Monday, July 30, 2012

In the Meantime

In a previous post, I talked about feeling exiled and isolated, like life has just come to a halt and we just got sidelined for awhile. I've been wrestling with especially watching Esther go through the treatment and circumstances get harder. Today, I realized our garage door is slowly breaking down, our washing machine is about toast, and, at some point today, our internet was down (when I was trying to work from home)! Those things are not really a big deal but when you've already had a stressful morning trying to give Esther her Neupugen, the kids are getting stir crazy, and you're feeling the weight of perfection when it comes to our germophopia to protect Esther, it all felt like this was the scenario for the invention of the phrase: WTF? I keep expecting our cars to breakdown or to get more bad news about Esther. This feels harder than anything I've ever experienced and we're only at the front end and I'm not even the one with the cancer! Just writing this blog post right before dinner I already feel drained and wiped and I can't even pin down exactly why.

But in this "exile," as I've been grappling with my anger and the point of all this and just trying to see God's face, I was encouraged yesterday and this morning by 2 things. The first is a key connection that a book helped me see. The second is a thought I had first thing this morning as I walked out to check on our chickens.

The Exiles of the Old Testament

I've been reading a book called "Wednesdays were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God" by Michael Kelley. It's about the author's own journey with his 2 year old son being diagnosed with Leukemia and the path thereafter. It's a very honest account from Mr. Kelley and it has started to help me wrestle with and process some of my internal world as so much of what he writes has resonated with me.

In chapter 9, he digs into the topic of hope. What do I really hope for during my child's cancer? For circumstances to get better? For heaven? Heaven is definitely something to look forward to and trust God for, but there's a problem with heaven:

You only go to heaven when you die.

The promise of heaven when we die doesn't mean this life won't be hard. So, seriously, what to hope for? What do we, with a child with cancer hope for in the meantime? In the weeks since Esther's cancer hit us like a hammer, we've realized that our lives will never be the same. There's no going back to before. If God brings Esther through this unscathed, we will still have that lingering fear of relapse, especially with her type of cancer. Even apart from that fear, we won't be the same as before for good or for bad. What will the normal Sam and I tend to hope for now even look like? When we will get there and be done with this exile? Well, Mr. Kelley brought me to 2 Kings 24:10-14, a situation that looked eerily familar:

At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it, and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign and carried off all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the LORD, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the LORD had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem and all the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained, except the poorest people of the land. (2 Kings 24:10-14)

In this passage, most of Jerusalem is exiled to Babylon by Nebudchadnezzar. The nation of Judah would not completely fall quite yet, but it's leaders and city dwellers were taken away. Daniel and his friends were likely a part of this group of people. Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah at this time.

The people were just yanked from their lives and set down in Babylon. What were they supposed to do? What were they supposed to hope in? Return? Would it be the same if and when they got back? Not likely. They had to see the writing on the wall as they left. Nebuchadnezzar was in control now. Their city was barely intact, the temple still standing but with no protection and the city was in chaos. For them, the question really wasn't why they were there or who's sin had put them there. The questions were: Where is our hope? What do we do now? God knew their struggle and their wrestling and had a word for them through Jeremiah in chapter 29:

"For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Strap in!

Read the whole passage. What does he promise? What does he tell them to do? He says I have good for you! I have plans for you! But he doesn't say necessarily what they wanted to hear...

Unfortunately, the rest of what he said wasn't quite as palatable. I wanted God's message to be something like this: "Hang in there; it's almost over. The meantime won't last long. I'm about to return everything you have lost, and pretty soon you can move into the future." But that's not what He said. God refused, both then and now, to give some pie-in-the sky version of hope that denies the pain of the present. He was real in His words. The word of the Lord reads something like this: "It's going to be seventy years of meantime, friends. It's going to be so long in the meantime that I advise you to get used to it. Settle down and make a life in the meantime. Build a house in the meantime because you are going to be there for a while. So strap in." (Wednesdays were Normal, pg 142)

God says the "meantime" is going to be awhile. He says to strap in. He doesn't give them a simple answer. He gives enough. Strap in and live in the meantime. Not in the past the way it used to be. Not in the future that you dread some days or look forward to unrealistically the next. Live in the now. I am with you. I have good for you. Right now. This was to be the exiles' hope. This needs to be my hope and my family's hope. Our situation is truly not that different than these exiles. They miss home. They probably forgot what the temple or their house looked like. We get discouraged because we forget what Esther looked like before she lost her hair. We miss what we had just 2 months ago.

But God has better. He always does. Jeremiah reassured me of this. God has reassured me of this. But not necessarily in our circumstances. Reading that passage from Jeremiah and thinking about it right now, it feels like a note straight from God to us. I love how he remembered the exiles in Babylon and just reached out to them to remind them he's for them and working for their good.

My second reminder this morning (though I struggled to heed it today!)? To worry about today. Not the past, not tomorrow or 6 months from now or 5 years from now. Today. His grace is enough for today. He has more for me tomorrow. But he's only given me what I need for right now. His future grace will be there for days to come. But every morning is a choice to trust him just for today. Today is enough.

Hope is the confidence that even during the meantime God is still busy. (Wednesdays were Normal, pg 146)

God is still busy in the meantime. He has not deserted us in the meantime. He is with us in the meantime. He is working in the meantime. Esther and our family are never far from his mind in the meantime. I pray we will trust that he has plans for us and a hope for us. I pray we will renew that trust every morning every day.


Sunday, July 29, 2012


It has been a quiet weekend at home.  First, Anthony got this video of Zinnia Thursday...pretty cute!

We played lots of drinking games to try to keep Esther hydrated and running seems constipation comes easily to her body and can make her really sick, so we need to be on top of her meds and hydration.  Her favorite game this week was watching our VBS video and taking a drink when we saw friends we know from church. 

