Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Great News!

We just returned from our latest trip from St. Jude and we received wonderful news. The tumor still has not changed!! It was awesome to hear the doctor say those words! I am still amazed at how God continues to bless our family and I am so grateful that His healing hand is still touching my precious baby!

This trip went really smoothly. Lyla did just fine being away from us-I think she was treated like a queen while we were gone! Abby was very brave yesterday during the IV poke and the MRI. She is so brave! Macy was good too! That was definitely an answered prayer! We have to go back for two more days to finish up some appointments but they don't require any needles or anesthesia. Here are a couple pictures of Abby and Macy during this trip.

I met a few other mothers this trip whose daughters have brain tumors as well and are in a similar situation as us, waiting and watching. It is comforting to meet others who really understand.

After being at St. Jude and seeing all those kids and families who are struggling to survive, I feel extremely blessed. There are so many things we take for granted and it is very humbling to spend a few days being reminded of how fortunate we are to be able to be leave the hospital with a relatively healthy child and have another 3 months of "normal" life. So many families are not that lucky. Please pray for all the families that are at St. Jude, battling this terrible thing called cancer. Thank you for the prayers for Abby, and please continue lifting her up in prayer. This is a lifetime battle for her.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Family of Five

We are now a family of five! Macy Grace was born 5 1/2 weeks ago and has been such a wonderful addition to our family. Abby and Lyla adore her and, of course, Jason and I are in love with her. We feel so blessed to have such a perfect baby girl! My heart just wants to burst sometimes when I think about all that God has done in our life.

Here are a few photos of her. I don't have a single one of her and her sisters! Maybe one day I will get around to that!

The girls have done really well adjusting to life with a new little one around. I made it through the sleep deprivation and Jason made it through dealing with me! God has answered so many prayers for us throughout the pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the coming home process. He is so faithful and wonderful! It has not always been easy though. There are many days that life feels like chaos and I have to remind myself that this is just a season of life and we will make it. That is why it took so long for me to update the blog-I barely have time!

Last night I was reading to Macy out of one of my favorite books. I bought it for Abby but after having a trying past few days with my newest girl and with life in general, I had a feeling it would help change my attitude, and it did. The book is "God Thinks You're Wonderful!" by Max Lucado. As I was reading "You were deliberately planned, specifically gifted, and lovingly positioned on this earth by the Master Craftsman", tears ran down my cheeks as I was reminded of how blessed I am, even when life isn't going according to MY plan. He has a deliberate plan for me and for each of my girls. He is the one who is wonderful!

I would also like to ask for prayers for Abby. We will return to St Jude in 2 weeks for an MRI and our next round of appointments. Pray that the tumor will remain stable, with no change. Pray for Abby as she faces another IV. Pray for Lyla, she will stay with family this time and she cried about that today (she wants to go). Pray for Jason and I as we will be taking Macy with us. This trip won't be easy but we will make it!

"So promise me you'll never forget...that you aren't an accident or an incident...you are a gift to the world, a divine work of art, signed by God" Max Lucado from "God Thinks You're Wonderful"

Friday, September 17, 2010

Family Update

I haven't written in a while and thought I should probably update everyone on how we are doing. To make a long story short: Great!

Abby and Lyla both are keeping me on my toes-running, jumping, dancing, learning, fighting-all the fun stuff little girls do. They are best friends and worst enemies every day. I don't think I have ever written about my experiences going from working mom to stay at home mom but I LOVE it! It is so great to see their personalities grow and develop and have a front row seat to all that they learn and do and say. Abby has had no new symptoms/warning signs develop. She is a typical 5 year old in every way. Lyla likes to be her comforter-any time Abby gets hurt or get in trouble, Lyla is right there, patting her back and asking if she is ok. So precious!

I am now almost 36 weeks pregnant. All is going well with this pregnancy. I have started feeling really tired lately and all the typical pregnancy issues (reflux, back aches, insomnia, etc.) are making labor and delivery look better and better! I have had such an increase in my desire to hold her-I can't hardly wait! Everyone in the house seems to feel that way too. Abby and Lyla are talking about her more and Jason keeps saying that he can't wait either. She doesn't have a name yet so Abby and Lyla call her "baby sister". Lyla will raise up my shirt and hug and kiss my belly and say "I love you baby sister". Abby talks to her all the time, just like if she were really there looking back at her. She loves to put her hand on my belly and feel her move. Lyla isn't patient enough for that! We are slowly getting our house ready for another baby and it won't be very long until she is here!

