The Prom-Mom's Perspectives and Ramblings...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day AFTER Chemo #1--Introducing...my 'friends'

Awe yes...

DRUGS.

Never thought drugs would become my 'friends', lol~
But hey, they are going to be a regular part of our scene for a while...a LONG while, probably--and most of the ones I'll be taking for the next 16 weeks are preventative, so they are definitely already, QUICKLY, becoming my 'friends.'
Yes... I have officially joined the ranks of 'druggies'...good druggies that is. All you out there in the same boat, is there a club I should know about?? ;) DTA? (Drug-Takers Anonymous) ?? teehee.

For real though, since all of YOU friends are, I'm sure, curious to know and see... please allow me to introduce you to my ammo that is going to help us kick this unwanted disease, in combination with God's Will and Powerful Healing!!!

Introducing...
THE PILL BOX!



Out of all of these new friends of mine, perhaps the most important and effective one is the white bottle on the front, left row. That is my Neratinib...the 'study' chemo drug--yes, it's oral and taken daily--and is said to be expected to be the next medical break-through, on the market, within the next year!!!
Yes, it is THAT effective at killing of those bad cancer receptors! :)

The rest are all side-effect preventers-----also definitely good friends of mine, as, so far so good, today.
Just a little fatigue--which Lincy and I are headed out now to battle off with a good dose of endorphins *neighborhood walk* ;)--and a slight feeling of nausea, but nothing too bad.

Thank you, Jesus, that we have officially started into 
KILLING OFF THIS CANCER!!!
I can't say enough what a good feeling taking these pills is, knowing we have begun the battle and are finally past all the pre-treatment stuff~

Keep praying... we feel them daily and love you all! :D

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chemo Day...

DAY #1/Week 1:

Arrived to the Health and Healing Sciences clinic at 9:30 this morning.
Met directly with our NP for pre-infusions to answer any and all remaining questions and get the rest of my 'friends' (as I'm now going to be referring to my drugs) ordered *and YES, I am listening to that Beatles tune now* to combat as many of the possible chemo side-effects as we can.
PRO-active is our word. ;)
You'd better believe I will be finding or ordering a 'pill box'---since I don't feel stripped of my youth enough as it is, being up here around all the mid-aged and elderly patients---while I sit in waiting-rooms and treatment-rooms, EXPERIENCING my near-off-charts statistic, ha! ;-P

Mom sits to my right amongst all our bags and time-passing 'items' (pretty much all except the kitchen-sink itself) which I find ironic, with how much I will need to be washing my hands with water and/or sanitizer from this point forward. Oh...FYI for all you future visitors out there, be prepared to sanitize as though you are in a hospital (and of course get the 'run-out' if you come sick)... which I know you ALL understand has absolutely zero to do with my own personal desire~
Gotta keep my immune system as boosted as possible throughout this trek!

As I sit here, I can't help but think about my darling boys---
Gray is at school right now, hopefully continuing to uphold his student-of-the-month behavior. ;)
He spent all evening yesterday with his sweet Monga--a 'guys club' day with just the two of them--
(sort of a de-ja-vu from the once-upon-a-time's before Mr. Linc came along).
We received adorable pictures of the two of them last night having a little pow-pow around Monga's burn-pile, roasting brats and shooting the guy-breeze.

Lincy traveled north with us, just till Eugene to be with auntie Jill, uncle Joel and cousin Evey where he's spent (as the photos are attesting) a fun-filled 24 hours in endless play-date heaven! His very first 'sleep-over' by himself!! *sigh*

Aaron continues to plug away at work, holding up our financial end of things and making sure the normal bills are covered--doing his best to stay strong, even in the moments that are, for all of us, a bit on the crazy side. ;-P

But crazy or no crazy, here we are.
Finding the moments that make us giggle and at times, telling and reliving a joke for minutes *even HOURS* if just to stay in a silly state of mind about it all. ;) Let's face it... when you're doing this and know you'll be doing this now, for a while, the giggles a therapy of there own!
Oh, and the drugs... which I FULLY intend to take advantage of as I'm allowed. ;)

Of course as always, my TRUE drug is God~ My Healer. My Rock. My All in All. The one at the steering wheel of it all, THANK THE LORD!

In two hours when we are done with the chemo drug infusion, we'll hopefully be able to head home.
My own bed. My own space. There really is only so much and so long a person can be in a hospital-setting, talking about and 'seeing' cancer.
As I've said before... I HAVE cancer, but that's not nor will it EVER be 'who I am.'

So hurry up, machine--pump me full so I can get back to my REAL life, outside of this~ ;)


MY WORLD/ THE OHSU "SCENE":


LINC'S "WORLD":

        


 GRAY'S "WORLD":










Friday, October 26, 2012

HAIR!

... was the subject of the day, today. ;)

All thanks to my beautiful friend Cristina and her beautiful and talented sis, Janelle!
Seriously. That girl's got SKILLS!!! Showed her a couple of pictures on my phone and voila, she comes up with a 'Hayley version' of a cut I thought would be fun. :)

And beyond the haircut, the fellowship... oh the wonderful fellowship and just being surrounded by beautiful women.

I am blessed. Blessed, blessed, blessed in the presence of all who keep touching and coming into my life through this. Just another of the hundreds of provisions I've seen at the start of this journey.
Quadrupling my precious-girlfriend 'list????' (with more who can actually put up with me, lol)
Um, YES PLEASE!!!

I have SOOOOOOO MUCH paying-it-forward to do when this journey is all said and won~

Really.


Oh, and the haircut?! It's pretty much my favorite and as Cristina so perfectly put it, I'm 'gonna have fun playing around with it and doing so many things to it.' I REALLY AM. :)

Now the only bittersweet part will be losing the fun new do if/when it starts falling out, teehee.
But...that's for another moment~
In THIS moment, I will enjoy!!! :) Thoroughly.

I love it so much. :) 
Thanks again, girls. Love you both for your 'beautiful hearts.' ;)


Can you believe ALL THIS came off my head?!!


My beautiful and oh so talented beautician!!

Me and Cristina and our pink Courage streaks. ;)


(Yes, I have a pink courage streak (hair attatchment) ;) *Thanks to my thoughtful miss Cristina!*

A view of the left-side~

(With earrings, lol) :)


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Life Happens...

Yeah, I know what you're thinking it isn't 'life' happening, it's (insert ugly swear word here) happens.
But I've decided that the uglier phrase really is the similar meaning with the wrong perspective.

I had a good conversation with a friend this morning around this very subject, and then just hours later with our sweet secretary. It's not anything new to my own new way of thinking but is, in fact, one of those 'run back into that wall for the hundredth time' sort of lessons so I feel strongly urged to pass it along to others.
So here it goes.