Overall, she's felt pretty well, not too pukey, fever free, and happy.  It's so nice to be home.  I'm pretty sure she'll have bloodwork done on Tuesday to check her counts, but they might let us wait until Thursday.  She is looking a little pale and has been sleeping a lot, so I'm a little worried her hemoglobin is low and may need a blood transfusion.  She needed two the last round, so it's likely she'll need another.

I feel some emotion bubbling under the surface.  It's hard to define.  Hopeful dread?  Every family I've met at Children's is coming for treatment because they've had a relapse.  We wanted to stay away from knowing much about the long term prognosis for neuroblastoma, but it's unavoidable because the ugliest part of this cancer is that it often comes back.  I'm trying to not look to the future, seek grace for today and for the most part have been successful in not predicting Esther's future in this life.  But it's hard, when I teeter down that path and meet yet another family who is fighting their 3rd or 4th battle with this disease, I shut down.  It's more than I can bear. 

I am comforted that her eternity will not include disease and pain.  My honest fear is that she will suffer and lose the battle with this disease.  I want to hope and find God's goodness in it all regardless of Esther's journey.  I don't know His plan and question. But I know the character of God.  God is love.  God is kind and good.  So are His plans. A friend sent me a link to a song by Mercy Me, "The Hurt & The Healer"
I posted it at the end if you'd like to listen. 

The question that is never far away
But healing doesn't come from the explained
Jesus, please don't let this go in vain

You're all I have, all that remains

So here I am, what's left of me
When glory meets my suffering

I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I fall into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Please pray for our hearts.  Anthony misses Esther.  He stayed home from church today so he could get some time with her.  We've been short with each other and the kids.  My heart is numb, tired.  I feel emotions bubbling, but they seem so far off.  The song continues...

Sometimes I feel it's all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord, take hold and pull me through

I can't do this.  I can't muster up faith or trust.  This can only happen when my eyes are not fixed on the doctors, the treatment plan, journeys that belong to other kids, or my own desire for Esther's life.  For my family's life.  I miss being mommy.  It breaks my heart that instead of teaching Esther to greet people at church, to look in their eyes and say good morning, I am teaching her to tell her nurses and doctors thank you, to greet them when she knows they may have to do something that will cause her pain.  I have to teach her not to scream when a needle is near, that those times when the numbing cream had worn off or the ER nurse had to poke her twice don't happen every time.  That she doesn't have to be terrified of a bath because the aquaguard is going to tear her fragile skin only to be met moments later by alcohol because a dressing must be changed.  She used to love taking baths, now she is terrified of just a few seconds in a gentle shower.  

Please, Jesus, keep my eyes fixed on you.  I need Him to hold me up and pull me through because this journey is unbearable.  I pray the rest of this song would be my hope, not in this life.  Esther's hope is not in this life or in her survival, this is a temporary dwelling.  Our home is not on this earth, our happiness and satisfaction will not be found here even in the best of circumstances.

It's the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood

When mercy takes it's rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of weakness we must bow
And hear you say "It's over now"

Lord, would you please give me the grace, pour mercy over my heart, that I would bow and bless your name when you say about this journey, this life, "It's over now" regardless of Esther's future.  The song finishes with a plea...  

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide

Friday, July 27, 2012


On the morning drive we pass a field of sunflowers. The rising sun and eager faces of the yellow blooms make me smile. I look forward to reaching the end of 470 where we exit onto Pena, not so much because we're only a few miles away from the hospital but because of this cheerful field of sunshine.


Today our soundtrack for the drive was our friend, Katrina's lovely melodies. As I stopped to take this photo, her song, "Swim" started to play.

The chorus says, "I can't see a sunrise in the middle of a hurricane. And I can't hear the symphony amidst the thunder and the rain. Yeah, life don't get no easier if I pout and I complain. So I'm jumpin' in I'm ready to swim."

I'm thankful that God speaks louder than hurricanes, thunder and rain and His voice this week has been a field of sunflowers. Right now in a time of no control, our attitude is just about all we can control. It won't be easier if I pout or complain, worry or fret.

Thinking about these sunflowers, I was reminded of Luke 12: 24-31. "Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you."

The weight of the "need" is different. In this passage, it's more about material things, food & clothes. But the principle is the still the same. I love where it says "your Father knows that you need them." He knows our needs. Whether or not I needed that cheerful field of flowers to help me remember He is still there, I can't say. But it was a tender mercy on our morning drives, and this passage is an enouragement that the Father knows my needs.

Yesterday was a fun day with Lydia. We princess-uped our infusion room with tons of glitter from princess coloring pages. I was impressed not to find glitter this morning in the room. Lydia's suprise was a Calico Critters lamb family and her imagination was fun for Esther. The mouse and lamb families went swimming, swung on a tree swing, and picked flowers in a field. So sweet. Zinnia also got an elephant family and all four girls were delighted to play mouse, bunny, lamb, and elephant families last night.


Our nurse was awesome and FAST today. We were done in 5 hours flat. Tomorrow begins the medication to prepare for stem cell harvest. Esther will have a daily dose of a growth factor that will cause her body to create lots of stem cells and release them into her bloodstream. We have to give this through a shot, but tomorrow at our short visit at the hospital they will place a small cathedar (sounds scary, but it's pretty minor) into her leg and then there will be no pokes for her shots. She'll be monitored pretty closely because they need to catch the number of stem cells at thier peak level to get as many stem cells as possible. This will hopefully happen in about 10 days or so.

Esther is tired today and the effects of the week of chemo have increased her nausea. She took a long nap today (actually is still sleeping), so I hope this helps her feel better this weekend. We were the first patient in the infusion center, so she got her pick of the toys in the toy room. I like to be there early...I know they are clean! It was fun for her to pedal this big, heavy car around the clinic.

