April 2017

April Fools came and went and I didn't write a single lie to any of you. As a child, I liked April Fools jokes. My biggest one was putting salt in my mother's coffee each year. I think she either caught on, or I got tired of reliving the same joke. But I don't like practical jokes played on me at all. I don't like to be tricked as I feel ridiculous when I realize how gullible I am. So, no tricks from me ever again. :)

This morning, Kaye Saxon invited me to speak at her church, "Tree of LIfe". I had the normal feelings of anxiety, "What if I get up there and just keep repeating the same things? What if they don't find me interesting? What if I come across as a whiner?" All those things raced through my mind, but then I remembered what my friend Laurie told me yesterday about public speaking: Know your subject. Well, that's easy! I know me and I know Logan! Those words gave me a confident boost. God was there with me and his love poured out of me. I hope people felt God's love in me, for that is the whole point of why I want to speak to others. I want to give hope in time of despair.

This morning a few people shared their personal stories with me. Stories of children who have fallen away from God, of marriages that have ended, of estranged relationships between siblings, and of difficulties with raising children. We all have a story. We all have pain and suffering from time to time. We must stop feeling like we have to portray a perfect life to the world.. THAT is not just an April Fools joke,that is a lie. None of us have perfect lives or perfect families. Let's build each other up and not glorify ourselves in the process. Be humble, be loving, and be kind.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

The message at church today was about how we need to show each other love.  For without love, we have nothing. Love is not conditional and we can't earn love.  But we can freely give love without expecting anything in return: that is real love.

4/3/17

I was blown away today by a message I got from my SIL. She bought some of my books for her work place. One of the ladies came up to her today and shared a bit of her story. She has lost two children to death, and now her mother is in the hospital. This woman knows grief and she knows pain.  She said reading "Killing Leuk" helped her because she saw the strength I have and she wants to have that strength too. This is exactly what I wanted to happen. I wanted to bless others with the love of Christ. I want them to see Christ in me and to have a sense of hope; and make sense of the journey they are on.  I am happy to bless others.  I look forward to this Saturday's book signing at Little Millers Cafe. I hope others will share their stories with me.

Casey and I went to visit Granny this afternoon. She is just so adorable. She announced she had just sat down after working for hours on two aprons for my little cousins. If Granny didn't have a project to work on she would be so bored. I'm so happy she can still see well enough to sew, although that is getting very hard for her.

I volunteered at the library today and the same thing happened with vertigo and nausea. I think it's the squatting down to put books away. I have quite the list of complaints to discuss with Dr. Spencer on Thursday. (big sigh) I just want to feel well. But, I am alive!  While there, I got a call from a long-lost friend whom I used to work with. It was great to hear from her and I love how God orchestrates reunifications. He wants us to stay in community with others.

4/5/17

It was a night where sleep eluded me. A night where nausea intertwined with terrible hip pain. I was gone most of the day. I put on 90 miles in the car going to various meetings. I spoke at the last meeting, the Opioid Task force. It was hot in the room. Seems like every time I get overheated, I get nauseous. I made it through my talk and the entire 2.25 hour meeting. I crawled in bed when I got home, wishing I could just vomit and get it over with. I am reminded of the first  100 days posttransplant when my nausea became intractable. I have taken a step back and I am weak. Physically weak, please God, don't let me get mentally weak. Don't let me get discouraged again.

4/6/17

I have a confession to make. Last week I went to Walmart and I saw two homeless men in the parking lot begging for money. I didn't give them any. I went on to my volunteer job at Thrifters Rock. I went grocery shopping afterwards and then went to Subway, feeling famished. The Subway gal asked me if I wanted guacamole on my sandwich. I replied, "sure". The she rang it up and charged me for a 12 inch sandwich with an extra $2 for the guacamole. I was irritated and told her I only had a six inch and was unaware they charged extra for guacamole and if she had told me, I would have said no. She asked me if I wanted her to remake it. For the principle of the matter I said yes. Inside my head, I kept thinking about the wasted sandwich and wanted to ask if they would donate it to a homeless person. But, I didn't ask. 

I walked out of Subway with my newly made sandwich. I was SO hungry, and I had to drive out to Casey's house which was several miles away. All I could think about was how tired I was from shopping and volunteering, and how badly I wanted to eat that sandwich. A man approached me and asked me if I had money to give him so he could get something to eat. I told him there was a sandwich inside that he could probably get because they made mine wrong. Then I drove off, selfishly eating my sandwich. Afterwards I was wracked with guilt. He was the third man in just a few hours who needed food and I ignored them all. Why didn't I just hand over my sandwich? Why did I choose to be selfish?

Today I went to Costco and bought some snacks. I am putting them in ziplock bags and keeping them in my car to hand out to people who are hungry. I am ashamed of myself for not having these snack bags prepared. I thought about doing this months ago, yet did nothing about it, but come up with the idea. Jesus asks us to feed the hungry, yet I am too selfish to give up my sandwich. I am ashamed of myself and ask you all to forgive me for my selfishness. I am not a good example.

Tomorrow will be a better day. I am going to spread the love of Jesus through food!

Today I went for my monthly oncology check. I spent my entire day yesterday in bed. My body was overwrought with nausea. I was thrilled to find most of the nausea gone today. I asked for a couple liters of IV fluid today with some IV anti-nausea meds in hopes of kicking it completely. Unfortunately, it didn't really help, but I certainly feel better than yesterday. My blood pressure is always low, but today, especially low at 99/54. My blood tests were pretty good. I got a picture with Dr. Spencer and Zach posing with me and my book.

Dr. Spencer said I need to cut back on my volunteer duties, particularly the library. I get so nauseated shelving books. It's quite ridiculous. I need to concentrate on just a few things and rest more often. The substance abuse group must be my primary focus. I believe God has laid that on my heart for a reason.

I got to visit with a few friends in Anchorage today: Kelly and Maile Davis and Katie and her mom, Bonnie, and Katie's new baby boy, Kalman. it felt good to see friends!

4/8/17

Yesterday I picked a friend up from the airport and took her to her cardiology appointment. She is 49 years old and has had a pacemaker for about 12 years. She has been experiencing pain and discomfort so they had her fly in to make some adjustments. It was the coolest thing to see. The tech put a magnet over her pacemaker, and while she was on the treadmill, he tweaked the settings and now she has no pain. Simply amazing how modern medicine works. I'm thankful my friend feels reassured now. I can't imagine what it would feel like wondering if your heart is going to give out at any moment.

Hearts are at the center of our bodies for a reason. Not just so the circulatory system works, but because our hearts should be at the center of every decision we make. Sometimes we hear the words, "Don't lead with your heart, lead with your head." Now while I understand the need for leading with our brains, we should not ignore the pullings of our hearts either. I believe our hearts are where God's spirit lives in us.  Technically I know it's the soul, but think of it this way. God gave us a heart to love and to care about others. When we know deep inside that something isn't right (or is right) we need to heed the feelings of the heart, not just follow what the brain tells us to do. For if we have don't have love, we have nothing!  To love is the most important commandment God gives us. Love is kind, love is patient. Our brains may be impatient, but our hearts should always be patient and loving. How is your heart doing?

My nausea has continued. Yesterday was a rough day, but I didn't let my friend know how bad I really felt. The strangest thing though, I can still eat when nauseous. I was able to do that semi-well during transplant recovery too. This feeling is not a welcome feeling. It's the pits to feel nauseous every moment. I think it may be subsiding today though. I don't feel nearly as bad as I did yesterday.

