Family

Family

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Surrender

Mark 14:35-36 "And going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.'"

Surrender is defined as yielding to the power of another, to give oneself up, to relinquish. It takes a lot of trust and faith to completely surrender. Easter is quickly approaching. The time of year that we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior. As I was thinking about Easter this morning, the verses above reminded me that Jesus had to surrender. He knew coming to earth that there was a perfect plan in place, for Him to be the ultimate sacrificial lamb for His people. John 1:29 "The next day John saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Jesus knew what He was going to face on that cross and He asked God that if the cup could be removed from Him, to do it. It is the words after that statement that say so much. He says, "YET not what I will, but what You will." Jesus was willing to completely surrender Himself to death for us. He experienced unimaginable pain and sorrow as He was nailed to that cross. It was love for us that drove Him to the cross and ultimately, obedience to His Father. 

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been wrestling with God. In some ways I feel like Jacob the night he wrestled with the angel of the Lord (Gen. 32:24-25). I have been pleading with the Lord to spare Wayne's life and at the same time, praying that He is glorified in whatever outcome He desires. I can see good in both outcomes, as odd as that sounds. I can see how God would be magnified and glorified if He brought complete healing to Wayne. What a story that would be and what an impact that would have on other's lives. On the other hand, I see how God could use his death to bring Him glory. People would see that their time on earth is short and that the time to make a decision for God is now. (2 Corinthians 6:2) Back and forth I have been praying and struggling, asking God what His plan is for us. Throw on top of that all the unknowns of this wretched cancer. Do we start treatment now? If we do, will that limit the trials he can get on? Do we gamble and wait to start treatment until after we go to Mayo? What supplements or diet can I get him on to help his chances? On and on the internal struggle has gone on. After much prayer, we have decided to go ahead and start traditional treatment now. We will begin chemo and radiation and run that course for six weeks. After that time, we will take the trip up to Mayo and see what we can find out from them. We are trusting that if God has a trial He wants Wayne on, He'll get him on it. I'm sure I will have to continue to daily surrender Wayne to the Lord. It is hard to let go of control and, possibly, let go of someone you love. I'm not giving up hope. I know that God could heal him, but I also know that sometimes God's ways are not our ways. Wayne is at peace with everything and I'm slowly getting there. Peace can only truly come when we completely surrender to God and let Him work everything out. I'll just make myself sick and crazy trying to do everything on my own to help Wayne. Yes, we'll keep trying things and moving in the right direction, but, as Wayne has said, it is ultimately up to God.

Getting back to Easter, the best part we celebrate is when Jesus rose from the grave conquering death. I can rest knowing that even if it is in God's plan to take Wayne home, I will see him again in heaven where we will worship God together. (2 Corinthians 5, Revelations 5:11-12) It is a beautiful thing to think about and reflect upon. God in His great mercy and plan has been teaching me and Wayne so much about who He is this past year. We have been asking Him to show us His glory and teach us about Himself, to have the right mindset while here on earth. This is ultimately not our home, our home is in heaven with Him. Our time here is to prepare ourselves and others for that day when every tongue will confess Him as Lord. (Philippians 2:10-11) 

As I have been reflecting and looking back at the past few months, some of my favorite moments with Wayne have been when we have been able to worship the Lord together. The Lord meets us there and we have experienced just a taste of who He is, which has made us long for more. I heard an illustration in a sermon I was listening to last night that talked about a man who "traveled" from the middle of a country to the ocean. He was so floored by the beauty and vastness of the ocean and the treasures it held that he wanted to carry it back to the people back where he lived. He dipped his hand in the ocean to bring some of it back. When he got back home, he tried showing them what was in his hands, but of course all of it had fallen out and nothing was left for them to see. He then realized that until someone experiences the beauty for themselves, you cannot express to them how wonderful it is. The illustration was talking about beholding God and seeing Him for who He is. There is no way to ever understand Him completely as His attributes are unlimited (imagine the vast ocean). When we start to see Him for who He really is, we are just experiencing a dip of our hand in that ocean. It is amazing to see and experience Him. We try to tell others about how wonderful He is, but until they go to the ocean and experience it themselves, they will never truly understand it. 

As much as I don't want to lose Wayne, I'm reflecting about how awesome it will be when he gets up to heaven and gets to worship God in person. He'll get to experience God in His complete glory. His prayers of knowing God and experiencing Him will be answered in absolute completeness. What a beautiful picture and a great reminder to keep pursuing God and His glory while here on earth. This life is so distracting and has so many things pulling our eyes off of Him. May each of us continue to run the race with perseverance, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the ultimate prize! He deserves nothing less then our complete surrender to Him!!! Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Monday, March 30, 2015

