December 31, 2005

100 deg. temp

Jack woke up with a 100 degree fever this morning and an ulcer on his tongue. His tongue is hurting and swollen, so he is having a hard time drinking. Nurse Sara called in something for that, and Dr. Garcia is talking to Cook's Children's about their recommendations for blood work and protocol. Looking to hear back from her this morning. We will at the least get blood drawn today, and possibly head to Cook's Children's for admission to get his counts back up. I will post again when I know anything else.


9:30 am, talked with Dr. Bowman from Cook's and he said to try and keep Jack hydrated, if his temp doesn't
rise anymore then we just stay home. If it goes to 101 deg. then he will be admitted at Cook's. He is going to call at noon and check on Jack.


2:25 pm Jack's fever is at 100.8 he is eating and drinking a bit so I am not too worried about dehydration.

4:20 pm Jack's fever is at 102.4 Rob and I are headed to Cook's with him. They will admit him and draw blood, give him iv fluids and antibiotics, we could even be home tomorrow night!


December 30, 2005

Double Prayers Today - Jack and Baby Ira

So far so good. We are hunkered down in the house and none are worse for the wear. Sarah brought over a tub full of goodies yesterday for the kids to play with, thanks to Riley and Ashley for sharing them with us. Karene brought a yummy meal, we had a fun day at home. Rob is going to take Derek out for a movie or something tonight to celebrate his birthday, tomorrow we will have his cake and balloons, with the 5 of us and hopefully Tom and Elaine (Rob's mom) if they are at the top of their game healthy. I am lucky to have such flexible kids.
On the sidebar is Brooklyn and Beyond Blog please pray for the Hays family. Their baby Ira has severely compromised health and is in the hospital with RSV. One of his lungs collapsed last night. When you read people's blogs regularly you feel like you get to know them, even if you might never have met face to face. This is a family who is working on a church plant supported by the Manhattan C of C. Their baby Ira was born with alot of different complications and stayed in the PICU for 6 months after his birth, they got to come home about a month ago, and now Ira is sick and back in the hospital. They have a young daughter Sophia so for the most part the parents are trading off back and forth who is at the hospital and who is home. You can click on Brooklyn and Beyond and it will keep you posted on Ira's status.
Amber Joy asked what does ANC mean I thought I would post it up front just incase anyone else was wondering:
ANC in medicine, absolute neutrophil count, a measure of the real or actual number of white blood cells a patient has to fight infection.
I don't know what is normal for someone who is not undergoing chemo, but for kids that are, you want that number to be over 1000. Between 500-1000 is a danger zone, but they can still get chemo. 500 and below is very dangerous, basically there is no immune system capabilities, a common cold could be life-threatening. If there are any symptoms of illness the child needs to be put in the hospital and on iv antibiotics. We would not be here if that happened. With Jack's current condition and the fact he is on chemo would make it necessary for him to be at Cook's Children's in Ft. Worth, or Dallas Children's. Because Jack's counts were 11 yesterday and we are not looking for that to happen, it makes it necessary for us to be home and keeping him away from any germs that could make him sick.
In the beginning of chemo I was scared to death to take him to Walmart or HEB or anywhere there were large crowds, we sanitized hands all the time, then as his counts for the most part stayed strong, I was able to let me guard down. Jack has been tolerating the chemo pretty well up to this point, I do feel lucky that this is really the first time his immune system has severely faultered from the chemo. When the Oncologist in Dallas spoke to us a while ago he said that there were regular ebbs and flows in the chemo and how your body tolerates it. There were typical weeks that were consistant with everyone that their numbers would fall. I am assuming that is what is happening now.
Please remember Jack and Baby Ira in your prayers today.
Gratefully, Tammy

December 29, 2005

EEEK!!!!! Jack's counts are 11.

Jack's ANC counts are 11. Not 1100 or 110, but 11. We went on our merry way (actually not so merry, we all woke up late) to chemo this morning, Jack got his poke in his port, Nurse Sara drew up his blood, waited for the counts to come back, low and behold, literally, they were 11. She said pack up your stuff and get home quick. So that is what we did. We are on house arrest (or that is what it feels like) until next week. Sara will meet us on Monday at the clinic to draw blood again and see if Jack can go back to school on Tuesday.
Pray that Jack can stay healthy. We are in the clear as long as he looks o.k. and has no fever, any change with either of those will most likely put him in the hospital. He has a bit of a runny nose I think from allergies, that is what I am hoping anyway.
We have a stack of rented movies and a new board game, along with some fuzzy color posters so that should keep them happy for today anyway! eek, again.
The hardest decision about today will be that I should probably keep Derek and Sophie away from friends along with Jack, they might bring home some new germs from someone else, and that is not an easy thing for Derek these days. Atleast we can play in our backyard.
The last but not least sorry story today is that we had a party scheduled for Derek's 9th birthday for Friday night. His birthday is Saturday. That has had to be cancelled too! We will reschedule, and I hope that Rob and Derek can go and do something fun just the two of them on his birthday. Big bummer for Derek. If he would have pitched a fit, cried, screamed, I might have felt a little better, but when I told him he just softly said, O.K., and put his chin to his chest, that makes me want to cry.
I am going to kick into high gear and make sure there is fun stuff to do, bake, color, make, paint, play with over the next 4 days, ....remember that post yesterday where I was touting the joys of having my kids home, well one of my friends emailed me that I must be from another planet, her kids were fighting, then another email from another friend arrived, her kids were fighting over the middle cushion on the couch, well that could be us times 10 by Monday. Keep us in your prayers.

December 28, 2005


Rob and I took the kids to the Drive In movie theatre on Monday night. We went and saw Cheaper by the Dozen 2. My kids laughed from start to finish in the first one, and they really wanted to see #2. For whatever reason, only the drive in was showing it, so that was where we went. We loaded up the car with lawn chairs, a radio so we didn't have to run our car radio the whole time, blankets....and we were off.
We had a blast. The kids loved it. A couple of lessons were learned that we would change the next time we go, bring our own food, don't try and eat your dinner in the dark, just bring snacks, watch out for the chair that falls over when you lean sideways (poor Jack), but all in all it was totally fun.
The movie itself I would say was just o.k., not as funny as the first, but the kids still enjoyed it. The best line came at the end of the movie after one of the dozen gives birth to her first child and names it after her dad because he has shown.....

"There is no way to be a perfect parent, but a million ways to be a really good one."

Today we don't have too much scheduled, tomorrow Jack has chemo. The kids have just less than a week left before school starts back up it has gone so fast, how many days left till summer vacation? The older my kids get the more fun we all have together, years past I have counted the days to when school starts, but not this year.

One of the towns outside of Abilene, Cross Plains, suffered from a terrible fire yesterday the high winds along with the lack of rain lately made it easy for a grass fire to spread into the town, houses and businesses, many were burned to the ground. The news said last night that they had a preliminary count of 20 houses burned to the ground but when they drove around they counted atleast 60, the fires had been burning for 10 hours and were still going, when all is said and done they will make a final count and I am sure it will be a devestating number to this little town of a population of 1078. One of the little girls that we see at chemo who has Leukemia lives in Cross Plains, I will be anxious to find out about their home. I will let you know when I find out.,1874,ABIL_7959_4346219,00.html
I don't know how to link that address, but if you want to read more that is the address to the newspaper article on the fire.