I gave away my first snack bag to a homeless lady yesterday. My friend and I were at the stop light and there was an older Alaskan Native woman standing with a sign asking for money. She had no teeth. My friend handed her a bag out the window. Her toothless smile radiated and her face glowed. She squealed with delight and shouted her thanks and she sprinted back across to the sidewalk. Our hearts were filled with joy. She literally made our whole day. We both had tears in our eyes and I silently thanked God for the idea. Changing the world one snack bag at a time. :)

Today is the big book signing debut. I have been fretting and worrying about it; wondering if anyone would come or I would be humiliated in front of my family because no one was interested. This morning I woke up with the song verse in my head, "It's all about you, Jesus. It's not about me, as If you should do things my way. It's all about you, you alone are God, and I surrender." I didn't get this in quite the right order, but you get the picture. This is NOT about ME. I didn't write this book for MY glory. I wrote it for HIS glory. So it really doesn't matter if a single person shows up. God has this. He will put the book in the hands of those who need encouragment and an example of someone who has let faith overpower the obstacles in her life. It's all about him and I surrender to his desire for my life. Thanks be to God!

Update:  Today was incredible! I got to see so many dear friends today and even met a few new people. It was wonderful to see everyone and my heart was deeply touched. I have a picture of Logan that I displayed on the table. I don't think everyone saw it, but I tried to point him out to people.  I know God had his glorious hand upon today and I thank him for it. I also am so grateful to my husband and my mother who were there for the entire day. Casey and Kelsey were there for a large portion of it too.

One thing happened today that made me feel bad though. I tried to give everyone individual attention. I always want to be "the hostess with the mostest" and make everyone comfortable. I failed today. There were two ladies that I recognized, but couldn't quite place them. I was having a conversation with someone and glanced at them and smiled. Within a couple minutes, they exited the room and did not look happy. I saw them stop and talk with friends of mine and I thought maybe they were just going to get something to eat and come back. A few minutes later, one of the ladies came back to grab her hat. I smiled again thinking she was going to come over. At that point, no one else was talking to me. But, she left the building. I feel terrible about it because I think they felt slighted. I know I am being ridiculous, but I never ever intentionally slight someone and I certainly don't want anyone to feel like I am ignoring them. I wish I could remember where I know them from and apologize. :( I think I need some lessons on how to be the best hostess!

I heard from a couple coworkers today that there are a couple spots that have opened up at my former place of employment... Yes, the probation office. I had that "twinge" again. Oh how I want to go back! I think Dr. Hogan and Dr. Spencer would shake their heads in dismay if I brought it up again.... God, give me peace about what you want for me!

4/9/17

Twice in a month I have heard a teaching about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus, if you remember, was a great friend of Jesus. Jesus loved Lazarus, yet he waited two additional days after hearing he was sick to go to him. People were confused. Why would Jesus, friend of Lazarus, and the known healer - the son of God, not rush to the bedside of his dying friend? Why didn't Jesus respond right away? In John 11:25- Jesus responded to Martha's inquiry into this matter by saying, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

Jesus doesn't always answer our prayers the way we want him to. I know this all too well when we lost our son, Logan. But Logan believed in Jesus, so truly, he will never "die" for he LIVES in Heaven with the son of God and God himself. But in this case, Jesus affirmed Mary and Martha's understanding of how powerful he really is.

When Jesus commanded people to remove the stone. Jesus said, " Did I not tell you if you believed, you would see the glory of God"? Jesus called out to Lazarus, and he walked out of the tomb. How amazing that must have been to see a true miracle. We may not often see miracles like this, but we can see glimmers of hope if we let Jesus work through us.

Jesus uses US to carry on his mission.  We must do all things in his name. There is one organization that is doing what he has commanded us to do. The Opioid Task Force is doing the "Lazarus Project" Providers are working together to "raise people from the death of addiction".  We are truly providing hope to people who are spiritually dead. They will rise again with the help of Jesus who literally can command the dead to rise. I'm starting training tomorrow with my first client, using the Genesis process program. She is truly in the "beginning" stages and is a new creature in Christ, and is working to be free from the bondage of addiction.

I think we are at important stage of change in our community. We are fighting against the spirit of  hatred, bondage, and despair. There are people who don't think anyone who has an addiction is worth saving. My heart hurts to hear the nasty names being hurled upon people who are struggling. We live in an intolerant and uncompassionate world. Let's be the change!

I want to be used in however God has in mind, but, I'm continuing to feel nauseous and rundown. This afternoon I had to leave a baby shower early. I "hit the wall". I came home and napped. My blood sugar dropped down to 56. My head started hurting as well. My darling, tender hearted husband urged me to sit down and rest. He brought me a glass of water and offered to make me tea. He reassured me that I am doing a good job, but just need to take it easy. He never complains about my inadequacies, my lack of energy, or my frequent physical symptoms of illness. How did I get so fortunate? I sure don't deserve this wonderful man, but I most certainly am so thankful that he is mine and he loves me.

4/10/17

Looking at Face Book today brought me great joy. My friend, Lisa, is celebrating nineteen years post-transplant today! Hallelujah!  Her brother was a perfect match for her. Her brother has brain damage, from a fall as an infant, but he willingly donated his life saving stem cells to my friend Lisa. She is here today because God saved her brother from dying, and by doing so, also saved her. Yes, I do believe miracles still take place. I'm so thrilled for her.  Seeing her survive, all these years later, also brings me great hope. I have hope that eventually the nausea will go away. That eventually I won't be so fatigued and easily susceptible to illness. Eventually, I will be able to continue on with my full duties and return to work. All in HIS timing of course. There is hope. Lisa is an overcomer, so am I, and so are YOU!

4/11/17

Seriously, I must say the timing sucks so much...... I found out yesterday there are THREE job openings at my former place of employment. The place I have longed to return to for the past thirteen months. If I went back to work before June 2nd, I would not have to repeat the Academy. Right now I could get my job back. BUT, I have all these darn symptoms that are holding me back. Yesterday afternoon I finally felt well. This morning I feel well. Does that mean it's a good idea to return to work since I have had a day and a-half of feeling well? I really would love to have my job back. What do YOU want for me, God? I have so many conflicting feelings. Just when I resigned myself to being home and volunteering where I can, these job openings come up and I'm confused all over again.

I spoke with a couple people today about how I feel about my health, my job; my life. One friend told me my health is the most important. What if I went back to work and then got sick again? I don't necessarily mean Leukemia, but another bout of pneumonia maybe. I would be right back where I started and nothing would be accomplished. Another person reminded me of the ways I have been meeting my need for a sense of purpose; helping others. This is a season in my life. It is not forever. I have to keep reminding myself that there is a season and a purpose for everything. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I am back where I was; feeling content in this season and excited for what is to come.  I just got off the phone with my husband who told me I have to take a nap. I leave tonight for South Carolina- a quick visit with my mother and father-in-law before my substance abuse summit in Atlanta. I feel so good today and I forgot that important component of good healh; a nap.  Before I sleep, I urge you to do some self-evaluation about your goals/plans for your life. Are you doing what you want to be doing? Why or why not? What kind of changes can you make today, to prepare for a different path in life? Be honest with yourself.

This morning my friend Amy endured five hours of invasive back surgery. This is the second surgery she has had for her back. She was born with a "tethered cord." Unfortunately, they were not able to untether it anymore today, but they did remove some of the scar tissue that had been built up from the previous surgery.  I met Amy back in 1986, the year Patrick and I got married. We have had a lifetime of friendship. Amy has always been there for me. Darn it if she didn't move out of state three years ago though. I miss her terribly, but we still keep in close touch. After all, it doesn't really matter where your friends live, they are still friends. I have seen her a few times since she moved and I am grateful for those opportunities to once again laugh and confide with one another. I pray she recovers well from this surgery and is not in a lot of pain.