One Day At A Time

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Four days have passed since we received the news from our doctors about Wayne's tumor. There have been a whole myriad of emotions experienced during this time. At times it has seemed overwhelming. Between the information about the tumor, treatments, alternative supplements, it has just been mind boggling. I just want to turn back time to February 11th when I kissed Wayne good-bye for the day. I want to pretend none of this has happened, that it has just been one bad nightmare. How does one process all of this and get through it all? A day at a time leaning on the Lord has become our theme. Even the girls will ask us questions and I tell them, "I don't know. I'm taking it one day at a time." To think too far ahead becomes overwhelming and daunting. God keeps quietly reminding me to turn to Him. I love Matthew 11:28-30. I am already weary and burdened by this whole scenario. He promises me rest and that He'll carry this burden for me. I have been wrestling with this night and day. To let go and trust means that I have to surrender my husband and all the possibilities to Him. That is hard. I'm a doer and a planner. I don't like to rest and wait. Wayne woke up this morning and told me that he is at complete peace with whatever the outcome. I can honestly say that I'm not there yet. I'm still wrestling and struggling to completely let go and trust God. I believe He is who He says He is, I know that He is good and that He has a perfect plan, and yet I can't see through all this darkness to see where He is leading. I'm clinging to Him, but I feel like I have one hand on Him and one hand trying at times to let go and reach for anything else that may help. Why can't I just let go and trust 100%? I have seen before how God works and moves. I know that He'll provide exactly what I need when I need it, but it is so hard to let go. 

Our meeting Thursday with our oncologist left me reeling. I was hoping that meeting with him might give us some direction and answers. Instead, we were given information about trials and told to ask him questions. That was one of the most frustrating doctor appointments I'd ever been in. I didn't know what to ask, we had just heard that Wayne had glioblastoma (GBM). The only thing I knew about the cancer is that a man at our old church in California had just died from it, a mom of a friend from Moody has been battling it, and that Brittany Maynard had taken her life when she was diagnosed with it. What are we supposed to ask? Isn't that their job to help us out and tell us what we need to know? The meeting left us wondering what is next, what do we do? 

God provided that answer Friday morning. Our friend Laurie from Moody called me early Friday morning to tell me that there is hope. God used that call to help me move from weeping to joy. Psalm 30:5 "Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning." God used her phone call to get my mind right. We are going to do all that we can to fight this, while completely trusting God.

What a blessing Laurie has been. Her knowledge of medical terms and pathology has been a God send. God has truly been using her in my life to help me wade through this overwhelming ordeal. She armed me with information and questions for the oncologist. She also pointed me in the direction of doing some research on the top hospitals for treating GBM. I was reading through the list (Duke, Mayo, UCSF, UCLA, Anderson, etc). About an hour after reading through the list, another friend called. Without knowing what I had been researching, she asked me if I had considered taking Wayne to the Mayo Clinic up in Minnesota. I told her I had just been reading about them, as they are one of the hospitals that specialize in this cancer. She offered to call and do the footwork for me about getting in to see a doctor. She called me back with all the information I needed to make an appointment. I called Mayo and have scheduled an appointment for April 16th. Here is where some of my anxiety has set in. We don't want Wayne to wait to start treatment until we go up there, especially after watching the 60 Minute special last night and finding out that this tumor can double in size every two weeks. We are already three weeks out since surgery. My worry though is that we won't be able to keep our appointment if they can't do his radiation/chemo up there since we started it at Northwestern (at least that is the plan). I know that God can work all these details out, but that is where my wrestling is coming in. At what point do I completely let go and let God work out the details? Or does He want me to be involved like this to work some of these things out? God continues to remind me that He has been working all of this out. It wasn't a coincidence that Laurie has a background and experience in this area to help us out. It wasn't a coincidence that my friend called and was able to get us information on Mayo. None of it is a coincidence. I know God is involved and cares deeply. I just need to completely depend on Him and wait for Him to lead us.

Please be praying for us this morning as we meet with the Northwestern team of chemo and radiation oncologists. Pray that we are able to communicate what we would like to do clearly and that God will open doors we didn't even see possible. Also pray that I continue to just surrender everything and every detail to God and rest completely on Him. He promises that His burden is light and that He will give me rest. I need rest and I need His strength to make it through this difficult journey. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hope Continually

Psalm 71:14 "But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more."

Psalm 119:114 "You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word."

Psalm 43:5 "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God."

Hope is defined as a feeling of trust, a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Biblical hope is defined as "confident expectation". Today I am placing all of my hope in who God is, I have nothing else to cling to at this time. 

Today has been one of the hardest days of my life. Wayne and I met this morning with the neurosurgeon to get the 52 staples removed and to review the pathology report. The good news is that the wound has healed wonderfully and the staples came out easily. The bad news is that the pathology report shows that the tumor is not a grade 3 tumor, but a grade 4 glioma. We didn't receive the report this time from the nurse, so I don't have the "official" name. We later met with the neuro-oncologist, who handles the chemo side of treatment. He gave us paperwork about clinical trials in which Wayne qualifies to participate. On the paperwork is says, "newly diagnosed glioblastoma with MGMT promoter hypermethylation". We are assuming based on this information that Wayne has a grade four glioblastoma tumor. We have another appointment Monday morning to meet with the radiation neuro-oncologist and follow up with the chemo neuro-oncologist to get treatment going. If everything goes as planned, Wayne will start his treatment the following week.

Although we know that the Great Physician, Jehovah Rapha, has Wayne in His hands, we still have experienced a whole myriad of emotions today. I don't think my eyes were dry for over an hour after hearing the news. For any of my family members worried about me not "emoting" enough, I have made up for it today. I came home and took a nap with Wayne, and cried myself to sleep. I told Wayne before I fell asleep that I don't want to do life without him. It's not fair that I may have to raise our sweet little girls by myself. I know that God will get me through, but it doesn't change the fact that it hurts to consider that Wayne may not be here. As I've been crying or questioning "why", I keep hearing God's small voice reminding me that He is enough. 

