Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's DONE... on with the fun!

  This past Friday night Clayton, Kate and I headed to Cook Children with a car full of hats and books and all of our overnight "fun" stuff.  Our car was decorated celebrating Clayton's last chemo and the school had just sent him off with lots of praises and thanksgiving school wide given over the announcements.  We were ready to get Chemo number 14 over with!
   We arrived at clinic and learned that too many kids had been admitted earlier in the day with neutrapenic fever, and there was not a room available for Clayton on the Oncology floor.  We immediately panicked, then called in our prayer warriors.  We drove to a nearby friend's house and had a great dinner while Clayton played with some of their children.  After a few hours, I decided that we better be a little proactive.  Kate and I had decided that we were NOT leaving Fort Worth without chemo. SO... we packed our stuff out of the car, walked up to the Oncology floor, begged saying that we drove from Waco, and camped out on the floor with all of our bags until a room became available.  Thankfully a sweet little girl finished her blood transfusion, her room was cleaned, and in went Clayton. He got a big room with a great view of the helicopter pad (a boys dream).  Unfortunately he didn't get to enjoy it long.  He fell asleep at 8:00 pm, just 30 minutes after we
 were given a room.  His chemo was started at 2:00am and it was done.  We were finished right there as he slept.  It was over.  The last poison had gone in his body... it was over! Praise the Lord!
    As usual, he woke up feeling pretty crummy, as you can probably tell from his pictures.  BUT, he insisted on delivering his hats and books to the children on the floor.   He wasn't about to leave until it was done.  So, Kate and I loaded a cart full of all of his goodies, dragged the IV pole along and went room to room
 delivering all of the sweet donations.
   The first room we visited was a new friend named Faith.  Wow.. were we EVER not prepared for the blessing we were about to receive.  We walked in and this gorgeous little girl with Osteosarcoma talked to Clayton and insisted that SHE pray for him before we left.  Wow.. here I was thinking I was going to go around sharing blessings and prayers, and here sits this darling 9 year old, in a hospital during Christmas, who was smiling, happy, and determined to pray for Clayton.  After she prayed the most gorgeous prayer for our boy celebrating his victory, we were able to pray for her.  BLESSING!!! WOW!!.  Please continue to pray for Faith.
   On we went to the other rooms.  We met so many sick kids.  Remember I said the floor was full.  This sweet little boy with the Baylor cap chose these items.  This picture was taken about an hour later when I walked by and he was wearing his BU hat and reading his new books.  LOVE IT!
   We also met Aliyah.  She's a GORGEOUS 16 year old also with Osteosarcoma.  I had the opportunity to get to know her mom a little and pray for Aliyah.  Kate enjoyed talking with her and
 comparing school stories, etc.  Then we met Logan. He is a precious little 2.5 year old who was having his SECOND chemo treatment, so he's a new diagnosis.  He also has Rhabdo and his parents are exactly where we were in March.  It's a hard hard place to be.  And then we met Kylie.  Kylie also has Rhabdo, but her's in not responding to chemo.  Please keep her family and her in your prayers.  Really all of these kids.  They are REAL.. they are hurting.. and families are going through things that we can only imagine as our worst nightmares.  Please cover them with prayers of grace, mercy and healing.
     We finished passing out the books and hats and Clayton got finished with his medicines and we headed for home.  We were welcomed by many friends and family in front of our new house.  How exciting to celebrate new beginnings all the way around.  So thankful for our prayer warriors and our community for loving us, reaching out to us, and holding us up.  SO so thankful.
     Our family went on to have a great Christmas Day.  Clayton is feeling great.  He's playing with neighbors and just being a kid.  Please pray that he stays healthy as he is still significantly  immune suppressed.  He'll have blood work tomorrow that I'm certain will show him dangerously low.  We'll pray for a strong come back and head out to Disney Jan 2-8 to celebrate with Clayton.  After we return, he'll have his end of treatment scans January 11th at Cooks.  We appreciate your prayers that he will remain Cancer free. Forever.  We are forever grateful for God for everything this year.  So so grateful.
   There are so many things this year that could have gone the other way.  So many things... but honestly, a path was made for Clayton that we can't explain.  While the treatment was so difficult, there was alot that could have happened that didnt.   It's a miracle, actually.  Clayton had minimal side effects and just continues to handle the entire circumstance like a champ.  While God is my ultimate hero,  Clayton is up pretty high in my book... right along with his siblings who handled life with grace and courage this past year... Not to mention my sweet husband that dealt with all of this, worked hard and carried us through.  May we continue to walk in His grace as we stand by Clayton to pray that he is cancer free FOREVER!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Clayton Wins

Wow!  Today is December 19th and my baby is scheduled for his LAST treatment on the 21st.  I can't believe this day is here.  We made it.  We made it with flying colors.  We are still married, we didn't kill each other, I'm not still balled up on the floor... WE MADE IT.
   Tomorrow Clayton will go for his blood counts to insure that he can receive his chemo on Friday.  It is very promising because last week his counts were amazingly high.  We are hopeful and excited to get this done.  Make no mistake, it will be a chemo just like the others.  He will feel sick, which will be combated with our antinausea regimen. He will get low counts again making him immune suppressed, and he'll be tired, BUT.. he'll be done.  Praise be to God.
   I remember the night we returned from Texas Childrens Hospital right after diagnosis.  I  cried the whole way home from Houston, hadn't slept in three nights and was just in a place I've never been before.  I remember walking in the backdoor and Kate saying, " Wow, Mom.. You really need some sleep."   I remember getting a precious amount of calls and texts and thinking that I needed a solution to keep everyone informed and ready to pray specifically.  At that time, I just couldnt face the fact that my baby, innocent and beautiful needed a Caringbridge.  Surely not MY son.  I couldn't do it, so I did what I knew to do and started this blog.  Without hesitation, I sat down and immediately wrote.. CLAYTON WINS.  This was easy for me.  I grew up with my Dad being a HUGE Chicago Cubs fan.  I still hear Harry Carey's voice saying " CUBS WIN CUBS WIN".. In my mind, without hesitation.. I needed to believe that Clayton would win.  He would be a survivor.. a success to medicine.. a testimony of the Lord.  He would WIN.  I also remember thinking, but NEVER saying out loud that Clayton Wins either way.  If he won by receiving the kingdom of Heaven too early, I would be the Loser, not my Precious.  So, either way CLAYTON WINS.  How grateful am I that Clayton WON on this side of heaven.  He's here, he's mine... he's well, he's whole, he's a testimony to God's healing power and I am FOREVER grateful for the gift of my son right now at this moment!
    So, we'll go on Friday, get that last dose of poison that saved his life. I will pray everyday and every moment  that he never has to experience the wrath of cancer and chemo EVER again.  I will still beg and still plead for continued healing and for my son.
   Come celebrate with us on Saturday.  It's a surprise for Clayton.  We'll be lining the street and ready to cheer Clayton in after his last treatment.  We expect to be home by 2:00.  We'd love to make him feel like the champion that he has been to us.  We'll be outside our new home in Woodway and welcome anyone and everyone.
    I said from the beginning that the Lord promised me Good.  He did.. The Lord promised Good to me.  I will rest in His goodness for holding me up, pushing me through and most importantly, covering my son.  Praise be to God.  Hope to see you all on Saturday.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Joy of the Lord...