All too often do we fall prey to ourselves and the thought process that when everything in life is going good, WE are good... we are happy cause 'things' are good. We fall prey to the very concept that our CIRCUMSTANCES are what bring us joy and that, somehow we are even DESERVING of said happiness. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that God doesn't want us to be happy or have joy...
what I'm saying is that our very earthly definition of it is extraordinarily shallow and self-deceived, comparatively.

I've posted before about pride and how it truly is our biggest enemy (cause it is, whether you choose to let some of your own down and admit it or not)... but it's not just the selfish pride I feel increasingly concerned for us all about......... it's pride that drives us so far, so DEEPLY INTO OURSELVES that the result becomes this idea--attitude, if you will--that we DESERVE happiness--and have allowed our life-circumstances--health, wealth, popularity, a 'dream home', that nice car, children, spouses *whatever you choose to insert into your definition*--to define our joy.

When we are little, our parents *at least mine* tell us that happiness is not in things. Yeah, yeah, we know. It's like any of those sayings that float around out there--they are golden truths, but the repetition of them has driven them to become stale. Or maybe it just goes back to our bigger problem...we just don't care to choose to heed them because well, it means that things... life... just isn't about ME.

In three days from now, I will be hooked to a machine to have hardcore 'mean' medicines pumped into my jugular where my heart will pump it out to my entire body---if I didn't say I wasn't just a little bit freaked out at the whole idea, I'd be flat out lying, but it is what it is and it's just all part of my journey.
Leading up to the chemo wait--whether stress-induced or other--I caught a bad cold. Sleeping solidly has been difficult, as most colds do to our sleep-schedules and the days have been a bit drearier. My 'placement' of joy has definitely been tested a bit. This morning, to my unexpected surprise, my youngest woke up with rash-like bumps all over his body. Chicken pox, anyone?!! Needless to say, another redundant saying, 'When it rains, it pours.' ;-P

So where is my joy. Well, it's been re-tested...
again...

BUT. It's still where it needs to be. It HAS to be.
In fact, after I saw the bumps, I started laughing *than admittedly turned to tears for a minute* but mostly just laughed at how funny life is. How far down to my knees I REALLY need to be--and more importantly STAY--to have my joy inhabit the correct area of my life.

The fact of the matter in all of it is that the absolute ONLY THING I, myself, am deserving of is death.
I deserve nothing. All this self-help, confidence-building jargon is just one more mis-leading idea. What I have...what I AM is only by God's Grace, ALONE.

By God's Grace I am ALIVE ENOUGH to have cancer that is threatening a LIFE I HAVE BY GOD'S GRACE.

Get it?! You are Living because God sacrificed His Son so you could have life... and so that you WILL  have Life and this death. In none of your circumstances--whether they be wonderful or miserable does true joy really live. It is ALL reflective of death. ALL OF IT.

So please... today... challenge that thought. Every time you go to complain about something that isn't 'going your way' or didn't 'work out the way you thought' or *my favorite* wasn't 'given to you the way you deserve'... just remember. YOU DESERVE NOTHING. And the very breath you took to complain about it was a GIFT you received by God's Grace, alone.

I want to make a NEW bumper sticker and it will say: 'Life Happens...PRAISE THE LORD!'




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chemo Nesting...

It's funny the way our natural, human response to change is wanting to make everything 'just so' around us. Yes. The ritual of preparation. A ritual I think particularly applies with us women.

Yesterday and Monday were both days of nesting for me...chemo-nesting, that is.
Organizing, purging, sorting and re-organizing. It was hard not to feel a bit of de-ja-va from the last time I felt urged to do this which, consequentially, wasn't more than a month ago when we thought surgeries were on the horizon.

With pregnancy-nesting, the thoughts are filled with a little person-to-be---wanting everything to be just so with the space and atmosphere that that little human's going to know as 'home.'

With surgery, the thoughts are concerned with post-op---having what you need in recovery and wondering what the 'battle-wounds' are going to look like, after everything.

With chemo, it's different. It's hard to explain.
I suppose it's like if you could imagine one thing you never, in your wildest of dreams thought you'd be doing. Then imagine someone coming along and saying 'Guess what, you're going to do (insert wildest dream here)... Where would YOUR thoughts be?!

EXACTLY.
All. Over. The. Place.

From the get-go, I've been surrounded by people---loving friends and friends of friends...even family of friends of friends of friends twice-removed, ha---who have connected up with me to be a support in this. It's a beautiful thing when you discover you are loved and supported to the extent that people who've never even MET you love and care about you and are pulling for you.
(As I've said before *though I don't recommend going out and getting cancer*, it really is a great way to learn how loved you are.) It's wonderful to be in touch with people who've 'been there' or are even 'there now'---though I don't know that I can say it entirely rids the chaotic mess in your head.

I keep comparing this to when I was pregnant with Gray and every mother around me shared her birth-story...or pregnancy story...or both. While it was interesting to know and certainly informative, it didn't really help me to know what to expect with my OWN labor because every experience is a different formula, if you will, of circumstances.
This is exactly how I'm feeling about chemo.
I've never HAD chemo. I've been told some things I can expect, but they are a vast amount of 'maybe's' and 'maybe nots' that make up each conversation, whether it be with docs or just other 'courage-warriors.'

Where does this all leave me?

Living IN the moment...still. People keep asking me what Monday (our first day of chemo) is going to look like. If I see you in person and you ask me that, please be prepared for the 'beat's me' look. ;) I really don't know. I know I will be sitting in a chair, not far from my wig-lady's station, 'plugged in' to a machine, via my chest port, but beyond that... I just don't know.
I know there is a possibility that I will be receiving just the standard chemo treatment, but there's a stronger possibility that I will be receiving that as well as a combination of other study target-drugs in my (as my mom keeps calling it) 'cocktail.' I also know that there is a possibility that I won't feel too great 24 to 48 hrs after my treatment, but there is also the possibility that I will not feel much at all.

I just don't *and won't* know until I'm there, in THAT moment. And that's ok with me. It has to be.

What I DO know however is my emotional need in all of it is to nest.
What I also know is how much perseverating I have to KEEP DOING on my Word and the beautiful Words in the awesome hymns my dad keeps sending me every morning since he know music has ALWAYS spoken to me in an extra special way. ;)

So. Now, I nest. And I pray. And I sing at the top of my lungs... while nesting. ;)


Which reminds me...
I need to crank up my tunes and go put that cupboard back together~

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Photo Post...

Alrighty, folks!
So, this post really isn't about anything deep.
Well, wait a minute... actually, it's about the deepest thing imaginable.

LIFE.

But, the point of it is just to share some photos, so bear with me.


