Tuesday, October 30, 2012


 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.