A sweet friend of mine sent me an email about how their family got through a very hard time in their life. My friend's mother'n'law is Nancy Writebol, the missionary that was brought over to the United States with Ebola so she could be treated. She said that her mother'n'law told her, "You know Steph, my whole life I have wondered if someone asked me If Jesus was enough - would I have the right answer - I wanted to hope I would have the right answer but I was not always sure.  When they put me on the plane to leave, I heard them say I might not make it back alive to the US.  I knew I was leaving my home where my possessions would all be burned because of the Ebola. I was saying goodbye to David and not knowing if I would ever see him again this side of heaven. I was not sure I would make it here to see you all ever again this side of heaven. I realized I literally didn't even own my own clothes any more - I had nothing - - and all was stripped away. Steph, I had to cry out on that plane over and over - Jesus - I have nothing else - you have to be enough. You have to be enough.  And you know what Steph, no matter what happens to me, I know He is enough - - always, always remember - He is enough." 

That is the hope that I'm clinging too, God is enough! He will give me the strength I need to get through each day. One step at a time, one day at a time. Even though the waves today were huge and felt like they were swallowing me up, I saw my sweet Savior reaching out to me telling me to trust Him. Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 

Through this whole process, Wayne and I have wanted to be completely open and honest with the girls. We don't want things to take them by surprise and figure that it is healthy to work through these together as a family. Today was a very hard day to be honest. Although we cling to the hope that God can still heal Wayne, there is also the brutal reality that comes with this diagnosis. Dinner time was filled with tears as we all processed the news that we shared. One of the hardest to watch tonight was Grace, who doesn't like to "emote". She was openly crying and left the table after dinner and went upstairs. I followed her to make sure that she was okay. This is what she said to me, "Mama, I'm only 10 and I've only had my Papa 10 years. I'm having a hard time seeing God's purpose in this. It has shown me though how much pain others are going through that have lost or are losing someone to cancer. There are so many people with cancer. I never knew what they were experiencing." I told Grace, "Can you imagine going through this without Jesus? Maybe God is allowing this to happen so that we can have compassion for those people going through this but without Jesus so we can point them to Him." Grace responded, "Yes, maybe that is why, but it still doesn't make it easy." No, Grace, it doesn't. Grace has always amazed me by her depth, but I really saw it pour out of her tonight as she struggles to balance knowing God is good and has a perfect plan, and also knowing there is a good chance her dad may die. 

This leads me to one of my favorite hymns, I actually have quite a few, but this one is ringing loud for me tonight. "It Is Well With My Soul". I love this version because it tells the story of the man who wrote this beloved hymn. Take a minute and enjoy this beautiful story of how God is enough and the source of our hope. Please keep us all in your prayers as we enter this next stage in our journey and that we would lean completely on Him!




  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Update: 3/24/15

Isaiah 40:29-31 "He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Thanks to insurance, Wayne is staying one more night in rehab. Insurance requires a patient to spend the night the day they have therapy, otherwise they won't pay (that is my understanding of what happened). Tomorrow morning around 9:00am, I will be able to take Wayne home. The girls can't wait to see their dad.  

The plan for this week is the following: Wednesday - pick up Wayne from RIC, Thursday - meet with Dr. Chandler and Dr. Rizio (neuro-oncologist), Friday - Wayne has day rehab from 8:30-11:30 (he'll have rehab 5 days a week for 3 hours - 1 hour PT, 1 hour OT, and 1 hour speech). The great part of rehab is that they will pick Wayne up for his appointments. I'll just have to pick him up when he is done. That means that I should be able to get some school in every morning with the girls before we have to pick him up. Once we start radiation/chemo, who knows what the schedule will look like. I will update everyone on Thursday evening when we find out the next steps for radiation/chemo (since everyone has been asking).

I thought I'd just post some pictures from therapy today.


Working out on the elliptical (work the muscles and balance)


Practicing balance (this is hard even if you didn't have surgery)


More balance practice.


Balancing: working his core and arms


More balance work on the balance beam (walking forwards & backwards)


Walking the halls being pulled from side to side to see how he handles "wind" or being "bumped" on the sidewalk.


We went shopping today to practice OT skills. He had his shopping list that he created yesterday with a budget. He is labeling the items he bought in this picture.


One last OT test while at inpatient therapy. He took 24 seconds with his left hand and 27 seconds with his right! He shaved off 10 seconds in two days with his right hand. He also did a squeeze test and he averaged 97 pounds of pressure with his left hand and 90 pounds of pressure with his right hand. In less then a week, he has increased his right hand pressure by 30 pounds!!

Every time I see Wayne doing therapy, all I can think about is Isaiah 40:31 "they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."



Monday, March 23, 2015

Jehovah Rapha

Isaiah 45:7 "I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things."

Psalm 147:1-5 "Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure."

Exactly two weeks ago (3/9/15), Wayne was just getting out of brain surgery. Here is a picture of him being wheeled into surgery and a picture of him right after he got out of surgery in the ICU.



It is hard to believe that it has only been two weeks since his surgery. A mere fourteen days since I saw them wheel him into surgery to remove the deadly tumor in his brain. It seems like months, not days, since the doctors told me that they had removed 95-99% of the tumor and that he was already talking and moving his right side, something that they had told us wouldn't happen for at least ten days after surgery because of where the tumor was located. 