Love, Tammy

December 26, 2005

Christmas Morning

A couple of pictures from Christmas morning. Jack was anxiously awaiting present and stocking opening. He was the first of the kids to awake. Then Derek and sleepyhead Sophie was the last. It just about killed Jack to wait for his sister to wake up. I heard him tell Derek when he was going to try and wake her up, "Shake her real hard." I didn't let them shake her real hard, by the way. Rob got her awake, and the race was on. I woke up at 5am to get ready for church before the kids woke up, we opened presents from about 6-6:45 am. Rob likes to open one at a time, so we can all see what each other's gifts are. I am a little more prone to just a free for all fest, but I know that it is nice to spread out the present time, because it does go so fast. Rob is much more level headed than I am when it comes to opening presents. By 7:10 Jack was dressed and ready to go to church, the other kids were still in their pajama's. He likes to be prompt, hates to be late. So all morning he kept on checking if it was time to leave for church yet?
It was a sweet morning, first opening gifts, then church to celebrate Jesus with the rest of our family, some related by blood, some by marriage, the rest by Jesus. I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas at church. I remember when I was in high school one of my good friends who was Catholic always went to Christmas Eve service, and I think they went to church on Christmas day also. It seems like a great way to remember what the spirit of Christmas is all about.
I watched the Christmas Eve service on television late Saturday night, and I think when the kids are older we might make that a tradition. But it is a little hard on those 8:00pm bedtimes when the Christmas Eve services start 2-3 hours after the kids are normally asleep.
It was a blessed day.
Here we are on December 26, Rob has taken the kids to the movies and then we are headed to celebrate my cousin's daughters birthday out at the lake. I am looking forward to the new year and all it has to bring.
Love, Tammy

December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Gift!

My paternal family has a tradition that has lasted many generations. "Christmas Eve Gift" Many years ago the winner of this game would win an actual gift. This game has tweaked over the years and there is no present given anymore. On this day before Christmas persons in my family will try and be the first person to utter these three words, Christmas Eve Gift. These words are not just said, but screamed, blurted, screeched, whatever it takes to have them said before the other is finished. It is always a race to the word gift. We don't lose easily in this game, if someone starts before you, you just try and say it faster than they to finish first.
There are a couple of strategies that help to win, the first is to answer your telephone with these words instead of hello. Caller ID has helped unsuspecting callers who do not participate in this game of champions from being scared silly when they are simply calling to say hello, and we answer with a blurted and very loud CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT! The next strategy which is by far the hardest, is for when there is a room full of family, and you are on the phone to them. When the conversation is done and the phone is passed to the next person, you don't know when they will pick up the phone, and put phone to ear, so you must, must, must, just start repeating those three words over and over as soon as the first person has quit talking. Sometimes you might say the three words 20 times before the person gets to the phone, (or in fact they could have been there all along, just listening to you making a might bit of a fool of yourself), but nonetheless you are almost guaranteed a victory, unless they catch you when you are taking a breath. My brother Will always catches me when I am taking a breath. He is definately the champ when it comes to my siblings.
This game gives gifts that might not be seen, but they are gifts. The gift of giggling when you are saying the three words is inevitable, you just have to smile. The satisfaction of winning is ofcourse a huge rush, you get to hear the other not so fortunate opponent say, "Oh, that was so close," or "I almost had it," or just a general groan. As the loser in the game you get to expend extra holiday energy into a really good groan, and make everybody laugh again. This game brings my family far and wide together and united even if it is on the phone, to keep this tradition alive. We might play on the phone state to state, in the past country to country, or just down the street. When you walk into a room full of family you hear it coming at you from many directions, you are pelted with Christmas Eve Gift, I have been known to enter a room saying it, pelting it right back.
This gift brings the gift of togetherness. It truly is a Christmas tradition.
Did I mention that we play this game tomorrow only it is called "Christmas Gift," same game just no "eve". So for the next 48 hours in the midst of my fun and crazy family we will be screaming, blurting, and screaching, moaning and groaning words of togetherness. Ah! such fun, the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.
Wish me luck it is early in the day!

December 21, 2005


Chemo is done for the week. We went early today so that Nurse Sara could get on the road for her holiday trip. There were kids everywhere in the chemo office today. It was alot of fun. A lady who had just been released from the hospital herself for cancer was dressed up as an elf, rosy cheeks and all, and delivered candy to all the kids. All 3 of my kids went today as school is out for Christmas break. Derek and Sophie did great hanging out for 5 hours, we watched movies, played Sorry!, and ate snacks. Wasn't really sure how that was going to go over with brother and sister there, thought boredom might get the better of them but they did great.
Jack's counts were good but not great. Just over a thousand ANC. He has a bit of a stuffy nose, no fever or any other symptoms, but the fleeting thought of spending Christmas in a hospital in the metroplex briefly crossed my mind. A stuffy nose is not a big deal, just hoping and praying for no fever with it.
The kids are having a fun Christmas break so far, we are staying busy and the kids are being very sweet to each other, most of the time.
We are off to the High School football field so the kids can run around the track and I can walk. Have a great last couple of days before Christmas.
Love, Tammy

December 16, 2005

Alone in the Theater

Have you or the group you are with ever been alone in a movie theater? Today was the kids last day of school for Christmas break and to celebrate we went straight to the movie theater and saw Yours, Mine, and Ours. We were the only people in the theater so that meant:
1. I did not have to turn off my cell phone.
2. I didn't have to whisper when I asked Derek to pass the popcorn.
3. I didn't have to keep my purse wrapped around my ankle or in my lap to prevent it being stolen.
4. I was able to get up in the middle of the movie to use the restroom and didn't have to worry about my kids who I left in the theater.
5th and best...... my kids and I could dance around the movie theater to the closing music and nobody cared!

A great day.

December 15, 2005

Science Kit

Jack had chemo and an oncologist visit today. We met with Dr. Bowman this morning right after Jack's class Christmas Party was over.

Jack had a fun time at his Christmas Party. He ate plenty of snacks and made an ornament, then a puzzle exchange. I was glad that he was able to attend, I was able to be there and enjoy it with him. One of Jack's friends in his class had told his mom that he wanted a science kit for Christmas. A couple of days later he explained the reason he wanted the kit was so he could make a medicine that would heal Jack. His friend told me that today at the party and I was choking back the tears. The sweetness of children is overwhelming. It seems like the kids that know Jack, love Jack. They are so encouraging and they really look out for him. The kids that don't know him, that just see him walking by aren't always so sweet. Jack has had a couple of incidents in the last week where kids his age have made fun of his bald head. He wants to grow his hair back out again, and I think it might be thick enough to try. We have always let Jack decide about his hair. If I was in Jack's position I would probably be in tears over the teasing. Jack seems to just internalize it and maybe days later he might say something to me about it. Those are the times I want to just keep him home and protect him from the hurts, but he definately wouldn't go for that. I try the best I can to help him work through all that muck and mire.

The other two kids had their Christmas Parties today also. Elaine (Rob's mom) went to Sophie's, and Elaine's husband Tom went to Derek's. I am glad each of them had a family member. Rob is inundated at work right now so he just worked, worked, and worked today. That is what happens at a bakery during the holidays.

When we met with Dr. Bowman I told him that Jack's balance has been way off lately. It seems like he falls atleast 5 or 6 times a day now. Dr. Bowman checked his eyes real good and they didn't show any difference in the tumor growth so that was good to hear. When you look into the back of the eye with one of those little light instruments if the optic nerve bows out it shows pressure in the brain, that is how Dr. Bowman can check on brain pressure. He assumes it is the chemo drugs. Overall though he thought Jack's hand-eye coordination was good and the rest of the tests didn't show anything overall that was disconcerting to him. One of the tests Jack has to do is walk toe to toe, with his arms out. He pretty much can't do that one at all, but that is definately a side effect of the chemo. I am thankful that Dr. Bowman thought Jack was doing well. Somedays more than others I am sad to see the effects of the tumor/chemo and today was one of those days.