Family Thanksgiving Picture
 Clayton Wins Books for Cooks...Woodway 1st graders
  This morning my little Clayton got up laughing and so excited about his day.  We have an elf on the shelf, Elfis.  I highly recommend this elf for those of you who have trouble getting your kiddos out of bed.  Each night "Elfis" gets into some kind of trouble and it's Clayton's job to find Elfis and see where he's hiding.  Last night he made a landing strip and tried to "fly" all of Clayton's Star Wars ships.  Anyway.. my little guy  got up so excited about his day.  He was singing, talking all about his field trip today and so excited to wear his Santa hat to school for Santa hat day.
   Today is his very first field trip.  He missed last year's kindergarten field trip because he wasn't allowed to be at school then.  So, today, his trip to the Mayborn Museum will be his first official school field trip.  Also today he had his weekly bloodwork at Hillcrest.  He hopped right out of the car skipped right in to the lab, got poked, said goodbye and skipped his way right on out... without a care or worry in world.  Let me just have a mom moment here... There is something to be said for a kid who can face what Clayton has faced and is facing and can skip about life like he's just thrilled to be able to participate.  I could sure learn alot from him.  Whoa is me... seems like that is the thought process I continually fight in my own head just knowing what my precious faces.  But, the kid himself who is enduring the trial always has a smile, tells jokes, sleeps soundly and just enjoys every single moment of being a kid.  It totally makes me think of " The Joy of the Lord is my Strength"  Nehemiah 8:10.
 So, today.. I will join Clayton on his field trip, holding my breath the entire time because his blood results came back showing his white count extremely low.  I will be there standing between him and any germ that tries to come near him.. Just kidding.. we all know that the precious angels that the Lord has assigned to Clayton surround him in a much better capacity than I ever could.  So thankful for those angels.
     Please pray that he stays strong, makes counts for the 20th and is able to say "Adios" to chemo forever.  So amazed that the journey is almost over.
   Just sharing some pictures.  These are the sweet nurses at Cooks Waco that have given Clayton his weekly Vincristine which is now OVER.  Thank you ladies, for your service to our family. Above is a picture of Clayton standing next to the tree covered with all of the donations his first grade friends at Woodway Elementary have given for Cooks.  Clayton is helping head up a drive to provide new books and hats to the kids that are in the hospital at Cooks Oncology.  Thank you to all of the families participating.  Clayton is so proud!  We love you.
Santa Hat Day

Saturday, December 1, 2012

One left..

 Just a quick update tonight to say that Clayton DID do chemo yesterday.  It was almost as if God said, "Ok.. You trust me, now let's go".  We got an unexpected call yesterday morning about 8:40 from the H/O clinic.  Dr. Heym, our oncologist, had studied Clayton's bloodwork himself and decided that his counts were in fact going up and he could come in for chemo.  This allows Clayton the chance to be done with chemo before Christmas and still make his Make a Wish Trip in January.  We will still have to see if he makes counts on Dec, 20, but we are hopeful.
   So, yesterday I prepared like a mad woman with 30 minutes warning to get our stuff pulled together and be in Ft. Worth by 11:15.  It was tricky, but we did it.
Nutcracker welcomes Patients
    The evening went very well.  When we got to the clinic and the doctor reran labs, he saw that Clayton's counts were rising.  That certainly made me feel much better.  He made it through clinic,  enjoyed the darling Christmas decorations, played with Cort, watched a magic show, built legos and received his second to last chemo.  We got discharged this morning.  His Nana joined us for a pancake breakfast, Clayton's choice, ... then, Clayton left to hang out at home with Nana and we went on to watch the Midway Panthers win AGAIN in the playoffs.  Kate was dancing and she did great.  The game was a treat for sure.  Now we're exhausted, but glad to be one chemo closer.  Thank you all for your prayer and for our friends who stepped in at the last second and helped me with the others yesterday.  Thank you thank you.
    As a quick prayer request.  A precious family that I have met through this journey needs your prayers.  Melinda is a fellow cancer mom and her Sweet little Hannah recently finished her therapy for Rhabdo.  She is healing great and is cancer free. PTL.. Just this past week, her family was told that their precious daddy has a brain tumor.  He has had surgery and the family is awaiting results, but are told it is most likely Glioblastoma.  This sweet family has 6 kids and I know they would appreciate our prayers.  I can't imagine their situation.  Thank you for lifting them up.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

This one's for me

  This afternoon we learned that Clayton didn't make counts again and he won't be getting his chemo this week.  Because of this, he will attempt to have his treatment on Tuesday, Dec 4th.  If he completes chemo on the 4th, this makes his next chemo due on Christmas Day.. Yep Dec 25th.  Since our clinic isn't open on Christmas, his last chemo would be scheduled for Dec. 26th... So, after he opens all his fun presents, he gets to wake up the day after Christmas and have chemo.  Well.. Hooray.. (Sarcastic comment).  Since his last chemo is the 26th, he will be at his very lowest spot a week after, which is his Disney trip.  We will not risk this with Clayton because he has looked forward to this trip for so long.  Sooo.. we will be postponing his trip for a couple of months.  We are trying to see if the Make a Wish foundation will be able to reschedule the trip for Spring Break.  And... its really ok.  I talked to Clayton about it and his comment was " Oh maybe I'll have hair and it'll be long enough to make me taller for the scary rides measurer".  True.. very true.
    This setback today was followed by a couple of other frustrating events that honestly made me laugh.  It just all came at once.. honestly within about 30 minutes of each other.  Strangely enough, I was ok. I didn't cry, I didn't yell at anyone... I didn't need my punching bag... I really did laugh! Listen,  I am NOT going to say that this experience with Clayton has always given me the " Oh well.. It's okay" feeling.  Honestly,  I will confess to you, that none of this is ok.  It's not ok that my baby has/had cancer.. and I am still mad about that.  It's just NOT.  But lots of things in our lives are NOT ok, but somehow we have to see what IS ok around it.  So,  For my own good, I'm going to map out my day just to prove how much good was in my day vs the bad.  Let's just see what I come up with... I'll note good with :) and bad with :(
-  Morning...
- Woke up.. first thing that went through my head.. and I'm not making this up "Choose you this day who you will serve" I thought... strange, but okay.. I will.
- Stepped on the scale.. picked up a couple lbs.. uh oh :(
- Clayton ate breakfast :)
- Boys were tardy for school :( , but Caroline was on time :)
- Got a surprise phone call from a precious friend in Namibia. :)
- Made it to Zumba (good thing after the scale episode) :)
- Got a GREAT spot in Zumba :)
- Afternoon
- Had a great lunch with a precious friend :)
- My debit Card got declined :( .. I had a back up card that worked :)
- My husband immediately moved money :)
- Watched Clayton PLAYING on the playground at school :)))))
- Saw Clayton answer his teacher calling his name from afar.. Reminder that my baby did NOT lose his hearing as we were first told he may :))))
- Took Clayton for bloodwork where he cried :((((
- Received and Deposited a Pay Check. :) Yeah me
- My husband complimented my appearance :)
- Caroline and I found a $14 headboard to refinish for Kate's bedroom :))
- Received a text that Clayton didn't make counts :(
- Received a voicemail that our tenants at our rent house had to be evicted :(
- Received a call that we CANT close on our new house tomorrow because of a title problem :(
- Came home to see my boys laughing and playing ball in the backyard with neighbors :)
  Evening
- Clayton had his first basketball practice.. a reminder that he's enjoying things his doctor said he'd not feel like doing :)
- Took Kate to Sonic, which made Cort late for basketball because the worker dropped our order :(
- Watched Caroline do cheer :)
- Went out for pizza.. ran into sweet friends :) .. about the pizza vs the scale .. don't worry.. I ate salad.
- Enjoyed an outing to Target with Caroline where I found a cute dress for $7.48 :) Debit card worked :)
- Had Starbucks :) Skinny Peppermint Mocha :)
- Told the kids about the delays with the Disney trip and the house closing.. they ALL handled it well :)
- Told Clayton that he would not be done with chemo by Christmas: (  (I've committed to be up front with him about everything.. no surprises)
-  He handled it just fine.. as always :)
- Listened to one of my girls complain about her furniture :(.. not a big priority right now, but remember she's a teenager..
- Listened to my boys giggle in their room before bed :)
- Read many posts of how our friends are praying for us :)
- Got a good night kiss from my husband and was reminded that we're together, we're okay.. and cancer did NOT tear us apart :)