We all have a journey to endure in this lifetime. Some people seem to have an easier journey than others. That may be true, but we really don't know what burdens others have, do we? Some are better at keeping secrets than others. We were designed for companionship. Let's build each other up, and not tear each other down.

4/13/17

Since I am visiting my mother-in-law and father-in-law, I am reminded of how resilient they both are. Bob is quiet and doesn't share much, but someday I am going to get his story out of him.

Michele was married to Patrick's father, Ed. Ed was an Army man and loved serving his country. Ed adopted her oldest son, Mike, and he and Michele had three additional children: Suzanne, Patrick, and Angie.  I believe it was 1972 when Ed was killed in a car crash. He left behind a young wife and four children between the ages of four and twelve. Michele did an amazing job raising the kids as a single parent. Patrick only has good memories of his childhood. He is definitely a mommy's boy. 

Besides the loss of her husband, Michele has lost all but one of her siblings. Two children out of five are left- her, the second youngest, and her oldest sister, Maxine. Maxine was a Marine and a formidable woman. Michele brought Max to live with her and Bob, when she was going blind due to macular degeneration. They kept Max here for several years, until it became unsafe for her due to falls. Maxine now lives in a Veteran's home-" Victory House", with other older adults. Michele faithfully drives the 1 hour and 15 minute (one way) trip twice a week. Maxine has Alzheimer's and she doesn't even know Michele is there. Yet Michele feels obligated to go and share in her only surviving sibling' life, despite the lack of recognition. I admire this strong woman who has lost so much. I understand why my husband is so devoted to me; his mother modeled duty, love, and devotion. 

I want to be strong and courageous like my mother-in-law. I truly admire her. Her journey hasn't been easy, but she shines brightly despite the darkness in her life. The darkness can't touch her anymore. She is truly an amazing woman and I am thankful for her, and for her son.

4/15/17

Contentment- What does that mean to you? The dictionary describes it as "the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind."

Content means "satisfied with what one has; not wanting more or anything less."

Not wanting anything more or anything less...hmmm. How many of us can say we are happy with what we have? Aren't we always striving for more? More money, more land, more clothes, more trips? Does having goals mean we aren't content with what we have? Maybe, but I am not sure it's wrong to not be content. There's nothing wrong with a homeless person to not be content with their circumstances and have a goal of a home, food, and clothes that fit. I think it's okay to want more as long as we aren't wanting things for our own selfish purposes. We have a Christian duty to share our blessings with others.

I spoke with Robin today who described her animal rescue sanctuary as her "cake". Robin lives in an older home on the property and has dozens of animals she is taking care of. She doesn't have much money, but she is content. She said anything more would be "icing and sprinkles" but she's okay with plain cake. I love her description of contentment! Robin puts the needs of animals above her own. She doesn't get to take a day off or be carefree. Her days and nights are spent working at her farm. I want to be like Robin.

Philippians 4:11- "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."

I Timothy 6:8, "But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content."

Hebrews 13:5-, "Keep your life free from the love of money,and be content with whatever you have, for he has said, I will never leave you or forsake you."

Well reading these verses indicate we should be thankful in ALL circumstances and we should always be content. I still believe it's permissible to have goals and believe that it's not sinful to have goals. However, even while we are dreaming and envisioning, the secret is to be content in the moment. The key is to be thankful, yet always strive to improve ourselves as well as those around us.

We all know I struggle with contentment. Instead of always enjoying this season of rest, I often struggle with discontentment because I "want to be normal again". The above Bible verses remind me that I am supposed to be content in each season of my life. Tomorrow is Easter and we are celebrating the ressurection of Jesus Christ. I owe him everything, particularly just to rest in his presence. That is contentment.

So let me ask you again, "Are you content?" 

4/16/17

Easter Sunday. He has risen indeed! Michele, Lynn, and I went to a great church in Bluffton today. It was similar to Church on the Rock and I felt the spirit of God come over all of us. The message was about "hope". What day could be better to talk about hope than on Easter? For with the sacrifice of Christ, we ALL have hope. Despite the thunder, lightening, and rain, there IS a rainbow on the horizon offering the promise of hope.

I have arrived in Atlanta for my conference that starts tomorrow. "Hopefully", I will be filled with "hope" for the addicted after this conference. I "hope" to learn more skills and just general knowledge to educate those in our community who suffer from an addiction. I have " hope."

I took a walk today and met Henry. Henry is a homeless man living on the street. I wish I had my Homeless goody bags with me. I had no money or food with me. Tomorrow I am going to pick up some snacks and try and find Henry again. I want to share the love of Jesus with him. I talked with a policeman who urged me not to go alone to deliver food. I don't think Henry will hurt me so I probably will anyway despite the officer's cautionary message. I need to offer Henry hope for a better day. I may not change his life with a sandwich, but I can make his day better.

Be the Change of Hope

4/17/17

I couldn't find Henry this morning. I saw a few other homeless people walking the streets. I witnessed a man and woman engage in a loud verbal argument filled with profanities. He was telling her she smelled bad. She did. I was in tears by the time I returned to my hotel. I am saddened by the poverty and the despair among so many of our American citizens. I am all for worldwide missions; I have been to Haiti twice. But, we have a huge need right here in the US too.

I was also struck with a severe pain in my heart that literally took my breath away. I saw a sign for the Children's Museum, and I flashed back to taking my three children to one in Seattle. There was an intense heaviness on my chest as I mourned the loss of Logan. How I hurt! It's been 18.5 years, yet my breath is still taken away by the misery of missing him. The pain can still cripple me.

Despite my emotional pain today, I am filled with HOPE. We can each do our best to change the world. My conference is starting soon and I have hope that we attendees can learn much so we may help others.

Update: Today's presentations were incredible. I got to hear the Governor of Kentucky and a Kentucky Congressman speak today. They both have hearts for the addicted. Laws and plans are in the works to crush the opioid epidemic. We must begin the changes at the community and local levels, work together with all disciplinary practices to get our state government on board. Together we CAN make a difference.

I felt a little disappointed tonight when I read some comments on FB that we should just let addicts die and not intervene. I guess they don't have a loved one who is an addict. Who are WE to choose who lives or dies?  I feel like I could make more headway if I were working in probation again. I don't feel many take my thoughts seriously now. 

4/19/17

I spent three days devouring all information thrown my way. What an amazing conference this was. It's going to take me a few days to summarize all I learned and share it. There were many, many well known prestigious men and women here this week to share with us and also offer encouragement to each of us who work with addicts. ALL lives matter.

I have been feeling well this week despite the one day my blood sugar plummeted and I had a hard time finding food. My hips keep going out of place when I walk and my shoulder is freezing up again. I cant hardly raise it. Every single time I do any for, of exercise besides walking, this happens. I guess I need to go back to the orthopedic doctor. Unfortunately, that means fighting with the insurance company again so they will pay it. 

I leave the hotel at 0330 tomorrow to catch my flight. Oh this is not going to be fun! All good things must come to an end.😀🙏

4/20/17

Remember just yesterday I uttered the phrase, " All good things must come to an end?" Well, it's not true. My fabulous educational week ended, but my fun summer just began. I deplaned and headed towards the baggage claim area. On my way to the escalator, I heard some familiar voices. I turned and looked and much to my surprise, I saw my daughter and two granddaughters running towards me. I was stunned, shocked, and unable to comprehend what was happening. I dropped to my knees and scooped Ollie up and held her tightly as I sobbed with joy. Ailynn needed a few minutes to warm up, but soon she was hugging me too. The sheer joy I felt wiped away all exhaustion from my body.

