Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Somehow I've let life get pretty crazy once again.  As Christmas was barreling toward us, one of my dear friends said, "Why don't you skip doing Christmas cards this year?"  Gasp!  Imagine my surprise as I considered the possibility.  Actually, I think it took me about 2 minutes to decide that was exactly what I needed, permission to let something go.  With the release of that responsibility I felt freedom to plan some other family activities.  Below are some of our highlights from December.









Our Annual Christmas Luncheon at church.
Journey to Bethlehem, living nativity in Auburn.   One of my favorite moments with Simeon and Anna.


On the hunt for the perfect tree.

Julia is a little closer to what we have in mind.

Dave couldn't quite do all the sawing so the kids helped!  Way to go kids!


Wouldn't be complete without my path picture.
Mr. Whiskers enjoying the new tree.
 
Some friends from church put on a family Christmas Nativity Party,
complete with carols, children in costumes acting out the nativity, and of course
cookies and hot cocoa!  Definitely a highlight.
Daniel was a wise man, Julia an angel and this is our friend Sophie who
just couldn't leave baby Jesus' side.


Here is a short video of the singing...hope you can see it.  
 
Last year we made a Christmas Ornament out of some of Dave's hospital bracelets he collected over the previous few months.  Having the cancer removed at the beginning of December, and then just making it home a few days before Christmas, we made the ornament as a statement of faith that this Christmas Dave would be cancer free.  Praise God, He has answered our request.

 
It has been a very long road and we are not clear of the effects of the chemo, that is still a daily battle.  We will choose to trust Him for this coming year and His tender care over us as we continue down this road, following His lead...praise God His name is Emmanuel, God with us.
 
May you know and trust also, this One that is called,
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
 
Merry Christmas!
 
 
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Valleys

On August 2 I really wanted to write a "One Year Since Diagnosis" post.  Dave's birthday 2012, one year since we sat with the doctor confirming our fear that yes, it was Colon Cancer that had sent us to the ER two night earlier.  I expected to have great wisdom and insight that day.  We had experienced so much, surely there would be a great post flowing from my fingertips. 

Just days ago I wanted to write a "One Year Since Surgery" post...one year since the day Dr. Klatt removed the deadly disease.  Yet it didn't seem I had any grand thought to post, no way to sum up the year.

Last spring someone gave me the idea to put this blog in book form for Dave for a Christmas present.  It sounded like a good idea until I realized I was waiting for the "happy ending" to include in the last page of the book.  Well, the happy ending hasn't happened yet and Christmas is coming soon!   Like a good movie, everything should culminate in an ending that brings all the pieces of the puzzle together in a neat little package.  Everything finally makes sense, and they all live happily ever after.  Yet it seems like most of the pieces of our puzzle are missing and nothing makes sense, in fact someone threw in a few pieces that don't even belong to us!

Dave is still struggling, one of the common side effects of chemo is depression, even long after your last dose.  He has been trying to be strong and battle through it, but it takes a toll and even the best get weary of chronic pain/depression.

I went to our annual Christmas Luncheon last weekend with Julia and our speaker was phenomenal.  She spoke straight to my heart.  She shared a puritan prayer called, Valley of Vision and I am sure it was written for me to pray daily.  Here it is:

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

Our path seems to have woven it's way down into the Valley of the Unexpected, but isn't that so often where we see the Lord more clearly?  In a burning bush, in a lion's den, in the belly of a great fish, in a manger, in a cancer diagnosis.  These are not places we seek, but where we find ourselves...or where we find our God. 

While we don't have a "storybook ending" to this chapter of our lives (as I actually posted months ago), we do trust the Author of our story.  And instead of feeling "stuck" in this Valley of the Unexpected, I will choose to see this as The Valley of Vision.  From the title of this blog...this is not the end, but it is the road.  So our story will continue, I won't be able to yell, "That's a wrap!"  Instead I will choose to rejoice, even in the valleys and trust the Lord to lead us through in His time, in His way for this is His story.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pirouette!

SURPRISE!
Today we pulled the kids out of school a little early for another surprise adventure...I'd better slow down otherwise they are going to expect this way too often.  However, I could not pass on this incredible opportunity!