Life's not all that bad, friends.  Sure.. disappointments happen every day and somehow we just have to take a deep breath,  look at the HUGE picture of the Good things and face the next day willing and armed with God's promises to make it great.  As Dr. Phil says .. Be excited about life.  There's so much to enjoy if we will just take it in.   I know that there are so many people truly hurting.  There are devastating things happening all around us.  I know that there are hurts deeper than I have ever known, and trust me.. this old heart has ached pretty bad.  But, I am so thankful that even during the deepest hurt I have ever felt, I am still reminded of the promises of my God. A friend reminded me of Isaiah 41:9 " I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous hand"  So thankful that I am able to lay it down at His feet.. and off of my shoulders. Now, If I can just commit to do that.. Give it to Him.
   Still so so grateful for your prayers.  Love you all.. Words can't express!! Just can't!!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It is what it is....

  I'm just sitting here in my very quiet house...everyone is sleeping, but me.... , looking at my gorgeous Christmas tree and thinking about how good life really is.  I had a little pity party today when Clayton didn't make his counts to have his big chemo.  He missed it, but not by much.  It is very discouraging, and here is why... for those of you who don't understand this.
    Clayton is scheduled to have two more chemos.  Each chemo is set to be 3 weeks apart, however, one can not have the chemo drugs if his bone marrow has not recovered from his previous chemo.  Bone marrow is a funny thing.  Sometimes it will recover well, but other times it is tired and takes longer to get back on track.  The further one goes through treatment, the harder it is for the body to recover. Typically 7-10 days after the chemo is administered, Clayton is at a dangerous low with his white cell counts, then the counts slowly recover over the next 2 weeks.  Now, with my Clayton it is impossible, most of the time, to tell if his counts are low or not because he is an active little boy.  I will tell you honestly that I do notice that he cant play like his brother, cousin, or neighborhood friends can.  He takes rests and sometimes just says he'd prefer to build legos.  I know this is because he's low and just has spurts of energy.  So, I never know when he won't make counts.  It's a guessing game....Now,  Back to why it's discouraging... Christmas is Dec 25th and Clayton's Make a Wish trip is Jan 2-8.  If Clayton can't make his chemo this week, he'll go next week, making his last chemo the week of Christmas.  As I said, his Make a Wish trip is Jan 2-8 which would be during his hardest, most dangerous time in treatment.  If you've ever been to Disney, then you understand "crowds" is an understatement.  So, at that point we'd have to decide to postpone his chemo or the trip.  Now, I can't imagine much more discouraging than finishing his CELEBRATION Make a Wish trip and returning to Cook for another chemo. So, we are trying again to make counts for this Friday.  He was not too far from the number, so we are hopeful that it will happen.
     Clayton has no idea that not making counts was discouraging.  In fact, he doesn't mind skipping at all and that is because I make it a HUGE priority for my precious 7 year old to not see the negatives in this big picture.  He is a little guy who desperately clings to the positives and has been a  true example to me of courage, peace, trust and patience.. to say the least.  I honestly have learned so much from him through the past 10 months.  Through this whole experience he has faced tough news with a positive spirit, which I know he gets from his Daddy.
    Tonight, instead of being at Cooks hooked up to an iv pole receiving the poison that chemo is, Clayton thoroughly enjoyed helping me decorate our Christmas tree, talking my ear off, playing keep away in the living room with his Daddy, brother and a football and just loving being home with his family.  It definitely put me in my place as I remember earlier today crying, griping out life and throwing punches at my trusty punching bag just because my timeline got messed up.  This is about Clayton... his health... his recovery and his long life.  It's not about anything else.  Praying, and trying to remind myself that the rest will work out in perfect timing.  God is Bigger, He goes before me, and He knows the plan.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has HUGE plans for Clayton.. and I hope He has some for me too after this is over.  So, I have NO other choice than to rest in that, and let God work His plan.. even when it doesn't match mine. I'd be lying if I said I'm not still annoyed... I am, but it is what it is..
   Psalm 55:22 "Cast your cares on the Lord.  He will sustain you.  He will NEVER let the righteous be shaken."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Counting our blessings.. and still trudging along

  Tonight we’re on the road, returning from a GREAT few days away with family.  We took our kiddos and went to Baton Rouge to visit my parents and my siblings and their kids.  It was a great trip and a nice break.  We realized that we haven’t been to visit Baton Rouge in a year.  I guess traveling this year has proven too difficult. So, it was a nice trip.  Clayton was able to go with his cousin, Sophie to see Santa, he rode his bike for hours, built legos, and did lots of eating.  It was so fun, and lots of sweet memories were made.
     It was certainly easy to “count our blessings” and be extra thankful this year. We have so much to be grateful for.  So very much!  Part of me wants to think about how awful this year has been , how unfair, how heart breaking and how exhausting.. BUT, just seeing Clayton alive, cancer free, and thriving kinda makes me forget that black cloud that has hovered over us this year.  This road is coming to an end, with a positive outcome, and that, my friends, is the BEST, most awesome blessing we could ever ask for.
   Clayton has two more big chemos left.  He is officially done with his IN TOWN chemos.   Those are the chemos that  consists of one drug and don’t require him to have an overnight stay or have high blood counts.  We are excited to close the door on that treatment.. now we just finish the two big chemos, and our final scans.  After that, he’ll be seen every 4 months for at least 5 years.  His next big chemo is scheduled for THIS Tuesday.  We are praying that Clayton’s bloodwork is good enough for him to have the treatment.  We’ll check his blood early Tuesday morning, then head to Ft. Worth if the numbers are right.  Please pray with us that everything lines up to allow him to have his treatment.  We are tired and ready to cross the finish line.  His final chemo will be three weeks following, hopefully before Christmas and before his MAKE A WISH TRIP scheduled right after New Year.  We will be having a big celebration, which EVERYONE is invited to, after his final chemo.  More news on that to come.  Just prepare to celebrate with us!
    We have some exciting times around the corner with a new house, a Disney trip, Christmas and all that comes along with it.  We are so so so thankful that we have four kids to do it all with us.  We are so very grateful for God’s provision for our family, health for all of us, and healing of Clayton.  Words can not express the gratitude we have toward our friends who have stepped in and helped us out this year.  From the Jones and Evans keeping our kids for nights on end, to friends who cooked dinner so many times,to moms and dads running carpools for us, and most importantly the many many prayer warriors who daily stand in the gap for us.  We are so blessed and honored that you all love us so much.  Please keep praying us through.  I can see the finish line… now… if we can just keep moving toward it!



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm pretty sure... we're moving??

  First of all, and most importantly, please pray for double angels over Clayton this week.  His bloodwork came back not so good.. in fact... incredibly stinky and we just ask that you pray that his little body would continue to stay healthy... that no illness gets through, that his bone marrow works remarkably well, and he can go away from this journey STRONG!

Well, I can't believe I'm actually having this converstion, but I'm pretty sure we're moving.  Not to get nervous, we're just moving streets, but we have a house under contract and it looks like we're moving forward...like Nov 30th! Yep.. today is November 14.. and I have packed NOTHING. Okay.. I'm breathing again...