Meghan has had this planned for months. She actually arrived the day I left! Terrible timing, but my whole entire family kept it a secret. She wanted to surprise me, and surprise me she did! Kirk is also up for a few days and I get to see him tomorrow. Wow! Life is good.

4/22/17

Last night I had the honor and privilege of attending the fundraising gala for the Children's House.  The Children's House is a non-profit organization that serves abused and traumatized children.  When it is suspected a child is abused, they are taken to this friendly place and interviewed by forensic interviewers and forensics doctors and nurses.. Children are treated gently and respectfully and non-offending parents are given resources to help the traumatized child.  It is terribly unfortunate that this need is present, but I am so thankful for this wonderful organization.  I was pleased to see a packed room and people bidding hundreds on items up for bid on a live auction. We have many generous members in our community and I am reminded of that over and over again.

The last two mornings I have gotten to spend a few hours cuddling and playing with Ailynn while everyone else sleeps.  It's a good thing I am a morning person! Yesterday it was 0430 and today 0530.  I was already up this morning before I heard her anyway. I look forward to seeing Ollie today. I haven't seen her since Thursday and I miss her.

4/24/17

I took out a huge lasagna and had dinner with my parents, Meghan, and the girls last night. Patrick had a stomach bug so he stayed home. The girls were very wound up and giddy with excitement about being back in Alaska. They were adorable and fun to watch. Meghan looked exhausted. She is pregnant with baby girl number three and never gets a break it seems. I'm going to watch the girls tonight while she does the Palmer Fun Run. Yes, my pregnant daughter still runs. She doesn't get her energy from me. Or, maybe she did. She took all of mine. :) I'm proud of the woman she has become.

Casey is working hard on getting his landscaping business up and running. He has always had a gift and an interest in maintaining lawns. I"m proud of him for starting a business and I pray he will remain committed and enthused. I got to see Kelsey after church yesterday. It is always so nice to see her on stage with the worship team. She is a very talented keyboard/piano player. 

Today promises to be another busy day. Mom and I are leaving for Minnesota at 0500 tomorrow. We spend one night there visiting friends, and then fly to Indiana for my two book signings and visiting with friends and family. Then it's back to Minneosota for my 2nd year posttransplant checkup!

 4/25/17

Mom and I had a fabulous trip today. The only problem is, we both have physical issues that hinder us a bit. Mom has severe problems with her feet, making it difficult for her to walk. My hips go out of place somewhat frequently when I walk. When we landed in Seattle, we had to walk down a large flight of stairs to get to the ground, walk quite a distance, and then walk up another large set of stairs. I had to carry my heavy carry on bag because I couldn't roll it up the stairs. Of course my left hip went out of place and I was breathing like I had just run a race. Pathetically amusing. We are quite the pair; the blind leading the blind. What can we do but laugh?!

My friend Lisa picked us up and we hung out with her and my friend Faith tonight. How wonderful to visit with them again. They are both amazing women. Lisa is a nurse and Faith just got her doctorate in psychology. Impressive, strong women of God. They inspire me to further my education.  I have an appointment to speak with the person in charge of the graduate social work program when I return. I'm excited and also nervous about the possibility of returning to school.

4/27/17

Yesterday Mom and I arrived at Joe and Donna Barnard's house. Donna is probably the best friend Mom had ever had. The Barnard's went to Walnut Grove Christian Church where Dad preached for many years. I remember many days when they would be visiting with each other, were shoppong together, or on the phone with one another. Joe and Donna were my "second" parents. I would spend the night at their house with their daughter, Brenda, who was my brother's age-three years older, but my good friend. Everytime I go back to see Donna, she tells me about how watching us leave Indiana about killed her. Joe and Donna say the same thing to me each visit. "Is this little Kelly?"" They go on reminiscing about me as a child and tell me how much they love my parents. I broke the news to them yesterday that I am now 50 years old. We sat around wondering how in the world I am 50, Joe is 80, Donna is 79, and Mom is almost 75. We all admitted we don't "feel" our age and marvel about how time had escaped us- it flew by without our consent or understanding. But I can tell you one important thing: you can always go home. I was excited the moment I got off the plane. I gazed in wonder at the beautiful hills, green grass, flowers, and familiar homes. When I drove through the town of Salem, my heart swelled as the memories came rushing back. I am home. I spent the night last night at MY best childhood friend's home, Darlene. Darlene has come to Alaska twice to see me, and she came to Idaho to take care of me when I was sick. She's great and I love being with her and her sweet husband, Kevin. Tonight Darlene and I are going to meet up with several people we went to school with. They are coming out to see ME! I am so honored and touched. My near experience with death affected my friends and we all seem to want to reconnect with our youth. Our youthfulness may be gone, but we have our beautiful childhood memories to sustain us in our aging process.

I am thankful for a childhood free of trauma and rich in love. So many children do suffer great trauma. It's a sad, sad world at times. Let's do our best to make it a happy, wonderful, and safe place for all. Every life matters.

4/29/17

My time here has been amazing. To know that my childhood friends come to see me the other night totally touched my heart. My eyes have been feeling with happy tears each day. Last night we got together with the Barnard family and had a great time just being together again. Sometimes I wonder if we made the right decision to leave Salem. I sometimes feel like I don't really belong anywhere. I went to school in Salem from the fourth through the tenth grade. So many of my classmates still live here or live close by. They still know what everyone is doing and how things are. They seem to feel a sense of belonging. I have friends here still and friends in Alaska, but I don't have that cemented and uninterrupted friendship so many do. I would love to have gone through my entire childhood in the same school district and have my kids also go to the same schools. I feel like I have missed out on something. But why do I feel this way? I was totally supportive of moving to Alaska. If we hadn't, I would not have met my husband or had my three children. I guess I am just feeling sentimental. I love being here.

I have seen so many people since we have been here. People I hadn't seen since I was a child. People who I thought were elderly when I was young, but they are still alive and seem very sorry now! I wonder of it's because "I" am older? Kids probably look at ME now and think I am ancient.

4/30/17

The nostalgia is making me second guess my life. This morning I walked from Bev's house almost to Wonder Valley Christian Camp. I would have walked all the way, but I am in my church clothes and I felt a few rain drops. I walked this road dozens of time as a child. I loved church camp. I not only attended it several times, but I also worked there as a teen. I think I made $40 a week for washing hundreds of dishes!

As I was walking I was listening to the frogs croak, the crickets chirp, and I gazed at the rolling hills and farm land. It's such a slower place here. People here know how to slow down and enjoy life. Yes, I could live here again. My husband wouldn't though, so I will have to settle for visits. I am looking forward to church today at Mt. Tabor. We will see more familiar faces. God is real in this land. ❤️

Roaring like a Lion

3/1/17

March certainly did come in roaring like a lion. It's so stinking cold!!! If it weren't for the wind, I truly wouldn't complain. I spent the day in Anchorage and it was as calm as it could be. It even got up to over 30. Our here in the Valley, it feels like it's 35 below zero.

