November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving


CHIEF JUMPING DOG WISHES YOU A HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Jack had his blood draw today and his counts are good 1300 ANC. We have alot to be thankful for this year. I am most grateful for God's love, family and friends. We have walked into a new world this year since April. The world of doctors, nurses, surgeries, tumors, MRI's, chemotherapy, rehab, mannatech nutrients, medicine, .... none of which did I even know was out there just 8 short months ago. It seems as though our eyes have opened wider this year, we have been scared, confused, shed desperate tears, sometimes even having to remember to breathe, but we have seen the other side as well, friendship, tears of joy, the utter love of our church family who has not let us take a step without them by our side, my family holding each other up, and some of the most tender moments that I have ever experienced. The greatest blessing is that I am assured by the presence of Jesus in my life everyday that He is walking by my side, carrying me, prodding me to trust Him more, have a stronger faith, be in His word, find my way through His Way. His blessed assurance. Glory.
I am thankful for you too. Not just a little thankful either, your prayers, concern, encouragement has blessed our family. Have a yummy turkey day.
Love, Tammy

November 17, 2005

Easy Day

Jack had chemo today. His counts were good, 1700 ANC. Chemo was quick today, 3 1/2 hours from when we got there to when we were pulling out of the driveway. It was a nice easy afternoon. The kids are looking forward to Thanksgiving break. They will get Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off next week. Jack's doctor adjusted Jack's chemo schedule a bit, and we will not have chemo next week. We will go in Wednesday morning for a blood draw and be done for the week. That will be a nice break and with family coming into town will help Jack really enjoy their visit. Rob's dad Bob, Rob's sister and her family will be arriving on Wednesday to share the holidays with us. We can't wait.
Hope everyone has a great weekend. Thanks so much for your prayers.

November 14, 2005

From Slop to Victory... who knew... well, besides the Lord

This is going to be a great week for Jack! He is the star student in his class this week, which is totally fun, a poster of pictures we made earlier this year is on display outside his classroom, a paper is sent home with all of his classmates so they can learn about Jack and his family and his goals (reading chapter books, and riding his bike more), but the best part of all is that he doesn't have to do any homework this week. The glory days have arrived! Sophie (his twin sister) has also been named star student this week. So she also has her poster hanging, but in her classroom they still have to do homework, she totally doesn't mind. She likes doing her work. Had it been the other way around, Jack would have had a meltdown. Amazing that those two were together in my belly for 9 months and are as different as night and day.
Report cards came home last week and all 3 kids are on the honor roll, Derek got recognized as the good citizen for this last 6 weeks in his classroom, which is very good, all 3 kids now have achieved that this year. God has blessed me with 3 really good kids, the grades are not really important to me as long as I know they tried their best, but the citizenship stuff makes me count my blessings.
Last week Jack also found out that he is going to be the chief during his 1st grade class's Thanksgiving Feast. He had acquired the most feathers through the week for following directions and helping out... He was a little worried due to the day we missed last week for chemo, but he pulled it off, and chief Jack (a.k.a. jumping dog..his choice of indian names) will be ready to lead the feast.
One thing that God has put on my heart lately are the blessings that He gives me as a Christian. I can see that over the last 15 years of my walk that God has continually picked something for me to lay down at the foot of the cross. I was thinking today about when I came back to Christ after a time of walking away and most the parts of my character and actions were ugly and to be truthful..evil. I would have been completely overwhelmed, frustrated and discouraged if God would have expected me to change everything at one time. Instead over the last 15 years he has gently and tenderly convicted my heart to a couple of things at a time. I know that I have many more gentle and tender convictions in my future, but experiencing the transformation that has happened to my heart is so humbling. I am one of those sheep who the Shepherd came looking for that wandered away, and angels rejoiced when I returned, but when I returned I had nothing to give Jesus except for my loyalty and a broken heart that was ready to be mended. I know that many of my choices caused the Holy Spirit inside of me to grieve, and I can say that I rarely ever thought about those nails that penetrated His tender skin, on my behalf. But now I do.
I do not think that I am unforgiven, Jesus' blood has covered me to make me white as snow, that is one of the first gifts that he gave me, was a heart that knew His love when I turned back. I don't think that I am unnecessarily dredging myself through the mud, I am remembering that without Jesus, I could be back there again. I do not ever want to forget that feeling of darkness because it scares the daylights out of me enough to remember it is only by His grace that I have come this far, His grace.
What has he been putting on my heart for the last month? The blessings of not having to carry my burdens alone and casting all my anxiety on Him. How has it made God feel when I have worshipped Him on a Sunday and then carried my burdens all the way home with me? I might or might not have set them aside during worship, but I definately had not casted them in His direction for good. This is what God's something is for me this week, month, year, and life... it is a daily gift He gives...give Him my stuff, follow His will, be grateful for the day I am in, pray for guidance, and smile. Smile because I have followed God's words - casted my anxieties, I have accepted the Jesus peace, I have been given a gift of an eternity to look forward to after my time on earth is over, He has convicted my heart to live in victory.
How can I show the Light of Jesus through my life if I am constantly burdened, downcast, mad because I don't think that life is fair, complaining...not very effectively. As Christians who strive to be in His will we should be different in how we handle what our days bring us..we only need to believe and actually follow through on what we read in scripture to be different. For many years I read, thought I believed, but really thought I just can't do that, He must not be talking to me,...but He was, is, and now that it is sinking in the Holy Spirit is enabling me to actually do it.
God has given me all of my emotions, I am made to be happy, grieve, cry, laugh...and there is a time for them all, sadness and grief were made by Him just as laughter and happiness. But the common thread that is so beautifully woven through all of those is I have Jesus by my side in everything, just waiting for me to cast my praise, glory and honor on Him as well as the trouble. If I don't follow his wishes for me to give Him my burdens I am being disobedient to His will for me. And after the slop he pulled me up from the last thing I want to do is to be willfully disobedient. The Father, The Son, and Holy Spirit, The Trinity of the Three, have become the thread that have woven a broken young women into a woman who can hold her head up high and claim a life of victory...oh what glory. A life with faith, hope and love, are the jewels of blessing we can claim on earth.