  So, we weren't really looking, although we've realized for some time that we're needing more space, but a house one street over that is not listed became available.  We went and looked at it, realized we love it and it's a price we're willing to afford, and we made an offer.  So, now as we speak, our house is for sale.  It's not listed on the market yet because I am still sitting here kind of shocked and overwhelmed at the idea of finishing Clayton's chemo, Christmas shopping, going to Baton Rouge for Thanksgiving, taking a Make a Wish Trip in January AND... packing up a house full of SIX people, redecorating a NEW house and moving.  Okay.. WOW.. is all I can say. 

We are so blessed by the new house.  As a couple, Chad and I have always made a commitment to live below our means.. meaning we never want to be guilty of putting our focus on "things" and earthly possessions to the point that we can't put our kids through school, tithe, bless another family and most importantly, sleep at night... Don't get me wrong. I LOVE TO SHOP.. but I know the budget, kinda :), and stick right to it.. Right, Sweetie? ;) As a realtor, I see all the houses as they become available, so I sort of get first dibs.  As I have looked , I have become more and more convinced that a house for 6 people with room to move in, in my school district, was looking like more than we wanted to commit to. So, when this awesome house came up with a price we're willing to go for, we just felt like we needed to move on it.  So far, it's looking like the deal is going to go through.

With that last statement said... I have found myself unwilling to pack, gather boxes, put a sign in the yard, and tell friends.. I guess because I am hesitant for fear of it falling through.  I realize that God's hand is all in this transaction as we have released it to him fully, but I think I have lost a little bit of my security in this past year in realizing that life's circumstances can change in an instant.  I'm thinking that I will always have this little hesitation in my heart because I realize that there is truly only one "person" who knows what tomorrow holds and releasing it to Him, is not always the easiest thing.  Well, if you think about it.. releasing it is the BEST thing, but oh so hard.

So, please pray for our family as we move forward. We feel soo blessed by the Lord in this time, are overwhelmed with his goodness to our family and just are attempting to rest in the excitement and adventure that will signal a NEW beginning for our family.  AND.. please pray our current house will sell in God's time to the exact right family.  We have a GREAT 4bedroom 3 bath in awesome Woodway with a gorgeous backyard, play center, awesome neighbors (including us as we'll still be in the neighborhood:)  and a great price. 

I'm so thankful and grateful for God's goodness to us as we approach this Thanksgiving week. Thankful that I have FOUR kids to move into this home, thankful for a new respect toward life, and oh so thankful to kiss that little bald head goodnight each night.  God is so good to His people.  Take a minute to really take that in, bless Him for it and keep Thanksgiving just that.. a time to truly THANK our precious Lord.  ..BTW.. below is portion of our soon to be new backyard.. If it's God's plan, of course. Resting in His promise.. The Lord has promised GOOD to me. 
   

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting it right...

So, this week Clayton was able to do Big Chemo... this means TWO MORE.. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting very bright, the people screaming at the end of the finish line are LOUD, the fat lady is grabbing the mic preparing to Sing.. I'm more than ready, as is Clayton.  This round of chemo went so smoothly.  I finally, with the help of the awesome Oncology nurses, figured out what nausea medicines work the best so that Clayton wouldnt wake up throwing up as he has been.  IT WORKED.  Not only did we head on home, but we even stopped at Luby's for a large lunch.  So thankful.
    This week when we started to leave for Cook Children's, Clayton was kind of running from me and hiding from me when I picked him up at school.  I captured him and off we went.  


When we arrived at the hospital, we got off the elevator and walked into the oncology clinic where Clayton decided he needed to go potty. He walked in the restroom, and I turned my back to check us in, and walked back to get Clayton out of the restroom.  I call his name, no answer.  I start looking around the clinic, ask an Oncology nurse, " Have you seen a cute bald kid?"  Her response with a crazy look on her face..."Yes, about 20 today".. anyway.. I alert the staff.  They help me.  An employee decides to might be time to call a "Code Pink" which puts the entire hospital on lock down announcing a missing child.  I'm tearing up, and frantic and suddenly a nurse hollers... He's here... He was quietly sitting in a corner playing a video game and smiling as he ignored us all calling his name and enjoyed the entertainment of "hiding" from us.   OH My gosh... This kid is still as spirited, tricky and sneaky as he ever thought about being.. no matter if he's on chemo or not.  I'm so thankful that this cancer and chemo has not, for a second, robbed him of his spirit.  I guess it makes me wonder if I've allowed it to rob me of my spirit.  I'd like to think that it hasn't but I do know I'm a changed Momma.  Hopefully all for the better.  I remember wondering back in Feb/March if I'd ever find joy again.  I think we have, and I think we are ok..  So thankful for the Lord helping us see joy even in our sorrow.
    I'm the type momma who is always scared that I'm not "Getting it right".. Am I being a good example for my girls, am I teaching my children the Word consistently, am I feeding them healthy foods, am I encouraging my husband, and I making the wrong decision... You get the idea.  Being a mom of a child with cancer, and a mom to his siblings, there are no books that give me all the right answers.  It's kind of uncharted territory in a lot of ways.  I only hope that I can look back on this experience and feel confident that I did my best helping walk my kids through this and honoring the Lord.
     The picture above is of my beautiful girls this week.  They turned 15 and 13.  I'm so proud to be their mom and so proud of the big sisters they are.  They have taken a rough year, and have handled it with grace and confidence.  So thankful for what they bring to my life.  Lots to be thankful for this year for sure!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Perspective

 Today.. at this moment... Clayton is supposed to be in my car, driving to Cooks to get his 12 of 14 chemo treatments, but once again.. he didn't have good enough blood counts to go.  SO.. he takes a week off, which he doesnt mind at all, and tries again on Tuesday of next week.  Being the planner that I am and the mom who is so ready to be done with this treatment plan, this initially upsets me.  I start thinking about Christmas approaching, our Make a Wish trip in January and how this one week set back might just disrupt the family.  It's then that I stop and realize.... its REALLY ok.  It's a matter of perspective.
   This week has been hard for several of my friends.  When I say hard , I mean life changing, devastatingly HARD.  I've had a dear friend who's little boy had major surgery to remove his eye to rid himself of the awful cancer that took over his precious little eye socket.  I had another sweet friend who found out her dad has metastised cancer in numerous places in his body and the family is unsure how long he has to live.  Then, the most heart breaking news ever came over my facebook last night.  A precious little boy in Caddo Mills where my husband grew up was hit by a pick up truck and killed instantly last night.  This precious little life... a little boy who went to school, came home, and was outside playing with his dog, met Jesus last night.  With no warning, no time for I love yous and no goodbyes. An amazing homecoming for him, but a sorrow that I can't begin to understand for his precious family. It's perspective, Friends.
    I am finding it harder and harder to have self pity through this walk with Clayton.  I think it's a learning process that I've unknowingly been on the past 8 months.  It just takes a second to look around you, take in the lives of the many people that surround you and realize that life's not all that bad.   
      Last night Caroline and I were talking with Clayton and I was telling him that if he "makes counts" we would be going to Cook.  I was getting him excited about being there on Halloween and the many fun things that would be there if he would get to go.  He stopped and said.. " Mom, what if people who have cancer miss counts and have to miss a week?  Does that mean their cancer grows back while they don't get the chemo?"  First of all, let me say how amazing it is that my little barely 7 year old son has processed that in his head and is now brave enough to ask it. My response.. " Clayton, your cancer will not come back just because you delay chemo a week.  We are doing all the chemo so our chances of your cancer returning are small.  I can't promise you that you will never have cancer again, but I can promise you that we are doing everything we know to do to make sure it doesnt happen."  I then remind him that there's no guarantee that I won't get cancer, or anyone else for that matter.  He is no different than anyone else.  No one is guaranteed a cancer free life, or even a tomorrow for that matter.  It's just so gut wrenching to be having this conversation with my precious, innocent, 7 year old baby.  Already so aware of so much that I wish he never had to even be aware of.
    This weekend was the Relay for Life.  I'm sharing lots of photos from the night.  It was amazing.  Thank you to our precious friends that came out and supported us.  I can't tell you what it meant.  The most amazing moments were walking the survivor walk with Clayton.  The voices of the many people cheering for him and calling his name was precious. To see the luminarie bags decorated for the many children and adults who lost their lives to cancer and the realize that my baby is WINNING.. was overwhelming. I'm so very grateful. I looked down at him with HUGE tears streaming down my face, and noticed the same tears on his.  It was a meaningful moment that I know neither one of us will ever forget.  I've never been so proud of anything ever before in my life as I was of my son in that very moment.  Wow!  Thanks for all who made it happen.
    Just this Sunday our pastor was talking about healing the sick and being able to find good and remember that God is good in all things.  I will say that the goodness of the Lord is what I cling to. I am sooo thankful that He's given me the "perspective" I need to realize that it's ok... we're ok.. Clayton is ok. My prayer is that I would know that even when times ARENT good.. even if God hadn't awarded my miracle in a cancer free Clayton, that I would always profess the goodness of the Lord.  Thanks be to God for healing my baby, holding us tight, and being soverign over us. 