My first stop of the day was to our tax accountant's office. Sherry has done our taxes since at least 1995. She's a wonderful Christian lady and I always look forward to tax time, because I like to visit with her. A counselor would be cheaper to talk to, but not as much fun. :)

I told Sherry about my revelation of finally feeling satisfied with my role in life, and then having the dream about going back to work and being exhausted.  I'm usually very good at interpreteting dreams, but I missed the ball on this one. She said my dream was God validating the conclusion I had already come to; my body isn't up to full-time work still. I need to be content with what I am doing now, rather than dreaming about a full-time job. Talk about a smack on the head! Of course that's what the dream meant! I truly am enjoying what I am doing and am so glad God is using me in so many areas.

I saw Dr. Spencer today. My blood tests were mostly normal. I am at the low end of normal for my hematacrit and hemoglobin, but not low enough to explain the severe fatigue. Perhaps more testing will be done after she consults with Dr. Hogan. Right now I'm just not going to worry about it. My lungs are not clear, but she agreed that I could wait on another chest x-ray. I don't need anymore radiation pumping through my lungs. My weight is okay. It's stable at 125 pounds. That's good enough. No drastic weight loss.

3/2/17

It's 4:44 a.m., and I have been awake since 3:00.  I am thankful that my schedule is flexible and I can take a nap in the afternoons if I need one. It's a daily battle still to not feel guilty for not truly being, "Wonder Woman" who has the strength to do everything. I am so thankful that I have an understanding husband who does not get upset with me over my limitations or energy level. He never makes me feel bad about my physical health and I am very grateful to have him as my life partner.

I don't feel well. Part of it could be that I didn't sleep well, but I do have an increase in coughing.  I have a little bit of wheezing going on, so will need to keep an eye on that and make sure to go in for testing if it worsens.  

I started working on my newest book, "Helping a Grieving Parent" and I am excited about how it will help people comfort parents after losing a child to death.  I'm not sure that will remain the title, but it's my working title for now.  I am writing two books simultaneously.  I seem to have an inability to sit idly.  These next two books are also non-fiction. I don't think I have the imagination to write a fictional book.  I have always wanted to write a chldren's book and perhaps I will get to that too. All in God's timing.

This morning Mom and I will be volunteering at Thrifter's Rock. I love that I earn $1 per hour for volunteering. I love thrift stores!  I find the neatest treasures there; usually for my little grandbabies. I love spoiling them rotten. I miss them so much. I am excited that they will be coming home in May.  

I am going to make the most of my day and be the best person I can be today. That's all God asks of me.  "Do good to your servant accourding to your work, O Lord.  Teach me knowledge and good judment for I believe in your commands.  Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.  You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. (Ps 119:66-68)

Speaking of obeying- I also obeyed my daughter who wisely instructed me to stay home today. I really don't feel well between the body aches and the coughing. It's time to ge back to bed. I feel bad that I cancelled my volunteer shift today, but I refuse to allow myself to feel guilty for taking a day to rest. I have turned over a new leaf!

3/3/17

I believe the rest did me good. I feel so much better now. I still am not 100%, but 50% better than yesterday. Today I have some running around to do and some visiting with Granny, but nothing too strenuous.  

Dr. Spencer told me she wants to buy some of my books for her office. I was THRILLED to hear that! I called Fireside Books in Palmer, and they told me when I had a book in hand, to come by their store and they may also sell my books there.  I am trying to find a place in Indiana to have a "book signing" event.  I contacted my favorite establishment: The Salem Public Library, but haven't heard back yet. Things are moving forward. I like this new life.

3/4/17

A tragedy in our community has occured. Of course there are many tragedies every day, but when you know a person who has had something bad happen to them, you feel an increased amount of pain. I spoke the other day of a young man who died in a snowmachine accident. Today was the memorial for him. How thankful I am that the love of Jesus was shared to the thousand plus people who attended his service. Jacob was 19 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him, yet in an instant, the spark was gone. His parents and sister spoke about his "ADHD" induced behavior. Jacob wasn't able to sit still, he was impulsive, yet he was gifted, intelligent, and loved. He accepted Christ at the age of seven. Years later, addiction took hold and he lived on the street for over a year. He returned home to his family in October and how they celebrated and rejoiced; the prodigal son returned. His father spoke of being laid off work in December. The family couldn't understand why, but his dad said he knew God had a plan. It's clear now that the plan was for him to be at home; renewing his relatonship with his son. He got all that extra time with Jacob and felt a sense of peace he hadn't felt in so long. Jacob renewed his relationship with Christ and we know he's celebrating in Heaven. Losing a child to death is the worst thing a parent could ever  experience. I'm thankful they have the peace and love of God surrounding them.

 

3/6/17

I think I have made a mistake and I think I am repeating last year's travesty. I am sick and it's almost my birthday and I am in Texas. My cough is worse. I have body aches. I probably shouldn't have come. If I end up in the hospital on my birthday again I am never planning another celebration. I am worried I have pneumonia. I think I need to find a doctor today.

Update: I went to a clinic and had a chest x-ray. I do not have pneumonia thankfully. I have bronchitis and an ear infection. I am on yet another antibiotic. My orders are to rest and drink lots of water. I have done nothing today but sit and read. This is not what I wanted for this trip. But I would rather be sick while Patrick is in meetings instead of when he's free to explore Texas and Louisiana with me! The hotel is beautiful and we have a nice size suite. There are much worse things in life. I am not in the hospital and for that I am most grateful.

3/7/17

Thankfully I feel better today. The body aches have subsided for the most part and my cough seems to be lessening. I spent my day at the spa. I treated myself to a massage and facial. I also spent some time in the steam room and the hot tub. I think I give myself the best birthday presents! I met a couple neat gals there. One was telling me about a friend of her mother's whose daughter died in a swimming accident. I passed my information along to her and told her I would love to include her daughter's story in my Helping  Grieving Parents book.

Speaking of books, looks like we are a go with "Killing Leuk". My author's copy is being produced now. Once I see it and all looks good, I give hem the green light to start placing orders. I am so excited and thankful for the opportunity to share Logan and my story with others.

Its almost 1 am and once again I am sleepless. I have resorted to taking Ativan the last few nights. It's not working as well as it used to. It takes me longer and longer to fall asleep and I still don't sleep great. I'm not sure how long I can go on like this. I can't  even fall asleep during the day for a nap anymore. My body and mind desperately needs rest.

3/8/17

Today was a better day. I am certainly feeling better. I finally fell asleep about 2:30 and slept till almost 10! I woke up a few times, but went right back to sleep. Glorious!

Tomorrow morning we head out towards New Orleans. I get to have dinner with my cousin, David, and his wife and daughter tomorrow night. They are actually closer to Baton Rouge. We are having craw fish for dinner! Friday night we will stay in New Orleans and eat Cajun food and listen to jazz for my birthday.

3/10/17

50! My cousin David Lee and I sat in his house last night reminiscing about our childhood - mostly talking about the fun times we had at Granny's. He, Mark, our cousin Holly, and I, would play for hours in the woods, in the pond, and in the orchard. We would fish, swing from grape vines, play telephone practical jokes, and just laugh. It seems like yesterday, but I surely was a long time ago! I am thankful for the memories and I am thankful that I am alive, healthy, and not in the hospital. I am thankful I got to wake up in my cousin's house in Louisiana. Patrick and I will be heading to New Orleans this afternoon. 

Life is good and I am content. Thank you, Jesus for your restoring power.

3/11/17

Yesterday was so much fun. We walked for miles around the French Quarter taking in all the beautiful historical sights. What a neat place; so rich in history. We stopped at a beautiful Catholic Church and I prayed for all my sick friends and for those struggling with addiction problems. I am not catholic, but the spirit of God moved me while I sat in that pew.

