27 October 2011

Our Rangers!

So, I thought it would be fun to document a little bit of our family's history with the Texas Rangers. This picture was taken just a couple of weeks ago when we got to go to a playoff game as a family!
David and I were talking the other night about how when we were dating in college, we would often go out to dinner and then about the 6th inning of the Ranger game we would go to the ballpark, park for free, and go into the game for free (pictures exist but they aren't digital). Some seasons the Rangers were doing so bad we could take our pick at just about any seat in the park... well, unless they were playing the Red Sox or the Yankees and then many of the seats were filled by their fans.
I can honestly say I have no memories of the Texas Rangers before having David in my life. The only baseball I ever remember watching was as I passed by the tv in my PawPaw's house in Highlands, TX where Memaw was sitting and watching her Astros play. David I think has been a fan for life. He grew up in the metroplex and in High School even worked at the ballpark.
Kirstyn and James both went to the ballpark for their first times as infants! Kirstyn was born in November so she had to wait until she was about 6 months old to go to her first game. Since James was born at the end of May, he was only about 2 weeks old for his first trip.
Now when the kids were little we even went to the Ballpark a few times with both sets of grandparents. Actually, we were with David's parents for Kirstyn's first game and with my parents for one of James' first games. And yes, you are seeing the dates correct, James went to the ballpark at least twice before he was even a month old!
There is no shortage of pictures of our family and Ranger experiences but I do have some favorites! I also have some favorite stories. Once when Kirstyn was about 3, David made the mistake of taking Kirstyn to a Ranger vs. Red Sox game. He called me about the third inning to tell me they were leaving and I could hear Kirstyn crying in the background. She was crying because the Sox fans outnumbered the Ranger fans and when Michael Young got up to bat they booed him and she took it very personally! And James, well last year when David got James his Claw and Antlers tshirt, he insisted on wearing it backwards because the T for Rangers went in the front!
These pictures are from last year's playoffs! We all thought IT'S TIME... and it was. It was Time for the Rangers to win their first AL Pennant.
This year for Father's Day, James got David his very own Captain Pillow Pet. David had just spent two plus weeks sleeping at the hospital with me so I think it was a perfect present!
And now, tonight, we are rooting for Our Rangers to win the World Series!
My Texas!
My Rangers!
(on an unrelated note, maybe I should have titled this post, the many weights of Natalie while wearing Rangers shirts!) Oh and I swear, blogger will NOT cooperate and let me put spacing where I want it. It did this on my last post too so if you know how to fix it, PLEASE share!

16 September 2011

How am I doing?