If the results of surgery weren't phenomenal enough, the last fourteen days have been amazing. Watching Wayne move from the ICU in just one day to the regular floor and then two days later move to RIC seemed unreal. Who has brain surgery on Monday evening and enters rehab Thursday afternoon? Wayne has continued to stun his therapists with his recovery as he has surpassed all of their goals for him. 


The best news is this: Fourteen days after brain surgery and Wayne has been cleared to be released tomorrow from rehab. Yes, tomorrow I get to drive downtown and pick up my husband!! If you would have told me that after only two weeks that I would be taking Wayne home, I wouldn't have believed you. The doctors told us to expect 5-7 days in the hospital and at least a month in rehab, with no movement or speech for at least 10 days after surgery. Here we are just fourteen days since his surgery and he is coming home! We will continue outpatient therapy, but most likely only speech therapy (I'll find out for sure tomorrow). Wayne's physical and occupational therapists have told me that he passed all their goals for him.

What I see in the last two weeks is the mighty, all-powerful hand of God. There is no way to explain his rapid recovery in such a short time. As I was sharing with a friend, she was stunned. She told me, "Well, Wayne's prayer has been answered. He prayed the day before his surgery that God would get all the glory in this. God is getting all the glory in his recovery." I would say that I agree! To God be the glory!! He gets all the honor in what He has done in Wayne's life. He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. The One who formed the world with spoken words, the One who holds everything in the palm of His hand, and the One who intimately loves and cares for us is the One who has miraculously worked in Wayne's life. As I see how God has moved and worked the last two weeks, I can't help but fall down in awe of the awesome God I serve. How can I worry about the next steps when His hand is so intimately involved in each step of this process? My view of God wouldn't be any different if we had different results or if we end up with different results. What I am learning on this journey is God is faithful and He is trustworthy. I see right now is that God has an amazing plan for Wayne and I can't wait to see the glorious unfolding in the days and weeks ahead! 

Did I mention I get to pick this man up tomorrow morning and bring him home? Everyone is thrilled!!









Sunday, March 22, 2015

Teddy Bear

Psalm 56:3-4 "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"

Isaiah 41:10, 13 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand...For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."

Fear. Such a small word, but packed with so much emotion. There have been times in the course of this month that fear has popped it's little head up in my mind. Today was another day that I had moments of struggling with fear. The fear of "what-ifs"...what if we can't get all the cancer, what if Wayne dies, what if...(the list could go on). It is in those instants that you start to feel yourself drowning and feel overwhelmed. I have to remember who is in control when those moments come. It's like the analogy I mentioned the other day about Peter walking on the water. I started to look at the water instead of keeping my eyes on Jesus. I can't let go of His hand and I can't take my eyes off of Him. Otherwise, the waves and worries of this life start to overtake me and I start drowning in the ocean, just as Peter did.

As we were driving home from seeing Wayne this morning, the song "You Never Let Go" came on. The lyrics were perfect. Here is part of the song: 

Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear

And even when I'm caught in the middle
Of the storms of this life
I won't turn back, I know You are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

God won't ever let go of me and He has a beautiful story that He is writing. I just have to be willing to surrender my fears, my anxieties, and even my husband into His hands. That is really easy to say, but it is harder to do. I find it interesting walking this journey and seeing how important it is to really know God. I'm not talking about just going on Sunday to church and being "good", but intimately having a relationship with God and knowing who He is, and clinging to His Word. Without Him to cling to, knowing exactly who He is and what His Word says about Him, I don't know how you would make it through these trials. Theology is only as good as your application. In this journey that is unfolding before us, my only hope is to cling to who He is and trust His purpose and plan. 

As I mentioned earlier, the girls and I went to visit Wayne this morning. Wayne wanted me to bring them early today because RIC was having a teddy bear clinic for kids. I'm so thankful that they offered this special program for us to participate as a family. The girls each got to pick out a teddy bear, dress their "patient" up, and take care of them. There were crafts, activities and games for them to participate in with their bears. The girls had a blast. Sophia and Naomi even operated on a bear. They said the bear had a brain tumor, so they were able to work with the volunteers to cut open the bears head and get it out. I think this was therapeutic for the girls. I sense that they feel comfortable talking openly about everything going on, which I think is good. They are trying to process some really hard things. After staying at the clinic for about an hour with our bears, we left and went upstairs to play another family game of aggravation. Wayne won today's game.

Wayne continues to do excellent. When we first arrived, he was finishing up his occupational therapy. The therapist told me that Wayne has now finished every goal she had outlined for him. She is trying to come up with some ways to challenge him over the next few days that he is at RIC. 

I forgot to share a funny story about Wayne from Friday. While I was in the room watching his speech therapist work with him, she asked Wayne to name 10 sports (they were working on naming groups of things). He started with football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. He paused and then said, "Table tennis." I started laughing so hard. Where did table tennis come from? We all had a good chuckle over that one. The therapist asked him to think of an international sport, to help him move into different types of sports. She was aiming for soccer and he said, "Lacrosse". I'm assuming he thought of Lacrosse because his boss' son plays the sport. That's not normally a sport many of us would think of right away. To finish up the last few he said, "Cricket, the 50 yard dash, skiing, and swimming." I'm not sure where all the sports came from. Cricket? Lacrosse? Table tennis? I was thinking along the lines of tennis, swimming, volleyball, golf, etc. It was all good though, he name ten sports. 