As you can see, we are all doing really well. We just try to enjoy every day and make the most of it. Although Abby's tumor is never far from our thoughts, we try to not let it rule our life. We talk openly about MRIs and IVs and medicine and her scars without over talking, if that makes sense. When we pray we ask God to keep His healing hand on her. We watched part of the St Jude special with her and looked for all the doctors and nurses and places we recognized. She thought it was so cool that her hospital was on tv-she has no idea what a big deal St Jude is! She seems to take it all in stride-it is just a part of her life and she doesn't seem phased by it at this point. I don't know at what age she will understand the seriousness of her diagnosis but I pray every night that God gives us the wisdom to deal with her questions/concerns/fears as she grows.

She asked a while back why she had to take medicine every day-she figured out that not every little girl has to do that. I talked to her about how God makes everyone special and unique-we aren't all the same. And God had chosen her to be extra special-that was why she had to take medicine and why she has MRIs and 2 scars and that was why she had to stay in the hospital and have surgery. Not too long after that she declared to her cousins that she was special because God made her that way! Another day I heard her tell a cousin that she doesn't get scared because God is always with her! It feels good to know she takes what we tell her to heart.

Please keep praying for her and for our whole family. Pray that the tumor never grows and actually shrinks (so God can really show off His power)! Pray for our whole family to have peace in our hearts and for Jason and I to have wisdom when talking to her and Lyla and when making any medical decisions. Pray for Lyla and "baby sister" that we will always keep their feelings in mind and that they never feel left out. Pray for all the patients at St Jude and their families. Pray for my friend Kellie and her precious daughter, Alyssa. Alyssa's tumor has grown and they are facing big decisions. I would not be as ok as I am today if it weren't for God sending Kellie my way. She has been a constant source of encouragement and understanding. Thank you all for your prayers-you have no idea what they mean to us!

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore I will hope in Him" Lamentations 3:21-24

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MRI Results

We just returned from St. Jude and everything went very well-the MRI showed no tumor growth!! Words will never be able to describe the feelings I have after hearing those words, utter relief and joy.

Abby was very brave yesterday when she got her IV. We had been practicing and she did awesome! She did cry but she did not melt down, I was so proud! The MRI went smoothly and she had an easy recovery from it. Lyla went with us on this trip and she was so good-I am super proud of her too!

We were able to go the the Children's Museum and play for a while and have a nice meal last night. We were all very tired though.

Today we had an eye appointment-her vision is still excellent. Then we met with the neuro oncologist. It was a fairly quick and easy trip and of course the results are fantastic!

I feel so absolutely blessed that God would answer our prayers time and again. It is hard to see so many children who are so ill-I wonder why we have been spared so much. But all I can do is give honor and glory to Him for His wonderful works and never stop praising His mighty name!

Thank you all for your continued prayers. They are being answered!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

MRI Coming Up

Abby's next MRI is in less than a week. Please pray that the tumor has not changed and that we get another 3 months!

She is doing great-no changes in her that we can see. She is excited and a little nervous about going back to St. Jude. She loves it there but hates getting "shots" (IV). She talks about the "shots" a lot and we have actually been practicing lately. She does really good with the IV until the needle comes out so we are practicing NOT LOOKING at the needle. She is going to turn her head and look at her newest stuffed bear instead while I sing her a song. Hopefully it will work. We always put numbing cream on her arm and I really don't think it hurts her but she had some terrible experiences with IVs and blood draws at other hospitals.

Lyla is going with us this time. This will be the last time we go as a family of four. Next time around we will have a newborn baby!

Pray for Abby, pray for Jason and I as this is a very stressful time, and pray for Lyla too! She tends to get overlooked during these visits.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Past Few Months

Time is just flying by! I can't believe it is the middle of July already! It won't be long and we will be a family of 5! I thought I would update everyone on what we have been up to lately.

Back in May, Abby graduated from preschool. I got choked up during the ceremony because so much has changed in our lives in the past year. I am glad that Abby got to go back and spend time there and graduate with her class. She absolutely loved that place and loved her teachers, Ms. Christy and Ms. Linda. It made me sad that she won't be going back there, that a phase of her life is over for good. Everyone there has been so good to us. They raised a lot of money for us and prayed so hard for us.

We had the chance to go fishing at Adam's pond again! This is where we went last year around this same time, but under very different circumstances. We hadn't been to St. Jude yet or had surgery yet. We still thought she had gliomatosis cerebri! We had a great time this trip with about half the worries of last year lifted off our shoulders!

Memorial Day was spent at my brother's house. They have an awesome pool and the girls had a blast swimming there. Lyla is a daredevil in the pool. She had no fear!