How are you?
A question I often dread hearing...
A question SO many people ask...
A question that people that really know me also know they might just get more of an answer than they have the time or energy for...
A question that my friends never expect to hear "fine" but have heard lately...
Truth is, I think I've simply forgotten what feeling good, really good, feels like. Yet, I'm also very sick and tired of being tired and sick. Some days when all I want is to surround myself with friends, I end up closing myself into my room. Some days my thoughts seem to be more along the lines that if I just distance myself now then when I die it will be easier on everyone. Other days I want to make the most of every moment I have but because I'm still not allowed to drive I find myself trapped at home when I could be eating lunch with Kirstyn at her school or meeting David near his work for a quick lunch date. And then when I find a ride I struggle to get dressed because after being on steroids since June I have gained 40 lbs and then when I do find clothes I stand and cry because I can't even begin to cover all of the bald spots that were left after 6 weeks of radiation.
(This week I did go shopping at Arl Resale with a friend and got 5 pairs of jeans for $16, 3 fit now and the other 2 will fit when I loose a little weight cause I'm still a LONG way from last winter's clothes. Also, my mother in law went to Ross and sent me sacks full of cute dresses to try on and I kept 5 of those! Kirstyn has been so excited the last couple of days to get home and find me wearing something other than yoga pants and a too tight tank top or tshirt. Her complements have been so honest and loving... )
The rest of the truth is, I'm terrified. I've only known two women in their 30's with cancer and both of those amazing women are now in heaven. They both handled their journey so much better than I feel like I am. They were better people than I will ever be. Their families have continued living life... I'm scared to be too honest with anyone for fear of hurting them in some way. It hurts David when I try to talk to him about life for him and the kids without me. Truth is, none of us know when we will leave this life, but it has been rather devastating for all of us to learn how I might go.
So, when you ask me "How are you?".... If I hesitate, it's because I don't really know. I do know, I'm trying! I'm trying to have more faith than fear. I'm trying to make the most of every moment even when I'd rather be napping or watching mindless tv. I'm trying to put on makeup, I'm trying to eat healthy, I'm trying to say 'I love you' more often, and I'm trying to ask for help when I need it even though I don't want to because I want to be strong and independent and not a burden! I'm trying to let you build my faith by letting you be the hands and feet of Jesus for my family right now.
P.S. Don't expect too many blog posts from me... this one made me cry too much!
Thanks for your prayers! Right now I am half way through my 4 week break from Chemo and Radiation. I have an MRI on Sept 27 and then appointments with Dr. Fink (my oncologist) and Dr. Barker (radiation dr) on Sept 29 to find out what's next from the medical point of view in this battle for my life. We are prayerfully asking HIM to heal me and selfishly asking HIM to heal me here and not there with HIM, not yet....
I'm going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I am desperately trying to apply:
"Most men and women will yield to the strong currents sucking them into the seas of ruin. Only the strongest in mind and spirit will swim against that current." ~Character Thomas Hunter in Ted Dekker's 'Circle Trilogy'

01 August 2011

Our journey, part 2

As I lay hear tonight, I think back on the last couple of months. I can not believe it has been 2 months now since Natalie's scary night that started us on this new journey. I have been reminded of those who have fought this battle before us, and with us. Some not here anymore, some fighting for their lives, and some who have overcome. I haven't truly dealt with all that has gone on. I mean, between my job, helping as much as I can with kids and around the house, I haven't really had time to truly ponder. But as I piece together the last two months, I am reminded of God's love, God's provision, but above all God's sovereignty. He is all powerful, all knowing, and is everywhere. As humans, we have very finite brains. We can never fully grasp every bit of info about God. But I have faith that I know who He is, and that He exists.

I read some of the Book of Job tonight, and look at what happened to him, and his response to God is amazing. He gets mad, angry and upset at what God allows to happen. And, his life got real bad, and those closest to him didn't seem to care that much about him. But ultimately, he remained faithful. Wow! I have struggled with remaining faithful, I will be honest. I struggle with the question of "why!?".

Why would You allow this to happen?

And I may never truly know...but given my past, I should not even be here. My biological mother, whom I don't know, could have very easily aborted me. As many accidents as I had, some severe, I could have not walked away from one. Story after story I could share of a time I should/could have passed on. But I didn't. God spared me for some purpose.

Which is my conclusion with the cancer Natalie is fighting right now. Obviously, she could have not survived the seizures. It could be very malignant, with no time left. Numerous things...yet she is still here...by my side. God has a reason that she is still here. I am reminded of that verse in Hebrews that says "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.". Those who are fighting, have fought, are no longer here...they are our witnesses. And we need to run our race that is set before us with perseverance, diligence, and faithfulness - throwing aside my fears, doubts, anger, pride, lust - sin - and follow God. He has given us the guide markers (the Bible), and even a pacesetter (Jesus). Ultimately it is our decision whether we are going to follow the pacesetter, and the markers outlining the track, or do it on our own, going our own way.

As for me and my house...we will serve the Lord

I love my wife deeply, and pray for her daily. I feel like I fail her most days, as she gradually gets to feeling worse. I continue to try and love her the way God intended us to do, but not being here very much is hard. And I want her to know I love her with all my heart...Please continue to pray for me that I would daily have the strength to take care of my precious bride, and that she would continue pressing forward with Gods strength pushing her. That she would continue to rely on Him, and even with the drugs she is on, she would be able to keep her complete well-being.