Just over a week ago, my Aunt Anitha sent me a link to a blog from the News Tribune about sailing aboard the Thunderbird #2 sailboat, the Pirouette to be exact.  There were several chances to sail for free this month. This happened to be my great uncle's boat (Admiral James Russell) and then my Uncle Ken's boat.  (Anitha's late husband).  Anitha wrote, "This was our boat for many years. I spent my honeymoon on this boat and we have many wonderful memories of vacations and relaxing and exciting times in all kinds of weather". This boat is now owned by the Gig Harbor BoatShop.  Volunteers spent over 2 years renovating this boat (labor of love I might say) and thousand of dollars restoring her to her original condition.  In fact here is a picture of Jaime Storkman, one of the men that made this possible.  (So sad I didn't get a picture of his good buddy Ed Josberger who together took us out into the harbor)


We were able to take advantage of a cancellation and go sailing today!  Jaime and Ed were amazing, letting the kids move around the boat freely and even allowing Daniel to steer with the tiller.  They are Thunderbird owners and are experts in my opinion about these beautiful boats.  The boats were designed in 1957 to be both a racing and cruising boat, to sleep four, be capable of being built by reasonably skilled amateurs, to be powered by an outboard auxiliary and outperform all other sailboats in its class.  The challenge was that the boat had to be built of plywood, a concept that was virtually unheard of at the time. (excerpt from Gig Harbor BoatShop flyer)  Ed Hoppen built this boat, sold it to the Thorpe's, then my great uncle purchased it.  It was in our family for about 30 years. It was really fun hearing Jaime share fond memories of my Uncle Ken. He was an adventurous, fun loving, family man. I got a little sad as I envisioned him out here sailing with Jaime and Ed.


I cannot express what a treat this was (Did I mention, these men are still volunteering?  They did this for FREE?!) I never would have dreamt for a chance like this...you all know my passion for the water, add family history and my husband and kids....wow.
I must add that Dave said this was the most relaxing 90 minutes he's had in weeks.  This was the icing on the cake.  Dave's really been struggling, working long hours, in constant pain, wondering if the cancer will return.  For him to have this afternoon was priceless.
(Look ~ he's smiling!)

 
And so are we!
 It was smooth sailing, way to go buddy!


Isn't she beautiful~
 (Thunderbird #2 - yes, the second one built, amazing right?)
Well done Eddon Boat Company and thank you Jaime and Ed for a fantastic and memorable day.
We'll be back for sure!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Closer Look

We went to Spooner Farms last Friday.  We thought we'd take advantage of a day off of school and officially welcome the fall season in the NW by going to a pumpkin patch.  (We have had an unusual and wonderful fall...sunshine for weeks!  Finally the cold and rain have arrived.  You just can't go to a pumpkin patch without cold weather and boots can you?)  I purpose to have "family time" for many reasons.  First, it is good for us!  But also, I want my children to have memories of the four of us adventuring together.  I can't put my finger on it (or I don't know that it is even right), but besides enjoying the present, I want our kids to have good memories and fun stories of their past.  Anyway, I posted some of our pictures on facebook and thought, wow...we look like a totally normal family. 

I love this picture of this path (shocking, I know)...it made me think of our lives right now a little.  It looks neat and tidy, it's green and growing, there is a path before us.  What you can't see are the black little bugs on the corn or that some of the branches are broken and left limp on the stalk.  You don't notice the grey clouds hanging in the sky.  I'm sure to some our lives look pretty neat and tidy, green and growing.  What you don't see is Dave limping through the cornstalks in pain from his neuropathy, wanting to find every check point so his kids can get a prize.  What you don't feel is the sweat forming on his brow as his heart starts racing with the sense of the rows closing in on him, anxiety taking over his normally steady mind.  We had to practically make a beeline for the truck so he wouldn't totally lose it right there in the middle of giant spiders, wheel barrels, caramel apples and bunnies.  We did make it to the truck and safely home...with two perfect pumpkins. (actual pumpkins, not our kids...they made it too though)  This is what you don't see from facebook photos, or even maybe from seeing us in person.

So I thought I should share a closer look.  Many of you have been asking about Dave and this seems to be about our new normal.  Figuring out the effects of the chemo and how to adjust our lives until another new normal sets in.  Dave is often tired, forgetful, anxious and in pain.  The doctor said this is all typical and not surprising (to him maybe....).  Dave is pressing on though, working hard and trying to make it through the day and looking forward to better days ahead.

I'm very proud of him as this has not been what we expected for 2012.  Psalm 20:7 says, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."  We can't put our trust in human hands, in treatments and diets, in time lines and deadlines, (though those are good things), but we can put ALL of our trust in the Name of the Lord our God.  So we will trust Him and thank Him for the good, the bad, the normal and difficult. And we can thank Him for family days in the cold and rain and for the memories these days forge.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weep and rejoice?