Later, after therapy, I told Wayne that he is amazing me. I try to answer the questions he gets asked in my mind (like name the different ways the word "trunk" is used). He does as good as me, if not better, and I didn't just have brain surgery. I'm so proud of him and how hard he has been working to get home to his family. His positive attitude has helped as well. The girls loved seeing him and can't wait for him to be home.

Here are some pictures from today at the Teddy Bear Clinic.













Friday, March 20, 2015

Update: 3-20-15

1 John 5:14-15 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him."

Today was a great day. It was a reminder to me of the power of prayer. Every time I see Wayne and hear how well he is doing, how he is exceeding the goals and expectations of everyone, I'm blown away at the awesome God we serve. I'm so thankful that it was God's will for Wayne to progress so quickly. It is also comforting thinking about the long road ahead. I know that I can trust God and rest in His plan. 

This morning started off with the girls and I enjoying a nice breakfast at home before piling into the car. I was able to take the girls to our friend's house for the day so I could visit Wayne. I prepared today's schoolwork last night so that we won't fall too far behind in school. The girls were able to complete their homework packet while visiting friends, which they enjoyed. Since the weather was nice today, they also took a walk to a local park and were able to play outside. My mother's heart loves knowing that my kid's are being loved and well taken care of while I'm off caring for their father. 

While the girls were busy doing their homework and playing, I was able to take a trip downtown to see Wayne. I decided to take the train today to avoid horrible commute traffic. Riding the train also allowed me to get some much needed exercise as I walked from the train station to RIC. The air was a little crisp this morning, but it felt refreshing once I got a few blocks in to my walk. 

It was wonderful to spend a few hours today with Wayne. When I arrived, he was standing at his room window. It made my heart stop for a moment seeing him like that. It has been hard to see him in a wheelchair, even with all the progress he has been making. Today everything felt a bit more "normal". I told Wayne that this past month still doesn't seem real. I feel like I've been in a daze walking in someone else's shoes. I keep hoping to wake up and everything is back to where it was six weeks ago. But, God has allowed this to happen in our lives for a reason, so we'll take it a day at a time.

We were able to spend some time talking alone and catching up. I left to start his laundry while his speech therapist worked with him. When I came back, I was able to hear her working with Wayne. She said that he had improved even since yesterday's session. She told me that Wayne has a less common form of aphasia called transcortical motor aphasia. *Note: When you go through something like this, lots of big medical terms are thrown at you. I have a basic understanding of this, but if you want to know more, google it* His therapist seems happy with his progression. She gave us some things that we can do at home to help him if he is struggling to find words. One suggestion was an emergency card. Since Wayne can read well, but can't always come up with the exact thing he wants to say right away, she suggested that we have a card near the phone in case he needs to call 9-1-1 and I'm not home.

After speech therapy ended, Wayne and I got to visit some more. Today reminded me just how much I miss having him home. Although it was a really enjoyable day, I left with an emptiness. It is hard to leave your best friend again and again. He has called the last two nights to say good night, but it isn't the same as chatting on the phone catching up for an hour when he's out of town. Next Friday cannot come fast enough!

Around 3, Wayne was scheduled for physical therapy (PT). The session today included a trip outside. They gave Wayne a list of things that they wanted him to do. He was to find the nearest Treasure Island grocery store; walk there; find milk, diapers, bananas, and ice cream; ask the deli clerk if they had his favorite cheese; walk back to RIC and ask the valet attendants how much parking is for family; and finally, ask security what the visiting hours are for RIC. Wayne did amazing! He didn't get flustered asking questions and he found all the items. This man just had brain surgery 11 days ago!! God is so good!! (If you look at the pictures, Wayne is walking so well that the therapists are just walking with him, they aren't worried about him falling at all).

Once we got him back to the "gym" at RIC, I took off to catch my train. I walked back to the train station, to get some more exercise. I almost missed my train! I boarded the train and about 30 seconds later, the doors closed! The day ended with a quick trip to Chick'fil'a  to pick up dinner to go. We went home and rented a movie and had a "picnic" in the living room. Overall, today was a phenomenal day. We are all counting the days until Wayne can be home with us...we are all missing him a lot.







Thursday, March 19, 2015

Walking

Micah 6:8 "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

Deuteronomy 10:12 "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to Him, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.."

The two verses above come to my mind when I think about walking with the Lord. When you start to understand how Holy of a God we serve, you can't help but realize how insignificant we are apart from Him. It is amazing to see what a great work He did in drawing us to Himself and saving us from our sins. What results from all this knowledge is a reverent fear of who He is and a desire to walk in obedience to Him. How can you choose anything else when you truly understand what He did for you on the cross? God created us for His glory and He desires an intimate relationship with us. We are to love and serve Him with everything that is in us. God doesn't want a half-hearted life, He wants all of us! The girls and I were discussing this very thing during morning devotions. We were reviewing attributes of God. The attribute of God being jealous (El Kana) came up. Sophia reminded her sisters that God is jealous for our attention. He wants all of us, just like He wanted all of His people in the Old Testament. He didn't want them "following" Him while worshiping idols. The same is true for us today. Although we may not worship the idols of the Old Testament, many of us do have idols in our lives. Anything that takes our eyes away from God, even good things, are idols. We are to walk humbly with our God and give Him what He deserves...everything!! 