We planted a raised bed garden this year, our first time to do so. We got a late start and some rocky dirt but it has grown quite well. When it was cooler the girls and I took care of it but now it is Jason's baby. We are getting tons of tomatoes. Sadly, bugs ate our squash and zucchini but the tomatoes and cucumbers are doing great. We also have 3 honeydew melons.

Before the heat settled in, we tried to clean out our house, building, and shop. We took 2 van loads to the Battered Women's Shelter! Our house is petite and adding another family member motivated us to clean out the junk. It took several days in the heat to finish but we have cleaned out and organized almost everything. I have the baby stuff ready to be washed and brought inside when it gets closer to time. I made room for her clothes in our closet and put the crib in its place.

It has been a very hot summer. I try to go out with the girls as much as possible but the heat makes me especially miserable and cranky. We got a little pool for them to play in and sometimes I turn on the sprinkler for myself!

Jason's mom went camping during the record heat so the girls and I went up there for a couple days. She has a camper but it was still too hot for this girl! My little ones had fun though!

Jason had a few days off around the 4th so we took the girls to Blanchard Springs. It was a really nice day and we had a lot of fun. We explored the spring and the caverns, ate a picnic lunch, and went for a swim.

We watched fireworks at the golf course this year. It was nice because the kids had lots of room to run around but unfortunately the trees blocked some of the fireworks. It was still fun!

Our church had VBS last week. We had a ton of kids! I did music again this year and Jason helped with the recreation (aka, dunking booth). The girls loved their classes and I think it went wonderfully. I was absolutely worn out by the end of the week but it was worth it.

Speaking of worn out, the baby and I are doing well. She is growing and so is my belly! The heat makes it harder but I know I will make it through. Abby was born in August during one of the hottest summers ever. I was 8 and 9 months pregnant when it was over 100 degrees outside, I can make it through this! I feel her moving all the time and my arms are starting to feel the need to hold her. A friend from church gave us a glider rocker and Abby has me sit in it and rock her babies so I can practice for her baby sister! I thought it was so sweet of her, but now she has got me longing to hold a real baby in it!

On a different note, after much prayer, research, and more prayer, we have decided to homeschool our girls. It has been an inkling of a thought since way before I quit work and everything happened with Abby. Then it became an occasional thought, then it became a pressing feeling that this is what we should do. I have already planned out our year, which will be like an advanced preschool. This way we can adjust to life with 3 girls before really tackling kindergarten. I actually started a new blog, Fruit of the Womb, to keep up with this journey but I am not sure that I will be able to keep it up. I want to, but it is time consuming, and time is something I am short on. I am not sure how this will work, but I do feel like it is what God is calling our family to do, so I know if I leave Him in charge that it will succeed. Please pray that we will continue to follow God's direction in this area.

We will be taking a short vacation to Branson at the end of the month, Abby's 5th birthday is coming up soon (August 10th), and our next MRI is August 23rd. Then we will just wait for baby sister to come in October! Please continue to pray for Abby, specifically that there will be no tumor growth.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's A...

I had an ultrasound yesterday and we found out that we are having...


Honestly, I was surprised. I really thought it had to be a boy, I mean we have 2 girls already, so a boy has to come sometime, right? After the initial shock went away, I was so excited. Another girl! More dresses and bows and baby dolls! I love having girls and another girl, well that will be just too precious!! I can't wait to meet her, to hold her. I wonder what she will look like (other than beautiful), what her personality will be like, and what her name will be. I feel blessed beyond measure! Three girls!!

Thank you all for your prayers!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another MRI, Another Victory

Last week we had our round of appointments at St. Jude. Three months sure goes by fast! We drove over to Memphis on Sunday night after church. I woke her up early Monday morning to give her a peanut butter sandwich since she would be NPO until late afternoon. Luckily, she went back to sleep! Abby had to have her IV started first thing in the morning. She did really well, only getting upset when the needle started coming toward her arm! Next time we are going to try to keep her from looking at it. We put numbing cream on her arm and she said it didn't hurt, it was just scarey looking. Next we had our MRI clearance visit with our clinic. This means the nurse looks at her blood work (and her) and declares her healthy enough to have an MRI. After that we had an eye appointment. There was no change in her vision which was a great relief.