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Family Birthday, 17 years

 Today marks what I call, our family's birthday.  October 21, 1995 I said "I do" to my very best friend and our family was born.  So thankful that I made that decision.  Boy, when we agreed to "for better or for worse" with each other that October evening, I'm sure we had no idea what exactly "for worse" would be. I'm so glad we didn't know what all we would encounter as a couple and as a family.
   I will never forget the call I made to Chad's office when I could only get the out the words, "come home.. it's Clayton".  He came straight home, saw the horror in my face, grabbed my hand and walked with me into the doctor's office.  There is something special in being in the arms of the ONLY person that can FULLY understand exactly how the moment feels. From that moment on, our relationship has certainly had some ups and downs, but we've had each other, and made a promise to keep our family together.
    Early on in this experience with Clayton, Chad and I committed that our marriage was not up for grabs. Regardless of what all happens or how the road turns, we made a commitment that we'd do it together and would walk away from this together.   Cancer in any situation can take more than just a life.  The stress and experience can be so heartbreaking, exhausting and unfair, that it can absolutely change people in a way that kills a marriage and destroys a family. I've seen it happen all around us.  So thankful that the Lord is the center of our lives and through the hard times, the tears, the heart break, and the suffering.. we still have each other.  Please continue to pray for our marriage and our family as we finish this walk with Clayton.
      Last week Clayton's counts were very low.  He was the lowest he's been yet with his Hemoglobin.  It was 7.3.  BOO! He and I ventured to Ft Worth for a blood transfusion to replenish some of those cells and help him feel better.  His white counts were low too, which is normal for this time in his cycle.  We continue to pray that his bones are able to produce the cells needed so we can keep moving forward with his treatment and be done.
   This weekend he went on a father son campout with his daddy and Cort.  The campsite was just 20 minutes or so from home, so we felt comfortable with him going.  From what I hear, he's had a great time and enjoyed being a part of the group.  This coming week should be one of his higher weeks.  So hopeful that he stays strong and feels good.
    Thank you all for continuing to pray.  We are so thankful and grateful for the grace that is being shown to our family.  We love and appreciate you all.
   

Thursday, October 11, 2012

11 of 14 COMPLETED..

 So, we've just completed round 11 of 14.  THREE MORE.. Yesterday Clayton went to school until 12:00, then we headed over to Cook for overnight chemo.  The process takes a while and they are in no huge rush to start the chemo, which is just fine with Clayton.  His nervous energy makes him a little more rambunctious than he normally is, and usually accompanies some behavior problems which I'm sure the staff is completely used to in every kid.  He got to his room about 4:00 and did the prechemo medications, then about 10:00 pm it was time for chemo.  Well, Clayton, my little crazy kid, always has to have some kind of trick up his sleeve to "scare" the nurses.  So, last night the nurse said, I'll be right back with your chemo.  She left the room, Clayton had me hit the lights, and on went his glow in the dark zombie mask.  The nurse walked in and Clayton turned over in his bed hollering " I want to eat your brains."  Bless their hearts.  The nurses are so sweet about it and of course call the rest of the staff in to see it.  Then, they leave again and out
  comes the remote controlled rat.  I don't know how they work under these conditions, but somehow the chemo is administered to a laughing, smiling boy who is trying with everything in him to make the best out of his nightmare.  Love that so much in him.
   Well, the fun comes to an end in the morning.  As is typical, he woke up feeling absolutely terrible this morning in the hospital.  He was very sick to his stomach and complaining that his eyes were burning and just doubled over in pain.  The fun little boy he came in as has now turned into a sad hurting kid who doesn't deserve any of this. It's these moments that I realize what exactly is happening to us.  It's now that I have to stop myself from saying " Why are you doing this to him, Lord...   Where are my angels that watch over him....What are you THINKING, God"?  I just have to stop myself and realize that my God is not the cause of the suffering, but he's the hand holding us up through it. As I type that, I'm reminding myself that He is here, He does care and He knows the hurt.  It's just watching Clayton cry out in pain and understanding that not only can I not stop it, but I allowed it by bringing him to the hospital to receive the chemo...it's hard for this mom's heart.  So, I sit and pray for him outloud, I just have to trust and believe that God is with us even when it sometimes doesn't feel like it.   After a few hours of nausea medicines, and some sleep, he wakes up ok and decides that going home would be great.  Now, he's perked up, helped make his brother's birthday cake, and is soon to be wrapping the gifts for me.  I even heard him ask if we can leave a little early to get Cort so he can take an AR test (Reading) before school ends.  No, I don't understand it, nor will I pretend to.  He is all about living life to the fullest, pushing the thoughts of the bad to the back and pressing forward... My son.. So proud. Now we pray he stays strong with his counts, doesn't get sick, and is able to keep going until round 12.
    I'm in no way making this journey of Clayton's about me.  I am enduring NOTHING compared to him, but I will say that trying to make all of this "okay" for the other three is exhausting.  Tonight Kate dances at the fair, Caroline has an out of town volleyball game, and it's Cort's 10th birthday.  Trying to take care of Clayton, and be mom for the other three has proven impossible today.  Thank you to all of my sweet friends that step in and be mom when I can't.  I love you for it so much!  Thank you all for continuing to lift us us.  The marathon is coming to an end.  I can see the finish line... The above pics are from the pumpkin patch this weekend. Too cute not to post.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In the Window...