The following photos really don't have much in common...
they are just a smattering of the past few days, since I've been home with my boys, just being a mom, a wife, a daughter... the usual.

They are all life.
Moments that have become precious memories of times like these that are:
Happy. Simple. Real... and True.

No, they are not decent quality (all taken on my 5 mp phone camera)... but I hope you still enjoy them.

In the very least, I think ALL of you will especially enjoy and appreciate the last one~ ;)


This is a pic of Ziebart-family movie-night. A simple and occasional tradition, complete with homemade stove-topped coconut-oil popcorn *with a treat at the bottom* and, this time, Madagascar 3.


Lincy-bear thinks it's sooo fun when on Saturdays, mommy AND daddy are both in their bedroom when he wakes up and he can come snuggle in like a 'king' in the king. ;) 
He's nick-named himself my little 'Snuggle-bugger' and oh my, is he so!!!


The boys LOVE the 'Just Dance' games and frankly, love any chance to hold 'dance-parties' so it's, of course, not at all surprising that they are stoked to do (as I'm now calling it) 'Nana Dance,' too...complete with great oldies from mom and dad's cool antique victrola. ;)


Gray pulling out some of his suavest moves for Nana, teehee~


Both these handsome and hammy fellas are related to (and actually carry on the name of as well) a very special person from their daddy's side of the family. I, unfortunately, never got to meet Milo Franke, but from what I hear, he was a pretty neat dude, himself. 
Tonight during bath-time, we paid tribute to him with gpa Franke bubble-beards as he was 'known' for his saaaweet, thick sideburns and Abe Lincoln style beard.......among also being known for his huge heart, of course. ;)


Last, but certainly not least...here you have it, folks...the RED HEAD!!! ;) 
Yes, it's just a sneak-peek. You'll have to wait to see how I style it when I'm using it for realsy and not just playing 'dress-up' with the wig-lady. 
BUT, since so many of you keep asking~ ;)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Change to come...

So, I have spoken with a friend about some blog-page changes that will help 'reorganize' things a bit. I am hoping to make those happen and positively affect our space here by those within the week. I did change one tab at the top (The 'Courage Plan') since many of you have been wanting to know what treatments/surgeries are ahead--so for now, you can read that, there. :)

MEANTIME, here are some basic updates of things at the moment as well as things-to-soon-come.


As I shared in a previous entry, the recovery from my out-patient port surgery was a veeeery UNexpected, painful one. As Aaron has since read on different message-boards... some people have an easy time of it while others (especially smaller-boned, thinner people) have quite the time of it.
I was 'lucky' to be the latter of those. BOO!

Good news, however, I'm nearly 100% again. Walking, functioning, driving...back to being able to be my busy-bee self, for the moment. ;)

This past Thursday, mom and I made yet another trip up to P-town...this time a 'quickie' day-trip...for Chemo-class and wig-choosing. :)

Chemo class was very informative and helpful. Wig-shopping was downright FUN!
Yes, I chose one. A RED one. FIRE. RED.  ...and yes, I will post a pic soon. ;)

This coming week, as far as I know right now, we have ONE WEEK OFF from having to burn more gas on I-5!!!
Yes! No roun-de-vu at OHSU. *Just for this week.

So, what do I plan to do?!!
Ha. Those of you who know me well know the bigger question is...what do I plan NOT to do!!!

I plan to take my son to and from school and karate. I plan to teach my other son his homeschool curriculum all week. I plan to have one or two play-dates with friends and their kiddos. I plan to do my own laundry! I plan to clean my own house! I plan to work in my yard a bit, weather and health permitting. I plan to cook my family dinners and maybe even freeze a few of my own for later.
I plan to make and lay some plans for my successful hike of 'chemo trail.'
(Yes, I am calling the parts of this journey 'trails'--remember, I'm envisioning Mt. Everest.)

After this week and whatever successes I am able to squeeze into it, I will begin chemo.
Every Monday for the next 20 weeks (or more), we will travel up to Portland for around 5 hours worth of treatments and then, health and other mandatory appointments permitting, head home that same evening. I will be making up a list of stay-options to keep in my docs-box that always travels with us and, though we are still (and always will be) taking this moment-by-moment, am hopeful to figure each week's other details out as time goes on.

Many of you have offered help and asked just how you can help... errands, meals, boys-care, etc. and I can PROMISE you this........ I WILL be taking people up on some of these things.
One of the categories I'm hopeful to design for this blog is an interactive 'sign-up' list to help us cover these very weekly duties, as I find the need. Certainly anticipate more talk of this as we get further in. :)

As far as other things, we are doing well.
Still COMPLETELY HUMBLED by the show of love and support within our family and friends circle and even, as we are more recently seeing, within our Roseburg-community with people we don't even personally know, yet--but certainly hope to when life slows down!! Upcoming fundraisers being organized on our behalf and accounts being set up to help us face some of the medical-bills already rolling in?!!?!
Humbling. Just humbling.

We love and appreciate you all so much. Continue praying--we continue to pray for a miraculous healing... but above all us, we continue to pray that God be revealed to MANY through this, just as He's meant to be in all times of trial as well as thanksgiving~

This world...

Many of you, I'm sure, have been following the missing woman, Whitney Heichel case up in Gresham.
Not only, for those of us here in Oregon does this hit close to home, but it is a reminder for us all that, no matter what the circumstances that bring this life to a close...none of us are invincible to death.

Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not by any means saying that the evil which took that young girl's life this week wasn't unfair and downright sick--that's what evil is--but I am saying that it's in death that we are again given perspective... perspective of life and how quickly it can change, for us all.

My heart has been so heavy all week for that family and slew of friends and loved-ones who lost a beloved woman--even before we knew for sure that she was gone forever. As one of the investigators put it, it's easy for Whitney to embody our mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins or friends in our minds and is therefore impossible not to grieve for a life we may never of even known. I am so sad for the fear and pain-wrought circumstances for which she left this life, but am also eased, for her sake, that she no longer has to endure that man's wickedness.

Since finding out about my cancer, I have had many people say to me, 'Oh Hayley... it's just not fair... you're so young and you still have soooo much life ahead of you.' Yes. I do. I am. It's not fair. 
But it's reality. 

Whitney was TWELVE YEARS younger than me. She never got the chance to even have her own children, though from what I've read about it she, like me, was always a 'mama at heart' and wanted more than anything to get that chance.

THIS WORLD IS NOT FAIR!

I wouldn't blame her beloved and obviously veeeery heart-broken and devastated husband for harboring his OWN set of evil thoughts against the man who, sort of out of nowhere, thought it was somehow 'ok' to abduct and murder his wife. Aaron said to me just last night, after we read about Whitney's body being found, that he'd want to kill whomever did something like that to me.
How can you really blame a person for these thoughts?! I don't even know them and I too, find myself at certain times of the day absolutely wrought with hate for her murderer.