Chemo went well. It was great to see Derek, Jack's chemo friend back from his 3 week stay at Cook's. He has a one week break at home then back to Cook's for more tough procedures. Jack's counts were 2300, so they are staying strong.

Tomorrow is the last day of school for the kids, then Christmas break. Woo-hoo. Next week we have Chemo on Wednesday so Nurse Sara can get a head start on her Christmas holiday. We have Jack's next MRI on January 8th in Dallas. Thank you for your continued support and prayers.
Love, Tammy

December 13, 2005


Rob and I took the kids to the movies on Saturday night. We went to see the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chronicles of Narnia. To say we liked it would be an understatement. All 5 of us were ready to sit down and watch it again. Jack has it planned that we go see it again next Monday their first weekday of Christmas holidays.

Rob has been reading the series to the kids at night for about the last 6 months. They are on the 3rd book. I read the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe about a month ago, I love to read the book before seeing the movie. The book was good, and I enjoyed the symbolism. To see Aslan on the big screen giving up his own life for Edmond who had betrayed good for evil was amazing. My heart was overwhelmed. My favorite part was at the end when Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmond received crowns and were made royalty in the big castle. All this was possible because Aslan's death made it possible, when I watched Edmond receive his crown, I started crying. I was trying to cry silently, because Jack hates it when I cry, and I don't really like for people no matter who they are to see me cry, it is such a vulnerable time, but I couldn't help it. I was quiet for the rest of the night and couldn't get my thoughts to much else. I was so humbled, once again, by Jesus' sacrifice.

We ran by Family Christian Bookstore on the way home and we were looking at the Chronicles stuff. Books, action figures, music, calendars, then I saw a keychain which had a purple crown on it and said "future queen", it started the tears all over again. Sometimes for the Peter's, Lucy's, and Susan's who have not betrayed so blatantly like us Edmond's that crown doesn't seem so shocking to receive. To see it portrayed so beautifully on the screen it was easy for me to close my eyes and say that will be me. Thank you Jesus for your birth, walk on earth, the blood you shed on the cross, for all of the Peter's, Lucy's, Susan's and Edmond's because we live in victory because of it.

December 08, 2005

Great Counts Today

Jack had a blood draw today, no chemo. His blood counts are great, 3060 ANC. Love that! Chemo next Thursday.

Jack and Sophie are laying in the leaves at their grandma's house. They call her Mommer. I love this picture. If you don't live in Abilene you might not know that we had 10 degree weather this morning. Don't think it has gone above freezing today. Cold Cold Cold.....The kids have 1 more week before Christmas break. We are all excited to have the Christmas break off.

This evening when Jack was getting ready for Thai Kwon Do, he said he was ready for Judgement Day. He makes me laugh. I am not laughing at Judgement Day, just that my 6 year old son is ready for it. I asked him why is he ready for it? He is ready to go cloud hopping. If you know Jack you know that a statement like that doesn't come with out multiple facial expressions and sound effects. At one point in extra slow motion he had stretched his face out, making car screeching sounds, moving his legs like he is on a skateboard. Did I mention he was naked? The joys of motherhood!

December 03, 2005

Gingerbread Houses

Derek, Jack and Sophie made gingerbread houses tonight. They had a great time. I think they ate almost as much candy while decorating as what ended up on their houses. The top picture is of Jack pretending to gobble up his house.

December 01, 2005

Jack Has Issues

Jack had chemo today. His ANC counts were great, 2500. He had last week off from chemo so that gave his body some time to build its immunities back up. Thanks to all the goodies and food around last week, he had gained about 2 lbs over the last 2 weeks. I am always glad to see when the scale moves up for Jack. He has been eating well, and it might help that I have fed the kids bacon every morning this week as part of their breakfast.
We have a week off from chemo now, Jack will have a blood draw next week. Then back to chemo the week after. We go to Dallas on January 9th for Jack's next MRI. Please keep him in your prayers.
Jack is already counting down the days until Christmas break. The kids are out of school on December 16 and go back January 3rd.
The kids are very excited about Christmas. This is the first year that I have wrapped the gifts and put them under the tree before Christmas eve. Santa's gifts will ofcourse arrive Christmas eve, but mom and dad's will be there the whole month as they are bought and wrapped. I love not having to remember where I have hidden the gifts in order to wrap them on Christmas eve. At first the kids said they didn't like that idea, Derek said it would be torture looking at all the presents all month and not being able to open them. It seems like they have barely even given them a second thought once they shook them all the first day. I love this season, and all the excitement that leads up to it. I was just thinking today about Jesus being born and what an amazing gift that was given to mankind. We do the 3 present rule at Christmas, Jesus got 3 gifts, so we give 3 gifts to the kids each. It helps me keep my spending under control and the kids seem to really appreciate the gifts they receive. One of my good friends Sarah does the same thing with her kids. I copied her blog (Cleft of the Rock, which is on the side bar) called Making a List and have posted it below. It made me laugh. Her son Riley verbally gifted, he is 8 yrs. old.
Making a list. . .
Tomorrow is December first, Thanksgiving is over, so of course the kids have started on their Christmas lists. (I have told them in the past that any changes and/or additions to the list after December 1 are not guaranteed to make it to Santa's mailbox! Santa REALLY hates last-minute shopping!) A few nights ago the kids were working on their lists.

They have decided to go with Sears' holiday slogan: "Dream Big". They made 2 lists: a "wish list" (which they are well aware probably won't happen) and what Dr. Phil would call a "get-real" list.

Ashley's wish list:
swimming pool (I'll back her up on asking for this!)
baby brother

Riley's wish list:
TV for my room (they are aware that I believe that brain cells can be sucked out by watching TV in the living room just as well as in their own bedroom)
peace in all the world
more pumpkin pie (how sad is that! :-)

When I noticed that their "get-real" list was going on and on and on, I reminded them, "You're only going to get 3 gifts, you know."

Ashley was apalled and outraged, "WHAT?!?! Only _3_ gifts, that's not fair!!"

"Jesus only got 3 for Christmas -- do you think you deserve any better than Jesus?"

Hating my logic, she continued, "No, but that's not fair! Just 3?"

"Are you telling me you're any better than Jesus?"

Riley hasn't looked up from his list and continues to scribble away while he joins the conversation: "I'll take the gold, Mom."

Riley has a truck load of one liners that have made me laugh, and he comes up with them on the spot.
Jack picked out a new t-shirt over the weekend, it says "I Have Issues", he loves it, and it makes me laugh to see him wear it. We love Jack and all his issues. Keep on prayin' for those issues.

November 23, 2005

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? 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.

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 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
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.

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.......

October 29, 2005

Jack is Feeling Great!