   It is strange how things happen. One day you are worried about one thing and then the next day that concern seems so trivial compared to the next newer one.  That is the story of my life!.. Well, up until this point.  I have always been an anxiety ridden, make something out of nothing, stressed, stomach aching Momma who always seemed nervous.. always feeling anxious and honestly couldn't always stop and enjoy life. I don't think I'm that Momma anymore.  I know my nerves and anxiety have been shifted to my baby, so they do still exist..  I think I just realize what worrying has gotten me versus just praying and handing it all over to the God who loves me. Don't let me lie.. I still want to take this situation and put my grasp on it and make it MY plan, but I'm trying very hard to remember that God's plan is better, or better yet trust that His plan is better even when I can't see how that could possibly be so.
       I wanted to share what I see, and have seen, when I am doing my dishes, which is an endless job with a 6 member family, and look out of my kitchen window.  Now, it's night time in this picture, so I'm really not wanting to focus on the  yard, playground set, random kids toys strewn about the yard, or the trampoline that got torn during the recent rainstorm. I see all of that too, and often pretend the mess doesnt exist, but  I'm wanting to focus on the sweet verses that have lined my windowsill really for the last year. These verses and thoughts that I've  just subconsciously read and remembered every day.
    About 2 years ago a sweet bunko friend gave out verses beautifully written and framed for each member of the group.  Little did she know how much I would rely on this verse over the upcoming months.  "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you" James 4:8.  Such simple words, but so big at the same time.  Just a reminder to let Him in, trust Him and give Him a chance to be near to my heart.  Next to it is a wooden block I purchased at Hobby Lobby also about 2 years ago.  I can NOT tell you how this has ministered to me during this walk with Clayton.  I have used every bit of it and need these reminders many times a day.  It says " You can do ALL things through Christ who Strengthens you".. yes, I can, and have, even when I'm saying I can't and kicking and screaming.... "You were created in MY image.  I am on your side." Thank you, Lord for being on our team.. "Two are better than one is always an appropriate response." I've had two thoughts on this one..This walk is NOT easy on a marriage.  There have been days that I'm sure both Chad and I have needed to remember how important it is that the TWO of us stay focused on the big picture and work together to get our family through the hard times. And.. my second thought is remembering that I am stronger with Christ than I could ever be without.. two is better than one. " I will NEVER leave you" Thank you Lord for standing with us, holding us and letting us rest in you! "Hope is an anchor to the soul" Hope... wow.. I have never understood that word as much as I do right now.  Hoping for the best... believing for the best ALWAYS..." I have a good plan for you"  Okay, Lord.. I'm going to trust you and have faith that your "good plan" will unfold. Thank you that you love me and my family enough to plan good for us.  And last..."I am the Lord who heals you"  Yes, You are.  You are our healer and we are so very thankful for your mercy and grace over Clayton and our family.  We just don't even understand it, but we are so very thankful that you are HEALER.
     I was just thinking how strange it is that I bought his little plaque so long ago, and what a blessing and ministry it would be for me over the next few years.  I'm sure if you had stopped me in Hobby Lobby the day I bought this a while ago and told me what I was soon to face, I would have called you a crazy liar and never spoken to you again,  But I feel like this is an example of " He goes before me.. He shields my way."  I do believe the Lord prepares us for things that we will be forced to deal with as we go about life. 
    I also have this sweet little picture of Clayton. It's one of my favorites.  He was well, full of hair, mischievious and the same sweet boy that he is now.  I'll be honest with you,  I want to see that little boy again.  I love the bald head, don't get me wrong, I just want to see the healthy glow again. I want to see his long pretty eyelashes that so perfectly accent his little eyes.  I want it for him and for me.  I want to see him strong and without worry.  I miss the carefree way he ran and played without me following behind him protecting him, like I do now.  I am tired of looking into his pale face and seeing his sunken in eyes and worrying about his blood counts.  Just honestly, I'm ready to see my boy whole and healthy again.  I'm trusting, hoping and believing in the promise that God has promised me good, He will never leave me, He is Healer and He is on our side.
     Last week Clayton had to go get his bloodwork.  He has been a true champion and so strong during these blood draws, but this was a hard one.  Miss Laura had to work for this one.  It caused Clayton some pain and lots of tears and right during the midst of his pain, He looked right at me and said " I really hate you."  I know he doesn't.  I know he hates cancer, needles, chemo, nausea, hospitals, being strong when he wants to be weak, all of these things... I guess that day, I represented all that he hates.  I do not take it personally, as 30 seconds later he was begging me to hold him.  But, I'm tired.. he's tired.. we're all tired and ready to approach a fresh start in the new year.  Please continue to hold us up.  Four more chemos.. we can do this!  Praise the Lord for His hand on Clayton and our family.  We are forever in awe and grateful.
  


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daddy

   Sometimes I try to think through Clayton's eyes.  I try to remember back to when I was a 7 year old.  What do I remember about that time in my life?  What will Clayton remember? Will he remember everything that he's going through?  Will he smell a hospital and immediately remember his days there?  Will he remember his mother holding him and crying and praying?  Will he remember his Daddy picking him up and carrying him because he felt too crummy to walk?
     So, as I'm thinking back, one thing I know I remember is always having the desire to be a wife and mommy... always daydreaming about who I would marry and what that would be like for me.  I will be honest here.. as I person who grew up with many self esteem issues, I remember vividly wondering if anyone would ever WANT to marry me?  Would I be blessed with a husband?  Well, 41 years ago today, my life's biggest blessing was born in a hospital in Greenville, Tx.  Amazing to think about how at that moment God already knew the plans He had for that little baby boy.  How thankful I am that those plans included me!  I couldnt be more blessed. 
     Chad,  thank you for giving your best to me and our children always... for loving me with your whole heart despite my failures.  Thank you for holding me up when I can't stand... for letting me sob on your shoulder for days...for making me see the positive side of everything...for forgiving me when I don't deserve forgiveness....for being an amazing father...for providing for us... for fighting for our marriage over anything else..and for seeing a beauty in me that I don't see.   Our children are blessed by you, I'm blessed by you, and you bless the Lord in your daily walk.  Couldn't be more thankful for the man who God chose for me.  I love you!  Happy Birthday! Philippians 1:3 " I thank my God everytime I think of you".
      As an update on Clayton.  He's doing great this week.  I can see in his little face that the chemo is taking effect and he's probably pretty low with his blood counts.  But, he has played 2 flag football games, earned 3 dog tags at school for reading MANY books, played nonstop with his brother and is feeling well and fever free.  I'm so very grateful.  He is insisting on coming home after school and wrapping dads gifts and making Dad's birthday cake "By Hisself:)" The only explanation for how he's handling this is God.  I am amazed by the angels that surround him keeping him safe and well and keeping his heart positive.  There is no other explanation, friends.
    I will tell you that we had his hearing tested last week.  He is only having a mild loss in his right ear, which the audiologist believes is temporary because of some fluid on his ear drum.  We are so grateful.  We have been assured that he will probably lose most of his hearing in his right ear due to radiation, but it would happen as he grows.  So far, we are not seeing a huge loss.  Also, he had a follow up with his Kidney surgery (unrelated to cancer).  The tests are not showing that the kidney is functioning completely as it should be.  We have decided that since the Lord gave us two kidneys and he is in no danger, we will cross the kidney bridge after we are done with chemotherapy.  There is no emergency here, and we are told there is no harm to him in waiting to review this in a few months. 
   Thank you to all of you who continue to lift our family up in prayer.  We are forever grateful.  So very very grateful. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Bearing Their Burdens

Crazy hair day
Tonight I'm writing as I sit here at Cook Children's with Clayton for his 10th round of Big Chemo.. Wow.. after tonight only 4 left.  How exciting to think that we've come this far.  Clayton has had a WONDERFUL round this past time.  He's had a high ANC, great attitude, and has not missed a day of school feeling bad.  He's PUMPED to say the least.  He's reading tons of books insisting that he stay at the top of his class, and he's approached each day with excitement and anticipation of what is to come.  So proud! Please pray that this round of chemo and the future chemos will be as good to him and the one he just finished.  I'm watching him sleep right now as the nurses are preparing to administer his chemo.  Precious little boy!
   