November 10, 2005

Long day, not bad, but verrrrrrry long.

I am exhausted! (and I am not even the one having chemo drugs pumped into my veins) We had a 10am appointment with Dr. Bowman, Jack's oncologist from Cook's who oversees Jack's chemo. The waiting room was full of big hairy dogs when we first walked in. Dogs everywhere, a big collie, big irish setter, big pit bull terrier, and big lab. The common denominator between these four dogs?.....you guessed it..big. They were delightful, fun, playful, not too playful, sweet with the kids, and had owners that were just as delightful. We were in a space about the size of a small bedroom, maybe 10x10, we were definately bonding with the pet therapy dogs, oh, you were probably wondering why they were there, pet therapy...we were bonding with the dogs as we were sharing a very small space, so I am glad that we enjoyed it, if we didn't we might have felt really squished. Anyway, 2 1/2 hours later we were leaving the doctors office. Everything was running behind.
Jack and I went to lunch, his choice, China Star. You might think that it is because they have been voted best chinese food restaurant for many of the previous years, but it is really because Jack thinks they have the best mini-corndogs in Abilene. So we had a wonderful lunch, he has lost nearly 2 pounds as of last week so eating is a good thing for him, and then I took him by the bakery to see Rob. Jack picked out a nice selection of cookies which he ate within 2 minutes of leaving the bakery, and we got to say hi to Rob to boot!
After making a quick stop home to load up ye old dvd player and a selection of movies...scooby 2, scooby loch ness, veggie tales and star wars, we headed to Jack's chemo appt. We arrived on the nose at 2:30, but no nurse Sara yet. The office which was so behind this morning is staffed with the same nurse who does Jack's chemo at Dr. Hirsch's office, so about an hour after we arrived Jack was hooked up to the medicine. Nurse Sara is very efficient, we could not hope for anyone better, but some days are just so crammed full that you can't possibly get everything done on schedule. At the time we saw her arrive after 3pm she had not even sat down for lunch yet. One thing that I appreciate about Nurse Sara, is that no matter how busy, overbooked, or outright impossible her days are, she is always smiling, and she never takes it out on those around her. She is awesome.
Jack and I enjoyed spending time with Derek and his mom today again. The boys watched scooby and us mom's traded recipes and talked. Slowly one by one, people in the clinic left, the sun started to set, the lights were turned off in the rest of the building, and Jack and I were staring at his iv bag, wishing the drips to drip faster. No wishing helps that, I told Sara that a watched iv bag never empties, she said, just like a watched pot never boils. So I tried not to look, keeping my eyes focused on my current book, Stephen King On Writing. This is the first Stephen King book I have ever read, probably wont read another, as I don't like scary stuff. But this is part personal memoir, and part good info to use in writing, almost like a workbook, but with little homework. Finally the last drip dropped, I looked at the clock and it was 6:35pm.
Off to the races to meet Rob and Derek at the Thai Kwon Do class, I drop Jack with Rob to get him ready, and pick up Sophie for a mother/daughter dinner with some of her good friends from her kindergarten class last year. I arrived home at 8:30, sat and decompressed with Rob over a long day, and now telling you. I have yet to understand why 6 1/2 hours in doctors offices can wipe me out, but I am ready to climb into bed and close my eyes.
I have saved the best news for last, Jack's counts were 3100, yes 3100! Very good indeed!
Sweet dreams.
Tammy

November 08, 2005

2nd Hayride of the Season!