My fingers have sat motionless on this keyboard for several moments...it's been so long since I've blogged and I have so much to say, I just don't know where to start.

I don't think I can possibly catch up the last few months in one post, so maybe I'll tackle that on the next post.  I am just so compelled to process through yesterday for now.

Two events collided last night and left me quite emotional.  Romans 12 is so rich with wisdom for daily living, verse 15 says "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."  Well, that is what I did all in about 2 hours.


One of my favorites with Kim in California.
I blogged about my niece last August.  She had sent us a book, The Cancer Fighting Kitchen.  She had begun her journey with cancer just months ahead of us and was a great encouragement to us in those early days.  She lived in Hawaii with her husband and 3 beautiful daughters, near to my brother and his wife.  Long story short, her breast cancer metastasized to her brain this year.  She had been hospitalized and then was home with hospice care.  My sister Lily called weeping last night, dad had called and told her Kim had passed away.  He was so emotional, he couldn't call his other two daughters at that moment, so asked Lily to call us.  I was able to have a sweet conversation with both of my sisters and finally my dad.


Dad, Kim and Nancy (isn't she adorable!)
I experienced a new emotion as I processed through what had just happened.  Survivor Guilt.  I don't really know if that is what it is called, but Dave has been given life, and Kim death.  How is that right?  I quickly tried to combat any feelings of guilt or unworthiness with truth, with a grateful heart.  We don't know, this side of heaven why up is up and down is down.  We don't know why He gives and takes away, what we can say is Blessed be the Name of the Lord. 

So that is clearly my weeping that happened last night.  Weeping for my family, her family.  Weeping for dreams that will go unrealized for her children, all the firsts and lasts she would have experienced with them.  You all know, you have experienced loss, maybe not by death, but in other ways.  It changes us. It hurts. Yet there is healing...sometimes it's slow, but I believe it is promised.


One of our first of many times together.  Sorry about
over exposure! Yikes ;)
So the rejoicing piece.  I have another niece (I am blessed with many actually), Stephanie.  When Dave and I got married she was about five.  She has always lived in Texas and we have always lived in Washington.  Thankfully, her parents have done a great job about coming to the Northwest to see family.   Since we've met, I've always felt a connection to her...not sure what it is, but it's there.  Then Julia came along and I think Stephanie felt that connection with her.  Steph has come and stayed with us and even vacationed with us when we went to Texas a few years back.


Vacationing with the family at the beach,
french braiding Steph's hair.
Great little hotel by the River Walk.
Stephanie just got engaged a couple weeks ago and we are so thrilled.  She told Dave she was sending Julia something in the mail about the wedding (at least that's what I remember him telling me).  Yesterday Julia got a pretty pink envelope from Stephanie that says, "Julia there is no one else I'd rather have by my side, will you be my Bridesmaid".  She hand wrote a sweet note on the back.  Julia read it intently as I was begging to read it.  Her eyes seemed a little glossy, and when she finally handed it to me, I cried.  (Rejoicing tears this time)          



I had NO idea she was asking her to be a bridesmaid.  What an honor and gift for Julia, thank  you Stephanie!  I realize it's not about her, it's YOUR day, but this really is a sweet gift to our daughter. Julia and I both got to talk with Steph and get even more excited.  Julia mentioned something about getting your nails done together? : )


Cousins!  Or Bride and Bridesmaid :)
I am giddy with excitement for this couple and yet I am grieving for my other niece.  How do these two emotions reside in the same heart at the same time?  As I thought about sharing these two events, I didn't know which to share first, wanting to honor both families.  Is it okay to rejoice when another is weeping...is it okay to weep as another is rejoicing?  Yes, yes it is.  This is life...and death.  He gives and He takes away, sometimes it is over the course of our lives and sometimes it is over the course of 2 short hours.  My heart can still say, blessed be the Name of the Lord.







Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mammogram


So I'll keep this "G" rated since I think my dad will be reading this (hi dad, love you!)...