My attitude is important, "life won't get no easier if I pout and complain." God is kind. He knows our needs and this week He gave us safe drives, beautiful sunflowers to brighten our mornings, and a reminder that He knows.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More than half way through round 2

Frannie joined us for chemo today. Everything went smoothly and Esther only threw up once after dinner. Sadly the iPad was also needing to be charged, so I don't have any cute pictures to post. Frannie was pretty excited to get a bunny family that matches Esther's mouse family from her Gabby's Bag. They snuggled to watch some TV, rolled up the tissue paper from Frannie's surprise and tossed it back and forth like a ball, and of course, played Calico Critters.

We also enjoyed visits from Emily, Thomas' mom and Uncle Booie had a meeting nearby and was able to stop by for a bit.

Esther was running around the house tonight with her siblings, dancing in the living room, and has been eating great (aside from throwing up once tonight). It has been a blessing to be home even if it makes for a long drive.

Tomorrow Lydia will join us and I get to learn about giving shots and do some practice on a teaching doll. I wonder if I should use down time at the hospital to take some online courses. There has to be some medical degree to go along with all of this, right?

We only have two more days of chemo! Praying to be peaceful if we are admitted again for a fever, for her counts to not drop so low this next round, and for her to drink enough fluids. We have a long way to go on this treatment plan and I'm already so over the drinking battle. Please pray I would be patient and discerning when to push and when to hold back. Sometimes if she drinks it makes her vomit...then she's afraid to drink. It's also a control issue and seems very grey to know how to parent under these circumstances.

We are doing ok. Feeling like we're right in the middle of coming to an understanding of the length and intensity of this journey. I feel like that might not be the point, though. We can't really anticipate this journey or understand the depth by which we will all change and it won't be neat and tidy at the end of this next year. The impact of this on all our lives will be vast. I just want to know how much this with change us, i want to control it. Ephesians 3:16-21 came to mind as I am writing this,

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This journey is not about the depth and width of the impact on our lives. It is not about gutting it through the next year and making it out okay. God is never purposeless in our lives, there is a reason he walks us through joy, sorrow, struggle, pain. Although it does not feel like it at times, there is love that surpasses our ability to understand amongst our journey. Through this we want to know Christ's love deeper, to trust the God who is able, who has power. He will strengthen us to know the length, height, and depth of His love.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rourke & Esther

Rourke joined us at the hospital today. When we checked in the secretary said, "You must be Rourke." We were both surprised she knew his name. It's nice to be in a clinic where the staff makes efforts to know more than the patient's medical needs. He felt very special! Overall it was a good day, chemo was timely today with no vomit.

Rourke did a great job and was so kind to Esther. God has given him a tender heart. He was flexible and sacrificially yielded to her in their play. We wanted to do something special for each of the kids, so I brought a gift all wrapped up. He even carried it in the hospital. He asked what it was, and I told him he just had to wait. He assumed it was for Esther. I told him and daddy and I know this has been hard for him too and that because we love him so much, we wanted to bless him with the gift. He was so sweet and asked, "This is for me?!" His face when he opened the new lego set was priceless.

I'm so glad he was with me. I struggled today, feeling just sad and worn out. He was a cheerful addition to our chemo day. I intended to do school, but they were enjoying each other so much, I wanted them to just play. I think Esther was pretty excited about having a day just with his brother, what do you think?



Yep, she loves him!
Yep, she loves him!
Yep, she loves him!

They moved over to the bed by the window to watch the cranes and use the window sill as a roadway. They even scored some Colorado Rockie's hats!

The drive home has been a nice time for Esther to nap a bit. Rourke didn't sleep long this way, but got a nap after an early morning.

Monday, July 23, 2012

House of God, Forever

This weekend was great. It felt like a vacation to be at home for 5 full days! On Sunday we all went to breakfast with my parents and then to church and then out to lunch. I was worried about being in so many public places. Anthony reminded me we'll be on lockdown for the next couple weeks, so we should take advantage.

Later Sunday afternoon we had a great showing of help to rearrange our kids' bedrooms. They moved a twin over full bunk bed to the basement, a twin bed along with it's trundle upstairs, and Rourke's loft bed was moved over to the girls' room. The strong muscles and expert bed makers made the process go quickly. The end goal was to give Esther her own space for this next year. The kids were such troopers and understood the need for all the change.

Today Esther started her second round of chemo. She'll have an infusion starting at 7:30am each day for the rest of this week. On Saturday morning she'll start a growth factor med causing stem cell production and release into her blood stream. Those meds will continue the following two weeks until her stem cell production peaks and then they will extract her stems cells, filtering out her red and white blood cells along with her platelets. Those cells will be returned to her body and the stem cells will be stored to help her recover after the MIBG therapy and again following high dose chemo in December.

It was overall a good day. She handled chemo well and only got sick once. I think it was because her anti-nausea meds lapsed a couple of hours due to of a dosing issue. She lost a little weight and they had to re-dose her chemo and meds. It's not a huge loss, she was just 0.1kg under the previous dosing requirements but our doctor thought going with the lower dose might help her counts not drop so low after this next round of chemo and it's appropriate for her weight either way. I like Dr. Garrington, he's kind and Esther loves him. He had her giggling and playing peek-a-boo. Her ANC counts today were phenomenal, 6,111. I am thankful she's so high right now and hopeful these counts will give some wiggle room during this cycle.

Our friend, Thomas, is also recieving a 5 day treatment this week. He along with two cousins and another friend from our homeschool group are taking a logic course right there in the infusion center. Their instructor, Thomas' mom, Emily, is doing an excellent job! When they left, these four teens were growing lots of brain cells from all the learning they did. Tomorrow Rourke is going to join Esther and I and we're going to do a little school of our own. Lydia and Frannie will also get a turn to join us. What a fun and strange circumstance that something so normal to our lives, school, is happening in an oncology clinic.

We are planning to do this week of chemo outpatient and will drive down each day. Since it is likely she'll be admitted again at some point over the next three weeks, we are savoring each possible moment at home.