PRAY for Whitney's husband. Pray for ALL her loved ones~I know that I am and can't stop doing so.

In all my scrambled thoughts and feelings about things like this, I find myself being reminded of one very SECURE fact, once again:

THIS WORLD IS NOT OF GOD. It is EVIL.

...and thank our Heavenly Father... It's NOT forever.

Whitney's young life was cut short by another person, carrying out an evil act.
My young life has been 'threatened' by a sudden illness attacking my body.

NIETHER of these things stand for God. Neither of these things are God's 'will'...but He does Promise to make Good of it all and to carry out the JUSTICE that things of this world deserve.

I really don't know how He will use Whitney's tragedy.
To be honest, I still don't know entirely how He's going to use my health challenge.

But what I DO know is we can and should all continue to pray that He uses ALL OF OUR LIVES AND CIRCUMSTANCES, for His Glory~

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blessings Abound!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Praise God, Praise God, Praise God!!!

What a WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!

Started it by finding out our Graygers has been a stellar kiddo at school enough to be chosen for Student of the Month!  Celebrated his accomplishment with a little school-reception where his teacher's key-word descriptors for him included 'Friend to All', 'Curious', 'Intelligent', 'Careful-worker' and 'Fun.' Yep... he's blessed to have a beautiful teacher who takes the time to know him well. ;)

The week continued with some more wooooooonderful surprise visits by precious friends and loved ones, spreading the gifts of thoughtful gestures, words, hugs and loves to our humble home.

One friend surprised us with setting up a bank-account for any donations or raised-funds to help us cover the medical-bills that are beginning to piggy-back onto the normal mail-pile.
Another friend, an old-coworker and near-neighbor surprised us with a couple freezer-goods.
Yet another stopped by with what feels like a perfectly-made-for-me pink 'Courage' mug, covered in wonderful verses that remind me just how held up I am by my Lord and Savior and by HIS fear-ridding Strength!
Visits from other friends, too.... just too many daily blessings to list, individually, honestly.

SO. HUMBLED.

Today, I spent the day with my sweet mommy, traveling up to OHSU, once again...
only this time NOT for needles and tests (yes!!) but for meetings of a 'fun' sort.

Chemo-class and a visit with the wig-lady. ;)

Took away lots of good tidbits about chemo-treatments... possible effects, ways to troubleshoot said effects and even ways to prevent certain circumstances.

The real fun came though when we chose the most sassy, firey-red wig we could find for those days I need that 'fighter, fire-spirit', restored. ;)

OR for those days I just feel like being a sass-a-frass, ha. What me?! No, teehee.

Returned to Roseburg from our whirlwind day-trip just in time to catch my eldest's karate-test and watch proudly as he earned his yellow-belt!!! Oh, our unique little Gray... doing things in the same 'nobody's rushin' me' fashion I know my parents can attest YOURS-TRULY lived by, at the same age.
But hey, when called upon to know his stuff... he did... and that's all that mattered for that belt!
Of course, Lincy was quick to 'claim' brother's old belt, telling everyone he is now officially a white-belt. Have to laugh at the scenario though, as he actually HAS learned much of what Gray knows, just by sitting through the months of brudder's karate-sessions. In fact, it took him all of two weeks to be on board with the 'bow-in and out' rule of entering and exiting the room...and even Master Auer agrees that Linc has nearly earned an honorary white-belt for sibling side-line attendance, hehe.

As if the day was not abounding enough with good moments, feelings and so much continued Provision...the evening ended on the near HIGHEST note possible when I received a phone call from our genetics counselor with our genetic test-results.

DRUM ROLL PLEEEEEASE:

It's NORMAL!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO CHROMOSOMAL ABNORMALITIES!!!

Lemans terms:

1) No more worrying about passing the cancer-gene to my precious boys and/or my precious UNborn grand-babies!!!

2) No ovary taking/hysterectomy-having, NECESSARY!!!
My chances of ovarian cancer are NO GREATER than any other average-Betty! :D

GOD IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sooooo, sooooooooooooo Good!!!

Soooooooooooooooooooooo MERCIFUL!

SO. FULL. OF. GRACE!!!!!

Thank you, Lord for your Mercy on us~ We will never be worthy, but are oh so grateful.



~Love you all for your continued prayers and believing!






Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blessing counting...

What a day. :)

Thank you Lord, for the beautiful sunshine today.

Thank you for my precious children who are growing more and more in your likeness each day and beginning to yearn for relationship with you at their tender, young ages.

Thank you Lord, for my amazing soul-mate who goes to work, without complaint, EVERY DAY to earn an honest living for his family.

Thank you Lord, for my parents and parent-in-love's who love us, without limit and so freely and graciously show us that love, in ALL ways.

Thank you Lord, for my extended family and thousands of God-fearing friends and church-family who continue to hold me and my family up in such a time.

We are so undeserving and unworthy.



Thank you Lord, FOR YOUR GRACE... on us all.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pain is not above God...

Smart-ports are a wonderful concept.
Basically, they make it so that I don't have to be stuck with an IV every single week that I go for chemical treatments. It's really nice, honestly, that I have the option.
In theory, they are fabulous.

In reality, however, they are PAINFUL!!!

When I went in for day-stay surgery last Friday, I anticipated some soreness from the main-incision (which has actually healed up quite nicely) and some achiness in my arm from, well, having had minor surgery.

What I did NOT expect, however, was to lose the use of my neck and chest-area to the point that even initial walking would cause me to reeeeally question that, in the event of an earthquake would I let the roof cave-in on me or was getting to safety worth the pain endured to get there.
You know when you make the consideration of taking a dull table-knife and performing a little minor-surgery on yourself that:
A) You are in a LOT of pain.
B) You may want to re-think the idea of the Vicodin, as it's making you un-safe to yourself!

Not two days prior had my mom shared a hilarious story about her own surgery experience... a foot operation in which she was utterly determined she wouldn't need the heavy drugs to get her through.
Needless to say, fast-forward to her description of waking up from a dead-sleep, popping up from the waist, gazing on her throbbing foot and looking for the first thing near here that might act as an acceptable weapon for her foot's demise. Sorry, I've never (nor do I ever want to) see the Saw movies, but just knowing roughly that they are all about driving someone to the point that they are willing to take their own body-part off...I couldn't help but picture the scenario a bit.