The MRI was next. Jason went back with her this time since I was unsure if it was safe for me since I am pregnant. They ended up telling us it was ok for me to go back there as long as I stay out of the MRI room. I had a lot less anxiety though from not being back there. It is really hard to watch her go to sleep and leave her in someone else's care. It goes against your instinct as a parent. Jason felt the same way. After the MRI, I went back to recovery. She woke up really fast this time! The nurse said she was such a good patient, better than most of the teenagers! This MRI was her 9th, if my memory is correct.

After the MRI, she was cranky but finally decided she wanted to go eat and get a new toy for being so good all day!

Tuesday morning we went back to our clinic to see our nurse, Ms. Lindsey and our neuro-oncologist, Dr. Armstrong. Lindsey didn't give us any hints as to the results but she was very smiley with us so we thought that was a good sign. Dr. Armstrong came in with a big smile on his face and immediately told us the good news! No tumor growth! YEA!! He said that it was remarkable! We viewed the MRI. Abby was in the room with us and looked at the pictures too. On some you could really see her eyeballs which she thought was so cool. I am still amazed when I see those pictures. The tumor is so large and widespread and yet, she is perfectly normal. It is truly a miracle.

We came home after that but had to go back on Thursday morning for more appointments. We took Lyla with us this time. She is such a handful! Abby liked her being there though. Our first appointment was an EEG. I had to take Lyla out of the room so Jason stayed with her. She did great! We ate lunch then had an appointment with the neurologist, Dr. Shah. She was happy with the EEG results and how Abby is doing on the seizure meds.

After that we took the girls to the zoo. It was really hot that afternoon but they had a good time.

I was much more calm this time around. I had a few meltdowns leading up to the trip but once we got there I felt peaceful. I was not surprised when he said the tumor was stable like I usually am. I knew it would be. I was also so proud of Abby for being so brave and good. She has adjusted to this craziness better than anyone else!

My heart is full of gratitude to God for His blessings. I am so grateful that Abby has had a whole year of freedom from treatment. I am so grateful that she has no deficits even though the tumor is massive. I am so grateful that we have a place like St. Jude so close. I am so grateful for all those who continue to pray for our sweet Abby.

We have another 3 months of freedom before the next MRI. Please keep praying for her and for our whole family.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Year Ago

It has been almost one year since our journey began. At this time last year, we were blissfully unaware of what lay ahead for our family. Up until recently I wanted to go back to those days before we knew, but I don't feel that way anymore. I think I have finally accepted that this is our life. It is not the life I would have chosen, Abby has suffered too much for me to ever say that, but I accept that this is our path, our journey, our life. Now I like to think that we are blissfully aware of God's awesome power!

April 23rd is my birthday and marks one year since we took her to the ER at ACH for her seizures. April 24th marks one year since the MRI that sent us to the ICU. Those days were life changing for our family. I will never be the same person I was before then, neither will Abby. But in most ways, that is a good thing. I feel other's pain more deeply now and have a desire to help others when they are going through hard times. I am ok with receiving help from others-God is using them and will bless them for it. Bible verses, hymns, songs touch me in a way that they didn't before that day. Prayer is more important to me than it ever was before. I feel closer to Jason-the only person who can understand how I feel.

And my girls are even more precious to me than they were before. I try to soak up the moments I spend with them because I know that those moments are fleeting. Life can change in an instant. I don't want to waste my days being angry, bitter, unhappy. That doesn't mean there aren't bad days, but even on the worst days I am very aware that we could be in a very different place. We could be counting down the days of her life, we could be on chemo, we could be in ICU, we could be mourning over her.

It puts everything into perspective. I still like nice things (furniture, clothes, shoes, etc.) but it is not what I strive for anymore. That was the first lesson I learned in ICU. No matter how much money we would have had, we were still reduced to sleeping on a cot, doing laundry in a community washer/dryer, and taking showers in a public restroom. And we were still begging God to spare our child, just like all the other parents in that ICU. Another mother in a similar situation and I were talking about this-how we feel like we have a secret. All the little things that used to matter, don't matter anymore. Like how big your house is, what color to paint your bedroom, what baseball team your child is on, etc. And life is a lot better when you figure that out!