This morning I was reading out of "Behold Your God". I was reading about the church of Laodicea. This church had become lukewarm, neither hot or cold. God said that He would spit them out of His mouth. He said that they had become rich and prosperous and they said they didn't need anything. How much are we like that in America? We give lip service to the Lord, but our hearts are really far from Him as we pursue riches on this earth. Although we don't want to admit it, we have become like the church of Laodicea. We feel like we don't really need anything else, God is just an accessory or someone to go to when we are in need. The later part of Revelation is beautiful. Even though they had walked away and had their eyes drawn away from Him, He beckons them and says that He will give them true riches, He will clothe them from their nakedness, and He will put salve on their blind eyes. Revelation 3:19-20 then says, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." 

God is calling each of us to examine our lives and repent. That is one thing that God has been working on in my life the past year. He has been humbling me and showing me ways that I have taken my eyes off of Him, how I put things above Him, and how I have not seen sin in my life for what it is...sin. But God is so rich in mercy and grace. He continually is patient with me and pursues and love me. It is humbling to think about all that He has done for me and how He graciously loves me. I love how God has worked on my heart so much this past year. Songs I used to sing halfheartedly, are now rich with meaning. God is still working on me, but it is amazing to reflect and see how much God has changed me. Some of my favorite songs right now are "My Heart is Yours", "White Flag", "Lord I Need You", "Behold Our God", "O Great God", and "Names of God". The theme of most of those songs are the person of God and surrendering all to Him. 

May God continue to help me run this race with perseverance, looking to Him, the one who endured the cross for my sin. Hebrews 12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted."

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Update on Wayne:

So the theme of walking came up above because of Wayne's progress in the walking department. We are 10 days post-op, the amount of time the doctors told us it would probably take for Wayne to start to talk and move his right side. Instead, day 10 was a huge day for Wayne. He has been released from the use of his wheelchair. He can now maneuver around with just his God given legs and feet! His physical therapist decided that Wayne should have that release given when they gave him an agility test and Wayne scored 29 out of 30! The average score for men his age in normal health is 27 out of 30! He is doing exceptional. 

Wayne was also given an occupational test today. He scored 36 out of 36!! He keeps blowing the expectations and goals of his therapists. His speech is getting better, but he still has some work to go in that area. God is so good!! I'm thankful for Pete Oakley visiting Wayne every day during his lunch break. He then calls to give me an update on how Wayne is doing. That is very helpful since I'm unable to go see Wayne every day.

It is hard to believe how much progress Wayne has made in this short time. God is truly our Jehovah Rapha (our healer). I just rest in who He is and His great plan that is unfolding every day. When I start to fret about the next steps (chemo/radiation), I just remember how far God has taken him these past 10 days. He is faithful and will take care of everything in His time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Morning Call

Psalm 118:24 "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!!"

This is a day to rejoice! My morning started off with a 6:30 call from Wayne. He spoke very clearly and told me that we needed to be at RIC by 9:00am. He said it "works better for the schedule". He received his therapy schedule and he noticed that he had therapy all afternoon, which was when we were planning on visiting him. I quickly got the girls ready, picked up donuts and headed downtown. The drive to Chicago is becoming all too familiar. We made it downtown by 8:30 so we were able to see the last 15 minutes of his OT therapy. He was working on playing Connect Four and then he had to place big clips on a bar (see picture below). He is doing so well. I haven't seen him since Monday afternoon and just in that short time, I've seen amazing improvement. He was struggling on Monday to get his hand to open and close when he picked up Jenga blocks, but today he was moving quite quickly as he placed the pins on the bar. I asked him if he noticed a difference and he said he did. He is speaking more and more and his limbs are getting stronger. Grace asked Wayne how he was doing walking and running. Wayne told her that for walking he feels like he is at 90% of what he was before surgery and running would be about 80%!! I am just amazed at him, and more importantly how amazing the human body was created. The more we learn about how intricately everything is designed in the body, I don't know how anyone can deny a Creator. God is so amazing and you can see the care that He took in everything He created, from man to snowflakes. Psalm 139:13-14a "For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." So thankful to serve a God who not only knit me together, my Creator-Elohim, but cares intimately for me! What comfort that brings when the trials come...He is always there and will never leave me.

Wayne's social worker told me today that as long as everything goes as planned, he should be release on Friday (3/27). The girls can't wait to have Wayne home. A few of them were crying today when we got home because they miss him. I wish I could take them every day to see him, but it is really hard. We plan on taking another family trip on Sunday afternoon after church. We managed to play another round of Aggravation as a family today. Wayne also gave the girls a "tour" of his room. Joella seemed a little confused that he was calling it his room. We told her it was just a temporary room until he could come home to his real room.


Wayne working hard at OT


Cuddling with her dad


They caught me taking pictures and smiled


Sitting with Wayne


Being silly


Having fun


Selfie


Being a big "helper". She thought she was pushing, but Wayne uses his feet to "walk". Regardless, this moment was adorable and I had to snap a quick picture.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Glorious Unfolding

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."