That, folks, is when you KNOW you are in pain, or 'mild discomfort' as my hospital-release paperwork said, ha!
I suppose for someone more stout with a bit more 'cushion' on their bones, I could see this not being as big of a deal. But honestly, when something fairly large and foreign is shoved inside your body right next to and then over the top of your collar-bone and up into your skinny neck, it's easy to want to claw it out.

I could vent on and on, honestly, about the discomfort this thing has caused me in the past few days... including having to stop with the Vicodin due to the major intestinal upset it was causing me.

But, here's the deal.

GOD IS BIGGER.

God is Greater.
He is More Powerful.
He is More Awesome than any of it.

For me to sit and perseverate from minute to minute is the very rat-trap Satan wants me to jump into. He really will use anything and everything he can... and there have already been minutes lost that I've fallen prey to letting him.

The word PERSPECTIVE rings back into my ears with each and every next step of this 'hike.'
I find it ironic (though maybe not so much) and humbling that I felt led to title this blog, which I started over a year ago now (long before 'cancer' was part of our daily-walk) with that word.

Perspectives and ramblings.
Funny.
I still ramble, but me oh my, how my perspective has matured!!!

In the same conversation with my mom last week, we were talking about the pain involved in this journey and I couldn't help but reflect on the pain Jesus felt as he hung by his very flesh and bones after being brutally tortured to an unrecognizable extent... and I think to myself what unimaginable and unsurpassable physical pain he endured in those days he dangled up there. Then my mom said 'Isn't it so awesome that Christ did it for us so that we may NEVER have to?!!'

YES.
Amen.    

AMEN!!!


Hmmm.
Suddenly, THIS pain I am in now seems awfully petty.

Control Issues...

Just posted the first Courage video on here (left side-bar)...hopefully the first of more.
Keep those pics, coming, and if you don't have a Facebook, please feel free to email them to me at: hayleyziebart@gmail.com. :)

So, today...this week is all about control--rather my learning to RELINQUISH it!

Those of you who know me more personally and deeply know that I have a 'system' of doing things.
Yes, I am (in prior circumstances) a part-time working mom and so that system isn't always perfectly in place, but I do have one...and certain things about it are followed to a tee on a daily-basis.

Our basic morning routine involves getting up around 9:30/10am, having breakfast with my little men, dressing them, making their beds, doing homework/practicing violin and then kicking the day off.
Usually after dropping Gray off to school, Linc and I have a list of things to do--like one of those today
(again under more normal circumstances) would've involved taking the over-flowing recycling by the recycle center around the corner, on our way back to the house. Then, Linc and I usually have time to just be together...soak in mommy/son time and take care of household duties TOGETHER and at our leisure. Of course, I suppose today's Monday so technically, I would've been running to get to the college for piano class and then over to the studio for a day of students...but Tuesdays & Thursdays would look like the prior description.

Whatever the case, we're a week and a half out from starting treatments and I'm ALREADY feeling totally OUT OF MY ELEMENT.

As I look out my window and see just enough sun and rain-free weather, I can't help but miss the option of going outside and taking care of a few of my projects I'd wanted to wrap up on before winter hit. Dad took down our pool today (something we'd planned to do the weekend after we found out about everything) so that was nice, but although I appreciate it, there's that part of me that mourns over not being able to do it myself.

Does that sound dumb?!

Taking care of my house and my things... that's MY job. It's just so weird to have it suddenly not be--and you'd think I'd be HAPPY to not do it--but it actually makes me a little sad.

It's like when you have a bad flu and feel forced to be a lump-on-a-log in order to get well... you just can't WAIT to heal up so you can get back to things as 'they should be.'
It's enough to make any control-freak go batty fast. Yes, I admit it. I am one.

In order to not flip a major switch, I take a step back.



I bring it back to the Lord and all I can see is Him, LAUGHING.
Really. He's laughing at me.

As if taking care of those worldly-responsibilities really should be the root of my joy, anyway?!

Now I understand why He's laughing.

Once again, my pride has convinced me that I have less worth if I am unable to do things without help. My pride has ripped me out of God's presence and into the darkest most depressing parts of my mind that scream 'Life will NEVER be the same!!!' ...and I find myself, momentarily, convinced that all joys are a history my remaining days on this earth.

WRONG.
So. So. Wrong.

GOD is our joy.
God doesn't care how you do your laundry or for that matter who does it when you can't.
God doesn't care if your perfectly regimented day goes 'just so', as YOU'D planned it to.
God doesn't care if your yard-project has to stay unfinished for the next 8 months or more.
God doesn't care who makes your dinner, or who feeds your children, or even when and what they eat!

So, if none of those things matter to Him, why should they matter to ME?!!

Control is an enemy and control is a dangerous part of our lives that The Enemy wants us to mingle heavily in. He WANTS us to feel useless and unworthy when our lives feel out of control.
Yet, ironically, we all know and preach this unanimous prayer:
'Lord, YOU have control...Lead my life.'

Well.
Suppose I can't argue with that...seems it's just another prayer answered~

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Living in the moment...

I've come to realize that there's a BIG difference between living IN the moment, vs. living for the moment.

Only a handful of days after we first received 'the news,' every day began feeling longer.
Sure, when you're doing things like I have been the past few weeks (we'll just sum it up by saying 'human-pin-cushion'), the minutes seem like years.

But that's actually not what I'm referring to.

There's something extraordinarily profound about being told that life is no longer 'guaranteed', but something you must fight to have more of. It's like all things around you suddenly grow under the most immense magnifying glass you could imagine. Your eyes, your nose, your ears and your heart... all gain some hyper sensitivity... like they are finally doing what they were made for.

Last week, I did many, many things I didn't want to do. (And I do really mean to add about ten more 'many's' onto that sentence, but I will spare you.)

IV's. STILL NOT A FAN.
Appointments. (...while I absolutely adore most of the people at the OHSU facility) There are much better things that I wish I COULD be doing and/or talking about.
Biopsies. Well, let's face it. THEY PRETTY MUCH STINK MONKEY POO.

However, amidst all of it, I can't help but focus on the simpler things.

On the way to OHSU Thursday morning, mom and I spent nearly an hour finding our way to the right location, which left us 20 minutes late to our appointment. A literal rat-chase later, all I could do...once we were finally at the front desk of the correct location...was smile inside.

Look at this beautiful mother of mine who has cast all other life away and committed her days and 'moments' to traipsing the OHSU campus with me, holding her needy daughter's hand during ugly biopsies, creating with me, so many 'funny stories' spoken I'm sure at the many dinner-tables or over the many glasses of wine of the professionals having to put up with our pink pair.