~ David ~

24 July 2011

I keep saying...

I keep saying that I need to blog about this journey I am on with cancer. But then, I hear myself say that C word and I change my mind...

What I DO need to be keeping track of is how my faith is building. My faith is growing because I am allowing the people around me to be the hands and feet of Jesus for me and my family. It seems like every few minutes either my mom or David are telling me something else someone has done for us, or someone is ringing the doorbell to come bring us food or come in to work in the house to help us with the home improvements that we needed to do! It's overwhelming to realize how much we are loved.

Now, every evening I sit here at the computer at the table. I have to sit up (straight as possible...) in the evenings for at least an hour after I take my chemo pills. I have to wait at least an hour and a half with NO eating or drinking anything before taking my chemo so some nights I get started late. Most nights, I eat a light dinner with the family, then get the kids off to bed, get myself ready for bed and then fall asleep.... then it takes David a while to wake me up enough to talk me into moving to the breakfast room table with my laptop so that I will sit up and take the pills and not fall back asleep. ugh. Anyway, that is our routine now. Don't get me wrong, I am very thankful that I can do the chemo at home.

Tomorrow will start week two of six of my at home oral Chemo and our driving to Fort Worth for my daily radiation. (Ugh, and yet still, the most frustrating thing to me is that I don't get to drive... at all... until at least Dec 2nd because of the seizure I had on June 2nd. On Monday's I will also see the radiation doctor to see how things are going and maybe learn when we get to reduce the dose of steroids I am taking again. I can't wait to be off of these steroids so I can feel less jittery and so my face and neck will look less like the Michelin man! We also will be doing blood work every Monday and getting the results of that on Wednesdays. Please pray that my White and Red blood cell counts stay up. I NEED to be around people and so I need those counts to stay good.

Thanks for all the support! I really am going to start trying to blog more. I really do want to document all of the blessings that we are experiencing on this journey!


11 June 2011

Our New Journey

Life is full of surprises.

Jesus never said that following Him would be easy or that because we are His children life would be easy. In fact, He said that "in this world you WILL have trouble" (John 16:33). Not might have, or can have, but WILL have. And we all know that just living your life from day to day can bring about lots of interesting, scary, wonderful, heart-wrenching, time consuming things, some of which are a complete shock. God set everything into motion, and created everything - universe, earth, plants, water, sky, animals - by just speaking. Except for humans. He created us with His hands. That is comforting to me - the God of the universe, who could speak a word and create the entire heavens and earth, took the time to form ME and shape ME with His bare hands. In fact, we are made in HIS image. WOW!

And we are intricately made. All the different ways that different parts of our body are connected - all the veins, neurons, cells, and atoms that are working 24/7 to make sure our body is functioning, thinking, healing, breathing, blinking, hearing, smelling, touching, digesting, moving, and resting - is AMAZING to me. How you can massage one part of your body and it affect another part, because of nerves and muscles, is INCREDIBLE. God is an artist for sure. But even though He made us in His image, we still experience troubles, heartaches, pains, etc. And that is just a part of life, and we have learned to deal with most of those issues. Except when the one thing we never thought would happen, does happen. The one thing that you always said "oh, that will never happen to us", does actually happen to us. And at that moment, your world crashes down on you and you basically have to start over. You have to make decisions you never in a million years thought you would have to make. At that moment, you realize - this is for real!

June 2, 2011 at 1:15AM.

That was one of those moments for me...for us.

