Saturday, August 10, 2019

Update on Emily & A New Addition to the Harder Family

1 John 5:14 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."

I want to thank everyone who has been praying for Emily. I have been checking in with her mom and she is doing well after surgery. They will stay in Chicago for the next two weeks until her follow up appointment, since they travel from Nebraska. Please pray that Emily continues to heal and that the new treatment will be effective in treating her brain cancer. 

Please also pray for a 16 year old girl named Abigail. I recently learned that she is going to have brain surgery as well. I don't know her or her story, but I thought that the more people that pray for her, the better.


This week we added a new member to our family. 

Meet Rex, our 10 week old Aussie Doodle. We were planning on getting a puppy in October, but we discovered that the mother didn't get pregnant. On Wednesday, we found out about Rex. We discovered that he was about an hour away from us. We decided to take a leap and surprise the kids with the puppy Wayne promised them when we moved. After church, Wayne announced that we needed to stop at Rural King to get some things for our dog. I wish I had my phone videotaping the kid's responses.

Thursday Wayne and I went and picked him up. I have had dogs as a kid, but I have never had to train a puppy. Wow! A puppy is much like having a newborn in the house! I am slightly sleep deprived since I have been getting up every 1-2 hours during the night. The second night was a lot better then the first (he whimpered and cried all night!). Last night we put his crate next to our bed and he did much better. The kids are in love and we are so excited to finally have a dog! Good thing he is so stinkin' makes up for my lack of sleep.

We will be officially starting school after Labor Day. Please pray for us as we embark on another school year. I have a few posts to catch up on (our trip out west and how God is providing in amazing ways for us here in Kentucky) stay posted!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Brain Surgery Prayer Request

James 5:13-16 "Is anyone among you suffering? Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over hi, anointing him with oil...The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." 

I am asking for all of my prayer warriors to pray with me this morning. Do you remember the story I shared over a year ago about Wayne's "chance" encounter at the Southwest Terminal at Midway? Wayne was waiting for a flight out for work and started talking to this young girl, who about Abigail's age. She clearly had brain surgery and Wayne was pretty confident she had brain cancer because she was wearing an Optune device. He started talking to her and found out that she had brain cancer in the same spot he did. He was able to encourage Emily and her mom. Wayne's flight was announced and he quickly left, forgetting to get their contact information so that he could stay in touch. He literally called me when he landed and pleaded with me to put it on social media to try to find this girl and her mom. All we knew was her approximate age, that she was from Nebraska, that she had brain cancer, and that she was a patient at Lurie Children's Hospital. Thankfully, God worked everything out and after the post was shared on the Lurie Children's Hospital Facebook page, a nurse saw it and sent my information to her mom and the rest is history. 

We have been staying in contact with Emily and her mom Hilary. We met up months ago for lunch while they were in town. Emily and her mom are such sweet women and I know that Wayne found a connection with Emily. I think he looks at her and thinks of Abigail and cannot believe how hard she's been fighting this awful cancer. 

While we were in Chicago this week, Emily has been at Lurie Children's Hospital while doctors run some tests. Wayne had to take Shan Chen downtown on Wednesday for a doctor's appointment and they met up with Emily and Hilary for lunch. After meeting with them, Wayne said I should take Abigail and Grace and go see Emily. She has been at the Ronald McDonald House for almost two weeks and hasn't gotten out much because she is tired. I took the girls last night and we brought them dessert. It warmed my heart to see Emily smile and laugh with the girls the night before her huge procedure.

Emily is having brain surgery this morning, her third surgery. The trial she was on stopped working and the doctors are attempting to stop the growth of this tumor. I am requesting that everyone pray for Emily, her mom, and the neurosurgeon who will be doing the surgery this morning. Pray that God heals her body and that she has many more years. I'm thankful that God has allowed us a unique ministry with those with brain cancer. We understand the journey they are on and we were able to pray with Emily numerous times. We rejoice that God is able to take our trials and tribulations and help encourage others! Please join me in prayer for this sweet girl!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Glioblastoma Awareness Day (7/17/19)

Psalm 18:6 "In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears."

On June 11th, Congress passed Glioblastoma Awareness Day. They designated July 17 as a day to bring awareness to this awful cancer. The U.S. Senate was directly impacted by GBM as Senator Graham publicly commented, " Glioblastoma is a devastating brain disease that has taken the lives of two of my very close friends and colleagues, Ted Kennedy and my dearest friend John McCain. This Senate resolution shines a light on the terrible disease." This resolution was passed unanimously, which is amazing given the divided nature of our country.

Over the last four years that Wayne has battled brain cancer, we have known many friends who have lost their fight against this awful disease. Over 13,000 people are diagnosed each year with Glioblastoma, which makes up over half of the cases of brain cancer. The average life expectancy for a patient is 15-16 months. What most people do not talk about is how devastating this disease is to both the patient and the loved ones caring for them. Wayne is considered "lucky" by the medical community because he has exceeded the life expectancy and he lives a relatively "normal" life. I say "normal" because his normal has changed since surgery. He woke up from his brain surgery a different man. Those who knew him before would notice the changes, but to an average person he probably looks normal. What are some of the things that have changed? The biggest change is in his ability to clearly communicate. He used to be able to clearly present information before boards and answer questions (tax work). He now needs notes to present and cannot answer questions clearly. He loved to teach and fill-in preach. Now he struggles with this and has to have notes. He gets frustrated because he knows what he wants to say, but it doesn't come out the way it should. He used to be able to go at 110%, and now he takes naps and needs his sleep. He now is more prone to have a seizure and takes medicine to prevent them. He also has right side body weakness that has never recovered from surgery. He daily takes multiple vitamins and supplements. 

We are so thankful to God for his health and how well he is doing. I am daily reminded of what could be our "normal", which is many of my friend's normal with their husbands. Dealing with GBM is unlike other cancers since it is in the brain. Think about all that your brain does. Now imagine that organ is sick and being overrun by cancer. It affects your mood, behavior, speech, movement, thinking, your body systems, etc. The toll it takes on the caregivers caring for their loved one it high. Many times the caregiver is left with a shell of a person to care for. There are quite a few times where the caregiver is subject to violence and verbal abuse as the tumor takes over the brain. As I read these wive's stories, I am reminded how to pray for them as they persevere in a terrible situation. There are many times that I struggle to keep trusting God with Wayne. I have shared before how fear can trickle into my brain and I have to surrender that to God and trust Him!

Please take time to read about and learn about Glioblastoma today. It is time for more research to be done and awareness to be brought to this horrible cancer. It is one of the most understudied cancer and nothing has changed in the last 30 years for the standard treatment. Most importantly, please pray for the many families impacted by GBM. These are pictures of the men from our Facebook group (just a few), who have lost their lives to GBM. There are a few in the pictures, like Wayne, who are still fighting, but over 99% of the men in the pictures have passed away in the last year or two from GBM. 

Prayer Requests:
1. For all of those who have lost loved ones this year. Specifically, please remember my friend Lynnie and Mary.
2. Please pray for Emily, the girl Wayne met at the airport and God worked out the details for us to find her. She is fighting hard, but the tumor is winning right now. Pray for us as we try to meet with her when we travel back to Chicago. 
3. Please continue to pray for our family as we daily trust God with Wayne's health.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Enough Faith?

Hebrews 11:1-3 "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." 

A huge praise! Wayne's MRI came back clear again. We are so thankful for another clear scan...another four months of not thinking about brain cancer. But as we celebrate this news, I'm also reminded of some things that have been on my mind. I was going to write a blog post about it, and then my friend wrote a Facebook post that really spoke what was on my heart. So, instead of trying to write what my thoughts have been, I received permission from her to share what she wrote (I did delete their names for their privacy. Below is her post, which clearly communicates what has been on my heart and the daily struggle we face as a family.


"Now, I seem to have a new ability to 'do this'. Maybe it's because my dear college friend just died from this. I don't know. Anyway, as a family who has strong faith in God, we too hear all the time that people are praying for healing. I too hear, 'We have a miracle working God'. And we do. But I was far better served by a therapist who looked me square in the eyes and said, '____, ______ is going to die.' It suddenly set me free. Free to grieve, free to feel all the feels. Free to prepare. It seems like EVERYONE else refuses to acknowledge that he might even die of this. It's all about how we are praying for healing. I get that, and TRUST ME...with 11 kids, NOBODY wants my husband around more than me!! I have come to realize that we are currently living in the healing they are all praying for. Apart from Jesus coming back: WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! Why is everyone afraid of that? Do they think that they will jinx this if they do NOT talk about praying for healing?

As wives of, wives to dear husbands with GBM...we live in a braided reality: grateful for all we have had so far, grateful for the 'heads up' that time is short (I always think of sudden death and how they never get the prep time we have) but also each moment is woven with grief. As we savor a moment, we are simultaneously closer to the moment when it all comes shrieking to an end. We are doubly conscious of what is in the happy moment and what lurks like a black dragon just out of sight, always ready to pounce. We never know. That is a tough place to be. And tougher to try and communicate that to people who aren't in this reality.

I do not want to chastise people for praying for healing. I am currently enjoying the healing they ask for! However, I think it terribly hurts people's faith when they say we NEED to have more faith for healing...for when our beloved does die of this, then we are left feeling guilty that WE were not enough. We had too little faith. Somehow on top of it all, WE failed. No, no, no! That is wrong and deeply hurtful. Jesus said if you have faith the size of a mustard seed. He chose that seed because it is so extremely tiny. It is no more faith that we need. Perhaps it is to fall into the arms of a loving MIGHTY God who makes choices we do not and cannot understand. It takes faith to do THAT!

I believe when we are in heaven we will NOT sit around and ask, 'So, how'd you get here?' If my _____ dies of GBM, I am at peace with that (yet I dread the actual dying days). I will die too. Each of my children will. I am okay with that. Perhaps it's the walk of cancer that helps us think on these topics and those who have not cannot even utter the possibility that our dear men may die.

I have a friend who recently lost her husband to leukemia. She talk to me in terms of, 'When ____ dies this or that...' It is hard, but it is real. I crave real. I do not want platitudes. I do not want 'but maybe he's the ONE who will be healed of this! You never know!!!' They like to chime. Why is that so annoying?