Creating the memorable moments out of sheer need, in times... like 'Party-Rock' becoming the theme-song that 'serenades' us through the biopsies. Why? Because, it takes me to visions of my innocent and carefree little men--at skating-rink visits or during spontaneous 'dance-parties' at home--where they wiggle their little toushies in delight of a tune while somebody outside my la-la-land has to poke and prod me for tumor samples. Seeing my straight-laced female doctor crack some smiles at the craziness... realizing internally that we just may be affecting more of her than just her progress in breast-tissue research.
I sure hope so, anyway.

Talking to one of my uncles on the phone... hearing a softer, loving tone and a ver-klempt speech that I'm not sure I've EVER heard from him. Experiencing through our conversation an immense brokenness that has occurred within him because of this as he says...'Hayley, you are soooo special to us, I just feel so helpless and want something to do. Give me something to do.'

Having a friend and neighbor call up to ask if he could come over because God just impressed, DEEPLY, on his heart to lay hands on me and pray for my pain and the abolishment of the tumor.

Seeing people all around us, interacting with us, following our story, praying with us...
BEING AFFECTED, somehow... someway...If even for that constant gentle reminder to truly live every day to it's fullest.

Today, as I am getting through what feels like the worst pain I've felt since laboring my children (I'd actually endure multiple biopsies over this port-surgery-recovery)...
I am reminded that God is bigger. STILL. Always. ...And He is so awesomely using this!

Even while in physical pain and in an awry state, I know and I SEE how He is using it all and all I can do is cry tears of joy through the tears of pain... 'Lord, YOU ARE SO WORTHY!!!'


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Appointments, Appointments, Read all about 'em!

So, for all of you wanting/needing an update on the medical side of things, here you go. :)

Tonight:
Mom and I leave for P-town...a road-trip we will be getting veeeeeeeeeeery familiar with over the next 5 months. We are staying with one of her friends who lives in Tualatin and are again very humbled to have that option.

Tomorrow (early morning):
Head to OHSU for a morning of more poking, *yaaaaaay* ;)
MRI followed by another biopsy of BOTH the breast and lymph tissues. *More yaaaaaay* ;-P

Friday (early morning):
Check-in at out-patient surgery clinic for port-installation surgery.
Surgery lasts approximately 2 hrs with another 3 hrs or so in-room observation to make sure
the port is working properly and my body isn't trying to reject it.
Hopefully, all goes great and they can release us... in which case, we'll head for home.

Saturday-next Friday:
NOTHING but 'recovery'!!! *and believe me, I will be making the most of it cause that will be the last 'nothing' for a while... ;)

End of October:
Chemo treatments begin.

**One of the coming Saturdays we will be holding a head-shaving 'party'... will let everyone know when that is and be shooting some videos of that as well as hope that many of you will come to 'witness' me, GOING BALD! ;)

Thanks again for all the continued prayers and sharing and following our crazy journey, back to health~

Monday, October 8, 2012

If you give a mama cancer...

I apologize in advance for the lack of organization that this entry has, but hey, it's an entry... and for those of you who've told me you 'stalk' the blog for new entries (side-note: you CAN subscribe so you don't have to do that) ;) this one's especially for you.
Why anyone would 'hang on my words' is actually a bit humorous to me---half the time I find myself thinking what an interesting black-hole my brain is. But I know that under my more current circumstances, this blog is serving a purpose beyond my 'normal ramblings,' one I think God Himself can and may even use--so for that reason alone, I type.

Today was not anything extraordinary... beyond being a PRECIOUS GIFT, of course.

I spent much of it being a typical house-mom, minus the fact that I am now more like a house-mom on crack with my crazy 'mission-laden' self.

Poor Aaron.
Poor boys.

I can't organize enough or stop purging and sorting things, just so.
It's really quite pathetic.

Today, I spent some time unpacking bags that we'd stuffed full in anticipation of a substantial hospital stay...frames, various gifts, memorabilia, sentimental stuff from around the house. Of course, unpacking that stuff meant finding places for all of it for the next 4 months or so that I will be on treatments and NOT in surgery.
At one point, I found myself thinking that this 'new' (I'll claim it to be the result of my disease-driven reasons) habit of needing to-do... to regain order and control... is a bit like a dog chasing it's tail.
While unpacking one bag, I'd put something away and that would take me to a 'place' that needed my attention...even if I'd given that area attention just hours ago---I NEEDED to re-'fix' it.

I'm not sure when or why the thought came over me, (maybe because my boys had insisted that we read the particular book the other night?), but I broke into laughter at myself today when I realized that my daily 'dealing' with the thought of cancer and what it means for our weekly 'schedule' as well as in the bigger picture leaves me wanting one rather significant thing--
MORE CONTROL.

According to Laura Numeroff (brilliant children's book author), if you 'Give a Mouse a Cookie', he'll want a glass of milk to go with it...along with a number of other sequential desires that follow.

Well... if you give a mama cancer, she'll want a cup of sanity to go with it...along with any and all things that may restore CONTROL into daily life.
Things like hanging a shelf for those new frames, so they are out of the way and 'that space' they are in now is freed up for other important things and out of the way of whomever may be here helping when I'm not feeling as good and able to hang that shelf........................

Yep.
It's a trap. A DEFINITE, MIND TRAP.

For those of you who learn by and/or appreciate analogies, it's similar to 'nesting.'
'If I can put that there, and then hang that there and then make that just so, it'll be done and 'ready.'

Man, what I wouldn't give to be experiencing the frantic-readying nature for something better than chemo-treatments.
But hey...it could be worse...I could be being told to 'ready for death.'
How's THAT for perspective.

So, as I plug through the couple days I have here this week, I pray a few things for myself and offer these things to any of you who, still, dutifully WANT to know how you can pray for me.

*A renewed spirit of Peace. What gets done, gets done. What doesn't, doesn't matter.
*A renewed spirit of Peace. The MRI's, biopsies and port-surgery ahead is all part of this journey.
*A renewed spirit of Peace. How chemo affects me, is how I'm affected. He will give me strength!
*A renewed spirit of Peace. He is STILL receiving ALL the Glory in this. This is not beyond Him.
*A renewed spirit of Peace. Pray for REST. Stillness in my heart.
Peace Be Still.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

C is for...


I've been telling a lot of people in person over this past couple of weeks how I view this whole journey, thus far, but I really think it's about time I said it, here, on the blog.

First, let me just say that their are MANY emotions revolving around this challenge.
A lot of you have said to me recently,
'It's ok...you don't have to play the positive role all the time. You are allowed to feel like crying and
it's ok to feel angry or sad.'

OH, BELIEVE ME.
I am not playing the positive card, twenty-four seven.
There HAVE been tears...lots of them. There have been arguments and frustrations.
Just because you are told you have cancer doesn't mean that you are suddenly not human.