It was just a kick. But that was followed by another, and then another. I awoke to see my wife shaking uncontrollably, having a seizure, making the worst noises I had ever heard. I was calling her name once I realized she wasn't dreaming, and I turned on the light, only to find her eyes rolling in to the back of her head. I dialed 911. But she started slowing down, kicking a few more times than stopping all together, her face turning blue. She had stopped breathing, staring at me lifeless. I dropped the phone (evidently hanging it up in the process) and I started CPR. It was all I knew to do. But the miraculous thing is, I don't know CPR. I mean I know you breath and push on their chest, and you make sure the airways are opened up, but how you actually go about doing that...yeah, don't ask me. My wife is the one whose CPR certified. I guess her making me watch Grey's and ER actually CAN be good for your brain. But in that moment God gave me clarity and wisdom to know what to do.

As I was blowing in her mouth, 911 called back. She took a breath as I answered the phone. She started seizing again, slower this time, and then she sat up, looking me dead in the eye, but could not talk, respond, or anything. SCARY! I was shaking but the person at the other end of the phone assured me that help was on the way. I swear within 5 minutes, the police officer was standing at my door, and not far behind him were the EMTs and Firefighters. They were testing things and asking me questions, but all I could do was stare at my wife's lifeless face not responding to questions, not doing anything but staring off into space.

For the first time in a long time, I didn't know what to do. It was one of those moments...this isn't supposed to happen to us. The scariest things crossed my mind. What if I was losing my wife? What if she is in a vegetable state forever? What if...What if... That is when the indescribable peace of God came over me - something I could never explain to someone in a million years, yet if you have experienced it, you know exactly what I am talking about. I again had clarity as they began to load my wife in the ambulance. I started making phone calls. Since my kids did not wake up during this scary ordeal (THANK GOD!!), I had to get someone to watch them in case they did wake up. I called my mom (who lives 30 minutes away) to come over. I called my pastor friend from across the street to come over and watch the kids until my mom got there. I then called my in-laws on the way to the hospital to let them know what was going on. I called to the emergency/after hours number for our church, to leave a message for someone to pray. And then I started praying.

Evidently she had another seizure in the ambulance. And once she got to the ER, they separated me from her into a family room. It was unnerving to leave her not knowing if she was going to be okay, but I still had that peace, and so I sat and prayed. I didn't even know what to pray, but I did it anyway. Eventually (in what seemed like forever!) the doctor on-call came in and told me that her brain was completely swollen, and that it seemed there was a "mass" pushing against the brain. Again, one of those moments that isn't supposed to happen. They need to transfer her to another hospital, he tells me, one with a neurologist on call. They had called several and decided on Plaza Medical Center in Fort Worth. Never heard of it, but I didn't care. I wanted my wife better, and fast. So wherever they felt like she needed to go, I would let them take her there.

She was in Neuro ICU at "the Plaza" (that's what they called the hospital - kinda sounds like a resort or something to me) from Thursday the 2nd until Friday the 10th. They ran several tests, did several scans,and we met with several doctors. They determined she had a brain tumor in her right temporal lobe that was heading into the frontal lobe. They wouldn't know for sure whether it was cancerous until the pathology reports came back after surgery, but based on what they had already done, they told us it most likely was a slow-growing cancer.

The "C-word".

So surgery was scheduled for Tuesday the 7th. They would remove "the mass", as much as they could anyway, and send off some to pathology. The preliminary diagnosis: Grade 2 Astrocytoma. Brain Cancer. I started doing some research to learn more about it, see what options are available for treatment and where, and see if there was another doctor that I could take her to. And I continued to pray.

Did you know that the color for Brain Cancer Awareness is grey? Me neither, until now. Another one of those things I never thought I would have to know. The prognosis is good for her, but we are still in the middle of a waiting game. We are at a point where we are waiting on final results, one doctor wants to do nothing, and a lot of people are wanting us to do something. Including me. During my research, I found a doctor named Dr. Karen Fink, in Dallas. I have 4 people I know who have gone to her, and 4 others who recommend her. She is a neuro-oncologist in Dallas at the Baylor Sammons Cancer Center. I called her office, and Natalie has an appointment on the 22nd. I am going to take all the tests, scans, and films, and see what someone who specializes in brain cancer has to say. A second-opinion in every sense of the word.