A friend from church whose daughter had leukemia when she was about the same age as Esther said as she walked through the halls of the hospital they were at she thought of Psalm 23 "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." We sung a song at church that is based on the this Psalm "House of God, Forever." It's a beautiful, hopeful song and accompanied me throughout the day as we walked out of the hosptial the line "Surely goodness, will follow me" sprung into mind. A sweet reminder fromt the Lord that He is right there with me. You can read the lyrics and listen below.


House of God, Forever by Jon Foreman

God is my shepherd

I won't be wanting

I won't be wanting

He makes me rest

In fields of green

With quite streams

Even though I walk

Through the valley

Of death and dying

I will not fear

'Cause you are with me

You are with me

Your shepherd staff

Comforts me

You are my feast

In the presence of enemy

Surely goodness

Follow me

Follow me

In the house of God, forever


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Accomplishments & Generous Children

Today felt like a huge milestone.  We had our final check up before our next round of chemo and everything looked great.  Esther has completed the first of six rounds of the first part of her chemotherapy. 

I am a box checker and it felt great to check a box.  In many ways I remember back and am blown away that Esther was diagnosed less than a month ago.  She only started chemo 3 weeks ago, it feels like a year.  However, when I walked away from the hospital today I was encouraged.  I wanted to find someone to high five and shout, "We made it!"

Although there is a lot ahead, but just making it through the last month feels like I've survived a hurricane.  I honestly feel like it's a miracle to be alive.  One of the first passages someone ever shared with me after I gave my life to Christ in 1999 is Isaiah 43: 1-4

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,

A friend whose child is going through treatment described to me feeling like waves just pounding her against a rock, but she doesn't drown.  Somehow she is still holding as the water pulls back from the rock.  I totally understand what she's saying.

We're only surviving those waves because God created us, redeemed us, called us by name.  I belong to Christ, I am his.  He will be with me when the current is violent, when the fire is more than I can bear.  He is My God.  He gave Christ in exchange for me.  I am precious to Him and He loves me.  He loves Esther.  He loves Rourke, Lydia, Frannie & Zinnia.  He has created all of us and His love is limitless.

I can say that I walked out of Children's Hospital today encouraged only because of God's grace.  Everything seemed to go wrong, my tied up with a bow, easy cancer journey did not play out the way I wanted.  I've never felt so out of control or paralyzed.  It is not because we are so amazing we can shake the water out of our hair and rub the salt from our eyes when the wave shrinks away, it's because God has promised that we won't drown, we won't be burned. This is His grace in our lives.

Esther's day in the clinic was full of sweet treats.  The hospital does a program called "Beads of Courage."  Each bead represents a different peg on their journey, hospital stays, surgery, tests, chemo days, fevers, neutropenia, losing her hair.  As she laid on the bed and strung her beads it was such a visual for me that we survived all of that.  It's already a necklace, a journey, far to long for a little girl.  But as she finished stringing the beads and I tied it up, I realized, we made it through all of this.  All of it.  The beads were far more therapeutic for me than her. 

She also received a bag the Oncology staff called "Gabby's Bag."  It is a HUGE backpack that was stuffed full of toys and activities that are perfect for hospital stays.  The program is called Bags of Fun.  It was started by a 6 year old cancer patient who wanted to give something to kids like here.  The bags are all age appropriate and gender themed.  Gabby lost her battle with cancer but has left a sweet legacy for children like her. Esther's bag has lacing dolls, block puzzles, little mouse figures, a bubble maker, a book to paint, a DVD and portable DVD player, blocks and more.  I was speechless by the perfect items in the bag and when Dr. Amy told us about Gabby I had to sit down.
I heard another story a few months ago about a girl who used her Make A Wish money to create "Joy Jars."  She wanted to give something to kids in the hospital who were sick like her, something to bring them joy.  She stuffed each jar during her final months of life and they were delivered to children in several hospitals in the US. 

Oh that we would be so generous!  So many of you have delivered us backpacks and joy jars.  Thank you for being hands and feet to hold us up, to bear our burdens when the waves are strong and the fire is too hot to bear.  Such a grace, such a gift.

Rourke, Lydia, Frannie & Zinnia spent the day with Aunt Lexi and Connor.  They had such a fun time together.  I think I want to make them their own Bags of Fun, make them their own necklaces.  They've handled this struggle so courageously, they're enduring hardship too.   

The plan for next week is to begin treatment at 7:30am each day.  She'll have 5 days of chemo and about two weeks to recover.  During that third week before she begins her next round of chemo she'll have her stem cells extracted.  This is still so unbelievable to me, that we can extract someone's own stem cells and use them to rescue their body out of trauma.  God designed this and knows us far more intricately, we are only at the tip of his understanding.  

Still home : )

We are still home, yippie!  Yesterday was a day at home where I made breakfast, lunch & dinner.  Anthony and I had a real date.  A good day.  Today we have an appointment in Denver just to check her counts and schedule her chemo for next week.  No more time for blogging today, I get to be mommy for all 5 of my kids at the same time. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Princess Rock Star

Meet Esther, she's a rock star!
Hmm, what do you think about my style?
Check it out from the side.
See, it's pretty rockin' on the top.
I think.....
...I'm a rock star. Even Sleeping Beauty faints at my radness.

This Princess Rock Star broke out, ran for the door, jumped in the car and ate pizza for dinner at home. She even went wild and watched a puppet show put on by her groupies, Rourke, Lydia & Frannie. The stuffed animals swooned over the celebrity in their midst, this Princess Rock Star. She's scheduled for a quick encore performance Thursday at Children's in Denver, but we're praying to the Rock that she remains fever free. Her Stage Manager, Daddy, is primed to take out any thermometer reading above 101 and perhaps thrash a hospital room or two. You never know what will happen with these Rock Star types.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Drinking Games

Sorry for the pun, I just couldn't resist.

A few nights ago I found this work of art. For a mom whose primary job while in the hospital is to make sure her daughter is drinking enough liquids, this is a masterpiece! It's this tricky thing, she needs to be drinking a minimum of 32oz/day. She also needs to be eating, but it's hard to eat when your tummy is full of water and you're not feeling thirsty because you're on IV fluids. So, we make games of out of it.