Caroline, my 7th grade Volleyball player!
I was just thinking  about the job of being a mother.. the gift of being a mother.. the high calling of being a mom...the privilege. Being a mom to four was a big job BEFORE I had a child on a strict chemo regimine, now it's just CRAZY.  It's not easy, and sometimes it even hurts. Moms know what's under those gorgeous smiles, and we hurt for our kids when they hurt. In most cases, we have been there before.  I've been a 12 year old with "friends" who were mean to me just because I didn't say hi in the hall  . I've been a scared 14 year old who walked into a huge new school.  I've been standing in front of a group of people who were counting on me to "get it right" and I didnt... for the most part, I can relate.  However, with Clayton and this chemo, I have NO clue what really goes on in his little heart and mind. I can't relate... and that scares me.  I can relate to the mom next door and the dad down in the family room, but I can't imagine the gut wrenching thoughts that go through Clayton's mind as he approaches the doors of the hospital, as he lays under the loud MRI machine, as he laid with a mask pinned to his face for radiation 28 days straight. I don't understand why certain smells bother him because it "smells that the radiation place".   I CAN'T relate! But, what I do know is that my heart is a little smaller because his hurts have taken a piece of it, just like my heart hurts when Caroline is sad from the  comments friends have made about her and she doesn't understand, or when Cort walks a batter when his team is counting on him for the strike out.  We moms bear ALL our kids burdens, and it's a tough job that I find has gotten harder over the years, not easier.
   

    Earlier this week, as I was laying awake trying to figure out how I'm going to be at Clayton's flag football game, Cort's out of town Baseball tournament, Kate's dance exhibition and Caroline's out of town volleyball tournament ALL ON THE SAME DAY, and all with one kiddo that will be weak from chemo, I found myself feeling discouraged. I want to be AT ALL of the activities, but it can't be so. Chad and I just can't be at all four places, as much as we both want to. For some reason, in our house whichever activity Mom attends... that child is considered  "the favorite" by his/her siblings.  Yes, talk about pressure. What my kids don't understand is that I go with each of them in my heart, and my mind has no favorites.  They are all four precious gifts to me who I treasure.

     This journey our family has been on is not one I wish to ever repeat.  EVER.. It has really pushed me to my limit as a mom, a wife, a Christian and as a friend.  It's reminded me that I am only one person, one mom who needs Godly friends to help me through.  It has reminded me that being a mom to a child with hurts is a privilege that I must embrace.  I've learned that I can't do it alone. It's made me so grateful for the amazing man and dad that stands with me and beside me everyday helping me keep the ship afloat.  It's made me know that what my mom always told me must be true... "Anything that is worth anything takes effort.. if it doesn't take effort, it's probably not worth it".  I've learned that when that test turned pink telling me the good news of a new baby... it truly meant work.  It meant that my heart would never be the same and my world had changed for the much harder, but better.  It meant bearing their burdens... always!

   


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Enduring the Trial...

 This has been a great week for Clayton.  He is at school, which makes him completely happy, and he's feeling well.  His red cells are high enough that he has lots of energy and last time we checked, his white counts were amazing too.  Personally, I think his good days are alot in part because he feels normal.  He feels like a normal kid, going to normal school, reading normal books and being one of the gang.  I'll take it! He's so excited that the next time he has to get poked for anything is 8 days from now!  He's going to have 10 days total with NO pokes! YEAH!  The pictures here are of him LOVING his flag football practices.  He's so happy and loving being the QB and Running back.
                                                                                 
   This week, we've been listening to a little song that Clayton has been working on called "He is Good".  I was able to download a kids version that begins with a little child speaking these words, "Nothing makes us want to worship God more than this one thing... He is GOOD! Life can be hard, things are not always fair, bad things happen, but God is ALWAYS ALWAYS Good!"  I had never heard this version before, so the little voice speaking  on the recording touched me... but not nearly like it did Clayton.  As soon as the child finished speaking, I could see the wheels in his brain turning, and with that I hear," Mom... that girl said just what I think. Bad things aren't fair, are they?"  Me-  "No, Baby, they sure aren't, but aren't we thankful that God is good enough to help us through?"  I still see the wheels turning, but I know he's sure of the goodness of God.  I know he feels covered by the love of a God who will NEVER forsake him.
      The past couple of weeks, I've been hearing a lot about trials.  I've read and heard many hard stories of people going through trials, feeling hurts that seem impossible to deal with, and feeling lost in a sea of uncertainty.  I am NO expert.. in fact, I need the trial discussion worse than anyone, so I guess I am going to use this moment to make myself feel better too.
    As I look back on my life, I see many hurts and trials I've experienced... most of them too personal and hurtful to discuss in this public forum.  Just know, I've been down a few roads and felt many things that strangely make me relate to many different people.  As I was walking through each trial separately, I've thought... nothing will ever be worse than THIS.. Well, as you all know, last February my list of "lifetime trials"  got trumped with this BIG experience with my precious child.  My heart broke, my spirit died, my eyes filled with tears and my love for the God who has always helped me up DID NOT CHANGE.  Yep, you read it... Did I question Him.. you betcha!  Did I get mad at him? YEP!  Am I STILL mad sometimes? Sure Am... But He has  always been MY God and I've continued to be able to feel His presence through my agony.
    I honestly dont think that God "Allows us to endure trials".  I just can't believe that, and I've heard many people say "Why would a God who is Good, do this?"  Trust me, I've been there and still am there sometimes... I believe that God doesn't "allow" the trial, but He surrounds us while we're "IN" the trial.  I just can't believe that God "Allows" a child to have cancer or a Christian Man to suddenly fall away from God and leave for another family or A mother to suffer depression severe enough that she sees her life as meaningless and only worth ending or a family to experience the heartbreak of losing their teenager in a car accident, I will just never believe that God would see a child suffer and "allow" it.  But, even with the question of how the trial became and why... the answer being one I may not know until I approach His throne in heaven,  I still know that He gives us the ability to persevere and grow and learn through it.  I am trusting in His promise in James 1:13 " Blessed in the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. "  Let me say for the record, I am NOT thankful for my trial.. I do NOT count it all joy... I am NOT feeling "blessed that the Lord chose Clayton to grow and learn through this".. (yes, this has been said to me).   I'm still mad, still discouraged, still afraid like I've never been before, but somehow I am trying to find God within my circumstance, hand it over to Him (as hard as that is) and trust His goodness to shine in the end.
    The little song "He is Good" also has a child saying this verse very animated in the middle.. I'll share "Psalm 145:8-11... The Lord is GRACIOUS and compassionate, slow to anger  and rich in love.  The Lord is good to ALL.  He has compassion on ALL He has made.  All you have made will praise you, Oh Lord.  Your saints will extol you.  They will tell of the glory of your kingdom... speak of your might."  My hope and prayer is that through all of this and through the experiences that are to come.. that all FOUR of my children would grow up,  know of the Goodness of the Lord,  trust in His hand of healing and protection, and  fully grasp the gift of His faithfulness through all circumstances.  Four healthy kids remembering this moment of God getting us through the trial, and forever being grateful for his Goodness.. That's my prayer.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

We're Aware...Are you?

 As you may or may not know, the month of September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  If you are anything like I used to be, I used to hear that and think... "Oh Bless their hearts!  Those poor families that have to deal with cancer."  I never thought about how I could help nor did I EVER think I would have to become aware.

  Friends, I AM AWARE in a way that I hope none of you will ever be, and I wish I never was. I was aware as I was on my knees in front of EVERYONE at Texas Children's begging God for no cancer in Clayton's body.  I was aware the moment I signed off to allow my son to have treatments that could cause death, hearing loss, future cancers, blood transfusions, nausea, hair loss, no energy, no immune system.  I am aware when I look at the dark circles under his little eyes, when I hear him cry in his pillow at night, when I see him THRILLED to get out of the car for school because he's allowed to be somewhere.  I'm AWARE. Ask any of my three older children about childhood cancer.  I promise you, down to my 9 year old, they're more than aware too.