I was so happy all day. I felt special and loved by my husband and the many people who wished me a happy birthday. We got to Face Time with the girls and Meghan and Ollie sang me happy birthday while Ailynn just grinned. Both my parents called me as did Granny. I am truly blessed. I felt like sharing my story in front of the hundreds on the street. I probably would have if I had a microphone! Today we are going on a swamp tour and then an evening jazz cruise on the Mississippi In a paddlewheel boat. 

3/12/17

Yesterday's tours were a lot of fun. I got to hold a baby alligator! We saw lots of alligators, turtles, birds, and a snake. I enjoyed the airboat. We also enjoyed the jazz cruise, but I got feeling pretty bad the last hour. I spent the last 45 minutes lying on a bench with my head on Patric's lap. I had hit the wall. My cough is horrible and I had a bad headache,

Today we drove to Biloxi MS. I am very tired so am going to rest. Patrick is out exploring.

3/14/17

This whole trip we have been fortunate to have had very nice hotels at reasonable prices. I use Hotel.com and earn a free night for every ten stays. We have had beautiful hotels until last night and tonight. EPIC FAIL! I am not happy with this last hotel at all. It's a real downgrade from the others and about the same price we paid for the nice ones! It's the kind of hotel that made me want to check and see if there were bugs in the sheets. Yuck! Surprisingly, the bed isn't too bad. Unfortunately, I coughed all night and have a splitting headache. I have no Ibuprofen or Tylenol. When Patrick wakes up we are going to need to go to a store. I don't want our last night to be a bummer because once again I don't feel well. 

A year ago I was in ICU. This year I am on an amazing trip with my loyal husband. We still like each other after spending ten days road tripping! He puts up with a lot as I have so many issues. Again, every time I convince myself I can go back to work, I get sick and am struck with major fatigue. God keeps hitting me over the head- maybe that's why I have this horrible headache!

We are in Galveston Texas these next two days- we arrived  yesterday. We enjoyed Louisiana and Mississippi. A bonus for me was seeing my cousin David Lee, his wife Holly, and daughter Hanna. We even got a tour of the FBI office where he is a Special Agent. My dream job...

3/15/17

Today we fly home. It's been an amazing trip. I am going to have withdrawals from being with Patrick every day. We have had a lot of fun together. However, I am looking forward to extra bedrooms at home. I have been awake since 0430 because of his restless leg and arm issues. Funny, now that I am showered and dressed, he's lying here peacefully- not moving or snoring. So unfair!!!

We won't get to our house till about 0130 tomorrow morning. I am eager to peruse my author's copy of my book to check for errors. If it's all good, the book can be published and available for sale. How exciting!

I am also eager to get started on my Genesis Process training so I can start facilitating the substance abuse support group at church. The books are finally in. I will resume all volunteer duties next week at Thrifter's Rock and the library. I am so thankful I can help our community. I am also eager to catch up with all my friends who are in cancer treatment. I am doing additional training with Be The Match. I am going to (hopefully) be meeting with staff at Mayo my next visit as a representative of Be the Match. Another volunteer job. I will meet with various transplant centers to offer support to patients. Of course I won't be flying around the country doing this (would be nice), but when the opportunity is there, I can share info to help others which is great.

Granny has called me almost everyday. She sure misses me! I can't wait to see her. I miss ALL my family!

I am thankful and hopeful. Life is good and God is great.

3/16/17

Our trip home was uneventful, but very, very long. It's so hard on my joints to sit that long. I had been awake since 0430 the day we left. Patrick had issues with his restless leg/restless arms and he kept me awake. I finally gave up at 0430 and didn't even try to sleep anymore. At least he didnt punch me in the back like he did in his sleep last week. Or at least he "pretended" to be asleep, hahaha. Our flight didn't leave till 5:40 p.m. So we went to a movie matinee to kill time. We saw "Logan". The movie. I did not hallucinate seeing our son, although that would have been awesome. We landed at midnight. Our luggage was delayed and then we had to wait for a shuttle. We got home about 0145. Despite my early wake-up, I couldn't fall askeep till about 0330. I was too excited to see my author's copy of my book. It's available for purchase now.

https://www.createspace.com/6857220

I was up for 26 hours. Today I did laundry and unpacked my suitcases. I didn't take a shower until 3:00 this afternoon. Right now I feel like I have been run over by a truck. My cough is still bad. I was embarrassed because I couldn't stop coughing on the plane. The lady next to me handed me a cough drop.

All in all, we had a fabulous trip. It was certainly the best birthday I have had in quite awhile. It certainly beat last year's "party" in the hospital. Yeah, there was NO party last year. We made up for it this year. Celebrating my 50th birthday on a spontaneous road trip was superb. So much better than our spontaneous road trip to Idaho in 2014 when I was diagnosed with leukemia. God has been good and faithful.

I  thororoughly enjoyed New Orleans. It does remind me a bit of Vegas. There's a lot of alcohol flowing and too many indecent places. I would not want to take a child there. No need to show them pictures of naked women on store fronts. I think things in our country are getting worse and worse as far as morality goes. The problem lies with us "accepting" corrupt things. Things are "normalized " and we accept immorality and corruption. We seem to have taken a turn for the worse and racism seems to be coming back. It concerns me greatly. I don't see color or race. I see humans. We all need to encourage our peers to stand together and not be divided.

3/18/17

I have slept well the past two nights! Hallelujah, thank you Jesus! I'm still tired, but I slept! I got up at 0530 today eager to start my training for being a patient ambassador with Be the Match, and my substance abuse training. One big problem.... the email with the link for the ambassador training simply disappeared from my email. It wasn't even in my junk mail. I started the online training for the substance abuse and realized I need to print out the 100 plus page counselor's training manual at church. My little printer can't handle that many pages....So, I got nothing accomplished darn it.

I went to a meeting for the Homeless Committee today. Of course I wanted to sign up to help in every area. My dad's voice played in my head like a broken record...."Stop volunteering for so many things. You are overloading yourself and you need to rest." Of course I snorted in amusement. Who is HE to give me a lecture on doing too much!? Where does he think I got it from? He and my mother....😜

Life is good.

3/20/17

My day began on the treadmill listening to praise music and then watching Joyce Meyer. I have missed my treadmill prayer time these past two weeks. It's so easy to get out of the habit of spending regular time with God.  Joyce was talking about attitudes and how we absolutely can control how we act.  Her show got interrupted to bring us a special news report. It seems allegations are flying in Washington D.C. An investigation by the FBI and NSA is taking place. Our country is in serious turmoil and our future is really at stake. Our nation has been seriously divided and people are cruel, hateful, and disrespectful to one another just because their political views differ. Why can't we ALL spend our mornings with God? If we do, we will think carefully about our attitude, our words, and our actions. I dread looking at Face Book today after hearing this report this morning. All peple are doing is spewing hate and creating a deeper chasm that I fear will never close. Our country is a mess. I was talking with Granny the other day and she feels we are in the end times. I fear it's going to get far worse before Jesus comes back. I want to be spiritually ready to meet him.

We all have a story. Our story was defined before we were even born.  It's up to us how we handle our trials and tribulations. It's up to us to decide what attitude we are going to have today. Are we going to be bitter? Distrustful? Hateful? Or are we going to be forgiving, honorable, loving, and gracious? I want to choose to have a good attitude. I want to choose to be grateful for being alive. I want to do everything I can to help my fellow humans. I won't allow bitterness and disappointment destroy my life.