So far we have five main drinking games, please leave your ideas below. The oncology doctor today said we would get kicked out of the hospital if anything involved a red solo cup.

1. Cheers...we've all done it...tinked our glasses and said "Cheers!" and then took a drink. We've both found hydration successful through this tried & true celebratory event.

2. Glug, Glug. You know when the water cooler is dispensing the water and it glugs? Esther can make some awesome glugs with her princess water cup.

3. The Fish Game. There is a pretty incredible ball machine in the lobby of the hospital. It has tons of cause and effect events that make a ball move through a series of twists, turns & jumps. We like the red lipped fish. Everytime the fish eats a ball, Esther takes a drink.

4. There are some fun paths in front of the hospital with pretty landscaping. In the grass are some cement squares that make a path out to some small trees. In this game one of us jumps from square to square. When landing on a square, Esther takes a drink. If she's the jumper, it's totally adorable. When I'm the jumper, the people looking out their windows must think there's some crazy lady doing very uncoordinated exercise on the cement squares. But Esther sits in her stroller taking drinks and tells me good job when I land.

5. Turn the corner or go under a door. When on a stroller ride or walk every time we turn or go through a door, Esther must take a drink. That was our game tonight as we needed to stay close to our room. We did sneak down to take a peek at the ball machine.

Esther also likes to take "big girl" drinks. That means straight from the milk carton, cafeteria style. No pushing a straw through the side, junk. This is the real deal, folks.

Esther wasn't feeling great today. She was really, really stopped up and they've given her the full regime to try to flush her system. She ate apple sauce, drank apple juice, had fig neutons, no milk or salty stuff and lots of fruit in addition to meds to help it all along, the goal is to flush her system. She also had a fairly high fever most of the day and was just sleepy.

She perked up about 3 this afternoon and has been fever free since about 2pm. She will have an x-ray tomorrow morning to determine if her bowels have cleared enough to go home. If she's both fever free and and more regular, we might get to go home tomorrow.

Her ANC was 660 this morning, so they aren't so worred about infection that might pop up because she's got something to fight it with.

I overheard a sweet conversation outside our door today. The resident doctors were doing their rounds and I heard one doctor ask a nurse we had for several days last week if he had "sweet little Esther." He said, "I wish, but she (another nurse) got her." Then I heard the resident doctor say, "Oh man! I wanted to see her today, but I guess she's (the other resident doc on the floor) got her." About 15 minutes later they both came in to look & listen and confessed they both wanted to see Esther and decided they would share the job. What a sweet girl.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Mercies Each Morning

As Anthony wrote, yesterday was a hard day.  Maybe one of the most discouraging we've had.  This morning he shared Lamentations 3:22-26...

    [22] The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
        his mercies never come to an end;
    [23] they are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness.
    [24] “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
        “therefore I will hope in him.”
    [25] The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
        to the soul who seeks him.
    [26] It is good that one should wait quietly
        for the salvation of the LORD.
    [27] It is good for a man that he bear
        the yoke in his youth.
(Lamentations 3:22-27 ESV))

Here's a few mercies this day...

Toothless beauty!
We went to dinner at one of our favorite places, Santiago's in Loveland. Lydia was enjoying a sopapilla and when she cupped her mouth.  We ran to the bathroom and pulled out right there.  What a cute girl!

The Logging Team
This morning a big truck pulled up in front of our house with a log splitter.  Shortly after came lots of strong hands with another log splitter and other wood splitting tools.  Away they went.  We have a woodburning stove that heats our basement in the winter and we had a huge pile of wood that needed to be split.  These guys from Anthony's office and our church split the wood, stacked it up, and cleaned up a mountain of bark and scraps.  They were so fast, they cut down a dead tree in our front yard THEN they cleaned out our garage which was has become a disastrous, dumping ground.  They installed a screen door that has been sitting along the wall of the garage for 2 years and fixed the drive through window on our front door which used to hold an intact screen.  When everything in life is so out of our control, a clean and tidy garage sure does make it feel a bit better.  Now, if we can figure out a place for all the bikes we might actually be able to park in that garage!

Rourke got to do some manly things like use a log splitter and then Mr. James took him and some of the other young muscle men out back to shoot the BB gun.  That's a sweet day for a 7 year old!
And our MOST exciting mercy thus far had us jumping up & down!  Here are the girls saying, "Thank you, God!"

Esther's hemoglobin and platelets were so low yesterday they had scheduled a blood and platelet transfusion for this morning.  BUT....her levels jumped up and her ANC went from 9.8 yesterday to 74 today!  My faith was so weak yesterday, I was sheepishly asking for something in the 20's.  If it's over 100 tomorrow, she'll get to come home and we have a week together before we have to start our next chemo treatment. New mercies, new mercies.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Maybe we'll get a bogo!

What a day. This morning Esther's counts were 160...that's GREAT and she was discharged. Uncle Casey was so kind to drive down to get Esther and her Daddy so the rest of us could go to church. I was really encouraged from the message when our good friend (and pastor) shared about prayer and why to pray. His rhetorical question was why do we pray if God's got it all worked out anyway?  

He shared from Luke Chapter 11 where the Lord's Prayer is found. Jesus gives an example and then goes on to exhort the disciples to keep asking...

5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Our pastor's encouragement was to be that neighbor and to just keep knocking. Not demanding, but to not give up on our requests. This was encouragement to me...I can feel like answer to prayer should be immediate and if the answer I want isn't coming about, God's answer must be no. I was encouraged to have the freedom to just keep knocking. God has good gifts for us!

It was so good to sing with our church body in Ft. Collins, be refreshed to knock, and remember Jesus' precious gift through communion. About 30 minutes after we got home, everyone was home.

Anthony and Aunt Margarita took the older kids to see a movie while Zinnia & Esther napped. When Esther woke up she had another fever...103. She'd only been home about 3 hours. I gave her some water and it went down to about 102.5. We're supposed to call at 101...that phone call really sucked.

