever Discovered

Friday, February 4, 2011

Brain Surgery

After the time of the surgery was decided and the room cleared, I remember looking down at Dave and saying, you can't leave me, and starting to cry. Of course he said he wasn't going anywhere and he would be fine. It was a weak moment for me, putting that on him. He needed to focus on healing, not on comforting his whiny wife.
We made lots of phone calls. His sister from Tennessee decided to come for the surgery. My sister offered to come out from California. I was having a very hard time accepting her offer, so she finally just said "I'm coming." My parents would come help after my sister left. I was still in a fog. Trying to decide if I should have Dave moved to a hospital in Phoenix. Everyone in Flag assured us this surgeon was great and we were in good hands. Dave was very lucid and he said he just wanted it done now, he didn't want to wait. So we stayed.
We spent the rest of the day making calls and arrangements and just trying to really grasp what was happening. I am still now trying to fully grasp our reality.
Day 3, Thursday September 9, 2010. Surgery was to be at 2 and he would leave for pre-op at 1. The surgery would only be 2 1/2 hours or so. They were planning a total resection of the tumor, but they would do a quick biopsy to confirm primary brain cancer and know how aggressive they should be. The tumor was in the right frontal lobe, a spot where they could be very aggressive and hopefully not cause any permanent issues with memory or speech or motor skills.
His sister was trying to make it before he went in for surgery, his brother and sister in law would be there as well. I was busy trying to make any last minute calls, and we were getting visits from the doctors and nurses who would be doing the surgery. One of them offered to show Dave his MRI and it was the first time Dave realized the size of the tumor. All conversations about him always involved him, but I hadn't had a car accident and a grand mal seizure and I was having a hard time taking it all in. He had not grasped the magnitude of the situation fully I don't think until he saw that tumor on that screen. He had been so calm, and remained so. But just as they were taking him away I saw the uncertainty in his eyes, for just a moment.
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Craving

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Primary Brain Cancer

I stayed with Dave until about 3:30am. I had an overly dramatic and emotional run-in with the local police on the way home, but that's a story for another time. I made it home by 5:30 and slept for a couple of hours and headed back to Flagstaff. The kids stayed home that day with Gretchen. They were tired and stressed and I didn't want to push them.
Shortly after I got there we were visited by the neurosurgeon with his interpretation of the MRI. His first words were that it looked like primary brain cancer and he would like to operate tomorrow. Then he added that it is incurable and no matter how much brain he removes it will come back. It always comes back. He said all this as if he were reading his grocery list. Again, I acted as if I were just taking it all in, but this time my stomach did a little flip. Who am I kidding, it did a big fat ugly omg I'm going to throw up on this doctor flip. This was the first time the word cancer had been said. And I had no idea what primary brain cancer meant. The doctor with the oh so pleasant bedside manner explained primary brain cancer means that the cancer originated in the brain, it had not spread from somewhere else. He said it appeared to be glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most common, and most deadly type of primary brain cancer. I think my response was something like, um......OK....tomorrow? Dave was oblivious at this point. I found out later he was thinking it was a little tumor the size of a pea and they would remove it through his nose and he'd be back at work Friday. At this time I was finally beginning to understand the life changing nature of our situation. I saw the mass, it was big, about 2 in. by 3 in., we were talking major brain surgery with possibly major permanent side effects. Not to mention the whole "it always comes back" thing.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Count Your Blessings

There is no snow or ice

It's not raining

It's sunny!

I'm under a cozy blanket

My mortgage is paid

I have friends and family to love

I have friends and family who love me

My kids are well

Dave is feeling good!

I'm not sick

Plenty of food in the house

Four warm doggies

My pastor and church family

A running car!

A cozy warm home

Jesus Christ!!!
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Back to the story

Back to your regularly scheduled program....on my way to Flagstaff to see my husband I made many calls. My parents, my sisters, Dave's brother and sister, and my boys who don't live at home anymore. I basically just let everyone know what was going on and requested prayer. I also checked on the kids, two were sleeping but Kyleah was still crying, obvious shaken from the nights events. And I prayed. A lot. Out loud.
One of our sons lives in Flag so I had him meet me at the hospital. We found Dave in the ER and they led us back to him right away. It was SO nice to see him and hug him and kiss him. He was still confused a bit but not as out of it as he had been at the helicopter. He was still strapped down and braced up. Davis stayed long enough to see his dad and make sure he was OK.
At this point there was no sense of panic. Mostly confusion, it felt like a kind of limbo, yes, like I was floating in limbo. A nice lady doctor came in and said the CAT scan showed a mass on his brain and a possible fracture in one of his vertebra. She was very casual with the news and said he would need an MRI. By the time he returned from his MRI a new doctor was on. He explained the fracture, if there even was one, was tiny. Apparently one doc could see it, another could not. So he basically emerged unscathed from the accident. Wow, God is good. Now onto the unknown mass in his brain.
I felt like a sponge. Just trying to absorb all the information that was being given to us. I was definitely not processing any of it, just collecting, I would deal with that part later. This second doc even took me to a computer screen to see the mass. It was big, and of course he had no answers to my questions. Dave would be transferred to ICU and we would see a neurosurgeon in the morning.
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About Growing Older

a little humor for the morning :About Growing Older

Monday, January 31, 2011

Recent family pics



New Family Pics!!! Christmas 2010!
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Family Photo, circa 2008

just wanted to share a pic of the family. It's old, about 3 yrs ago in Frisco.