I had a mammogram today, it's really not as bad as all those awful stories you hear.  Just really awkward!  I called two weeks ago to schedule this annual rite of passage (aging).  The gal asked if I had any pain and I said yes a little (I think I pulled a muscle trying to get rid of some downed limbs in the yard).  She said, "Oh, well then we need to stop right here.  I can't schedule just any normal mammogram, you need a diagnostic bilateral ultrasound mammogram".  Only the best for me!  I asked if I could hang up and call back and say, with my best Barbie impersonation, "no,  I don't have any pain" when asked again.  I felt too guilty, even though I was sure there was nothing wrong, so I agreed to call  my PCP and ask her to give me a referral for this increased torture, special procedure.

So I went in today.  After the imaging was done I was asked to wait to see if the radiologist was satisfied with the images.  They have you sit in a small room with four seats and three walls (don't know why that is important...).  I had that feeling again, that one I get every now and then since Dave's cancer diagnosis.  That one when you are quiet and you think, at any moment now, my world could be turned upside down.  What if she walks back in and says they found a lump?  Would she send me in for a biopsy, how could I fit in all those doctor appointments?  Would this take a year, two, three...out of my life, of my life? 

There are moments when I am acutely aware that I really am not in control of my life.  This was one of those moments.  For some it's a car accident, a death, a pink slip, spilled coffee...I thought, what in the world would I do if I have cancer?  Well, I figured we'd just deal with it, like we've done once before.  Fortunately I didn't wait long and Suzanne came back in and said everything looked great, no worries.  I almost laughed, okay then, that was anticlimactic!

I got out to the car and texted Dave that all was fine.  Then I almost cried.  A wash of relief flooded over me as I finally breathed out.  I think I had held my breath during that whole appointment and hadn't realized it.  I think if we hadn't experienced cancer first hand this last year, I would have put this appointment off for a good year or two.  Of course I'm glad (now) that I went.  So girls, if I can do this so can you!  Early detection...two of my new favorite words...get checked, be proactive with your health, we've got one life to live!  (And then after your mammogram, we can compare stories and laugh hysterically!)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Dying

I wonder if God prepares us to experience His presence or is it as we draw near to Him that we recognize His presence more clearly? 

Yesterday was a strange day, I was frustrated by many things.  I chose to let my mind dwell on things above though instead of my circumstances.  I thought a lot about Joseph, how he was a regular guy, a real guy (sometimes I'll read about these people in scripture and forget that they were flesh and blood, not just a name in a grand story).  I wondered what he did when his brothers stripped him of his colorful coat and cruelly threw him in that pit.  He had just traveled quite a distance to find them and bring back a report to his dad and they do this?  I don't see in scriptures any indication on what he did or how he responded...it seems like if he had screamed or tried to get out it would have been noted.  Was he confused, after those dreams he had this didn't really fit in with his purpose in life.  Was he scared, lonely, hungry?  Did he sit in complete peace and trust that God would accomplish His will when circumstances dictated otherwise?

I didn't come up with too many answers, I decided he was probably pretty shaken up, but that he knew the Lord was with him, even in that pit.  I decided to take that stand.  There has been a swirl of activity around me that has me shaken...not just our circumstances, but of others around us also.  So much heart ache.  But I know the Lord is with me and that is enough right?  The One who created the universe, who spoke it into being, who spoke me into being, no that is not just enough...He is more than enough.

Today I chose to trust God, even though nothing had changed (except for me I guess).  I had a surprisingly sweet morning.  What I thought would be an uncomfortable, obligatory meeting ended up being a sweet time of fellowship with a dear woman I greatly admire.  I left thanking God that this morning was considerable different than yesterday.

Then I went to work.  I started in on my long list of tasks to complete when our office manager asked to speak to me privately (eek...that didn't sound good).  We went next door and she handed me a 'love gift' from an anonymous person.  I can't even say out loud (or type I guess) how much it was...let's just call it Extremely generous...yes, with a capital E.  I wept.  I have never felt more undeserving.  This is just one more picture of Christ's extravagant love for us.  (While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.)

Anyway, I tried to pull it together and went back to my office.  Niki said, "Are you okay?"  I nodded (since I couldn't talk yet).  She said something like "So no one died right?".  I said no, but then my heart twinged as I thought: no one died, but something did.  Ouch, what was that?  Oh yes, my pride...being pruned again.  This is not how I planned my life, is this what it means to be crucified with Christ?  The dying to pride, self-sufficiency (or the appearance of it), selfish dreams...oh to say it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me.

So once again I will choose as I think Joseph did, to set my mind on things above, not on the things that are on the earth.  I am intensely grateful for the sacrificial gift we received today and how it was a resounding declaration into my heart of the Lord's presence.