We were able to drive to Denver this time. When we arrived they accessed her port and checked her blood counts. They jumped from 160 this morning to 550 in about twelve hours. The ER doc told me she was shocked to see a jump like that, calling it "miraculous." We were teased with a hint to discharge, but alas, they want to be sure she doesn't have an intestinal infection. They took x-rays and found she's really stopped up but the best way to look for this infection is a ct scan. The oncology doctor decided rather than expose her to more radiation from a ct scan, it's better to just observe her overnight.

I've been peaceful today through it all and am thankful for miraculous ANC jumps and see the humor in a big, smart radiologist having to look at pictures of poop. I just went to get something to eat while Esther sleeps...I got a "Beast" breakfast burrito. It was good and would've served my entire family breakfast...well, maybe not if Rourke was eating ;). So, if you're ever ordering from the late night menu at Children's, I'd reccomend it and this slogan..."prepare to share."

Another benefit of this overnight visit is I'm hoping to get some time with a child life specialist tomorrow. Esther's hair is beginning to fall and she's worried about it. They have some resources to make it less scary and help her understand that it will come back. I am amazed at her femininity in all of it. Her biggest fear is that she'll look like a boy....that's another post.

My biggest question for the night is if since she woke up here and is going to bed here, will we get a bogo?

Feeling Exiled

Let me get this out of the way. I hate this blog. I hate that it exists. I hate that we have to use it to communicate about what our lives have become over the past month. I hate what texting and social media have turned us into.

I say all this because the past month has gradually felt like an exile from our previous life. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support our way and we feel more loved than we ever have. But, at the same, I feel more isolated than I ever have felt in a very long time. Esther has been in our home for 2 nights out of the last 19 days. I have had a quality evening with my wife maybe a few nights in that time. We haven't been to church in roughly a month. I had to give up on one big opportunity and my wife had to yield another. I used to see a close friend of mine at least once a week and now I haven't seen him in over a month. I feel on the run nearly all the time except for when I'm staying at the hospital.

I say all of this not to say people aren't pursuing us or checking in with us. I get constant texts or emails. It has nothing to do with our friends or family. Even seeing visitors throws me off now. Tonight we had a few special friends visit Esther and I in the hospital and it was so good to see them even for a short time. But, because of Esther's continued low ANC count (still only at 9.2 this morning), I was very hesitant to give them hugs or interact with our friends' kids and I just felt bad and awkward. It's very angering but I have no one to be angry at except God.

Today I even found myself questioning whether Esther actually had cancer. Really? She hasn't been sick! Just a bump on the head! Even this week she's felt pretty good. Maybe this whole "ANC count" thing is just a lie. We should go home and she'll be just fine...

I know this is all temporary but it doesn't feel like it. This is only round 1. Is Esther going to spend 2+ weeks in the hospital for every round (3 weeks) of chemo therapy? I talked to a coworker yesterday and he shared about his wife going through chemo awhile back. He said she tended to recover worse and worse after each successive round of chemo. What does that mean for Esther?

I feel frustrated and cut off. I am thankful for the tons of support but I feel shut off from genuine fellowship. My older kiddos are frustrated by their lack of time with me. I miss my wife. What's the point of all of this? I do not know and I may never know. This I know:

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:9-13)

Notice a few things here. Jesus is not saying here that just by asking you'll get whatever it is you're asking for or whatever you're seeking. The last part is key: "how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Wait, what? I asked for an egg or a fish! I didn't ask for the Holy Spirit! That flips these verses on their heads! What's the point of asking! I want the counts to go up! Enough people are praying, shouldn't you take that into consideration? We need to get Esther home! That's what we need right now!

And then it becomes clearer. What would my kids' lives look like if I gave them all exactly what they asked for every single time? It would be a disaster. They don't know better. They would destroy themselves. It would suck the life out of them and they would be miserable and then resentful of my wife and I.

So I need to admit something: I am not God. This world is not in my hands. That has become more clear than ever. God never sleeps or slumbers. I do. My wisdom is limited, his is not. My love is also limited and tainted by my own selfishness and sin. God's love is very clear and constant and proven by the Cross.

So I will choose to trust that this is exactly where he wants us to be. This situation is from him. I will breakdown and I will get mad at him, just like my kids do to me, but I will try to move on and trust my tender, patient, loving Father. I will be grateful to be able to update you all through this blog. I will be thankful for texting and social media. I don't like it but I will trust. And I will, in that perspective, slowly surrender to this temporary exile and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit that he offers.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Low Counts

It looks like we'll be here for several more days. Yesterday Esther's ANC was 9.6, and this morning it was just 1.8. I think tonight Anthony and the kids will come down for a visit and then I will head back home to Ft. Collins.

Needless to say, this has been discouraging.

As a mom of 5 little ones I've often felt like the walls are closing in and the first part of Psalm 139 has been an ecouragement.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

3 You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

4 Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

5 You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it.


He knows. He has searched us. He knows my heart, He knows my kids, He has searched and knows Esther's body.

He sees that most of the day I am not sitting but am giving my day taking care of the kids, the house, the meals. He SEES this and KNOWS it. My labors do not go unnoticed by God.

Often I've felt in a fog, like I can't really understand my own emotions in the weariness of life. But God discerns my thoughts from afar...He knows what is truth, He knows what is a lie, He knows what is fear, pain, joy, thankfulness, anger.

He searches out MY path. Each of us have a different path and stiving to walk on someone else's path is not going to bring any fruit. We each have different paths and I've often looked to someone else's sidewalk and thought my feet would like to journey upon it. But God has searched out MY path, He knows what's at the end, He has gone ahead of me and sees the shaded beauty ahead of the desert thistles.

God knows my words before I do. He knows my thoughts, my fears, my anger, my dispair. He knows it before it hits my tongue. I can be R.E.A.L. with God and it's okay. He knows anyway. He says, come, little one, let's reason together, approach my throne with confidence. You are in a time of need and I have grace for you.