Well we have gone 2 weeks with no chemo, only blood draws on Thursdays, and Jack is feeling great. The droop in his eyelid has gone, and it seems like he is a little stronger. We start back on the chemo this Thursday and we will have 11 weeks before our next 2 week break. The protocol is a bit different this time, not as strong.
His counts were at 1800 ANC on Thursday, so his immune system is doing well. One of the mom's of the kids in his class asked me if Jack has been sick with a cold yet, and I was so glad to say that he had not been. His teachers at school do a great job of keeping the kids hands clean, with mandatory handwashing through the day 2 or 3 times, I think that makes a huge difference.
Jack and Derek are taking thai-kwon-do at church and they love it! For Jack it is not only fun, but a mega therapy session, with all sorts of benefits that will help him. I feel very comfortable with Jack there because his instructor is also a doctor. So he can handle anything that might come up. Thank you God for that blessing in my boys lives.
I always love the holidays. I am sure this holiday season will bring many memories. Most people do not like the stores dressing up for the holiday season so early. I love all the colors and lights. I feel no more pressure to shop earlier than I normally do, I just love the Reason for the season and I am ready to break out the eggnog and hot chocolate for special family times.
The final decision for halloween costumes are: Derek - a ninja swordsman, Jack - Darth Vader, Sophie- Belle the princess from Beauty and the beast. As it is only Saturday there could still be fluctuation, but only 2 more days, and Jack has been counting down the days for over a week now, he is just about ready to explode with excitement to go trunk-or-treating up at church.
One of Jack's many personality traits is that he really is not a home body. He likes to go and do, all the time. He has been this way since I could understand his word for "go" at about 1 year old. Tuesday we got back from therapy after school and Jack said I don't want to go home, I want to go to a movie. After homework Rob and I took Jack and Derek to see Dreamer at the movies, with Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning.... Sophie wanted to spend the evening with her grandma, so she was absent in the movie fest. The boys loved it, as did Rob and I. I highly recommend it, it was a great family movie, and the little girl worked very hard for her dream to come true. Fun night.
God has blessed us with awesome friends, family and a faith that holds on to a hope of eternal fun nights. When my kids and I talk about heaven we think of the most fun things we could do in heaven. Ofcourse we have no idea what heaven will be, but bringing the greatness down to a level that my children or I could even begin to grasp requires us to humanize it a bit. The event that Jack and Sophie talk about alot is cloud-hopping, could be considered a bit of an extreme sport here on earth but in heaven it is quite safe I bet. Derek is all about football right now and so he wants to play football in heaven. What do I want to do in heaven? I think that watching my kids cloud hop and play football will be fun, but I see myself sitting around Jesus and looking into His face, listening to His words, hearing His stories, He will be revealing mysteries that I never could have comprehended, and I will never want to look away. In front of me will be Exalted, Mericiful, Counselor, Yawheh, Alpha and the Omega, all my longing will be fulfilled in one moment a very long moment of eternity. I told my kids that and they just looked at me and thought that the cloud hopping and football seemed much more up there alley, and I say to them, just you wait until you get there and maybe Jesus will be the quarterback, and the most expert cloud hopper, but whatever you do Jesus will be right there in the center of it all. Thank you Jesus for being our Everything.

October 22, 2005

Pumpkin Carving Day

Today was a day that Jack, Sophie and Derek have been looking forward to all month. Pumpkin carving day. We took the kids to the store and let them pick out their pumpkins, which took about 45 minutes as they climbed over the pumpkins on the stacks of hay to find the right one. That was fun to watch! Then on to Bahama Bucks to try out their shaved ice desserts. It just opened up in town this week, also a highlight of the day. Then back home to begin carving the pumpkins, each of the kids designed their own, with a pen then I cut them out. Derek became preoccupied with the Tech and UT football game, so his pumpkin is still awaiting his design, he wants a football player pumpkin, don't have any idea how we are going to put that together. Jack wanted a scary dracula pumpkin and Sophie wanted a bride, so we had fun with that all afternoon. I love the picture of Sophie and Jack and the rabbit ears, 6 year old twins are so much fun (especially as compared to 6 week old twins), they are great friends.

New Hats From Aunt Jan in Missouri

Thank you Aunt Jan for the beautiful hats and scarf you knitted us. We love them. Like you said in your note Jack's head needed some extra cover this winter. 2 out of the 3 are eating which is pretty much normal around here. Jack is having his before bedtime bowl of cereal. Jack is having a great week, on his 2 week break from chemo, just a blood draw each week, his counts were good last Thursday, anc is 1400. More from the Marcelain's soon. Thank you for your continued prayers, Jack is blessed to have so many people pray for him.

October 19, 2005

I Learn to Bow

Jack is having a great week. We go in for a blood draw tomorrow, but he has a 2 week break in the chemo before he starts up the next phase. The next phase includes the same drugs, although not as high a dosage as in the induction phase.
Jack was able to play this week with his best friend from Kindergarten, Aaron. They are in different classes this year, and don't get to see each other at all during the school day. Definately the highlight of Jack's week.
Jack continues with his physical and occupational therapy. The chemo drugs affect his motor skills, so that service helps him.
We have had a quiet week this week. It feels great to just clean house and hang out with family.
I read a great book about a month ago, Walk On, the spiritual journey of U2. I have always like their music, but when I was younger and listened to it alot, I never paid any attention to the lyrics. After reading this book and listening to their music again, I realize most of their songs could play on Christian radio, they are inspirational and convicting. One of the people written about in a song that they wrote was an Irish boy named, Christopher Nolan. Here is a bit of what was said about him...
"Miracle Drug is a song based around the life and disability of Christopher Nolan, a school colleague of the band. After a difficult birth, the motor center of his brain was so damaged that he could not coordinate his limbs. His voice was so distorted that it was unintelligible. When he was eleven, he was given a new miracle drug called Lioresal, which relaxed his muscles so that he could move his neck ever so slightly. He was given a unicorn stick that was strapped to his forehead and allowed him to type. The family was aware that Nolan's mind was probably not as tattered as the rest of his body. They knew he was making an effort to read. However, the tiniest movement of his neck revealed a genius who had been captive in a dysfunctional body for years. He started to write, and poetry started to flow. He was fifteen when his first book Dam-Burst of Dreams was published. ...there were a couple of crucial aspects to his story that caused Nolan to end up in a song. The first was that when he finally got the chance to write, Nolan didn't rage at God but wrote his first poem, "I Learn to Bow." Bono was impressed with the attitude of a frustrated genius unable to communicate who saw being able to move his neck ever so slightly as the greatest blessing of life. Being angry with God seems a more natural response than to bow in worship."

What an awesome story, and what a testament to Christophers mother who read to her son without knowing if he really could understand or not, she read alot to him the book said, and by Christopher's first expression she must have read the Bible to him and passed on a faith that he totally "got". So many of us who have full use of our bodies, minds, that can speak, don't "get" it, like that boy did. We get frustrated at God when things don't work out like we would have hoped. I know that God wants us to be honest with Him about our feelings, struggles, good and bad, but sometimes I wish that my first response would be "I Learn to Bow." not "why God, why?"

October 13, 2005

From one end of the earth to the other.

I have had 2 days to let the good news about Jack's MRI results to sink in (see 2 posts below to get that full story), I think that I was in shock for the first day. We made it home in record time from the hospital and were able to attend church that night. What a celebration. Hugs, tears, rejoicing, prayers, praise, and more tears. When I got into HIP (our Wednesday night praise service) it was so great to praise God for His love and healing. I truly have felt that God has called me to a new level of faithfulness and acceptance to Jack's health. I was ready to hear whatever from the doctor that day and I would have been thankful for whatever I heard because God is in control, because Jesus died on the cross for us, he has won the race for us. We only need to be an extension of that love He has shown us. I was overwhelmed to hear the progress of healing, I thought, "boy, we will be lucky if the tumors have stayed the same". Well God showed me, He wowed me, He freaked me out. I worshiped unabandoned with a spirit of rejoicing, with a spirit of crazy love for Him. I don't ever want to forget what it feels like to be given a gift of life for my child. I am grateful, Jack has a story to share.......