In fact, lately I've been feeling like half of my own personal battle is to stay away from allowing myself and others to think of me as 'the poor young lady with cancer.'
I think it's easy to suddenly label yourself and let that ugly word of an ugly disease define who you are.

I. REFUSE.

I am still Hayley.

I am still firey, loving, bull-headed, tender, social... I am still all the things I was before.
Now, however, I'm facing the Mt Everest climb of my life. *Good thing I AM still all those things, ha!*

What I think my loved ones, surrounding me in prayer, easily confuse is my attitude toward my situation, as a moment-by-moment CHOICE.
There are MANY moments out of my day where I am so absolutely consumed with this situation that I just want to go find a corner and rock myself to crazy-town.
In some ways, sometimes, I think that might even be a lot easier.
But the question is...what good would that really do me?!

Would being depressed throughout this whole thing take the disease away??
Would feeling sorry for myself be a good example for my children???
Would sitting around, moping about it do any good for my relationships????
Would crying 'woe-is-me' really Glorify God to and through people who need Him to be?????

No.
No.
No.
and most definitely...
No.

Choosing to let 'Cancer' take over my emotional and mental life is suicide.
I might as well die of an unexpected brain-anurism.

Are there moments of tears?
Are there moments of 'why not THAT lady, who smokes & drinks & does drugs?!'
Are there moments of 'why when I'm so young and my kids are so little?'
Are there moments of 'NO MORE NEEDLES!!!'
Are there moments of 'Lord, I'm scared of the Chemo.'

Yes.
Heck yes.
Absolutely yes.
Oh my gosh, yes.
Most assuredly...
YES!
and YES!!!

But, allowing those fears to consume me and dictate my every precious gifted moment now is not truly Trusting in My Lord and Savior!

The bible says:
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall. Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you... He will not permit the Godly to slip.

If I have truly cast my fears, then it is my Faith that must lead the way.
So when you see all of my courage poses, influenced initially by a sweet little sculpture gift received from a cousin, early on (see below pic)...
Just remember, I'm choosing a DIFFERENT 'C-word', much greater and more redeeming than the first one...
I don't 'HAVE cancer.'

I'm CHOOSING, Courage.





Saturday, October 6, 2012

'The Plan'...

I apologize if this blog has none of the out-pourings or sentimentalities it normally is.
Not only is it late and I'm exhausted, but this entry's point really does have just one...
TO INFORM.

Today was a day of OHSU, as those of you who follow me on Facebook know.
Not like I haven't had days like that already or don't anticipate many, many more, cause I do know better. In fact, it's like my mom said to me tonight, 'We will know those halls and buildings well by the time this all is over.' That's for sure. ;) But I'm soooooo GLAD for that fact. 

Aaron and I were just saying the other day how much we praise God that we live in a time and a PLACE where we have such access to care and good health professionals. 
What if I lived in some third-world country where none of these was available to me...
this would be a death sentence
But because I don't, and I'm blessed enough to be where I am,
It's not.

Today was another meeting with my oncologist who, let me just say, has a genuine and deep care for me as a patient and wants to help us, as a family, get back to living. Like everyone else has been telling us, he agrees that the best plan is to systemically treat me BEFORE putting me under the knife.
The hope is to reduce the tumor-size as greatly as possible with drugs...then, surgically remove whatever is left.

As some of you know, we discussed, prayed about, read about and finally decided to participate in a couple of their research studies on top of our standard care procedures. Since OHSU is a leading research facility and active university, these things are available and very worthwhile to those who can 
A) Make it work
and
B) Fit all eligibility criteria. 

One of the standard drugs I will be receiving in my weekly treatments (Herceptin) is one of OHSU's recent medical break-throughs, that in lemans terms, targets specific bad cell receptors and therefore reduces what extreme the lesser targeted Chemo treatments must be dozed in. This is an excellent thing, as that basically means killing less 'good' cells while the bad ones are still being eradicated.

I apologize to any of you whom I lost in the last part... it is a LOT of information and I promise I will try to explain it better in a future post, when I'm less asleep, ha! ;)

Whatever the case, since I will be participating in both the study as well as the standard treatments, it will be a WEEKLY visit for us... a HUGE commitment, seeing as we're 3 hours south and gas is averaging $4/gallon...but a decision we feel good about. Not only are we helping with future medical break-throughs but we're also, likely, making my standard treatments more tolerable and possibly even MORE effective in doing so. 
As Aaron put it, '20 weeks of weekly sacrifice in the bigger picture is little to sacrifice for a lifetime more with my wife.'

So, here's what the schedule roughly looks like, with a few appts still up in the air:

Next Thursday morning/afternoon: MRI + one more biopsy (boo!)
Friday morning: Port installation surgery (the port is like a 'permanent' IV for my chest so the treatment drugs don't kill my arm veins.

The following week will be appointments with a few more specialists and revealing of final tests.
Then, Monday, October 28th will be the start of my 20 straight weeks of therapy treatments (Chemo, Herceptin and whatever other target drugs the study includes).

There will also be a smattering of more MRI's as well as another biopsy approximately 3-weeks in and then at completion, also... and I'm sure more blood-draws and who knows what else.
*Enough poking and prodding to certainly make ones head spin. ;-P

After Chemo will be surgery. What kind, how extensive, length of recovery?? 
Sorry folks. No answers.
A) We're not looking that far ahead (moment to moment, remember?)
B) We won't know until we know what/how the treatments did with killing the bad cells.

So, now that you know the basics, what to pray for, specifically:

Pray for Friday's port-surgery. It is out-patient, but I'm still put under and it still is a day-long deal.
Pray for test results to come back good so we can indeed participate in the extra study-part.
Pray for the tumor to stop growing until the drug-treatments can officially start!!!
Pray for my fears about the treatments...I want peace about it. Also, pray the treatments do their job!

Thanks all for following and continuing to support us through what is bound to be a whirl-wind year~


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Moment by Moment...

It continues to amaze me how long my days feel now, compared to how quickly they seemed to pass me by before all of this came about. It's sort of like the question people ask after having kids...
'What did I DO with all that time before I had these guys?!'

I find myself thinking and feeling like I must've just been 'tuned out' to soooo many things, before now.

I remember in one of my previous posts, right after we were given the news, that I wished someone would just pinch me and it would all of been just a bad dream.
Now, I feel as though it's quite the opposite.

No, I'm not saying that I wouldn't give just about anything to have this disease suddenly disappear and not be faced with treatments and surgeries in our near future. However, what it has and continues to bring to the forefront is a perspective on life that has literally changed how I choose to live.

So, how am I living?

MOMENT TO MOMENT.