Details

Don't worry, I won't be rehashing each and every detail of the last five months. But that first week, that first night especially, seems to be all about the details. And each and every one of them still so crystal clear. So perhaps to bore you or hypnotize you with the droning on of the details, I press on.
I had called my friend Gretchen and she was going to meet me at the hospital and take the kids for the night and I was going to drive up to Flagstaff to be with Dave, about an hour and 15 minute drive. Tim and Jann were also meeting us there with the girls. We all converged near the helipad at the same time. After hugging on tight to the girls and making sure Kyleah was alright, Tim let me know that Dave seemed physically fine, but they wanted to take extra care and caution and get his brain checked out as soon as possible. From Kyleah's description it appeared that he had the seizure, which caused the crash. So the burning question was, what caused the seizure? No one could know, not yet.
It seemed like forever before the ambulance got there. They told us we could get a quick hug, but they wanted him in the copter and out of there asap. Again, it took forever to get him out of the ambulance. At the gate to the helipad we each took a quick hug as we tried not to sob. He was, of course, on a board, in a neck brace and all strapped down. He was completely confused and very upset that he had scared us. As they rolled him to the helicopter he kept apologizing for scaring us. And they rolled him by us so fast, Isaiah didn't get his hug, which upset Isaiah even further. I can see why the EMT's wanted that moment to be quick. It was chaos and sad and scary and upsetting for everyone, including Dave.
As the helicopter set off (which seemed like it took forever!) I prayed with the kids, hugged and thanked Jann and Tim, and sent the kids with Gretchen for the night. It had been such a relief to see that Kyleah was well, and just to see Dave. Jann offered to go to Flag with me, but I knew I would be fine, and I needed some time alone with God. So off I went to follow my husband to Flag, although he was getting a way cooler ride than I.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Confusion

I hate that feeling, of complete and utter confusion. The extended feeling that my thoughts would never again be orderly and complete. That's how I felt that night. I knew my husband and daughter had been on their way home from Sedona, and I knew they had been in an accident. I knew help was there because my daughter rushed me off the phone and said someone was there. I didn't call her back, I still don't know why. I decided I would find them, they had to be between home and Sedona, I'll just go find them. Makes no sense now. We drove half way to Sedona before I finally called a fireman friend (whom I always seem to call in lieu of 911, but that's a whole 'nother story). He immediately called me back with the location of the crash and asked what he could do to help. I had been in contact with my 16 year old daughter and she was home alone and scared to death. I asked if he could pick her up so she wouldn't have to be alone.
By this time I had distanced myself at least 20 minutes from the crash. Isaiah and I flipped a u-turn and headed back to town, praying aloud, and loudly, the whole way. I never did make it to the crash site. My fireman friend, Tim, had collected Molly and gone to the scene and picked up Kyleah. She had been asleep in the back of the minivan and sustained no injuries, praise the Lord! He would meet us at the hospital where they were planning on flying Dave to Flagstaff. After regaining consciousness he was acting strangely, and the local hospital was not equipped to deal with any possible brain injury. By this time it had become clear from Kyleah's description, that he had suffered a grand mal seizure. No one was sure if the crash caused the seizure or the seizure caused the crash.

Gut Punch

It came on a Tuesday night, late summer. You never want to understand, to comprehend. There's always a moment of time, some longer than others, of complete denial. It was only a brief second or two of incomprehension, after I made her repeat herself, before I understood what my sobbing 13 year daughter was saying. "We were in an accident, daddy's breathing but I can't wake him up!" The answer to each of my questions was the same,"I don't know!"
I had been in the studio watching my son's tae kwon do class when she called. Class was just finishing up when I yelled to Isaiah to grab his shoes we were leaving now. I could tell by the look on his face that he could clearly see the fear on mine. As we got in the car I explained the call and that we needed to find them, Kyleah did not know where they were. I tried not to scare him but he was clearly worried for his dad and sister.
This call came on September 7, 2010 and is the divider that now separates our lives, from B.C. (before cancer) and A.D. (after diagnosis). That whole night was one big gut punch. My stomach still hurts 5 months later.