Jack made a new friend at chemo today. His name is Derek, spelled just like our Derek (D.J. to those of you who haven't made the name switchover yet). Jack was watching Scooby Doo and Derek and his mom came in to meet us. Derek sat down with Jack and they became instant friends. Derek has leukemia. He is currently taking many medications, one of which is steroids, that is why he has very cute chipmunk cheeks. Derek is 6 yrs. old and I think is in his first year of diagnosis, he has a total of 3 years on chemo. Derek and Jack were sitting next to each other and after about 10 minutes, Jack slowly lifted his hat to show Derek he was bald, and Derek shouted, "Hey, you're bald, me too!!" He lifted his hat off and showed Jack, then Derek said, "We must be twins because we are both bald." About 2 minutes later Derek noticed that Jack has blue eyes, again, "Hey, we really are twins, we both have blue eyes." I think Derek commented on their twinship about 20 times in the 2 hours they were together. How nice it is for them to sit by each other and feel connected, a kinship. They sat together and laughed at scooby then parted ways. How cool is that!

The joy of the Lord and His church that binds us together is such a blessing. People all over the world keep up with Jack through our family, the blog, many different ways I guess. I love to check the sitecounter on this blogsite and see the people who check on Jack from one end of the earth to the other. Alot of the long distance prayers started through Rob's dad, Robert, who lives overseas. He has many friends and he talks alot about his grandkids. One of my favorite stories about Rob's dad, was that one of his co-workers was surprised that he only had 4 grandchildren at the time (now he has 5), because he had so many pictures of them on his walls at his office. Rob's dad works in Kyrgystan which is in the former Soviet Union. He sent Rob and I a forward of an email that was mailed to him, I don't think that the sender will mind if I include it in today's post.

Elena Z. wrote

Thank you for sending me this update!!!!!!!! This is the EXPECTED ANSWER to my and not only my prayers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We prayed for Jack together with Yelena K., payroll accountant! God bless her, I thank God for her heart as she keeps on praying for Jack like she knows him very well, like he is in her heart!!!! And you know, God has put the desire into my heart to proclaim (not just to read silently), but to proclaim all verses re healing I have (I have printed them out and they are on the wall in my room here) replacing "you, My people, etc" in verses with Jack Marcelain, actually what I did yesterday, today at lunchtime. I am sure apart from us many and many people pray for Jack! You see, God keeps everything under His control!!!! Thanks Robert, it is really very good news!!! and will be much better!!!

These women from a foreign country pray for Jack, a payroll accountant, Yelena, keeps him in her heart. God bless these women and the men and women all over who pray for Jack. He is in my heart, but I so gladly offer his testimony and updates to people so they will see the journey of a child who is sick, his family, and the Awesome Power of the Lord. All praise and glory I give to the Lord.

A new friend

Jack and Derek (a new chemo friend)

Dallas Trip

This is a picture of Jack holding his freshly made Batbear in front of the Rainforest Cafe, the alligator is in the mist next to him. We always make a point of adding some serious fun to the trip so it is not only about tumors.

October 12, 2005

Not Only Is It Working....

Well, I am humbled, crying, amazed....Jack's tumors have shrunk by more than 50% than where we were just 11 weeks ago. Dr. Bowers said, this is the best case scenario, we could have ever hoped for. What great words!!!! Thank You God. The chemo and mannatech are kicking tumor booty and taking names. I am so grateful, it seems that I can close my eyes and see Jack as a grown man again, for the very first time in a while. Jack will continue on with chemo as scheduled and we will see it through to the end, but it looks as though Jack is on his way to being tumor free. We have about another year left of chemo, but it sure makes it easier to think of that year knowing that it is working and doing its job.
Father God, thank you for the medical opportunities Jack has had, thank you for Your Healing Hand, and all the transformations you have made, physically on Jack, and emotionally and spiritually with all of us that love Jack so.
We will be home later tonight!!!
By His Mercy, Tammy

October 10, 2005

Is it working?

We are going to Dallas today, it is about 7:30 in the morning and Jack is ready to hit the road. We will wait for Rob to get off work and leave after lunch today. We will find out the results as to whether this protocol of chemo is working or not.

Matt 7:24,25
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and {yet} it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock."

The confidance that we are assured by these words of Jesus give me that peace that passes all understanding.

Thank you God for the blessings you reign down on me. Blessings of family, 3 beautiful children, my husband, church family, friends, all the people who pray for Jack and keep up with him through this site. I recently read a bit of this book and I wanted to share it with you.
Karen Kingsbury,author
Let Me Hold You Longer, title

Here are some excerpts:

Long ago you came to me, a miracle of firsts:
First smiles and teeth and baby steps, a sunbeam on the burst.
But one day you will move away and leave to me your past,
And I will be left thinking of a lifetime of your lasts. . .
The last time that I held a bottle to your baby lips.
The last time that I lifted you and held you on my hip.
The last night when you woke up crying, needing to be walked.
When last you crawled up with your blanket, wanting to be rocked.
The last time when you ran to me, still small enough to hold.
The last time that you said you'd marry me when you grew old.
Precious, simple moments and bright flashes from your past-
Would I have held on longer if I knew they were your last?
Our last adventure to the park, your final midday nap,
The last time when you wore your favorite faded baseball cap.
Your last few hours of kindergarten, those last days of first grade,
Your last at bat in Little League, last colored picture made.
I never said good-bye to all your yesterdays long passed.
So what about tomorrow- will I recognize your lasts?.....

Before we found out about Jack's tumors I took all these for granted. I don't anymore, the pictures that Sophie colors for me, the hugs that Derek gives me, they are less now that he is older, but that makes them so much more powerful, Jack's kindnesses that he shows me and others. How could I have not relished in everyone of these before April? Don't get me wrong I appreciated them, but I didn't relish them, I wasn't overwhelmed by them, they didn't stir my heart, they didn't bring tears to my eyes, I didn't store them up as treasures in my heart to remember long after they have left my home and gone on to make their own way in life. Like this book says, will I recognize the last time? probably not, so I better appreciate them to the fullest now.

God's peace and blessings to you this week. Take God out of the box you have put Him in and let Him show you the blessings in your life, let Him "wow" you in your own life, find the joy in the middle of a work day, or in the middle of cleaning house. Most of all I pray for you as I do for myself, "Lord show me your glory on earth, I can only imagine the glory you have waiting for us in heaven." In your sweet Son's name, Amen.

We will plan to post on Wednesday about lunchtime what we find out with our meeting with Dr. Bowers.
Love, Tammy

October 05, 2005

Strong Little Man

Jack had a good chemo today/tonight. His chemo appt. was at 2:30 the port access line was put in about 3:00pm and then Nurse Sara tried to draw his blood through the line, and it was giving her trouble. She ran some saline through the line and it was clear, just cantankerous, so she had to draw Jack's blood through a needle stick in his arm. So he got 2 sticks today, bummer. He stayed strong, just a couple of silent tears. What a trooper. I always feel so helpless when he gets stuck, and he just takes it like a strong little man.
His counts were good, 1400 anc. So he is holding up well this week. He must have had some sort of a bug last week because he was sick off and on for 4 days, starting with his chemo day. I never knew if it was from chemo or a stomach virus. He has had 3 good days!!!! Hooray. He has felt good, done well at school, and had energy to play too.
Thursday night Jack, Derek, and Sophie were invited to model some clothes on a runway at the civic center, for a cancer fundraiser. They all seem pretty excited. Each of them were able to pick out their clothes from a designated shop, so that made it even more fun, as they are wearing clothes they really like.
Rob's sister Tamara and her kids will be here next week and she will be staying with Derek and Sophie while we go to Dallas. Jack's mri is Tuesday morning, the clinic visit with Dr. Bowers was rescheduled to Wednesday morning, and that is when we will find out the results. Then onto a visit with Jack's rehab dr. from Baylor. Then home again. Please keep that visit in your prayers. We will stay at the Ronald McDonald House which makes Jack jump for joy.
I am feeling better about Jack's bald head. I looked at a picture of Jack with hair, and it seemed weird. So I guess I am getting used to it. Another side effect of the chemo is his right eye lid is drooping a bit. I checked with Dr. Bowers today about that, and he said that it will go away 2-4 weeks after the chemo is over. It is reversable.
Jack also had a check up with Dr. Moody, his opthamologist, and his eyes are doing great.
That is the rundown on Jack this week. Thanks for keeping up with us.
Love, Tammy

October 03, 2005

He knows people love him.