Often that grace is not found in what I think I need, but in a hemline, carefully stitched. He lays his hand upon me. God is tender, He lays His holy hand upon me. There are a few lines in The Mud Song (did you listen to it yet?) that speak of his touch.

isn't it just like you to invite me into a warm house
isn't it just like you to stroke my hair as I fall asleep

Father you made me yours
Found my orphan heart and brought it home
and I'm safe here and I sing

isn't it just like you to make a slave into your daughter
isn't it just like you to make wine out of dirty water

I used to live in chains
my wounds bled to the ground
my bed was out in the rain
my hair in knots and soaked in mud

but you took my hand
and you led me in
and you combed my hair
you kissed my skin
and you gave me food
and you made me yours
you made me yours
you made me yours


from Reckless, released 15 August 2010
CCLI song # 5588794
Laura Elizabeth Thornton & Tim F Thornton (Bricklayer Music Publishing, ASCAP)

Psalm 139 goes on.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

9 If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

12 even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

I can not flee from God, He is always there. He will be with me in the heavens, in the dark depths of Sheol, early in the morning, or in the uttermost parts of the heavy sea. In the joys, bumps, and dark places of our daily lives He will lead us, His right hand will hold us.

And this is not just on a cancer journey, this is on all of our journeys. He is there when your husband travels, when the baby just won't stop dropping the food or the kids spilled the milk again. He is there when your co-worker does't follow through and you get blamed and in the sting of harsh words from your teenager. He is there in the sunrise, when He's showing off, whispering "look at that purple." He is there when a job is lost or a night is not spent in slumber. When health fails and babies take their first step. He is there in all of it, in all of our lives.

We can not flee from this God, our ugliest, crimson stained sins do not even separate us from this God because He paid the price to make them white as wool, sparkling in the moonlight freshly fallen snow. Jesus came and died, an innocent man, because He loves me. He loves you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Whisper Your Love

I first learned about The Blackthorne Project from Emily, our friend, Thomas' mom. She had posted a song on one of her updates about Thomas' cancer journey.

Ever since that first song, The Mud Song, thier music has been at the top of our playlists. Take a listen, they are good. I think what I enjoy the most is that it's honest music with imagery that moves me. The lyrics are real in all of life's joy and pain, yet hopeful.

Today I've been listening to this song, Whisper Your Love. I put the lyrics below and am not techy enough on an ipad to figure out how to put the song here too, but go listen to it and all their songs, you will be blessed & encouraged.

when I'm small
when I'm helpless
when I'm scared to leave the place where I hide
when my head is loud
but full of nothing
o how I need the sound of your voice

everytime I cry
help me remember

your love is so great you lift up my heavy heart
you break off the ropes that burn my skin
your love is so great you set me in open fields
you whisper your love, you whisper your love

when I'm small
when I'm helpless
when I've believed all the lies I've been told
when I'm tangled up in lesser loves
o how I need the strength of your touch


from Reckless, released 15 August 2010
Laura Elizabeth Thornton & Tim F Thornton (Bricklayer Music Publishing, ASCAP)


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

His Yes Is Yes

Esther's brunch, she was super excited to pour her OWN syrup.

Since Esther was sleeping all morning I was able to spend some time reading and praying. This morning I read Acts 27. Paul was journeying to his trial on a prisoner ship with other prisoners and soldiers. The ship encountered treacherous weather and the ship along with it's passengers were in danger. They had to throw most everything overboard.

An angel of God told Paul that he would stand before Caesar for his trial and that the ship would be lost, but not one person aboard the ship would be harmed in the journey. Paul knew they would reach their destination.

He told the prisoners and soldiers, 276 people, "Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense without food, having taken nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food. It will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you." (Acts 27:33-34)

Paul thanked God and the men ate and were encouraged. "And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, throwing out the wheat into the sea." (vs 38)

Here were nearly 300 hungry men with a very uncertain future. Some of these men may have known God, but many did not know this God that Paul was speaking of. But they all trusted...enough to not strive and try to keep the little food they had. They ate, were encouraged and tossed it all overboard. The ship did wreck but every passenger made it safely to dry land.

God's yes is yes. These men trusted the one true God and He brought them to dry land in the midst of extreme circumstances. God is good, He will bring us to dry land in the midst of any circumstance. There is hope at the end of all of this. One of my other favorite passages is Habbakuk 3:17-19:

Though the fig tree should not blossom,

nor fruit be on the vines,

the produce of the olive fail

and the fields yield no food,

the flock be cut off from the fold

and there be no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer's;

he makes me tread on my high places.

Esther slept until 11 am. One of her doctors came in on her day off today just to check on Esther and commented it was so teenagerish of her. She was cheerful and just needed a really good sleep. She had great nurses today. She has been drinking so well she was able to be off her IV fluids most of the day so we were able to take a walk outside. It was GREAT to get outside. We also got to eat dinner with our friends Jodi & Aly. Isn't Aly cute?! She was admitted today for a fever as well and they think she may have an intestinal infection. She already suffered through it a couple weeks ago. Please pray for quick healing and that Aly would not have c diff again.

There is an infection going around the hospital. Please pray Esther does not get it. For now there are signs on all the oncology patients' doors telling all staff to wear gloves to enter the room, take them off, and then re-glove before doing anything and the playroom on the oncology floor is closed indefinitely. I'm thankful for all of the precaution, but it's sort of intimidating. I find myself wanting to strive, to clean the room so Esther doesn't get anything. Instead, I'm striving to rejoice. It is an uncertain tomorrow. The ship might wreck, there are no figs on the trees, and no food in the field, yet I can still rejoice because God's yes IS always yes. He IS the God of our salvation, He IS our strength and He is the only one who gives sure footing in the high and treacherous places we will walk.