I am overwhelmed by all the decisions I am having to make while my wife is in the hospital, but you know? I will take that over the what ifs that were running through my mind a week ago. And you know what else? I didn't finish that Bible verse from the beginning - "In this world you WILL have trouble...". The ending of it is sooooooo true. And it is what I am leaning on right now:

"...But take heart! I have overcome the world." We WILL have struggles, trials, pains, heartaches. Troubles. But He has overcome the world. And I have faith that no matter what, everything will be okay. He created us, He takes care of us, and He lets us live a life of freedom and joy. For those who know Him and love Him, we know that He will get us through whatever comes our way. But sometimes, when life gives us surprises, we are so shocked, it is hard to think, and we start listing off the what ifs.

Please pray for my beautiful wife, and the battle she has been placed in. I am daily putting on my armor and standing in the gap for my wife. Satan would like to do nothing more than cause us more pain, make us lose heart. Not on my watch.

We may not know why; we may not know when; we may not know what's going on; we may not know where; we may not even know how. But regardless - we know WHO, and He has overcome. Therefore, through Him, so can we.

And remember: Gray matters

~ David ~

17 March 2011

Chore Charts and Behavior Charts

So, as I mentioned, I am overwhelmed. I feel like I am on my own with my kids all. of. the. time. AND since they are adjusting to a new normal around our house they have been VERY difficult. Really, I think some days they are spending time plotting ways to make ME crazy.

Then I was given the chance to review http://www.goalforit.com/ ! Yeah! I was needing SOME help, ANY help. *sigh* Well, I went over to the site and looked around. We have been using it for several weeks now and the Chore Charts have been great! I have just printed them out and taped them up in the kitchen so that I can draw a star on the chart as soon as the chore has been completed. I was not crazy about going upstairs to the office to check off things on the computer. If our laptop was cooperating it would have been great to do it online in the kitchen. Anyway, James has started putting on his own pajamas just so he can get a star. Kirstyn will now brush her teeth twice per day just to "accomplish" something on her chart that doesn't really feel like a chore! The kids have also liked how their charts are just for them. James' is blue with race cars and Kirstyn's is pink (of course) with a rock star on it!

The behavior charts haven't been as immediately gratifying. We are still trying to find a way for these to work for our family. What do you do at your house? Right now I am really struggling with Kirstyn 'back-talking' me every single time I tell her to do something. And James, well he is struggling with controlling his body! He resorts to hitting far to often. Anyway, we are trying!

All in all, we have loved http://www.goalforit.com/ for getting the kids to doing their chores around the house! I just wish there was an iPhone app, then maybe the behavior ones would work better for us. I would be able to track and correct those issues visibly even when we are on the GO. Go check it out and let me know what you think and if it works for you! I think next I will do some goal setting of my own and track MY progress.



Well, hello Blog Land! It has been so long since I logged into my blog, I was actually shocked that I remembered my password. Much has been going on at our house and well, life has just gotten in the way of my blogging.... and my reader, well, lets just say that I am terrified to even see how far behind I am. I am sure there will be a "mark all as read" day in my near future!

Some changes:
David resigned from his job as an insurance agent and we sold our business to his mom.
I went to work part time for my Mother In Law
Kirstyn started 1st grade!
Things got VERY stressful when David could not find a job and was unemployed for 7 months!
The Gold's Gym I was working out in and teaching Body Pump at, closed with NO notice (and still owes me payroll that I never expect to see).
I found a Body Pump class to teach at the Downtown Fort Worth YMCA.
I've gained 15 lbs and have to get myself under control ASAP.
I MISS my gym "family".
David found a job that he LOVES.
He works 11 and 12 hour days, when you add in commute, there are days that he doesn't even see the kids.
I'm overwhelmed more often than not, so if you pray.... please think of me.