It's sad that it takes such a big thing for God to truly shake 'our world' and open our eyes to His Reality.
I've been telling people lately, who I've had the chance to discuss 'my' perspective with, that there is a large part of me that feels humbled to be in this position.
I know some of you may be reading this and thinking I've officially lost it to say I'm 'glad' to have been diagnosed with cancer... and that would probably be taking it a little far, anyway.

BUT...

I AM blessed.

I am.

Having this disease is opening my heart and mouth up to speak things that I've otherwise been too scared to speak. Suddenly, wanting to pray for and with a stranger is not only comfortable for me but even rightly dutiful... especially with someone who I know doesn't know Our Awesome God, yet. I have a grasp on 'time' and how there really, truly, is NONE TO WASTE.

It's like my husband Aaron has said, 'Who knows... we may die before you even go to treatment...Jesus may return in the middle of the night and the world will be over.. or we may be in a fatal car-wreck on the way to our next appt.'
No, I'm not being morbid, and I really do promise you I haven't lost it.
I'm just stating the fact.

NONE OF US KNOW WHEN OUR LIVES ARE GOING TO END.

I find myself thanking God for this perspective each and every next day...
and thanking him even MORE for choosing me to be a vessel in His great purpose.

So, as I said the very first day I was given the news (though it was said more out of self-pity than I feel now)... Go. Love on your family. Hug your kids. THANK GOD for your life, that He so gravely and graciously sacrificed His Son for... cause every single breath and every single moment is nothing but

A

TRUE

....



GIFT.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Today's The Day...

Today's The Day...

FOR TESTS.



Today's The Day...

FOR SCANS.



Today's The Day...

FOR COURAGE.




But Above ALL ELSE,



TODAY'S THE DAY..
THAT THE LORD HAS MADE.




So, I will REJOICE, and be GLAD IN IT.


(Thank you for your prayers. Keep them coming.)

----------------------------------------------------------


OHSU APPOINTMENTS SCHEDULE:
10/2 

8:30am 10th floor Main Hospital, MRI and CT’s
12:00pm Basement Sam Jackson---Bone Scan Injection
1:00pm 7th floor, Breast Center Meet with Christine Kemp, NP
3:30pm Basement Sam Jackson Hall--Bone Scan
***Return to the breast center for your axillary aspiration.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Empty

This weekend I had the privilege of spending much of my time around one of my dearest sister-friends.
Not only did she come an hour up the freeway for my birthday/going-away bash, but then she stayed overnight with us...spending a fun girls-night followed by an afternoon of helping with my to-do's.

As I've said many times already, there's absolutely NOTHING like such circumstances such as these to remind you how prepared God has made you... how perfectly and specifically placed and set into your life people are. Julie is not coincidental. Nor is anyone else.

For any of you out there who still think things in your life 'just happen'... that there is not One, True, Awesome God at the helm, with a bigger plan, beyond ANY of this and ANY of us... I beg of you...
give Him a chance!

Yesterday, as I packed my things... frames, inspirational sayings, trinkets and jewelry--most all things from loved-ones--I found myself looking around at the rooms in my house. That spot on my wall where a wedding photo, now in my suitcase, used to hang. Another on the mantel where a family photo taken in a Eugene orchard near Aaron's parents by one of my lovely and talented sisters not more than two years ago (BEFORE I had cancer), gone... packed.

As I found and packed more and more items of inspiration for my hospital room, things around me were beginning to feel 'bare'...
Empty.

Ignoring those feelings, I turned my eyes back on God, crooned away to the Christian music my husband was blaring over the living room speakers---probably shoving the 'dust under the rug' in much the same way as me---and stayed focused on my list.

A little while later, before Julie took off for home, a topic in conversation brought up the fact that, sadly, she had never seen my newest studio-space. When at a good stopping point in our duties, Aaron she and I loaded up the kids and had her follow us just four blocks up the road to our offices.

As soon we pulled in, I found myself thinking about how I wouldn't be pulling in here for a while... and as soon as Aaron unlocked and pushed the door open, that same wash came over me, once more.

EMPTY.

How picked up the main room was, all the books re-shelved--which my students know is never usually the case. ;) Same with the play-room... picked up with absolutely NO sign of being used again for some time. As I proudly toured Julie through, telling her about things on the walls and pointing out all my music-related decors and treasures from students and parents over the years... I found myself inwardly beginning to yearn for yesterday...when things felt FULL.

As we finished up and closed the door, I gulped back the tears, gave her a long hug goodbye, received her deepest prayers and refocused on our agenda.

Later that night, as I found myself STILL consumed by the empty thoughts, I called my angel-mom to 'say goodnight'--which fortunately, she knows in these cases is a plea for prayer and support.
How guilty I felt to have spent the near entire week literally SURROUNDED by visitors offering hugs and prayer and yet feeling more empty than ever before.

As I began to sign off with my mom there was a pause... followed by her again... 'Do you want me to stay on the line just a little bit longer?'

Cue my tears.

Her again 'Oh honey, Do you need me to come tuck you in?'
Like a scared, lonely little child I respond, 'Yes.'

Within 10 minutes she, her best-friend and my dad were all here.
I was just getting the little men to bed with our nightly bible-study routine when they arrived.
The three of them found a spot on the couches and just listened, giggled at my little men's usual questions and comments about the stories and pictures, and soaked us in while we finished up.

How appropriate our lesson was... like EVERYTHING ELSE... it felt 'planned', even though I had just started where we'd left off the night before.
As my little men repeated the final message 'My God is the One True God' and I listened to my eldest first, then my littlest recite it, God impressed the message deeper and deeper onto my heart.

HE. IS. GOD. There is NO OTHER LIKE HIM.

When the boys and I were done, mom, dad, Jonnie, Aaron, myself and our two little men sat and praised God, claiming in one accord, His Glory in this... His Name... His Purpose of allowance... and as we did, my peace... my Perfect Peace, returned.

As we were putting the boys to bed, Grayson asked me to change his 'nice, warm music' that we play each night on an iHome in their room to another song. As I went to do so, I saw the title 'Empty Me' and chose it.

I kissed and hugged my two little blessings, said my goodbyes to my parents and Jonnie and retired off to bed with the hubby.

As I laid there in bed, helping Aaron put together an inspirational music compilation to take with on my iPod, I couldn't stop muttering those words and the words to that song (which, by the way, was written by a good church friend of ours from our Portland church-family)...

Empty me. Lord, Empty me.
Fill, won't you fill me. With you. WITH YOU.

As those words swirled around in my mind and the prayers of the night sunk in...
moment by moment, the Peace filled me deeper.

I sit here now and look around my great-room and feel the emptiness of 'our normal'....but as I type, I am reminded that in THAT emptiness, I am filled to the point of Over-Flowing, with the One, True, Great God... and through Him, my peace is restored.




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