I also feel so much closer to God now and wouldn't want to go back to my relationship with Him before. There were some dark days early on but I could always feel His presence. I thought of how much it must have hurt to see his Son crucified and how much he must love me to make that sacrifice. I thought of Jesus and how He prayed in the garden to let the cup pass from Him. I prayed that many times as well but unlike Jesus, I wasn't always ready to follow God's will (and for the record I am not comparing myself to Jesus, just that those words ring true in my ears). I thought of Abraham and how he was willing to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac, without complaint. I read about him and realized how little faith and trust I had in God. I read Lamentations 3:21-24 and knew that although it felt like I might be consumed, He would not allow it. I thought of heaven and how these hurts here on Earth will be no more and I prayed that the trumpet would sound. I saw the genorosity of others and realized that God is faithful to provide "exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" Ephesians 3:20. I heard others prayers for Abby and saw the results of those prayers (a miracle!) and knew that 1 John 5:14 was true, "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us". He was there in that MRI suite with us, in that ICU room, on the plane back from Houston, in the OR with Abby during surgery and in the chapel with us while waiting, and He remains with us today, providing hope and comfort, just like it says in Deuteronomy 31:8 "He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee". I realize now that He is faithful and He is trustworthy, even when our faith waivers and we doubt His power. And His knowledge far exceeds mine and that is why I trust Him. No matter what happens to her, I trust Him. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding" Proverbs 3:5

We will be heading back to St. Jude for another MRI in about 2 weeks. Pray for Abby, that the tumor will not have grown and that against all odds, it will have shrunk on its own! Pray for Jason, Lyla, and me. It is a stressful time leading up to the MRI, it is hard waiting on the results, and we will need prayer to make it through. And pray that while all these landmark dates roll around, we will feel like rejoicing, not mourning!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Family Update & Easter

It is finally spring around here! Our whole family is enjoying this beautiful weather!

Abby is doing great. After our last visit to St. Jude, we decided to send her back to preschool 2 days a week. She was really missing her teachers and her friends. She is absolutely loving it! She practically drags me out the door on those mornings! Abby is also very excited about her "baby brother". Now, we don't know what it is going to be yet, but she is sure it is a boy. And she prays that God will send her a baby brother every time she prays.

Speaking of the baby, I haven't posted anything in so long because I have not felt well. I have had some miserable morning sickness (that lasts all day sometimes) and have been very tired. It is improving though and hopefully in a few more weeks it will all be a memory!

Lyla is enjoying her one on one time with mama on the days Abby is in school. She misses her big sister but she loves being the center of attention during that time. Lyla has a birthday coming up soon-I can't believe she is already two. She is talking so much and has the funniest personality. This morning at breakfast she was trying to tell Abby a knock knock joke. All she would say is "knock knock", "orange" over and over. Abby thought it was a pretty funny joke anyway!

We haven't gotten our schedule from St. Jude yet but I am pretty sure her appointments will be at the beginning of May. Please keep her in your prayers!

I am very excited about Easter this year. Yes, the girls have new dresses and we will hunt eggs and eat a big meal with family but the meaning of Easter goes beyond those traditions. Jesus gave His life for us on that cross and then 3 days later, was raised from the dead. Jesus Christ conquered death and that should give all Christians reason to rejoice because it means that we too will one day conquer death. It means even more to me this year than it did last year. Some of the verses that give me the most comfort when I am afraid or worried are those referring to His resurrection.

"He is not here; for He is risen..." Matthew 28:6

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Corinthians 15:55

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

If you believe in Him (Jesus Christ), you will have an eternal home in heaven. Your earthly body may fail you, but your eternal one will not. Easter Sunday really means victory over death-not only for our Savior, but for all Christians!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Psalm 139:14

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well" Psalm 139:14

This verse had brought me so much comfort over the past 10 months. After Abby's brain surgery, the neurosurgeon, Dr. Boop, said that the tumor looked old and that it had been growing since birth and maybe even in utero. I realized then that she was "fearfully and wonderfully made." God made Abby "wonderfully", brain tumor and all. My mind asks "why" quite often but then I am reminded of this verse. There are so many verses on the Bible that remind us that God not only knows everything about us, even the number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30) but He created us, every one of us, perfectly. God did not make a mistake with Abby, or with any child. It has taken me a while to be at peace with this, but I think I am finally there. And once again, God's word helped me to understand that which my human mind could not.

Jason and I found out last week that we are expecting another child and this verse has taken on another depth of meaning. This tiny little life inside of me is being "wonderfully made" by God. Abby and I looked at pictures of babies from inside the womb as they grow and develop, and let me tell you, "marvelous are thy works". The book even admitted that so much of how a baby develops is a mystery. How do the cells know to create a lung, liver, spine, fingernail? Science may never be able to answer that question but "my sould knoweth right well." God designed a perfect system, and even though we may not understand every detail, He does. I am glad that God is in control of this tiny little life, just as He was with Abby and Lyla. And that even if this child is a boy or a girl, tall or short, blond headed or brown headed, etc., God designed this baby perfectly.