THANK YOU anonymous person(s)...the money is a great relief to us, the lesson...well, priceless.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cancer Free!

Dr. Senecal called and said that Dave's CAT scan from last Thursday came back all clear!  We have believed since December that Dave's cancer was gone, now a simple scan confirmed it.  While we are overjoyed, we are still "in the midst" of healing and doctors appointments.  Dave hasn't started feeling better yet, in fact he's felt worse and we still are waiting for a surgery date to put his insides, well...back inside :) 

I'd be remiss if I didn't inform you that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. But, it is one of the easiest cancers to detect at an early stage, which greatly improves the chance of a cure.  If you want to "help" us, then go get a colonoscopy!  We have a storybook ending to a scary chapter of our lives.  I don't know why God chose to give us a second chance, but He has.  I think I will remain a "blogger" a little bit longer since we'll continue to deal with this for at least 5 more years.  Maybe in that time God will reveal why this has been part of our journey or maybe He won't.  I just don't want to miss anything He has for us.

The blue ribbon above represent colorectal cancer (Dave said it should be brown, Julia says that's disgusting!  So go the conversations in our house...).  I'm thrilled we get to attach "survivor" to that symbol.  God has revealed so much of Himself to us, I wish I could give Him a name (like Hagar did, "You are a God who sees" in Genesis 16), but that name would be too long for this blog!  He has been the one Constant in this turbulent year.  Steady.  Strong.  Present. Trustworthy.  Good.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement, I can't say it enough...we couldn't have weathered this year without you!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Final Round!

This day seemed quite anti-climactic.  We went in for our 9am appointment.  The nurses checked with Dave about his neuropathy, it has been pretty bad (for him).  We had a scheduled appointment with our Oncologist at 9:20 so they decided to wait to begin treatment until we saw Dr. Senecal.  He decided to stop the Oxaliplatin (the chemo drug for colon cancer) that causes the neuropathy.  Dave still received the Leucovorin (a vitamin that helps the chemo be more effective) and the 5FU (chemo).  Then they hooked him up to his pump he carries with him for the next two days and we were off.

Well, that wasn't quite it...I did bring in cookies and dark chocolate with a thank you card, the staff has been amazing!  Everyone was excited for us, said they'd miss us.  I went up mid-way through the treatment to visit some friends that are sadly, just beginning their journey with Cancer.

It was a little surreal taking the elevator up.  While this is a different hospital than where we were for diagnosis and surgery, there were many similarities that flooded back memories.  A sunny day, over-sized windows, foamy hand sanitizer every 6 feet, machines buzzing as they cut through the silence, unknowns hanging in the air, nurses busy at computers, food under blue domed lids to hide it or keep it lukewarm, awful hospital gowns (though Lloyd pulls it off well!).  It was strange to walk in as a visitor. It was as if years had passed since that was our life, yet it has only been months.

I was struck with how unique each of our stories are...cancer used to be grouped into one big category in my mind.  I'm realizing how vast and complicated this disease is, how each person reacts differently to the disease and treatments, how it is no respecter of people.  No one is immune to the effects.  There is a sign where Dave receives his chemo that says, "Whoever said winning isn't everything never fought cancer".  I do hate cancer and I do believe we beat it.  I am still grateful for all it has taught us.  I hope we are better people because of it.

Anyway, Dave has a CAT scan on May 24 and a colonoscopy and surgery sometime soon.  The doctor gave us the game plan for the next five years (including appointments every 3 months).   And there you have it.  Told you it was anti-climactic.  But then again, we don't want "interesting" or "exciting" when it comes to cancer....boring is good.  So here's to our boring day!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday

Dave was craving a "normal dad" day : ) so after school we went to Tolmie State Park in Lacey.  We've been there one other time and they have one of my favorite paths! 

This picture is the three of them trying to quickly build a canal to a "lake" before the tide covers it up completely.  It was totally under water in less than five minutes, but it was lots of fun to build.

It was just what we needed.  Family, sunshine, water, paths, walking, exploring, being silly.

Tomorrow begins Dave's last chemo treatment!  He was "accessed" today (he has tubes hanging out of the port in his chest).  Tomorrow they will give him drugs, then hook him up to a 46 hour pump.  Thursday he'll go in and they will disconnect him.  Then more fun begins.  They will schedule scans and/or a colonoscopy.  Then surgery in about 6 weeks.

Dave is still feeling pretty lousy and is really ready for all of this to be behind us.  (pun intended!) 