Here are a couple of pictures of our Hayride and Cookout from this weekend. Our shepherding group meets once a month and spends time together. We always have a great time, because our group has alot of kids we tend to do activities that appeal to kids and adults. This time we were blessed to be invited to George and Kristen's land and they took all of us on a fun hayride and then we cooked out hot dogs and smores. Yummy. The picture with the kids in the "bucket" of the front loader, are my three kids, and the little girl in the white shirt is Carrie, George and Kristen's daughter. Then Jack is standing with Kenny in the other picture. We all had a great time, and there is something about a hot dog cooked over an open flame that makes it taste like a gourmet meal.
Jack is doing well, his days are pretty normal right now. Tuesdays we have physical and occupational therapy and Thursdays chemotherapy, but other than that he just goes like a normal 6 year old. He always has a good outlook and is even taking his vitamins with little or no objections. We received the next MRI date, and it will be January 9th at 5:00p.m. at Dallas Children's. Our other appointments have always been first thing in the morning, because sedation was assumed on the order and you can't eat or drink anything before that. He has never received sedation, he will just lay still for the most part, but the orders have always had the sedation on them. This time the orders were correct, no sedation, so that means we have been put to the end of the day, to open up the spots for the kids who can't eat until the mri is over. We are flexible with that, but if any of you have experience with the difference in waiting times if you go to the doctor early versus late you know that by
5:00 they will have a whole day to have gotten behind before we get there. Should be interesting. With the holidays in between then and now, we will be heading to Dallas before we know it.
I am trying to keep up with the rest of my family who have all read or had read to them, the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, before it is released in the movies. It is a fun book, my kids are on the 3rd book in the series, Rob reads to them each night before they go to bed when time allows. They love the books, and they love cuddling up to their dad, who reads to them as if they are inside the adventure themselves. Recently Mike Cope from Highland (who you can link to from the side bar on this blog), talked about this book, and that he is going to do a weekly series on it. He asked his readers to comment on their memories about reading this book. It was sweet to read how many adults were read to by their parents as children and how many of them still recall it as one of the fondest memories of their youth.
As a young adult I never enjoyed reading that much. I might pick up a mystery book by Mary Higgins Clark on occassion, but that was it. In the last number of years I have grown passionate for reading. Rob has too. It seems like our Christmas list, birthday wishes, are always filled with books we want to read. I ofcourse am always up for a good mystery novel still, nothing too scary, but have widened my horizons to christian living, I have always loved biography's and autobiography's, learning about the lives of people on earth presently and in the past. God's inspired word is the most fulfilling, but add in there a Max Lucado, Come Thirsty... or a Leaving Ruin by Jeff Berryman... Five Love Languages...Gary D. Chapman...or Sheet Music....by Dr. Kevin Leman ....and last but not least Harry Potter (10 days left before #4 hits the theatres) and my somewhat small town life here in Abilene, is expanded to include great literature, inspiration for a closer walk with Jesus, and tad pieces of jewels on relationship building with friends and family. There is a whole world out there to explore, and it is on your library or bookstore bookshelf. (or even on amazon.com)
Thanks for lifting my sweet Jack and our entire family up to our Lord in prayer.

November 03, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again (or the chemo chair)

Jack started up phase 2 of his chemo protocol today. Went well just a long day. Jack watched the new Star Wars 3 on the dvd, so that was definately a great way to pass time. Derek, a chemo friend of Jack's was there today too. It is nice for them to have each other to hang out with on days like this. Derek, who is 6 years old, has leukemia, he started a different drug this week and it made him hurt, mainly his back. He came into the room in a wheelchair and just wanted to be laying down in some form on the big chairs. The drug is some kind of steroid, and it makes kids tired and makes their joints very achy. His mother, Margherite, does a great job tending to his needs, but she is very tired, please keep their family in your prayers. Leukemia and a brain tumor are 2 very different treatments, two different worlds that collide to get their chemo medicine at the same time, I am thankful to have met this family.

I have been reading, Under the Eye of the Clock, the life story of Christopher Nolan, written by Christopher Nolan. This is the boy that wrote the poem I Learn To Bow, that I wrote about a couple of posts ago. I am enjoying reading the book, but as this boy was a literary genius, he uses alot of descriptive words, it has not been an easy read for me, but a good one. This boy has Cerebral Palsy, and couldn't talk or make his limbs obey his commands. He had unbelievable parents. They almost reminded me of American "Hippies", but from Ireland. They were working folk, but they had a love for nature,poetry, art, music and even though their son was in a wheelchair he got to experience it as much as possible. When he was young they would lay him in the middle of ground to be explored, or carry him into a stream so he could feel what the water felt like on his legs and feet. I wondered how a child who could not communicate verbally learned so many words, I think God gave him a gift of words, and his parents showed him his world which became his muse, for his words to describe.
That makes me realize that there are so many experiences that as a parent I can give my children, if I will just slow down long enough to expand our horizons past our current task. Maybe I need to put on my calendar a horizon expansion day.....

I am ever grateful to you for your prayers for Jack. He is a true treasure among 6 year olds, and takes all that is forced upon him medically with such grace. Talk again soon.
Tammy

November 02, 2005

Dressed up for Halloween




Derek as a Ninja Swordsman, Sophie as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Jack as Darth Vader, Rob in a mullet wig, one of the girls that works with him at the bakery brought wigs in for everyone who works there. Rob definately took on the 70's rock star persona for the night, but as a hint at how "not young" we are the wildest rock n roll looking t-shirt he had was a Star Trek shirt. That's not such a bad thing.......