Jason and I are ecstatic that God has blessed us with another child and Abby is so excited that she is going to have a baby brother or sister. She is the biggest sister and Lyla is the big sister! I am only 6 weeks along so please pray for this newest addition to our family along with the rest of us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Last Week Recap

First, I just want to say that I am so glad to be home and I am so glad that Jason is home! Our family is back together again. At one point, we were spread out between 3 states. That is not the way it should be! Now that he is home, I feel like everything can start to get back to normal.

I think I will recap the week by going day by day.

My stepdad drove Abby and I to Memphis Monday afternoon because of the bad weather. I could have made it on my own but it was nice to sit back and relax and let someone else worry about the road conditions. When we got to Memphis I was really glad he drove because it was slick there. I wasn't very happy about being there without a vehicle but I tried to tell myself that we would be just fine. Abby was excited to be there and to have me all to herself. She was literally bouncing off the walls (and the beds). We didn't do much that evening-ate at the cafeteria, watched a movie, and unpacked our stuff.


Road conditions were much worse on Tuesday so I was really glad we went early. Abby had a good time tromping through the snow and sliding on the ice. We started our appts with a blood draw-her least favorite thing. I didn't tell her ahead of time about it because I knew she would get upset. She figured out really fast what we were doing. She always gets her blood drawn at the same place so when we got back to the room, she started getting nervous. She was very brave though and it only took 3 of us to hold her still. She cried but didn't kick or scream. I was very proud of her for being so big and brave! Next we had to be cleared for our MRI. We went to see our regular nurse and neuro-oncologist. They just make sure she is healthy enough for sedation. I also get to ask any questions I might have. No new information this time. We also met with the anesthesia nurse to review her chart. Between visits, Abby got to meet a new friend. His name was Kicker and he had surgery recently. His owner showed us where his IV had been. Abby loved him! I think she loved him even more after she found out he had an IV! He was the sweetest dog, so laid back and gentle. He put his paw on her leg while she was brushing him-so precious!

That night they had Corky's BBQ catered to the Grizzlies House where we stay. Different groups in Memphis volunteer to serve dinner there about once a week. It was so nice to get a break from the cafeteria food! They had some Valentines to make and a lot of candy to eat. Jason flew in to Memphis that night too. He got very lucky and was able to ride on a shuttle to St Jude instead of taking a taxi. Saved us $30! Abby and I both were so glad to see him!

My anxiety over the MRI was really growing at this point. I hardly slept that night and found myself almost hyperventilating. Abby kept asking how many hours until the MRI. I guess she was feeling anxious too!

Luckily the MRI started early. We had to be there at 7:15 and it didn't take long for her to get called back. Our preacher, Bro Curt and his wife had come to be with us that morning. Abby was excited to them. I had a talk with her about putting on the gown and being a sweet girl ahead of time so she didn't fight me about the gown this time. She let me know that she didn't want to put it on though. We got back to the holding room and I could tell she was nervous. The nurses noticed too and gave her something to help her relax. It really helped. She started smiling again after that kicked in. They let her pick out her flavor for the mask and in no time she was asleep. I prayed over her and kissed her and left. It is always so hard to leave her. I almost panic every time. They started her IV after she was asleep. I am so glad we started doing that, it helps so much. The time passed quickly and they called me back to recovery soon. She was still asleep so I sat and watched her beautiful little face. The anxiety medicine she had taken made her a little loopy after she woke up. She was very smiley and chatty. She kept saying she was tired (in a very comical way that I just can't explain) but then would sit up and keep on talking. The hospital was having a Valentine carnival so we headed to it after she seemed more alert and clear headed. The carnival was sponsored by Target-it was awesome. She got a t shirt, gift card, goodie bag, and book. They had games, face painting, crafts, live music, and food. She really had a good time. Here she is decorating her mailbox.

I was about to go crazy waiting for the doctor to call with the results. We kept our phones very close and jumped every time they rang. We decided to ride the trolley while we waited to help pass the time. Abby loves the trolley! There is a trolley stop just 2 blocks from St Jude so we ride it every time we go. It was a cold walk to the stop but worth it. We ate at Gus's Famous Fried Chicken. The chicken was too spicy for Abby but Jason and I liked it. Here is a picture of her and her daddy on the trolley.

We got back to the Grizzlies House at 5 and I couldn't wait any more. I called our nurse and she delivered the great news-"it appears from the preliminary results that the tumor has not changed". Jason and I both spent a lot of time on our phones calling everyone after that. Relief is the best word to describe how I felt. I wasn't really emotional this time. I think I was still too bound up from anxiety and stress. I slept like a baby that night!