I'll update more after tomorrow.  Please pray the chemo does it's full work and that Dave can endure well whatever is ahead.  In the mean time, here is a video of our kids "unwinding" after a day at school.

video

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Blech


So this picture kind of sums up how Dave is doing these days.  Round 7 hit him the hardest.  Actually, I think it is the accumulation of chemo that is finally catching up to Superman. 

He's lost lots of energy, has frequent headaches, this cold weather has his neuropathy on high alert and he lost part of both eyebrows.  Yup, you heard me right.  It looks like matching bald spots on the crest of his eyebrows.  He shaved down what was left since it was quite the fashion statement and he's not into being trendy.

Food also isn't tasting great (since he can't have anything yummy that is no surprise...).  I think he's hit the "rut".  We are post-diagnosis, post-surgery, post-the-newness-of-chemo and pre-what's next?  And feeling pretty awful in the in-between time. 

We have started communication up again with Dr. Klatt's office (Dave's surgeon who was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer).  He is still set on doing Dave's surgery.  We keep calling back and forth and don't have a date yet, but Dave should have a colonoscopy in a few weeks, then surgery another month later or so.

I think I said this before surgery when we were just doing "nothing" after chemo and radiation.  This in-between time seems the hardest.  Other times you have the distractions of treatments/doctor visits/etc.  Now though you just wait.

Round 8, the final round, is next Tuesday.  On Thursday, May 10, Dave will be completely finished with chemo!  This is definitely reason to celebrate, but it is making Dave slightly crazy.  He is pretty worried how he'll do since this last time was so hard.  We are almost there though, the finish line is around the corner...maybe somebody needs to throw a cup of cold water in his face to refresh him for the last leg of this race...wait don't do that, unless it is room temperature water, cold hurts....

I'll update again next week ~ take care and eat more fiber!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mrs. Turpin

Today one of my heroes entered into her final rest, her full healing, her eternal home...Mrs. Darlene Turpin passed early this morning.  Peacefully, her daughter shared.  She is home. 

I can't really remember the first time I met her.  I just remember volunteering in the nursery before we had children, there were two women that showed up every week, every week, (like year round) to teach the preschool class that met below the nursery.  When Julia was born I secretly hoped Mrs. Turpin and Mrs. Ricketts would not retire before my children made it through their classes.  I think I breathed a sigh of relief when Daniel reached preschool and they were still there.  At that point they had decades of serving children under their belts.  They made teaching God's Word and loving children look effortless. 

I found out their secret once I became the Early Childhood Director a few years ago.  They were faithful.  Faithful to God, faithful to pray, faithful to God's Word, faithful to their families, faithful to their commitment to humbly serve.  These women would hand write each child's name and pray for them every week, every week (like year round).  Neither have had "easy" lives, they've had their share of sorrows and trials, crosses to bear.  Yet they were faithful.  I was humbled in their presence.

Recently Darlene and her husband were moved to an adult care facility as she was diagnosed with lymphoma of the brain.  I went to see her a couple of weeks ago and asked if she was still able to read her Bible (the one she brought every week to Sunday School).  She said it was difficult.  I asked if I could read to her, she said yes.  I asked if she would like a specific scripture and she said Psalm 103.  I replied that I had read that same one that morning!  She offered for me to find a different one if I'd like (always thinking of others).  I treasured each verse as I went ahead and read Psalm 103. 

I just reread it and realized it was her Psalm as she entered heaven...

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle." (vs. 3-5)

Pardoned.  Healed.  Redeemed.  Crowned.  Satisfied.  Bless the LORD O my soul.

I will cherish these last few weeks and each time I was able to pray with Darlene.  The moment I said "Amen" she would begin her prayer for me.  Each prayer was infused with scripture that she had hidden in her heart for many years.  The last time I was there, she prayed that Jesus would be the boss of her life and the boss of her family and that she would do nothing to quench the Holy Spirit.  I was humbled again.

Pardoned.  Healed.  Redeemed. Crowned.  Satisfied.  Bless the LORD O my soul, thank you Lord for this dear woman's eternal impact, in my life and the lives of countless others.  Well done dear one.  I will miss you.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dr. Klatt (Relay for Life Founder)

Dr_ Gordy Klatt media.kitsapsun.com








A friend forwarded me this email about Dave's surgeon, Dr. Klatt. We have been beyond grateful that we have him as our doctor, truly the best in his field. However that is not the sole reason we admire this man, his passion to find a cure for cancer is remarkable. Yet sitting in his presence you would have no idea the tremendous impact he has made on society, truly a humble man. Please read the following email:









Tacoma Relay Family,

It started with one man. And now that man needs us.

We have a true hero; one known through the nation and the world. An actual visionary. A man who lives to give and do good. Humble, in spite of his titanic contribution to our society. Still driven to bring Relay to the entire world. A true gentleman. A great doctor. A great man.

Our beloved founder and Relay Ambassador to the world, Dr. Gordy Klatt, has announced that he has begun his own personal battle with cancer.

In his own words:

"Throughout the years I have spoken and written about how cancer can personally affect everyone. It affects the rich, the poor, and all nationalities and cultures in the world. About 4 weeks ago I was diagnosed with stomach cancer and I have begun my battle with this disease using chemotherapy and then surgery this summer. I feel the tremendous camaraderie and support of my family, my friends and my colleagues. I am even more energized to defeat this disease worldwide. I will again be with all of you in spirit this Relay season - even more so this year. Celebrate the survivors; remember those who lost the battle and FIGHT BACK! We all need to CELEBRATE MORE BIRTHDAYS and by relaying we keep the HOPE alive through education, community involvement and fundraising for ongoing research. I love you all!" -- Gordy Klatt

Look around at Relay. Think about the power of it. Look at what three and a half million people can do when they are of one mind and one heart. This was and is Dr. Klatt's vision. Everyone joining the fight.

And so let us join his.

Let us, together, join our hearts, thoughts and prayers and send them to this man. Our hero. Let us lift his fighting spirit so high that no diagnosis can harm him. Let us give him our Strength. Let us give him our Faith. Let us give him our Hope. Let us give him our Love.

For all he has given us.

We welcome you to share your messages of love and support for Dr. Klatt. Please email them to info@tacomarelay.org<mailto:info@tacomarelay.org> and we will see to it that he receives them.



Copyright 2011/2012 (c) American Cancer Society

Monday, April 23, 2012

Round 7


Well, Dave went in today to get accessed (they put tubes in his port and draw blood to make sure he is healthy enough for the chemo...they leave the tubes so they can give the chemo tomorrow through them).  It's kinda hard to hug the guy Tues through Thur every other week...he has tubes out of his shoulder and the bag on his side, tomorrow he'll have a fanny pack with a pump...it's like he needs a shield anytime anyone comes near!  Why don't we have armor bearers anymore?


Tomorrow they will also check what's up with the weird rash on his face.  I mean subtle, hardly noticeable, slight redness around his eyes. : ) 

Today Dave and I both noted that we feel like we can see the end of this road.  However, we also realized we he needs to go through some more tests, scans, surgery to reconnect his intestines and surgery to take out his port.  We are finally in the "groove" of things with this chemo schedule and we only have two more! 

I am still so proud of how well he is doing with (or handling?) all this.  The neuropathy hung around a little longer this time, he developed an infection around his stoma and had to get antibiotics and he had a pretty awful headache this round.  And now this rash...strange....my skin is starting to itch : )

I'll try to update after chemo, pray for a strong finish these last few weeks.  Thank you!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kauai!

This is a long post, but I don't want to forget a thing about our trip, you can skip all the words and just enjoy the pictures if you'd like!
 Here is our tour guide!  I am so grateful Kai has a car so she could chauffeur us around the island, she did a great job.

That funny picture on the right are my feet being rushed with water from the beautiful and warm Pacific Ocean!  The sand is a warm brown and softer than any I've felt before.


Monday, April 16, 2012


  • Leave Sea-Tac 9:30am, thanks Kirstin for the ride and the Starbucks to get us going!
  • Arrive Lihue Airport 12:45pm, greeted by Kai with beautiful leis.
  • Kai drops us off at Uncle Richmond's condo, our home for the week.
  • Uncle Richmond takes us on a tour of his old stomping grounds, we hear stories of Pearl Harbor, cruise boats coming into the harbor, his wife Pat, his class ring (at the bottom of the ocean...), his kids and grand kids and the good ol' days.
  • Uncle takes us to Kalapaki Beach so we can wade in the water, he buys us drinks and fresh fruit while we sit and soak it all in. 
  • Back at the condo Kai comes by for my first surprise!  Smith Family Garden Luau.  Amazing gardens, some of my favorites: Monkey Tail Tree, Plumeria, Bougainbillea, Banyon Trees and Albizia Trees.  (The Easter Island Statue was fun too)
  • Dinner at the Luau was amazing and we even ate poi (aren't you proud of us dad?).
  • We watched beautiful dancers under the starry night...and almost as if it was timed as part of the show we all saw a brilliant shooting star.


Tuesday, April 17. 2012
We woke up early for another day of surprises, "wear your swimsuit" was all I was told.   
  • Drove to Kukui ula Harbor and went out on Sea Rider Adventure Tours to snorkel off the south shore with Captain Tara.
  • Took a zodiac out to two sites, first one we saw turtles!  Actually, we swam with them, completely amazing.
  • Drove up to a look out to see Spouting Horn up a little closer.
  • Papalani Gelato for Mahaulepu Mint and Lilikoi/Mango Gelato - best ever!
  • Poipu Beach to relax a bit, have I said yet there are chickens everywhere on this island even on the beach!
  • Took a beautiful drive through rows and rows of coffee bean trees (is that what they are called?) to Kauai Coffee Company
  • A quick stop to Glass Beach to find a few treasures, snapped a shot of a heart shaped rock on the glass (actually it is glass, but it is also remnants of the garbage that was dumped too close to the coastline that is now falling into the Pacific)
  • A stroll across the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge with Kaileia
  • The most amazing Shave Ice on the planet from Jo Jo's Shave Ice (good thing Lily researched all this since I would never have walked into that place.  The sign was held together with duct tape!)
  • Ended the day at Waimea Plantation to see the largest Banyan Tree on the Island (and my favorite!), dinner at the Grove (wow Kalua Pork Spring Rolls - super yum) and a walk on the beach at sunset...the perfect end to a perfect day.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Today we slept in until about 7am...the latest of all 3 days.  First surprise, Starbucks!  But the biggest surprise of all was what was next.  I was told to keep my eyes closed on the drive there and even when I was let out of the car...
  • I opened my eyes to read a sign that said "Wings Over Kauai" as I stood in a little open airport...I cried!


Let me just say, that was an amazing experience, the pilot was excellent and we saw things I never would have otherwise.
  •  Pono Market for Spicy Shrimp Sushi and Pork and Chicken Lau Lau
  • A quick stop at Snorkel Bobs to get snorkel gear for ??? : )
  • Queen's Bath at Princeville was a little hard to find but one of my favorite stops, maybe because we had to walk a beautiful path to reach the ocean only to find an amazing cove with crashing waves and dozens of turtles!
  • Ching Young Village for Haupia
  • Tunnels Beach for snorkeling ~ this was a completely different experience from snorkeling the day before.  We saw fish of every size and color,  we even saw a Hawaiian Monk Seal sunning himself on the beach.  Kai's favorite part though was surprising Lily and me as she swam from behind and underneath us blowing bubbles towards are faces!
  • Hanelei Bay for the Sunset.
  • Kilauea Fish Market for the best Fish Taco ever ~ covered with garlic cilantro sauce, mmmmm.
  • Ended the evening at the Barefoot Bar at Duke's for Hula Pie (w/ macadamia nut ice cream)
Thursday, April 19,  2012

How can it be the last day already?  I fully expected to get up, pack and go to the airport, we had to be there by 9:30am, but no...there were more surprises.
  • Up at 5:30 am to see the sunrise at Lydgate State Park.  I have never sat and watched as the sun greeted the morning.  It is a beautiful and amazing sight (especially in Kauai).  The light changed from white, to orange to purple, to a swirl of amazing colors, until it was in full form welcoming the day.
  • Passion Bakery for a pastry that is a cross between a croissant and a scone, green apple was the flavor I picked.
  • And there was time for one more surprise.  Wailua Falls!  I saw it yesterday from a plane and today we drove right to it.  What power and grace.
There is so much more that I want to share, but feel like I've used my allotted words already.  The people are wonderful, the atmosphere is relaxed, "Don't Worry Be Happy" must have been penned here.  More than all of that though, God displayed His majesty over and over again, from the crashing waves, to the majestic mountains, to the graceful turtles, and the lush foliage...I was speechless much of the time.  Actually, I kept saying "Wow" (so much so I thought for sure Kai and Lily would beg me to find another word).  The generosity of my sister was overwhelming.  And the time she spent searching the internet to find the perfect stops was well worth it (for me at least!)

I came home relaxed, refreshed, renewed and with a better attitude.  I am humbled and grateful.

Wow.