 I'm sure most of you have no idea how little funding is really given to childhood cancer research.  It's incredibly discouraging. It's unacceptable and unfair. We need to be aware.

      I spent an hour Friday arguing as a heartsick mother with Clayton's doctor just begging him to tell me there is something besides this awful chemo that will save my son.  Questioning him on how they can NOT know.. in a frustrated moment reminding him that my son is NOT his, so he can't possibly say what he'd do if it were his son.  You see, we were discussing the idea of lowering the dosage of one of Clayton's three chemo drugs.  Some small study is being done now to see if lowering the dose of this particular drug would be successful and still help prevent recurrence.  This is important because this is the main drug that  RAISES Clayton's chances of acquiring leukemia later in life.  So, I was left with two choices, lower Clayton's drug based on a new study and possibly raise his risk of reoccurence, which we've been told is much harder to cure than first time diagnosis, or continue on his current protocol and continue to put his body at risk of leukemia later down the road.  Wow!  Yes, Friends, I'm AWARE! I'm aware that not enough "research" has been done to help our doctor and Chad and me make this decision. I'm aware that there is currently no way to PREVENT cancer.
  I get discouraged at the things we worry about in this country.  I know that politicians, with the help of many American people, will spend tens of millions of dollars on the upcoming presidential election.  Let's be honest, I'd say 95% of us know who we are voting for already, so why all the expense there?  I'm also aware of ridiculous funding our country recently spent on a study of Mars... seriously, Mars is more important that my child's life and the lives of many others?  It's concerning.  Be AWARE.

About a month ago I was sitting at Cook Childrens watching two nurses clad in protective gowns and gloves administering chemo to my baby through his IV .   Just during this time, I was reading conversations all over the social media extentions about who is or is not eating at Chick Fil A and how awful and terrible these people on either side are.  Really?  Does anyone else see that our focus is off here?  It's frustrating to say the least.

    All I would ask you to do is take  part.  Be aware.  Go to Chilis this month.  They are taking donations for St. Judes research hospital. Give a little. Find one of Alex's Lemonade Stands in our local stores.  Give a couple of dollars.  Find a research relay to run in....Run, Walk, or support someone who is.  I'm just asking us all to take part in this.  You never know when it might be your child, your future grandchild, your family.  With four kids, I have the potential to have many grandchildren.  God forbid one of them would ever face this, I'm praying and trusting that our country will have come up with something better then.. Something that could PREVENT this.

    Well, sorry about my soap box.  I don't usually go off on these things, but the Cancer Awareness month makes me excited to hope that we're actually AWARE.  I know the parents of those children who were not as fortunate as Clayton and who have been made whole and healthy in heaven are far too aware. 

    For a Clayton update, he was able to do big chemo on Friday.  He was accompanied by his Daddy.  It went well and he's doing great for having just had his treatment.  He was able to return to school today, and came home happy.  Please continue to pray that his counts stay up for him to go to school and that he feels well.  We so appreciate you all for your love and support to our family and your constant prayers.  We feel them. I added a picture here of what I was doing while Clayton had his big chemo Friday night.  I was able to drive to College Station and watch my beautiful daughter experience her first night dancing as a Goal Tender.  I bawled the majority of the time, so proud of her, thankful for her health, and sad about how fast she is growing up!  Love that Kate!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just One of the Guys...

 Well, my Clayton got his wish!  He started school yesterday.  My little guy walked into a first grade class, sat in a desk and did his work.  Thank you, Lord.  He was SO excited.  I think for him he just felt like "one of the guys".  Bless his heart, as he walked in, with his head held high and a pep in his step, I saw kids and parents watching him, quietly  whispering to each other, smiling at me and offering lots of high fives.  It's hard to fit right in when you're the lone bald kid on campus.  I could not be prouder of my boy for taking it in stride and just being so thrilled to go to school that it doesnt matter to him. My favorite thing of the day was seeing Cort walk to Clayton's desk, lean down and whisper in his ear " You're gonna be ok.  I'm gonna miss you."  PRECIOUS!


 One thing about Clayton, he takes a great deal of pride in being a smart kiddo.  He's able to read at a much higher level than 1st grade and his ability to spell and use vocabulary is exceptional.  His favorite word the past couple of weeks has been "theoretically" and he's very good at arguing his point with very well thought out opinions and ideas.  So, for him to be at school shining his smart light, he's very happy. Where many kids find their pride on the baseball or soccer field, Clayton takes great pride in his schoolwork.  Nothing wrong with that.   
Yesterday was also his second flag football practice.  Because he has not had big chemo in such a long time, he's feeling good and back like his old self.  He was a champ as quarterback and running back yesterday.  Again..so thankful that he could be out there playing.
   Which leads me to last night.  Clayton did not make counts to do his chemo Monday night.  This was not necessarily bad, as it allowed him to start school and experience the fun "firsts", but it did delay him to have chemo tomorrow.  I'm 99% sure he'll make counts for tomorrow because he was borderline on Monday. I have committed as Clayton's mom not to "sneak up on him" regarding his treatments.  I always want to be honest and forthright with him because that is only fair.  Last night, I was preparing him for having his blood drawn today and having big chemo Friday.  I was explaining to him that he would miss school Friday and we'd go to Cooks for his overnight chemo.  Well, my sweet boy started quietly sobbing, crying, begging me to not take him.  Begging me to let him quit and just be "one of the normal guys" that gets to stay home.  He is DONE. I told him I'd give my whole life to make it stop for him, but we have to push through so he can be cancer free forever.  He's 7.. old enough to understand that he's going to feel terrible AGAIN for awhile, but young enough to not see the big picture.  It's absolutely gut wrenching!  Clayton, when you're old enough to read this and remember, please know that I am hurting right here with you and begging God to see you through.  I'm so sorry!
 
 For tomorrow, I'm going to drive him to Cooks, get him settled in then switch off with Chad who will stay overnight.  Kate is having her first ever football game to dance in, and Caroline has volleyball tryouts.  My heart is getting pulled many ways and either way, I lose because I can't be with everyone.  Chad wants to spend the time with Clayton, so I'm going to brave leaving him overnight.  Please pray for Clayton, that this round would be easier on him, and will quickly be forgotten. Pray that it's a sweet time with his Daddy too!

  I just feel like we can't complain.  Our summer as a family was amazing...Dance Recital, Cousin Visits, Finishing Radiation, Clayton turns 7, Mom turns 40, Kate went to San Francisco, Boys did 2 baseball camps, Camp Sanguinity, Camp Thurmon day camp, South Padre Island, Cheer competition, Dance Camp, Ranger Game,  Indianapolis, Baseball tournaments, Youth Camp, Hawaiian Falls, Volleyball Camp, and lots of sleeping in... all of that in the midst of several Big Chemos.  I do see God's hand on our family and holding us up, often pushing us forward when we cant move.

     Im going to ask for specific prayer right now for our little friend, Reid.  His parents were originally told that he also had Rhabdomysarcoma.  He was taken to St. Judes to learn that he has Spindle Cell Sarcoma.  His parents have been told that he may need to have his eyeball and the eye orbit removed.  Precious Reid is 3 years old.  This is a gut wrenching horrible decision to make as parents for your child. Please hold them up and pray for this precious family to see a miracle performed in their son and for the baby to be able to have his eye forever!