Hello October -
Jack, Sophie and Derek have already chosen their costumes for trick or treating/church trunk or treat about 3 times, and continue to change their minds on a regular basis. I thought it would be funny for Rob to be Dr. Evil and Jack, Mini Me, although Jack has no clue who either of those characters are, Rob did ask him to put his pinky up to the side of his mouth and laugh. I am sure that if Jack ever saw Austin Powers he would be all over that, but as that is definately not appropriate for his 6 year old mind...I guess we will have to pass on that idea. We will see what their final choices are when they make a final decision about October 26th. My kids have always loved to dress up so whatever they wear on this halloween will be a new costume for them to dress up in for the next year, over and over and over...we always get our moneys worth on costumes. One rule, never anything scary, evil or gross.....

Last week I left out a bit of the head shaving story. After discussing it with Rob he was fine with me posting it..... After Rob and Jack had their heads shaved, all the family went out to load up in the van and I waited at the counter to pay, the hair dresser that cut Rob's hair said the total was $11, I didn't know if she was charging me for one or both of the cuts, because each had a different stylist. So I asked her about the total, and she said, "Well your sons hair was $7, but, um, well, uh, your husband's well, uh, well his was $4 because well, um, he didn't have very much hair to start with." When I told Rob about the charges we both got a good laugh out of it. The benefits of losing your hair...

Last Friday at school I asked the counselor if she knew where I could buy a Wylie hat for Jack, she said she would find out and let me know. After I left school Robin (the counselor) called me back about 20 minutes later and said Jack was just given a Wylie cap. In that short time, Robin asked Donna (the secretary) where I could get a Wylie cap, and then Donna called her husband, Coach Lang, at Wylie High School, told him about Jack losing his hair...and was there an extra cap that Jack could have, Coach Lang, immediately left the high school and drove to the elementary school where he presented Jack with his own Wylie cap in front of his class. When Robin told me what had happened she said Jack was smiling ear to ear.... he is very proud of his Wylie cap and wore it all weekend. There is a whole support team for Jack at his school, people who check on him, smile at him, love him, every day. Jack is one lucky kid. He knows people love him.

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier"....Mother Teresa

September 29, 2005

"Be not dismayed, for I am your God"....those words bring warmth to my heart.

We just got home from a very long day at chemo. Good news is Jack's anc counts are back up into the 2000 range. So glad about that. He wasn't feeling well this morning so he didn't go to school before his chemo appointment. A long day of doing nothing but sitting in a chair and watching movies made him very tired. He was set on buying his class more donuts today then finishing out the day at school. By the time we left school was out, he is not too happy about that! Next week we have chemo on Wednesday and he will be able to go to school most of the day Wednesday before his appointment. He definately does not like missing school.

He is enjoying his bald head. All the kids were kind to him at school, but he does want them to see the Charlie Brown movie that Dallas Children's gave us about a little girl who loses her hair from chemo. I think he likes to know that the other kids have some information about what he is dealing with. Information for Jack is a good thing. I am glad to be home, and Jack is now taking a much needed nap. His MRI is less than two weeks away, keep that in your prayers.

Some exciting news this week is we received the packet for Jack's Make a Wish Trip. I just need to fill it out. I think Jack has decided on DisneyWorld. Once we explained to him that his ideal vacation didn't have to be at the local hotel, he opened up his horizons a bit. We are looking at maybe next summer or the summer after that. Just depends on how Jack's treatments are going.

I have been a little sad this week since Jack's hair left his head. He just "seems" so much sicker now, not that anything has changed, but you can't help thinking about the tumor more seeing all the scars on his head. I think it will just take a couple more days to get used to it. The receptionist at chemo asked if I was o.k. that I seemed a little down today, and the tears started rolling. Some weeks are easier than others. I think on this scripture alot..

".....for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. " 1 Peter 1:6

and this one..

"Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

We will talk again soon.
Love, Tammy

September 27, 2005

A Wonderfully Made Head

Today Jack told the nurse at school he was losing his hair. Nurse Huff and Jack have formed a sweet bond. Jack makes more than a couple of trips to her office a week, and sometimes day. Jack needs a Nurse Huff fix on a regular basis. I don't know if it is the refreshing coolness and quiet peacefullness of her office, the hugs she gives, or the special attention that he gets from her, but he is drawn to her office. Today I spoke with her and she commented that Jack said he was losing his hair. I had noticed quite a bit of thinning in the last 10 days, but didn't think he had noticed it. I asked him about his hair comment to Nurse Huff, and did he think he was really losing his hair? He said, "Yes mom, it falls out all over my papers at school and my clothes too." So I asked him if he wanted to go and get a good trim and then when it fell out he might not notice the hair so much because it would be shorter, and he said, "I want it all cut off, I want to be bald." After talking him through all the options of hair length he was stuck on the "no hair" decision he had made. I am not sure why he felt like it all had to go (I do know that I have read in some of my cancer/chemo books that it says some kids like to have that control over losing their hair rather than watching it fall out), it was looking like most would over the next while anyway, and he wanted it cut tonight. So we all went to the hair shop, and off it went. I wanted to plead with him, let's just keep it a little longer, maybe a little on top to spike up, he is skinny, pale and now bald. I wasn't planning on crying, hair grows back, it is not forever, it will grow out in a couple of weeks, but it tightened my chest, took my breath, and brought tears streaming down my cheeks. I think Jack looks awesome, what a sweet face, smile and lips, and as if his eyes didn't pop out of his head before they sure do now. Rob had his head shaved too, so Jack and his dad are twins. I am glad Rob is willing, able, and right by Jack's side to support him with matching haircuts.
The scar you see on Jack's chest is where the surgeon made the incision for the port where the needle for his chemo to go through.
Holy Father, thank you for Jack and his brave spirit. Thank you that he is such a blessing to me.
I will give thanks to You, for Jack is fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
In the name of Jesus, Amen

September 26, 2005


I have arrived back in Texas. I left Phoenix and it was 91 degrees, and came home to a 105 degree record breaking day. Glad I got away from the heat and went to Arizona! I am so glad to be home, everybody did well without me. Jack took his mannatech like a trooper, Rob and Elaine said the kids did great, but thank goodness they all missed me. I had a wonderful time with my siblings and enjoyed my sister Becky's wedding immensely. I love weddings and when you feel God's blessings are all over it, it is awesome! Congratulations again to Becky and Dallas.