Counts are down

We had a rough night last night and this morning Esther's counts had dropped again to 3.8. She hasn't had a fever, so that is good. With our late night the night before and then being up a lot last night, I have to think that stress and fatigue are not helping her body recover. They woke her about 6:45 for vitals and she was still upset from the night, but fell back asleep and is still sleeping now.

They have to be well over 100 and climbing quickly for her to be discharged. A friend sent me this text this morning about her counts needing to rise so much, "that's a huge increase. Will pray for that! A clear way for God to display his might!"

I really needed that encouragement and it's true. That is a clear way for God to display his might and what I'll be praying today. That HE would glorified in Esther's body today.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Good Day

The ambulance ride to Denver was tons of fun, as we were leaving our friend, Tim, who is an ER nurse in Fort Collins, waved us goodbye. That was SO nice to see a familiar face at Pourde Valley. He prayed with us and just checked in when he had a minute. She thought the seat belt on the bed was pretty cool and was full of smiles when they raised the bed up and lifted her right into the ambulance. Daddy followed us out of the parking lot and we waved. She kept saying, "See you later, Daddy!" We had very nice EMTs who braved the rain and got us to children's safely. One of them, Lee, was a pro. He handled my GIANT bag (it was about 2/3 egg crate) and the bed at the same time. I was impressed.

He asked about Esther on the way down and our other children and teared up a bit when he told me about his children and how much it would hurt for him to see them go through something like this. When we got to Esther's room he asked if it was okay if he put her into her bed and if he could give her a hug. It was so sweet, a sticker to make it feel better.

I appreciate the empathy, this is weeping for those who weep. I once read on a blog of a woman who has suffered a stillborn daughter that it really bothered her when people would say "I could never imagine." She wanted to retort something like, "Well, could you just try. Could you just feel a bit of what I'm feeling?" The day Esther was diagnosed the nurse in the recovery room teared up and apologized but I told her that was being a good nurse, that she'd acknowledged the pain we were feeling.

Thank you for weeping along with us, for constantly encouraging us and praying for us. This is a beautiful thing and precious to the Lord. He knows it's so much easier to just shut down and to "never imagine." Going down that path of heartache is love in action to weary hearts.

It was late, but when we arrived there was a love note and a sticker to make it feel better. The oncology doctor on call modified the admission plan and was waiting for us on the floor so we did't have to do any intake and could go straight to our room and when we arrived the nurse had made up a bed for me.

Today was a good day. Her ANC quadrupled to 13.8 ;)...that's the way we want it to go. For us to get back home she needs to be fever free for 48 hours, for her counts to rise and be full of young white blood cells, and for nothing to grow in her blood culture. If she gets another fever while we're in the hospital, it's another 48 hour wait to see if anything grows in her blood. The soonest we could go home is tomorrow night. In order for that her white blood cells will need to skyrocket, so pray that happens.

More stickers and loves notes along the way... Esther ate and drank well today and that was encouraging. We found a picture menu and that was SO helpful to letting her choose what she wants to eat and drink. My brother stopped by for a bit and we visited the Dory fish and the eel on the 4th floor, then the ball machine, then Nemo, Marlin and the star fish on the first floor and we walked the giant floor maze. Bill did an awesome job of maneuvering her IV pole.

Esther let me braid her hair and here's a bunch of fun, red lipped, high five pictures we took after she slammed down half a power-aid. She's never tasted such delightful drink in her life. I was just happy she was eagerly drinking.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Back To Denver We Go....

Esther has had a lowish fever most of the day, but this evening it went up to 101.7 (we are supposed to call at 101). They asked us to take her in to PVH for initial intake and to check for apparent infections like pneumonia, something in her urine or something alarming in her blood. There is nothing clear from these initial scans, but her ANC (germ fighter strength) is only 30. Chemo patients are high risk for infection when her ANC is 30 means she really has no ability to fight any infection right now. UPDATE: 7:30am, we did our math wrong, her ANC was only 3. This morning it is 13.8. That's right direction, please pray it would rise quickly, showing that her body is making white blood cells so we can go home quickly.
So, now it's 11pm and she's jumping around this hospital bed. We have to go to Denver via ambulance and she is really excited to ride in an ambulance. She could hardly hold still for a picture. I'm thankful that she's seeing this as an adventure.

We are okay...I had a little break to head back to the house and get a few things together for the next couple of days in the hospital and had a good cry. I feel entitled to an easy journey, that it's already hard enough that my daughter has cancer and complications or other challenges can't happen. Shouldn't her treatment be straight forward, as convenient as possible, all tied up with a neat bow?

This is the journey we're on and she's happy as a clam right now, thrilled for an ambulance ride. That's the thing about kids...she doesn't worry about tomorrow. She's secure. She knows her brother and sisters are at home and will have fun with Auntie Margarita tomorrow. She even picked out stickers for each of them. She's secure that she'll be safe in an ambulance and that mommy will be with her. She's secure in our love and knows that right now it's enough. She is peaceful.

I want to be secure. I want to just rest that my other kids will be fine tomorrow and have fun with Auntie Margarita. I left them all a note at home because they were in bed by the time I was able to sneak away, I have not forgotten them and never could. God will no, not, never forget me, or my children. I must lift up my chest and look for his stickers and scribbled notes.

As Esther was jumping around her bed, Psalm 4:8 came to mind, "In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Right now I have a choice. I can lie down...I can settle myself, be grounded. Writing helps me settle, it helps me refocus, to trust, to remember. I can vent and cry and be angry. God knows my heart, He knows my thoughts, He knows my comings and my goings. He has purposed this hemline around my life and is my high priest who helps in every time of need and encourages me to approach His throne. These are not the circumstances I would choose. This is not what I want to happen and I am mad. But I can lie down, I can sleep. I can do this in peace, in all of this emotion. The Lord, alone, makes me dwell in safety. Pray we would lie down and sleep in peace, that I would rest secure and not worry about tomorrow, that I wouldn't miss the stickers and the notes from my Father in heaven who loves me.