We only had one appt on Thursday so we slept late and took our time getting around. Jason's mom had Lyla at this point and decided to drive down to Memphis with her. I was so glad, I had missed her so much. There was a Disney star at St Jude that morning who was going to sing some songs so we listened to her while we waited for Barb and Lyla. She was on the Hotel for Dogs movie and she was a great singer! Lyla got there for the last few songs and she danced like nobody was watching! It was so funny!

We met with the neurologist-nothing new really. The decrease in her seizure med is official. She will have an EEG next visit. I asked whether she would eventually come off her med and the short answer is no, because of the area of the brain where the tumor is. Even small seizures can cause brain damage if left untreated so it is better to be safe. Her med is very mild, has no drug interaction, so it is best to leave her on it, probably forever.

After our appt, we decided to go to the Children's Museum of Memphis. We finally had a vehicle and I really wanted to get off St Jude property! The girls had a really good time there. The real but tiny supermarket was the best!
We ate at Osaka Japanese Restaurant afterwards-Lyla hated it! The chef, the fire, the banging of utensils, all terrified her! The food was great though. Then it was time to take Jason back to the airport. We all hated to see him go.

We got up and tried to get everything packed up and ready to go home! I met with our oncologist to look at the MRI. I haven't viewed one in about 6 months so I was glad to see it again. I have such mixed emotions when I see her scans. On one hand, it is depressing-I hate seeing all that tumor and know that it is just waiting to wreak havoc on her. But on the other hand, it is uplifting-all that tumor and no major side effects, no treatment. My mind goes back to that trip to MD Anderson when the neurosurgeon told us that she had very little time left on this earth because of the size and type of her tumor. But God said otherwise! The MRI always reminds me of God's mighty power and His faithfulness to our prayers. That tumor is being quiet because He is in control. There will probably be a day when it will grow but that won't mean that God stopped listening. It just means that He is in control and that His will is being done.

Next up was our eye appt. They dilated her eyes this time. There was absolutely no change to her vision. The tumor is very close to her optic nerve so the oncologist feels like a vision change will occur if the tumor grows. Even though I had seen the MRI, it felt good to hear that her vision is the same too.

After that we loaded up and left town. We have freedom for another 3 months, praise God!

Jason got home yesterday and things aren't quite back to normal yet. We are both very tired from such a long, stressful week. The girls are tired of being cooped up inside and our house is a mess. I should probably be stressed out over all that but I am not. I am glad I am home, I am glad Jason is home, I am glad that I won't be going back to St Jude for another 3 months, I am glad that we are not there right now getting a port placed and starting chemo. I am glad that I get 3 more months to enjoy our life. And I plan to do better about enjoying our life. I am going to try to let go of some of my fears and anxieties and worries. I am going to try to relax and "be still and know that He is God" and let Him handle it. Not easy for me to do, but I am going to try.

Please continue to pray for Abby and our whole family. We need it more than I can express!
One more thing, as you can tell from this post, St Jude is amazing! Even though we had no vehicle, all our needs were provided by them. We had plenty of food and things to do. There were movies to "rent" and tons of activities to keep Abby occupied. This is the longest we have stayed since our first trip. I would have gone crazy if it weren't for all the great things they had going on for the families. They should be a model for all other hospitals of how to care for your patients in every way! If any of you donate money to them, I will be the first to say it is worth every penny you send. They take care of their families!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Thank You!

Thank you all for your prayers, emails, comments, text messages, and phone calls. It means so much to us all! I am so glad to be home and to have received such wonderful news! To say that I feel relieved is an understatement. The final results were the same as the preliminary results so we are ecstatic. I am so grateful that God has continued to keep His healing hand on my baby. Please continue to pray for her!

I will post some pictures and more details from our trip soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

No Tumor Growth!!

Morgan wanted me to let everyone know the preliminary results show the tumor has not grown. They will get the final results on Friday but they should be the same. She will post more once they know everything.
Thank you again for keeping up with Abby's progress and for your prayers for their family.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Not Snow Fun, Please Pray

OK, now I hate the snow! I couldn't believe that it actually snowed last night, throwing a wrench in our plans. I feel like the devil is really working hard this week on our family!

To update everyone-Jason left yesterday for Kentucky for work and he is flying to Memphis to meet up with us Tuesday night. Abby and I were supposed to leave tomorrow morning for our first day of appointments. The snow has changed all of that. I am afraid the road conditions will be worse in the morning so my stepdad is driving us to Memphis this afternoon. I am scrambling to keep the girls occupied and pack all of our bags. And now I will be in Memphis without a vehicle. But since it is snowing, I wouldn't be going anywhere.