A friend shared the song "Glorious Unfolding" with me when we first found out Wayne had a brain tumor. She said the song spoke volumes to their family when they were going through a trial. I thought the song was beautiful and I listened to it a few times, but the lyrics didn't hit me like they did tonight when I heard it on the radio. Our story, which is ultimately His story, is still unfolding. God has a perfect plan in all of this, even if we can't see it all now. I love the part that says, "God's plan from the start, for this world and your heart, has been to show His glory and His grace." That has been the cry of our heart, to bring God glory. I just wanted to share this song with you as maybe it will speak to you tonight as well.



Hebrews 10:22-23 " Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." We can rely on God because He keeps all of His promises. So thankful that He is faithful and true! I can't wait to one day see His glorious plan unfolded before us!!

Update on Wayne: His neurosurgeon/oncology appointment is officially set for Thursday, 3/26. Our friend Pete Oakley visited Wayne today during his lunch. He said that Wayne was playing basketball as part of his therapy. I'm sure he wasn't running around shooting, but I'm positive that he enjoyed having a basketball in his hand shooting hoops. He's getting ready to hit the Moody basketball courts again in a few weeks, so watch out!

I've been asked about specific prayer requests. Here are a few that come to my mind: that Wayne is released from rehabilitation the same day as his appointment to save me extra trips downtown to get him; for continued strength, perseverance, and encouragement to Wayne as he's doing rehabilitation and away from the family; for the rest of us at home to work hard on our school work, get along and keep persevering in our daily lives. You can also pray for me as I try to keep all the paperwork, forms, cancer information, etc organized.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Peace

John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

On my commute home from seeing Wayne today, I was talking to my mom about the peace that we've experienced throughout this whole process. It is actually quite mind boggling when I think about it. I'm not the most emotionally expressive people, but I truly haven't felt the need to cry too much and feel sorry for myself. In fact, I was telling my mom that it feels almost like the story of Peter walking on the water. As long as I'm keeping my eyes on Him, I have this amazing peace that surpasses all human understanding (Phil 4:7). There have been a few times when I have taken my eyes off of Jesus and I've started to fret and worry about "what-if's". It is in those moments that I have experienced crazy emotions and distress. God reminds me in those places that He is always there for me and that worrying doesn't help me. The two verses that always come to my mind when I think about worry are these:

Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Matthew 6:25-34 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." A great quote from Charles Spurgeon: "Anxiety doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength."

This peace that we've experienced is hard to explain to anyone who hasn't experienced it before. I was reading an update about Kara Tippetts today. She is a lady dying of cancer who reached out to Brittany Maynard, who ultimately took her own life before cancer could, to give Brittany reasons to fight and not give up. Kara's husband posted today about the remarkable peace they've felt as they are experiencing death's door. Kara is on hospice and any day she may die, and yet their family has experienced the peace I am talking about. Her husband blogged about peace today in his post on their blog. It has been amazing to read Kara's journey with cancer and how God has used her situation to bring Him glory.

It may sound repetitious to you, but I have to keep reminding myself to take it one day at a time. If you start to think about all that has to happen and the long road ahead, it starts to feel overwhelming. Wayne told me from the beginning, when we started this journey, that we have to attack this like a difficult project at work. You don't see the huge project and get overwhelmed, you take a piece of the project at a time. The first step is done: surgery. We are into our second step: rehabilitation. The next step: radiation and chemo. There are so many unknowns at this time. I just have to remind myself, one day at a time. God has been faithful every step of this journey, to start doubting Him now would be crazy. 

Here is the most recent update on Wayne. He is still doing excellent in rehabilitation. I was blessed today to be with Wayne during his therapy. It was interesting seeing the different techniques they use to help him. For example, today in occupational therapy, they had a pile of Jenga blocks in front of Wayne. His task was to take the blocks and put them into the bucket. It would be easy for any of us, but for Wayne it is really hard work to make his brain connect the messages. Wayne is doing amazing walking. I was doing his laundry and I saw him pass me a few time walking like normal. His therapists are happy with his progress. 

Today was a beautiful day in Chicago. The sun was out, it was in the high 60s and the sky was blue. We were able to get permission to take Wayne downstairs and outside to experience a taste of Spring. It was wonderful to be outside with Wayne and just enjoy each other's company.

I got in touch with Dr. Chandler's nurse today and we are scheduled on March 24th to have the 52 staples removed. That same day we are scheduled to meet with Dr. Rizio, who is the neuro oncologist that works with Dr. Chandler. It will be interesting to hear the plan for the next step and hopefully get some questions answered. As I prepare my questions, I am reminding myself "one day at a time". I don't want to get overwhelmed with everything that "may have to be done for cancer". God keeps reminding me that He is in control and I just need to lean on Him to carry us through all of this. 

Here are some pictures from therapy today!!







I love this man!!! We all can't wait for him to come home to us.







Sunday, March 15, 2015

Counting the Days

Psalm 107:1-2 "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble."

Wayne is doing phenomenal!! We all went to visit him today after church. RIC has a cabinet with games, so we sat around a table and played a game of Aggravation as a family. It was fun to be able to spend some time as a family despite the situation. Wayne talked a decent amount with the girls and Joella loved sitting on his lap the entire game. I have been telling the girls stories of the funny ways Wayne says good-bye to me or asks me to leave (because he is tired). Sometimes he has fun and says things like "you are dismissed", "you go now". When he says it, he uses his arm to emphasize what he is saying, like a king dismissing his servant. The girls love hearing those stories, so when we left, they asked him to dismiss them from his presence. He gladly obliged them and they all laughed when he told them they could leave.