I'm in love with my man of 22+ years and how much fun we are having. He is home permanently on disability and we are laughing and making memories. He is forgetting things and frustrated. We cry often, but I think this is how we do this. Our family is forced to live in the tension of deep gratitude all the while knowing the dragon of brain cancer looms. We can't see when it's coming for him, but we know that the cancer dragon is being held back by the One who holds all things together. We know that one day ____ will be called to his eternal home and his role as shepherd over our family will come to a close. So for now, we savor. We weep. We laugh. We dance. We snuggle. We pray."


Prayer Requests:

1. Please continue to pray for my friends who have lost their loved ones to brain cancer...Lynnie and Mary to just name a few.

2. Pray for our trip out west as we visit family. The boys will be meeting Wayne's family for the first time. Pray that we are able to make lots of memorable memories with the kids. 

Thank you to everyone that continues to pray for us! Your prayers are helping "hold back the cancer dragon". We love all of you!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

New Beginnings

Lamentations 3:22-24 "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him.'"

Two weeks ago we left Chicago and headed out on our new adventure, a life in Kentucky. God has been so gracious to us every step along this change. He has provided friends for the kids, helped us transition to our new home, and even find a home church. There have been bumps along the way. The day we arrived in KY, Grace told us she believed she had pink eye. Thankfully, we stopped at Costco for groceries on our way to the house and they had an opening at the ophthalmologist and he gave her medicine for her eyes. Then on Monday, just three days of being in Kentucky, Micaela felt ill. We took her into the hospital to rule out her appendix. Unfortunately, it was her appendix making her ill and she had surgery Tuesday morning. We transferred her from the local hospital to UK Children's Hospital. God worked all the details out! Micaela was thrilled to ride in an ambulance. Even through all the pain, she had a huge smile for me as we drove to UK. The time at the hospital showed me two things: 1) having family near by is a HUGE blessing since they all came to visit us at the hospital and 2) the church we are going to attend had two pastors visit us, which shows they have a heart for their congregation even though we had only just visited their church! These two things ministered to my heart as I was feeling so far from everything familiar. God is so good!!

Wayne and I have decided that living in Kentucky will mean a healthier/fitter life. We have been taking a daily walk around the neighborhood and the HILLS here are crazy! Today I took a bike ride with a neighbor and about died coming up one of the hills. Unpacking and moving in is taking time, but slowly the house is becoming home. We are all loving the extra space! We are also enjoying all the time we can spend at my parent's house at their farm. This last week the kids helped my dad plant his garden and they help my mom with the chickens too. Bonus: farm fresh eggs!!!

We have been back and forth a few times to Chicago since we moved. We had our last week of school (see below), visited friends and said more "see you laters", and have dealt with selling our home (that should close at 1pm today!!!). Sorry for the photo overload. I have to get caught up since I'm so behind after being busy moving. The very bottom will have prayer requests.

Harriet Tubman

Abraham Lincoln

Davy Crockett

Our entire class (DJ was Benjamin Franklin but changed before I could take his picture)

My chicken "Rhoda", who is a Rhode Island Red.

Abigail is getting more brave and learning to not fear the animals!

Enjoying the hot tub!

Naomi and her CC tutor

While we were in Chicago, we also celebrated Joella's birthday early. She has been saving her money for two years to buy her doll. She wanted Mary Ellen, which thankfully, Costco carried at Christmas time. We learned in the past that the Costco doll came with extras and really was a great deal. We have been hiding her doll for six months! She was so thrilled to spend the day alone with her parents. She had requested Wayne to come with us because she had always been too young to go to Wayne's work with him like the other kids. She had a smile on her face the entire day!

My first homeschool friends in the area. This was a hard "see you later"!

All the back and forth between Kentucky and Chicago has made me a tired woman. I don't drink coffee, but I found a great caffeine alternative, chai tea latte from Dunkin Donuts. This early morning drive (5am) warranted a large tea!

Here are some more pictures with our friends in Chicago. I may have just got teary-eyed looking at all of my amazing friends (aka family) from Chicago! We love all of you!!!

Sophia wants to be a police officer when she gets older. "Uncle Zack" took a picture with her with his uniform on and placed his hat on her head.

Our friend we made at 7-11. This woman, Sonja, is amazing! She lectured my kids a few times, in a loving way, and we just loved her. 

Some of the best neighbors we could have asked for. They are like family to us!

The girls missed their last two music classes due to illnesses and us moving. Their amazing teacher had us over to make Mbira.

Abigail and Caleb performing their Lincoln-Douglas debate for their CC class.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Prayer Requests:

- Wayne's next MRI is June 7th. We will be traveling up to Chicago for the weekend for his appointment and to see our friends.

- For our trip out West. We will be visiting all of our family on the West Coast and taking the kids on a missions trip to help prepare a summer camp.

- Pray for my dad's doctors to have wisdom to know what they need to treat and how to treat him.

- Continue to pray for all of my friends who have lost their loved ones to brain cancer. May is coming to a close, but unfortunately, people are still daily losing loved ones to this awful cancer.