My stress level is about as high as it can get and our family needs prayer. It is hard for Jason to be gone when all this craziness is going on here and it is hard for me to juggle everything. Plus, the anxiety of the MRI is weighing very heavy on me. I want everyone to pray for our family, that we will make it through this week.

I will have my sister in law update the blog when we know the results of the MRI.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Snow Fun!

I can't believe there is still snow on the ground! The girls have had a good time with all this snow. We have been able to go sledding, make snow angels, and build a few snowmen. We have also had some cabin fever too! I am glad we don't live where it is like this all winter! I am so tired of wet boots, clothes, mittens, hats, and coats!
I thought I would share some pictures of the girls enjoying the snow!

Please keep praying for us and the upcoming MRI. We will leave early Tuesday morning and be gone until Friday night. It is going to be a stressful week and we need all the divine intervention we can get.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Upcoming Appointments

Our next round of appointments at St. Jude are coming up soon. This time we will be there for 4 days. They begin on February 9th. The MRI is on the 10th. Please begin praying now that there will be no change on the MRI. Pray that God will keep His healing hands on Abby and that her body will fight off tumor growth. Pray that all the other appointments and blood work go well also. Pray for Jason and I, that we will lay our worries and fears at Jesus feet and not carry so much anxiety with us in the days leading up to that MRI. I can't begin to express how hard it is the last few weeks, and especially the last few days, leading up to the MRI. Pray that we will feel strengthened and at peace. Pray for Lyla as she will be away from us for several days. Pray that she enjoys herself and does not feel left out.

For all of you that still read this blog and keep up with Abby's progress, thank you! Thank you for continuing to pray for her. It means so much!

Friday, January 15, 2010

God's Word

Our journey began at Arkansas Children's Hospital. We were there for 8 days and during that time I realized that the only words that brought me or Jason comfort were the words of the Lord, the Bible. The most eloquent spokesman could speak words of comfort all day and it still doesn't have the same affect as reading a passage of scriptures in your Bible and knowing that God put them there for you.

Abby had 2 MRIs during our first stay at ACH. The first one was when we found our about the "lesion" (they didn't know what it was then) and the second one was to see if there had been any change and to do some different kinds of imaging to get a better look at the "lesion". I was anxious all that day, waiting for that MRI. We were praying that the anti-viral medicine they gave her had "fixed" her lesion and that there would be nothing on the MRI, but the doctors were less sure it was a viral infection and more sure it was a tumor. This MRI would tell us for sure (we thought). The morning of that MRI, Jason had a message on his phone from a fellow church member, listing some verses that we might find helpful. We looked them up, wrote them down, and read them over and over. I started searching for more verses to help me make sense of what was happening. I spent all day searching and writing. I had a notebook there with me and I filled pages and pages up with verses. During the MRI, I read them over and over and over.

Those verses that our brother in Christ left on our phone meant more to us and brought us more comfort than any words he could have spoken. For some reason, we (me included) want someone or something to help us with our problems but we overlook the best source to help us with all our needs, God's word.

I keep those verses in my Bible. I have many of them memorized now. When you go through trials and tribulations in your life, the Bible becomes even more alive, even more relevant. A verse you have read over and over suddenly has a deep and profound meaning. Those verses are real to me and I feel closer to the Lord when I read them. I know He had me in mind when He inspired them to be penned.

If you feel troubled today, grab your Bible. Pray that God would lead you to a passage that will help you. If someone you love is hurting, write down some of your favorite verses and share it with them.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Outside the Snow is Falling..

Abby was so excited that it snowed! She has had a blast sledding, making snow angels, and eating icicles! Lyla, on the other hand, would rather be somewhere warm. Thought I would share a few pictures of them enjoying the snow!

Starting soon, I plan to post about the very beginning of our journey in greater detail. I didn't start blogging until after we went to Houston which was about 3 weeks into it. I am mainly doing this for myself. I want to write about it now before I forget anything. I plan for this blog to be a record for Abby when she gets older so she can see what she went through and how far she has come. And I want to do this for all of you who read about Abby. Some of you may not know much about how this all started. I will write as often as I can until I am done telling the story.
Hope you all are staying warm!
Note added on Friday, January 6, 2010: I did post about the first few days of our journey but knew I wouldn't be able to finish it. I don't know why, but it didn't feel like the right thing to do. I removed the post and won't be telling that part of the story any time soon. I think it is too soon and too personal. So sorry.