I have been thinking about the many friends I have who are battling cancer right now. Terri is finally home- recovering from knee surgery. She actually had to have her knee replacement (from several  years ago) removed because of a terrible infection. Her knee has to heal so she's allowed to be home for that process. Terri has been in the hospital for months and months. From my understanding, she is going to get a new knee in a few months, then will be transferred to another hospital for the bone marrow transplant she needs for her leukemia. Can you imagine all she has been through? I cannot fathom the sheer agony of what she has gone through. Yet she has kept a positive and hopeful attitude. I want to be like Terri.

I think about the many people fighting addiction. I belong to an addiction group on FB. Everyday I read excerpts of stories of people fighting to survive. Some write they are a few days clean, and so proud. It's literally heartbreaking. Others plead for people to give them encouragement because they are considering suicide. Again I say, our world is in turmoil. How can we help our fellow men/women?  By praying.....that is the most important thing we can do. Pray without ceasing. Pray for brains to be completely restored/rewired to what God deems to be a perfectly created brain. Pray for serotonin and dopamine levels to even out. Pray for the frontal lobe to be restored. Pray for emotions to normalize, memories to be restored, impulsivity to be gone. Pray for healing. Don't have the attitude "they did it to themselves". These are your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, parents, nieces, nephews, and friends. They need you. Find a way to help them.

Every child of God is worth saving. God values each of us more than diamonds, rubies,sapphires and gold. Every one of us is special. How can you make a difference in someone elses' life? What cause can you support? Let us not have the attitude of being high and mighty. Let us not ignore the ones who need our help. Let us have a mindfulness of God around us at all times and put others before ourselves.

George Mueller said, "Even when our situation appears to be impossible, our work is to hope in God.  Our hope will not be in vain, and in the Lord's own timing, help will come." YOU are that help for those in despair and need. It's YOU! Not someone else. The Lord instructs us to feed the hungry. To love our neighbors as ourselves. To remove the plank out of our own eyes before we remove the plank from our brother's eyes. Let us not have an attitude of superiority.  Let us humble ourselves and pour his love out on our families, our community, our nation, and the world. Let us change the path this country has taken. Let us stand up and declare HE IS GOD! Let us stop making excuses for not going to church, for accepting immoral acts and behaviors, for the foul language around us, and the dishonesty that is so prevelant in today's world. We can stand up and say NO MORE. We can stand up and say, "That is not from God and I won't participate." Let us not accept ungodly behavior. The wrath of the Lord should be feared.

UPDATE:  

I have to be completely honest with you.... I looked VERY cute today. My hair looked amazing. I can say this because that is not usually the case. Lately I have been having very bad hair days. The curls are turning into waves- frizzy waves at that. But today, I looked great! I went to the post office to mail two packages. One to Kirk (SIL) and one to the girls. The girls' box was not shutting well. I told the postmaster that I was concerned about it coming open. He took some tape and secured it properly. He said, "How was that?" I exclaimed, "My granddaughters will thank you that their Easter gifts are secured." He replied, "You are not old enough to have grandchildren. What are you, 35?" I replied, "I just turned 50!" He said, "You were blessed with the fountain of youth." I left there pretty proud of myself.

I got to the library to do my volunteer shift feeling high from the compliment. Twenty minutes later, I started to get dizzy and felt light headed. Then I got nauseous. I could barely move. I sat in a chair with my head hung knowing I couldn't fulfill my duties. My hear sank as I offered my apologies and left.

Meghan called this afternoon and I shared my story. At the same time we both exclaimed that's what happens when one feels smug and proud of themselves! God was reminding me that beauty is on the inside, not the outside. I have been put humbly in my place..... But my hair does still look good today! :)

3/21/17

Casey Marre is 27 today. My middle child. Things haven't been easy for Casey, but he continues to tread along striving for his place in the world. I love him so very much. He always could make or break my moods by his smile or his actions. He is a loving little boy inside of a man's body. I treasure him. I truly wish I could go back in time and be a better mother. One that was totally "there" for him and helped him choose better paths to take. I pray for him every single day. God is working in his life.

I was "on air" today with Country Legends 100.9. I feel like the interview went well. Hopefully people will be at the bone marrow drive after hearing us talk about it. Of course I hope more people will purchase my book too. I am donating $1 per book to four charities that benefited Logan. Ronald McDonald House, Make-A-Wish, Be the Match, and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I want to sell 4,000 books so I can donate $1,000 to each charity.  

I had to take anti-nausea medication just to get through the interview. The "stars" continue to dance around my eyes and make me lightheaded. My stomach just rolls. I assume it is dehydration and GVHD wreaking havoc upon my poor body.  I still did three miles on the treadmill this morning. I am stubborn and committed to pushing myself in order to regain what I have lost.

3/22/17

Andrew Womack had a powerful message this morning. He said we should pray everything in the name of Jesus, and command whatever ails us to leave us alone. I was thining about this and the way he explained it makes sense. God knows what our problems are. We aren't sharing anything new with him. What we should be doing, is using the authority God gave us to command the problem to leave us. If we believe in our hearts and minds, and command "in the Name of Jesus", we DO have the authority to do this. It's nothing I hadn't heard before, but he explained it a way that really made sense to me today and I am changing the way I pray. I had already started "visualizing" freedom from an illness, addiction, etc in myself and others. I will add this as well and hopefully will see a difference in my life and the lives of those I pray for.

We had a nice dinner with Casey and my parents last night at Evangelos. We shared a good meal and good laughter. I feel so bad for my dad who cannot hear very well. I felt like I was yelling in the restaurant so he could be a part of the conversation. I have been praying for his ears to miraculously open up so he can hear. It's so hard on him to miss out on conversations. I know he's self-conscious about it and I hurt for him.

This morning I am going to Connect (Bible Study) at church. In fact, it's time to get moving. But let me give you a simpler way to pray for people first.  When I am on social media (definitely spend too much time on there) I pray for a person whose post I see. If I see one from my friend, Tina, I immediately start praying for her health because she has lots of physical ailments. I do the same thing when I see a post from Diane- she has fought breast cancer for several years. Sometimes I say a "quick prayer" and sometimes a lengthy one. Whatever God leads me to do. When I get milk out of my refrigerator, first I thank God I have a refrigerator that works, then I thank God for the Havemeister's who have the cows that supply the milk I buy. I wish them financial and physical blessings. It's so simple and easy to do. When I person comes to mind, I pray for them. I pray a lot because my mind never shuts off. Kind of like my mouth....

3/24/17

God orchestrates meetings between people and it's simply amazing. The other day, Greg, responded to my announcement on FB that we are having a bone marrow drive tomorrow. Greg's story is eerily similar to mine. His mom died many years ago of ALL. (what Logan had) In January, Greg was diagnosed with AML (like me) and he needs a transplant. We added each other as "FB Friends". One of his FB friends saw my name and sent me a message. Jennifer and I have known each other since 1997. When Logan was sick, Jennifer reached out to us and brought her son, North Jr., to see Logan. North Jr. had ALL also and had a bone marrow transplant. Jennifer and I stayed in touch for many years, but then we lost touch. I had tried earnestly to find her- of course utilizing social medial to do so. I was not successful and often wondered what happened to them. We were ecstatic to catch up with one another again. North has had so many problems and complications following his transplant. He has severe chronic GVHD and has had two additional cancers since he had leukemia. I believe he's 30 now. Despite the set-backs and the disappointments, I know they are thrilled they still have their boy. I'm so happy for them all. I would have loved to have kept Logan even if he had major complications. I am not envious of Jennifer because she still has her son, but I am happy for her. I know they are very thankful and they have used their experiences to help others.