Wayne told me tonight that they have scheduled him to stay for about two weeks at RIC. That means that we are three days into fourteen. I'm trying to take one day at a time. It's starting to feel like a long time since Wayne has been home. Last night Naomi slept in bed with me, but it wasn't the same as having Wayne with me. I think the evenings will be the hardest time and as of right now, I can't pick up the phone and just talk with him. I'm just reminding myself to take one step at a time and one day at a time. The Lord will be with me each step of the way and He will uphold with me with His righteous right hand. (Is. 41:10). I have found Psalms to be such a blessing to me during this time. I found this one tonight and it brought me great comfort. Psalm 37:23-24 "The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand."

It has been such a blessing to have my mother-in-law here with us keeping me company and helping with the girls so I can spend time with Wayne. I'm also thankful for my sisters who came and spent the first few days with me after Wayne's surgery. Another nice distraction this week was a visit from our Moody friends from Georgia and Nebraska. I'm so thankful for everyone who has helped out, kept me company, and visited Wayne. There is nothing like seeing Wayne's face brighten up by the conversation and laughter of friends. 

I'll keep you posted throughout this week on his progress in rehabilitation and any news I hear from the doctors about the next steps. Meanwhile, enjoy the pictures of Wayne and his girls.







Friday, March 13, 2015

Number Our Days

Psalms 39:4-5 "Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; 
the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure."

Tonight as we prayed around Wayne's bed, one of Wayne's good friends from Moody prayed that we would all number our days and that every day would bring glory to God. As I was driving home, I was reflecting on that statement. None of us knows how many days we have to live. Life is fragile and fleeting. The revelation of Wayne having cancer has made this even more apparent to us. We can talk about statistics and life expectancy, but those are just numbers. God is the only one who knows how many days any of us have here on this earth. Life can change in an instant. Anyone of us could walk outside tomorrow, be hit by a car and die. The accident I was in a few months ago demonstrates this truth as well. We were innocently driving to take a field trip and our tire blew. God's sovereign hand protected us, but I told the girls that the situation could have played out differently and it could have been our time to go. Each day is a gift from God and I think we all need to take time and ponder how we are living our lives. Are we living our lives in a way that brings glory to God? I think we too easily get caught up in the rat race of this world. Bigger houses, newer cars, designer clothes, kids in different activities, work, trying to look young, be thinner, worrying about being educated, etc. We get so busy trying to attain the world I wonder if we don't lose sight of why we are here on this earth. Psalm 39:4 says that our life is fleeting. We are compared to grass and flowers in Psalm 103:15-16, "Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here."

I think we need to ponder these questions: What are we here for? What is our purpose? What does my life even mean? None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. So how should we be living our lives? More importantly, who should we be living our lives for? Romans 14:8 says, "If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." Can many of us truly say that we live for the Lord? Sold out, surrendered lives, committed and unashamed of the gospel, passionate for God? Are we actively serving our Savior in His last commission to us? Matthew 28:18-20 "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I know that my passionate plea to God for the past year has been for Him to use me and to use our family to bring Him glory. In the midst of this trial, I feel like God has been doing that. I was hoping to be used on a foreign mission field, but God chose this to be our mission field. I want to faithfully serve God in what He has called me to do so that one day when I face Him, I can hear Him say to me, "Well done my good and faithful servant." (Matt. 25:23)

God laid these verses on my heart tonight as I was driving home and I felt such an urging of the Holy Spirit to write these things. It is my prayer that people have receptive hearts to hear God calling all of us to number our days and to live for Him and not for this earth. God has a plan for each of our lives, we just have to surrender to Him and live to glorify Him in everything we say and do. 

Philippians 2:9-11 "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." One day, every single person on earth will fall to their knees and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. To some He will be their Savior and others, He will be their judge. How will you choose to meet Him? God loves us dearly. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son Jesus to pay the penalty that we rightfully deserve (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). God is Holy, Omnipotent, Magnificent, Faithful, True, the list goes on. There is no way that we could ever reach Him or earn His love. He is beyond anything our minds can comprehend. His splendor and majesty brings people on their faces before Him throughout the Bible. We have to understand that we are all sinners and we deserve to die for our sins. Jesus lovingly took our place on that cross. He died a horrible death as He bore our sins in His body (1 Peter 2:23-24, Isaiah 53:5). Praise God the story doesn't end there. Three days later He conquered sin and death and He rose victorious from the grave and is now seated at the right hand of His Father. (1 Peter 1:3, Rom. 8:34, Rom. 6:9-10). He desires a relationship with you and me, to fellowship with us and show us who He is. He desires that each of us know Him and that we bring Him glory that is due Him. 1 Chronicles 16:28-29 "Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;" When you behold God in the full splendor of who He is and realize the magnitude of your sin, and see the cross for the magnificent blessing it is, you can't help but fall on your face and surrender everything to God. 

Each of our days are numbered. How are you going to live your days? Wayne and I pray that every day we have breath here on this earth, that we will bring glory to God and praise His name. Psalm 150:6 "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord."