My Faith

Our family's life verse

"For we know that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to His purposes"
Romans 8:28

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Visit the above link to Lauren's Hope to get the medical IDs that you need. I've had friends that have shopped from there and they love them. They've got an awesome variety in the styles and types of IDs they offer! Hoping to get one for my son Isaiah soon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What You Might Not Know About Our June (part 1)

On June 4, 2010, my oldest son Isaiah underwent his 2nd craniotomy, which was his 6th brain surgery, to remove as much of his craniopharyngioma brain tumor as possible. I won't take time now to go into how he is a unique case or why we didn't do this before. Suffice it to say, the surgery took less than half the time expected and they were able to completely remove all but a few millimeters of calcified (dead) tissue. Since that miracle, we have faced many gains, losses, and lessons. It is my hope and prayer that by sharing these with you, some of the ways the Lord has worked and is working in our situation will be shown. And although each of us (Isaiah, my husband, our other 2 children, and I) have been effected by them differently, these need to be from our side. His siblings were shielded from much of this and Isaiah doesn't remember any of it now. (Short-term memory loss is one side-effect from brain surgery)

Isaiah woke up from surgery without vision. His optic nerves are healthy, there's no bleeding, no swelling that would cause it. Endocrine, neurology, and opthamology cannot explain why he cannot see. Yet, his mind supplied him images as it tried to make sense of what it sensed. He saw things that weren't there and tried to interact with them by reaching out, opening jars that weren't there, eating food that's not real, etc. What further complicates this is that he suffered from psychosis. This is from him spending 4 days in ICU immediately following surgery, his sodium levels thrown off from surgery, and because of the area of brain effected by surgery. Many times, he thought he is somewhere else. There are times when he didn't even recognize us as his parents.

The amazing blessing of this time is that even when he was not in his right mind, he was concerned with showing and leading others to Jesus and during his hardest struggles he cried out to the Lord-praying aloud for help and to glorify Him.

With not having his vision, Isaiah was forced back into an almost infant-like state. He couldn't do anything himself. We had to begin with the basics and teach him to get his hand to his mouth so he could begin to feed himself hand-held foods and be able to drink from a "sports bottle" that was really a sippy-cup with a straw. He also had to learn to feel the food against his mouth as we spoon-fed him to know when to open his mouth for a bite or a drink. Once he had that, we began to work on teaching him to hold and use a fork and spoon again. These are much harder to do when you cannot see the food that you are trying to get onto them. He had to learn to use both hands together, as they didn't seem to naturally want to, to hold the container with one and scoop with the other. At this point, we weren't even trying to check out his mobility yet.

As he was moved to a regular room and his sodium levels started to stabilize, the psychosis episodes became better. We daily had to walk a line between "pushing reality" and "going along with him". We had to determine when to correct him (no, honey, there's not a monkey in that corner) and when to go along with it (it's okay, I'll take the snake out of the room). We learned pretty quickly the more we tried to push that we were his parents the more agitated and terrified he got. Those times, he did best to just give him space (as much as we could safely)and try to gently find a "connection point"--some frame of reference that helped to bring him back to reality. Sometimes he was hilarious. Sometimes he was terrifying.

Blessing--the worst episode while we were still at Le Bonheur lasted 20 minutes. Let me just say, Isaiah thought we were strangers there to hurt him and he was beyond wide-eyed terrified and shaking. We were trying everything we could to help him find that connection point but nothing worked. He wouldn't answer us or do anything we asked. We had to let him walk around his room and try to give him space. Finally, he sat on the couch with us in his room. Now, remember...he can't see anything! The Lord prompted me to remind Isaiah of lunch earlier that day. See, at lunch it was just the two of us, and we called it a "lunch date". While he ate, the Lord impressed upon me to get out the hymnal that we just "happened" to bring from home and to sing some songs to him. During one of the songs, he joined me in singing. So, as he is struggling in this episode, I reminded him of having a lunch date with his mommy that day. He remembered that. I reminded him of singing with her. He remembered that. So, I started singing "Power in the Blood"...that was the song. As I started singing, he again immediately joined in on his lines. I sang the whole song with him. By the end of the song, he was completely back to himself. He knew who he was, where he was, and who we were. There is no special power to that song, but the Lord used it mightily to restore our son that day!

After he got to a regular room, we also began to get him up. First to stand by the bed and then to take a few steps. Like with his other surgeries, he needed to relearn his coordination and balance. We noticed that he walked better while singing, so as we were walking him down the hallways we sang a Veggie Tales song "Keep Walking" and "I Walk By Faith". We prayed that not only would it help Isaiah but that it would encourage other patients, their families, and the nurses. The OT/PT nurses had him singing "Father Abraham" as well. He began those services as well as Speech (for memory) while at Le Bonheur. These would carry over to St. Jude once we were released. The last several days at Le Bonheur were filled with sodium checks, rehab services, and some carry-overs from ICU. These included off/on fevers, short, shallow breathing, and pain in his left ankle. The fevers were explained that it resulted from the area of brain traumatized by surgery. The shallow breathing was looked at by chest x-ray, which came back clear. And the ankle pain was thought to be result from a blown IV and another attempted IV stick. As we left Le Bonheur 11 days after his surgery, we knew he would be followed up at St. Jude as we have since the beginning of this journey almost 3 years prior.

I know there are many things that I am leaving out, like all the wonderful visits from friends and family, including several families from church coming and singing worship songs with us in our room, all the cards and calls of encouragement, and more. If you were part of that, we daily thank the Lord for you and pray that He continually blesses you for your generosity and willingness to follow His leading :) As we left Le Bonheur to head home, we knew the road ahead was going to be different from what we'd traveled before, but we didn't realize just how different it was going to be....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Borrowed from Amanda Boisvert Wozich site for her daughter

I am copying and pasting this from another brain tumor family. It is one of the most well-written explanations as to the particular stages to the journey we are on, where we are and have been, and where we are headed. I hope this helps to inform you all! The following is her writing:

In the brain tumor world (perhaps the whole cancer community, I'm not really sure) there are several ways to describe where your child is at in their brain tumor journey. There are those who are on active treatment of some sort, either scheduled for surgery, or undergoing chemo and or radiation. Those who have already completed their treatment, their scans show no evidence of disease (NED) and they go for follow up scans and meet with several other types of doctors to treat the fall out of their treatments (endocrinologists, neurologists, orthopedic doctors etc). Those who have entered the dreaded palliative care part of their journey, where the medical world can offer no more hope and can only provide medications to ease the child's pain as they prepare to leave this earth. And, then there are those of us who are "watching and living". People on this portion of the journey may have already undergone surgery, chemo, or radiation or a combination of the three, and for the most part their scans still show some disease, but doctors want to watch and wait to see what happens.

For many children with low grade gliomas, watching and living is a fact of life because unless a full surgical resection is achieved, chemo will not cure the disease; it might shrink the tumor a bit, but more than likely it will just stabilize it. The hope is that the tumor will remain stable for a period of time even after chemo is stopped. With radiation, there is more hope that the tumor will be "turned off" for good, but the potential side effects for children who are young are horrible. Radiation can cause strokes, a decrease in IQ, thyroid problems, growth and hormone problems, and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. So, while radiation does offer some hope at killing these tumors, because of the potential long term or late effects, it is generally used as a last resort (at least in low grade gliomas). Many children with low grade gliomas go through a chemo protocol (which is usually at least a year of treatment) and then they will "watch and live" until the tumor starts to progress again, and they will again go on another chemo protocol. Oh and by the way, the chemo has many potential side effects as well, both short and long term. From what our oncologists have told us, low grade gliomas can go though long periods of dormancy (years) and then for some unknown reason they will start to grow again. So although it is WONDERFUL that Sammy has remained stable for almost a year and a half with no treatment other than her surgery, it certainly does not mean that it will not grow again in the future. Our oncologists have also told us that low grade gliomas in children to tend to arrest themselves when the child reaches maturity and they no longer present a problem, but there is no research available to prove this, it is just what they "tend to see" with these types of tumors. From what I have heard, some doctors think this is true, while others do not.

So, right now, we are "watching and living". In many ways we have been so blessed in this cancer journey, and I know that there are so many out there that would love to be “watching and living”. I know we are fortunate that Sammy’s tumor has “behaved” for the past year and a half. I know we are fortunate our daughter isn’t currently on treatment and we don’t have to contend with all the crap that goes along with having a child on chemo. And, I certainly know we are fortunate that we have not exhausted all medical hope and that we aren’t watching our child slowing or quickly wither away. But, that doesn’t mean that “watching and living” is easy.

For a long time, rather than “watching and living”, I was “watching and watching”. I was so consumed by the fear that Sammy’s tumor would progress that I couldn’t enjoy anything. I watched Sammy’s symptoms constantly. I still do sometimes, even after we just had a stable MRI, not even a month ago, at times I still convince myself that her symptoms are worsening. It is hard to be objective when fear seeps in. I remember one evening in particular where I looked at Sammy’s eyes from a strange angle and convinced myself her pupils were different sizes. I cannot even begin to describe to you the debilitating fear that washed over me. A huge surge of adrenaline shot through my body, I broke out into a cold sweat, my hands were shaking and I felt like I had tunnel vision. Her pupils were fine, I was just looking at her from an odd angle, but I didn’t sleep for the next two nights, and I was constantly looking at Sammy’s eyes checking her pupil size. Life can turn upside down pretty quickly when you have a child with a brain tumor.

I also feel somewhat isolated, as we have a daughter with a brain tumor, but because she isn’t currently on treatment, we very rarely see other parents of children with cancer or brain tumors. No one can understand what it is like to have a child with a serious medical condition unless they have lived it. While other parents try to understand and relate, it just isn’t the same as being able to talk with someone who can relate to every irrational thought you have ever had. I am so sick of people telling us how “lucky” we are. Really? We are lucky? Our daughter has a brain tumor. Now realistically, I know that we have witnessed many miracles where Sammy is concerned, and that things could be SO much worse. God has blessed us; God had mercy on us for some unknown reason. But, we are NOT lucky. I am sick of people telling me that this whole brain tumor “thing” is over; people who don’t have to talk to our doctors or who have not done any research with regard to Sammy’s tumor. I can understand that people have “gut” feelings about things, and that they may truly believe that this brain tumor “thing” is in the past. Boy do I hope that is true in terms of tumor progression, but our lives were forever changed on the day Sammy was diagnosed. This brain tumor “thing”, will never be over for us. No matter how long Sammy’s tumor remains stable there will always be the chance that it will grow again. Perhaps the chance gets smaller, but it is still there none the less. Sammy will also have MRI’s for a very long time, and she will be dealing with the damage the tumor did for the rest of her life. So, while I know people’s intentions are good and that they are trying to comfort me with these words, it can be frustrating and isolating when you don’t have access to other parents of children with brain tumors; people who get what you are feeling. Who don’t think you are being negative or pessimistic.

During this “watching and living” phase of our journey, we live a fairly normal life, and are surrounded by healthy children. You can’t help but want that to continue; for Sammy to be able to remain in school and do all the things kids her age do. We want her to just be Sammy and not the kid with the brain tumor. For now she gets to do that, and we are very grateful, because there are some kids that don’t get that opportunity, but there is always the fear that it will change. That Sammy will have to go on chemo, and miss school, and lose her hair, and lose her “normal” kid status. There is fear that her tumor will cause her issues with learning, moving, seizures, etc. Now there are many kids that are on chemo and have physical or mental impairments that get along just fine and lead happy lives, and I know Sammy could as well, but if that doesn’t have to happen, clearly I don’t want it to. Growing up is so hard for kids with normal challenges, imagine how hard it could be for a child like Samantha should her tumor start progressing.

Now, as I said in the beginning, each phase of this journey has its challenges. I am not saying that “watching and living” is as hard as some of the other phases, but it certainly isn’t easy. We are fearful much of the time, we feel isolated, and we so want our children to continue to live a “normal” life. Although, the longer we have been doing this the easier it has become. I have learned that my fear can convince me that symptoms are worse, and I am more able to calm myself and be more objective. I still analyze symptoms, but I have learned over time not to take my fears so seriously because I have had them many times in the past and they proved not accurate. I also don’t feel quite so isolated, as I have found and online community of people who are truly supportive and also have a wealth of medical knowledge. Our family will be attending a Brain Tumor week at Camp Sunshine this summer, and since we live so close, I have filled out an application to volunteer there during the rest of the summer. And as for hoping that Sammy will have a normal childhood that will never change, it will always be my hope, but I accept that other possibilities might be okay too.

So, that is a glimpse of our life of “watching and living”. Not sure how other families who live this life feel, but these are some of the things I feel. May is Brain Tumor awareness month…if you have read this entry, you are now more aware! J

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Such a strong person

As I am waiting for the phone call to tell when's the date for my son's 6th surgery for his brain tumor, it's impressed on me to share this with you. See, it is my heart's desire to live transparently for the glory of the Lord. Because of the nature of my son's diagnosis, we have faced a lot of turmoil, trials, and suffering, and we have been put in contact with others that are also hurting. One comment that we receive over and over is that we are such strong people or that the Lord must know we are so strong and that's why He has given us such a hard road to walk.

Nothing could be farther from the truth!

We struggle. We hurt. We cry. We lose our patience. We grieve. We wrestle with the responsibility of having to make life-death decisions for someone else. We are overwhelmed. Sometimes we don't even have the words. It is not our strength. If you only knew what a weak vessel that I am! See, my nephew was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at 14 months...a year before Isaiah was. I was overcome and vividly remember thinking, "I can not imagine if that was my child. I could not handle it." Little did I know that would be us a year later..almost a year to the same week. Understand that the Lord was preparing me and showing me that I was right. I don't have the strength. I never do. But I have something better!

As His child, I have the Holy Spirit..the Great Comforter! Daily, and sometimes moment-by-moment, I am strengthened by the Lord. I have others praying for me/us. We tend to trivialize the power of prayer but it is the greatest thing we can do for ourselves and others! How do I know? Because when we get that bad news, my first thought is "Lord, give me the strength! I can't do this! It has to be You!" And He is always there. We physically, emotionally, and spiritually feel His strength when we know that we don't have any left in our bodies.

Don't get me wrong-it's still hard. It doesn't take away all the human emotions that we feel or the responsibility that we have. But, it does give us peace and calm in that situation/moment. Under it all, His is our anchor that keeps us grounded. I know without a doubt that without Him, I would be drowning in these storms. I cannot imagine going through any of this without Him, even though we see other families that are. For them, there is no peace, no sense of Hope or understanding...only bitterness, anger, confusion, lostness.

Before you think that somehow I was created stronger than you or that I can handle more than you, take your eyes off me and put them where they belong...on the Lord. Because the strength you see when you look at me is not's His and His alone.

I can honestly say that my husband and I have peace regardless of the outcome from this surgery...and we are truly facing a possibility that our son will not make it through the surgery or will never be the same child afterward. We have had to lay him on the altar of the Lord, trusting He knows better than us, understanding our children are not really ours but we are stewards of precious gifts given by the Lord for a time, and are secured in Romans 8:28 (For we know that all things are working together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to His purposes).

I found the lyrics to this song and wanted to share it. It's a call to live transparently, too. It is by Tenth Avenue North "Healing Begins":

So you thought you had to keep this up
All the work that you do
So we think that you're good
And you can't believe it's not enough
All the walls you built up
Are just glass on the outside

So let 'em fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Afraid to let your secrets out
Everything that you hide
Can come crashing through the door now
But too scared to face all your fear
So you hide but you find
That the shame won't disappear

So let it fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now
We're here now, oh

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Sparks will fly as grace collides
With the dark inside of us
So please don't fight
This coming light
Let this blood come cover us
His blood can cover us

This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I am reading through the one-year chronological Bible, where the events of the Bible are put in the order of how they occurred, and you read through the Bible in a year. Over the last several days, I have read about Isaac, Ishmael, Esau and Jacob.

The account of Isaac is always hard for me to get through. Since the time that we have been parents, we have understood that our children are a gift from the Lord and that they ultimately belong to Him. BUT! When faced with the very real possibility of death, it is all-together different. When we had to make the initial decision of whether to remove Isaiah's tumor of not, we felt almost crushed by the responsibility placed on us for his life. Individually and together, my husband Matt and I laid Isaiah on the altar just as Abraham did. We thanked the Lord for giving us the role and blessing of being Isaiah's parents but understood that he belonged to the Lord and the Lord could do with him what He desired. It is all-together different to "know" this than it is to have to "do" this when faced with death. The Lord chose to spare him. There have been several times since that first time 2 years ago where we are drawn back to that same altar. I wish that I could tell you that it gets easier. For me, it does not. I do realize that the reason I keep having to lay him back down is because I keep picking him back up! But the Lord is faithful and patient.

The account of Ishmael is also difficult for me. It's the point of Hagar in the desert where she places her son under the bush so she will not have to see him die where she encounters the LORD. Not only does He comfort her, but He provides for her everything she needs for herself and her son. He tends to her spiritually, physically, emotionally, and gives her guidance. I can so relate to Hagar in that desert just asking the Lord that if He is going to take my son home to heaven to do it quickly so that he does not suffer. The heartache is immense! Yet, the LORD was right there with her and her son! He is here with us now and is before us and behind us. He knows exactly where we are and what we need and will need.

Reading about these four men as children reminds me how much the Lord cares about our children! He is not just sitting up in heaven watching to see how we're going to work things out. He is actively involved in our life and according to Romans 8:28 He is working ALL things out for our GOOD to those that love Him and are called according to His purposes!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Hey! I've just started this and have no idea where it will go, but I felt lead to share all that God is teaching me. Most know that my oldest son, Isaiah, has a brain tumor called a craniopharyngioma. He was diagnosed in Sept. 2007. He has had 5 surgeries and 31 radiation treatments. He was diagnosed 3 months after we the St. Jude area. Only the Lord could have known we needed to be this close! We had no idea something was wrong when we moved here. We moved for my husband to attend seminary to be a preacher. I have two other children. My kiddos are 10, 8, and 5 years old and we homeschool.

Through this journey, the Lord is continually conforming me to His image. I believe that part of the responsibility that I have in what God is doing in my life is to pass it on. Titus 2:3-5 instructs older women to teach younger women. One of my intentions in this blog is to do just that. Another reason it to lead others to a saving knowledge of Christ or to a desire for a deeper relationship with Him.

So, as I continue on this journey that the Lord has me on, I will be sharing those lessons that He is teaching me :) Thanks for taking the time to read it! I hope that you find benefit from it. Feel free to post!