I have had a thought on my mind lately, struggling with I guess. I am searching for consistence of thankfulness in my life.
In First Thessalonians 5:16 it says

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

I see this scripture every day atleast 20 times, it is painted on my wall in my kitchen. I have looked at it and read it so many times I don't know how many, but I don't think I have ever let it sink in. My nature is to be thankful and grateful for all the good, but if something doesn't go just right I might not verbalize it, but I can be miffed at the circumstances, wish they were different, pout about it, I most likely will forget about it pretty quickly, I tend to move on rather than sit in the mud, but I am not very often thankful about it before it leaves my brain. I want to take what the Bible says seriously, I want to read the Bible fresh everytime and let the words transcend my soul, and then ask God to change me to be just like what I read! It seems like this verse has been easy for me to read over but not really apply to the reality of my life. God is convicting me of this, he is hammering me over the head with this verse. I want to be thankful for good and bad, I want to be thankful for days that didn't go so well, days that wore me out, days that made me cry. Why do I want to be thankful for all that, because I want to be in the world not of the world, I want my actions to testify for the power and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the transcending power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in me can make that happen, but I have to die to my nature to let it happen. The word die sounds pretty harsh to some, but it really is the easiest part of the equation, what God does is supernatural. I hope to never be comfortable where I am, but always seeking what God's will is for my faith in Him. The rewards are endless from Him when we focus on the cross in a world filled with so many distractions. Thank you God.

Thank you for your prayers for Jack, chemo this Thursday, and for the weeks following. We go to Dallas October 11, for his MRI and clinic visit with his oncologist Dr. Bowers. The MRI will tell us if the tumors are growing or not. The chemo will continue if the tumors have stayed the same or shrunk at all, if the tumors have grown they will change him to the next protocol of chemotherapy. We are praying for Jack to have a great visit and awesome results. Love to you all.

September 22, 2005


Jack had his chemo this morning, his counts were low, 857 anc, please keep Jack and his wellness in your prayers. Jack had that stomach virus last week and hasn't had much of an appetite to speak of at all. Because nothing sounded good to him, the couple of times I had him take his mannatech he didn't keep it down. One whole week without any extra nutrients in his system, I suspected that his counts would be low. I find it truly amazing that these nutrients make such a difference in his system. Every week it seems his counts are related to how much mannatech he has taken.
Big thanks to Karene Neill who took my place today with Jack. I am in Arizona to attend my sister's wedding on Saturday, and Karene kindly took Jack to chemo for me. I am sure that Jack had a great time with her, and not only is she a friend, she is also a nurse, so who better to take him, thank you Karene! I am glad that we have so many people around our family who support us. I never take for granted just how different our life would be without faith, family and friends.
I can not tell you how hard it is for me to be away from my family, but it is important for me to support my sister and her soon to be new husband, I am gone for 3 days but it will be a gut-wrenching 3 days, especially with Jack's counts low. I remember one time before I was married and I went on a holiday with about 5 girlfriends, and one of my friends was calling home to speak to her children and husband, after she hung up she just cried and cried. I know now how she felt. The bond of motherhood does not just take a break when we step out of the daily grind for even a short time.
I appreciate Rob for being a single parent this weekend, he was happy for me to go, but I know that between work and home he is going to be busy, busy, busy....
Lord, thank you for that man.
Thanks for your continued prayers, once again, pray Jack takes his vitamins, and stays healthy. To plajorize Sarah's blog, I see the fingerprints of God all over our family, in the form of the hands of His people ministering to us. Thank you for that ministry. I praise God for you.
Love, Tammy

September 16, 2005

My Nana -the Hayride and Fishing

Cowboy Jack

Nice Outfit!
Swim Trunks
Bibleman Shirt
Cowboy hat and boots

Donut Boy Brings Hoots, Hollers, and Cheers

Jack's chemo went well yesterday, his counts were at 1400, so he is keeping them up. He had a bit of a stomach virus this week, so I was glad to see that all was fine with his blood counts. Jack also had an appointment with the oncologist, Dr. Bowman, from Cook's Children's in Ft. Worth, he comes to Abilene once a month to check all the kids under his care for chemo. Dr. Bowman was happy that Jack seemed to be tolerating his treatments well. The only notable side effects besides the nausea were that Jack is definately losing some control of the muscles in his hands and feet, but mostly his hands. He has a hard time holding onto stuff without dropping it. Note to me, have Jack carry in the paper towels not the eggs from the grocery store. Jack doesn't notice his "clumsiness" at all, he just picks up whatever he has dropped and can do this 3 or 4 times in a row and doesn't even seem to notice that this is not normal. The area which affects schooling most is his handwriting, Dr. Bowman asked Jack how his penmanship was and Jack said, "great". Love that positive response! Between you and me his teacher had it o.k.'d to give Jack his spelling tests orally because many times his written words look as though he lives in China. Bless him.

Yesterday morning I was returning Jack to school after his appt. with Dr. Bowman and Jack had asked if we could stop by
AM Donuts and bring his class a treat. I am always happy to help Jack be excited about entering the classroom so I quickly said "Yes, great idea!" We walked in to his quiet classroom. The kids were focusing on the teacher at the front of the room, and they they turn their eyes to Jack and he says, "I've got donuts, for you (he points at his classmates) I brought plain glazed and for you and you (points at his two teachers) I brought maple". Then he sits down at his desk with a huge smile on his face. That smile was worth the $9 spent on 2 dozen donuts. The quiet obedient classroom became a room full of hoots, hollers, and cheers, hands in the air, it was like looking up at the fans from the sidelines of a football game. It was hilarious, although Jack did say the class had a hard time settling down after that, sorry Mrs. Ake and Ms. Isbell. When I picked Jack up from his class later that day to take him to chemo his friends were still grateful for the donuts and many of them thanked him again. What sweet kids.

We were blessed by having Rob's dad with us this week. We all love when he comes to Abilene, we had a great time and can't wait to see him again. This last weekend we went to Pirtle Pines Ranch in Milano, Tx for a family gathering. We had a great time, it was beautiful. Pirtle Pines is a deer lodge, but it is more of a real fancy home with a ton of rooms in it, like a bed and breakfast. It was a sweet time to be around family, my grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins their families and Rob's mom Elaine went. There were about 25 or so, one of my favorite things was, my 86 yr, old grandmother whom we call Nana went on a hayride with us, she smiled so big I am sure her muscles were tired. I sat right across from her and got to see how she loved the ride. My Nana used to be very active, she was the best fisherwoman I have ever known. It wouldn't be unusual for her to be neck high in lake water trying to get her cast to the right spot. She could fix a meal for 20 people in less than 30 minutes and it might be the best meal they had ever eaten, she never stopped or slowed down. Her health has slowed her down and now she has been forced to watch others be busy around her while she wishes that she could be busy again too. She has parkinsons and diabetes, but the mind of a 20 yr. old. Very sharp. So to see her be lifted in her wheelchair onto the trailer for the hayride was a joy I will never forget. She smiled from start to finish. Thank you God for that. Many great times for everyone this weekend, horse rides, hay rides, jeep rides, Sunday morning worship, and ofcourse some serious fishing going on. We also saw some beautiful dear with large antlers, exquisite animals. Sunday morning we all gathered in the living area of the main house and worshipped God through songs of praise, old and new, took communion, and awesome prayers. Tears always flow for me during times of family worship. My heart is always so touched by the togetherness of my family who love God so. I am blessed to be in a heritage of lovers of the Lord. My grandfather's favorite song is How Great Thou Art, and we never gather together for worship without singing that. I love those old hymns, their is something very special about them, and they always bring tears. Tears of joy, longing, humility, gratefullness, and love for God. God blessed us all this weekend. Thank you Abba Father.
I will follow this post with some pictures of this weekend. Thank you for your prayers.
love, Tammy

September 14, 2005

Smile at Jesus

There is a blog that I read, Diary of a Transplant Patient. Amanda, a christian woman who writes it asked for comments on another blog post. The other blog she referred to was filled with a man's thoughts on how an all powerful God could watch while bad things happen on earth. When Jack was diagnosed and after we were home I thought long and hard trying to reconcile this very thought attached to my son whom I love so. I read Why Bad Things Happen to Good People after someone had recommended it, I know it has been a helpful book for many to read, but it deeply disturbed me. I did not know alot about the man who wrote it, only that he was a Rabbi. The gist of the book was that God created the world and has left us to ourselves to work it all out, he does not believe in Jesus who came down and triumphed over evil, he does not believe that Jesus is anxiously awaiting our prayers so he can interceed on our behalf to God, it was a book with no hope. He said that God was unable to help us, that he was there by our sides to be with us as we walk through life and death, but could do nothing but be our spiritual hand holder. This was my comment to Amanda's blog....

I can remember feeling like this (how can God not interceed to help all the bad stuff on earth) at an early part in my "searching for God, and trying to figure it all out stage." Trying to understand all the bad in this world and making sense of it, at some point I realized, through reading scripture that I can never understand the way things play out on earth, I was not created to understand God. At a workshop this year Rick Atchley spoke on the healing power of God. It was three days long, but the statement I remember the most (not directly quoted) is that we are completely healed when we leave this earth and take that expressway to heaven. Why God heals some and not others is uncomprehendable to me, and that is where I say to myself...let God be God and quit trying to understand the why's and why nots of this world. One of my friends asked me last night how I was doing with my son Jack who is in chemo for his brain tumor, and the subject moved to what if he dies from this, and all I could think was that when we get to heaven and see glory all around us we will have wished we had gotten there sooner. A man was giving me counsel on the subject of the brain tumor his son had, when I asked him if he ever felt "why did this happen to my child?" He said you have to say "why not my child." Because we are christians does not mean that God gives us a life of no trouble just for following Him, if he did everyone would jump on that bandwagon, your true faith and trust in God, is refined by that fire when you are struggling, it is easy to believe and proclaim when things go our way, but when things aren't we start blaming God for his lack of love and concern, or worse if you ask me, by belittling God and His power on earth. It goes back to that quote I posted earlier from Mother Teresa that I love so much
...." And it is true, Jesus can be very demanding also, and it is at those times when he is so demanding that to give him a big smile is very beautiful...."
I choose to smile at God even when he is demanding alot from me in my faith. It is a decision we all must make.

September 08, 2005

YIPPEE Jack's Counts Have Risen

We just came home from Jack's chemotherapy today and his counts are back in the 2000's. I have been working hard to get him to take the mannatech this week, and he has done a pretty good job of taking it, your prayers are evident in this. I got to where I would make his shake or give him his chewable tablets and he would make one whiney noise, I would walk off pretending I didn't hear him, then come back to check on him a few minutes later and many times the tablets were in his belly and half of his shake was gone. Thank you for praying.

Chemo was short today, just over an hour. He only received one drug today, it is part of the scheduled regimen, they call it a road map of protocol. When the nurse stepped out of the room, Jack said, "Mom she poked me with the needle, then she did some stuff, then she took the needle out already, is that o.k." The funny thing about that is that I told him probably 3 times today we were just going to chemo for a short time and he wouldn't get the iv drip medicine only the poke into his port and nurse Sara would be quick today, there are times as a mom I think I could talk directly to a wall and get more of a retention of memory. It makes me laugh.

This week in the Marcelain household we introduced Napolean Dynamite to our kids. Rob and I had seen it when it first came out on video, we rented it this week, and got our moneys worth out of it. Jack is now referring to the lochness monster on one of his Scooby video's as Nessie, and he has a craving for steak. We don't eat steak at home, mainly because Rob nor I are great at grilling. Rob and Jack went to Sonic for dinner one night when the other 2 kids and I were at Shepherding Group, (we kept Jack away from crowds with his counts low), Rob asked Jack what he wanted for dinner and Jack said, "You know that brown meat on a plate that the uncle was eating in Napolean Dynamite, that's what I want." Rob said, "Do you mean steak, I don't think they have that at Sonic, how about a corndog?" Jack said, "o.k.", but he wants some of that brown meat soon. He told me the next day he wants some brown meat, so I think we will be heading for Joe Allens to get some brown meat pretty soon. Jack is a connosieur of slap stick so Napolean Dynamite was a great addition to his laugh out loud movies.
Keep lifting prayers to the Father for my sweet Jack. He is such a joy. May God be with you and ever present as you go on your way this week.
Love, Tammy

September 02, 2005

One Month Mark

Jack and I just returned home from his 4th chemotherapy treatment. His ANC numbers are not too good today. 937. He started in the upper 2000's then went to the 3000's back to the 2000's now down to 937. Anything under 1000 means that if he contracts an infection his body does not have the necessary means to fight it. He is not in a dire stage, but a careful stage. I have not been fighting the fight to get him to take his mannatech nutrients this week. We both needed a break, me from hounding him and him from being hounded. Obviously I am back in the hounding mood, and now that he is on somewhat of a restricted social life, maybe he is ready to be hounded. The nutrients are all immune system builders and they have made a difference thus far. This is an area that I really would appreciate you praying for.

Jack has also made the switch as of today to an eye patch instead of the chemical patch. He was covering his dialated eye all the time to see, which made his writing in class next almost completely illegible. So he asked me if there was something we could use to cover his eye, the benefit of the chemical patch (dialating the strong eye) is so he doesn't have to deal with an eye patch, so now we can just leave off the dialation and he will use the eye patch.
Being that he is 6 years old, he kind of thinks of himself as a full fledged pirate with the eye patch, even my 8yr. old son Derek wanted one, so I bought him one also. Living with 2 pirates is very fun. Sometimes being a sick kid isn't fun, but the toys you play with to fix your problem are. The eye patch for instance, and when we were in rehab, the wheelchair. Derek loved to be in Jack's wheelchair. He was in it so often, that when people saw him and asked what happened his pat answer was, "I broke both my legs."

That has been the nature of this illness, there are always good things we can pull out of each day, substantially good things. The people we have met, the nurses and doctors, and the kindness of friends and strangers. Deciding what is most important and not sweating the rest. I love my life. Does that sound weird or what with a kid in chemo? When I was a kid I used to think that a day that involved no craziness was a good day, I just wanted normal. Then when I grew up into college age, I was determined to be anything but normal, finding my way to a place that I could call my own. That place I found was not pretty, mainly because my choices were not good, they lacked direction, they lacked the Cornerstone. I was a floating leaf flying whichever way the wind took me. Thanks to Jesus' prompting in my life I started to come back down to earth, living a life of substance, not floating anymore, looking to fill a void that had left me empty. I ofcourse found the Answer. I know what it is to live life without Jesus, I have been there and I don't ever want to go back. Here I am in a life that some would think would be rocking my world, and thanks to God's grace, I have the steadfastness to stand tall and love my life in the midst of crazy. Am I crazy sometimes, absolutely, do I get overwhelmed with what is happening to Jack, yes, but I can know that God is in control, and no matter what happens I am blessed to be a part of it. Thank you God for your tender mercy.

Keep praying for sweet Jack and pray he takes those vitamins. Thank you for being a part of this with us.
Love, Tammy