Last night I got to visit with my sweet friend Carol. She and I began to talk about the addiction crisis in our community. She shared with me that three children,of two of her friends, has a heroin addiction. I have more people to pray for now. I believe heroin will be erradicated from our communities. I am so thankful to the friends I have who truly want to help people who are sick, addicted, or homeless. What a better world we have because of people like Carol.

Life is good and very busy. I have signed up for more "at home" volunteer work. I can barely keep up. I need to figure out a regular routine to get into. God is good, all the time, God is good!

Meghan shared with me that she read the first three chapters of my book to Olivienne, who is three. Ollie was concentrating intently on the content. The last paragraph of my first chapter ends with, "I knew something bad was going to happen." Ollie was eager to have her mommy read what that "bad thing" was. I think it's amazing that she has the comprehension at that age to grasp contents. Meghan finished the book while the girls napped. Ailynn slept in Meghan's arms while she read the rest. She said she cried so much that Ailynn's little body shook from her sobs. Meghan and Casey have to relive their experiences when they read this book. I pray it's healing for them, and not traumatic.

3/25/17

The bone marrow drive at Mat-Su College went well today. We registered 17 people. Perhaps one of them will be the one who gets to save a life. Wouldn't that be awesome? I love bone marrow drives. I made two VERY good connections today. One leads up Volunteer Services at Mat-Su Regional. She asked me if I would be interested in hosting a drive during the Union health fairs this fall. Would I? Can you say YES loudly and with enthusiasm? How about a HECK YES!  This is exactly what I have been wanting- a foot in the door. The other person who contacted me lives in Talkeetna- another area I have wanted to host drives in. They are planning a big art and health event in the fall. I told her I would be extremely interested in paticipating. I just know lives are going to be saved. Our volunteer group is changing the world- one match at a time. Hallelujah!

Casey sent me a text saying he "finally got through Chapter 13". The beginning of the book is all about his older brother and his battle with leukemia. I can't imagine the pain my sweet Casey is feeling right now. It opens up old wounds that were never really healed in the first place. I will have to pray extra hard for him tonight.

Patrick participated in the Homer Winter King Derby today. Unbelievably, they never caught a fish. These are men who ALWAYS catch fish. Darn it! I was looking forward to his cash prize. I knew just how to spend it. :) I'm glad they had fun and I'm glad he got away from here for awhile. I think I stress him out.

I heard about several who recently died from drugs. My heart is so broken for these parents. So broken. I want to save the world. Of course only Jesus can save the world, but I think I am going to die trying. I just have to slow down a bit. I'm so very tired. Last night was a rough one for me with very little sleep. Thankfully Patrick called at 0800. If he wouldn't have called, I may have missed the bone marrow drive! It took me forever to fall asleep and I slept fitfully all night long.

I look forward to church tomorrow. I love going to sing God's praises and rejoice that I AM ALIVE AND LEUK IS DEAD. That feeling never gets old.

3/26/17

Church was simply amazing today. Oh my goodness, no matter what we go through, God is there by our side.  I just can't imagine what it would be like to not know God and to be assured and reassured of his promises to carry us through in our times of tribulation.

I had a really neat conversation with someone today. I will call him Manuel. Manuel is a recovering drug addict and he's searching for God. I was able to share my faith with him and hopefully instill some hope and light into his life. He has a burning desire to help others in our community who have had similar experiences such as his. These are not "accidental" meetings. These are meetings completely orchestrated by God. How blessed I am to meet such inspiring people. To get through being addicted to drugs and become gainfully employed is absolutely impressive. He has hope for his future. There are still many, many things he has to work through; some of them legal matters. God is working on his heart and i will be praying for him daily. I believe he will be a change maker in our community.

Patrick is home from fishing. He is disappointed they didn't catch a single fish in the derby, but he sure had a good time. He needed the rest and relaxation. I am glad to have him home.

3/27/17

Last night I had a stomach ache before bed. This morning I was nauseous. I seem to be feeling better, but there's still a little reminder that something isn't quite right. My dad has a stomach virus and is vomiting. I feel so bad for him. I think mine is GVHD related, not a virus.  I called Carrie, my nurse at Mayo today. I had to confess that I got sunburned in Hawaii. I wouldn't have confessed it, but now I have these strange itchy patches on my leg. It's possible it's GVHD. Of course she suggested more of the horrible Prednisone. Right now we agreed to me applying the steroid creme I have on my legs in hopes it gets better. If we aren't careful, and it is GVHD, it can get away from us and cause serious complications.

I am meeting with a grieving mother today. It's been a month since her son died suddenly. I pray God gives me a compassionate heart and a good listening ear. 

It's 11:11 and all I have accomplished today is dusting the house and doing some work on advertising for my book signings. I need to go take a shower, go to the post office, and the store. I must figure out how to get better organized. I used to be such an organized person. Now I am truly scattered with my thoughts and activities.

3/28/17

I found myself humming and singing last night as I made dinner. I realized I felt extremely happy and was amazed to discover how well I felt. I wasn't hurting, I wasn't exhausted, I was just perfectly happy. Not only did I get the dusting down yesterday, but I also vacuumed and spot mopped upstairs. I felt successful. :)

This morning I had two messages from people requesting prayer for two additional people who have been diagnosed with cancer.  One request was from our friend, Dennis. Dennis said he had read my book and was moved by the scriptures I included in it. It brought him hope and comfort as he just learned his sister's Leukemia had returned. He said he was going to text her a different scripture I quoted each day. I told hm I would definitely pray for Paula. The other request was from my friend, Ailaina who shared with me there is a woman in Kenai who has a very difficult cancer and is having to fly out of state each month for treatment. She wants to get a book for her friend in hopes to bring comfort to her and her family.

God never gives up on us and he pours out his power and love every single moment of the day. It's up to receive his blessings and his message. I know some people are really struggling right now. This blog is unfortunately not interactive. I would love to turn this into a question and answer blog- kind of like a "Dear Abby". If you would like to ask me questions, or make suggestions, please email me at kellymarre5@gmail.com.  I will not identify people in the response. Ask me anything from grief, to leukemia complications, to personal issues.

This morning I had the most amazing teleconference with other BMT survivors on Be the Match. Wow! The topic was "navigating relationships after transplant." My sisters and brothers! It was simply amazing to hear others speak about their relationships, difficulties, hopes, dreams, and roadblocks after transplant. I actually feel "normal" now. I'm normal, because other people who have had transplants feel just like I do! Someone can relate to me and it feels so darn good.

I'm going to visit my friend John today. He has a few more weeks of chemo. I am looking forward to our visit. I'm taking him a requested lunch; Dairy Queen! I may just get myself some fast food junk too. :) Doesn't hurt once in awhile.  I got news today that one lady I have prayed for, Asia, is home from the hospital. She has Stage 4 cancer and she was in pretty bad shape last week.

3/30/17

If you watched Joyce Meyer this morning, you will have to forgive me for taking her illustration and putting my own twist on it. Part of this are Joyce's words, and part my thoughts. I think it makes sense and I was excited when I heard her speak about it.  

She started with an illustration of a girl who was complaining about something. The girl's father took her in the kitchen. He took three pots and filled them with water. In the first pot he put in uncooked potatoes, the second pot he put in fresh eggs, and in the third pot, he put in coffee beans.  After 20 minutes, he took them off the stove and asked the girl what she saw. Of course she said, potatoes, eggs, and coffee. Then he asked her to touch each item. The potatoes were soft, the eggs became hard, and the coffee beans and boiling water actually changed the water and made a delicious smelling drink.

This is where I am going to change Joyce's illustration just a bit.  The potato was hard before it was cooked. I relate that to someone who has a "hardened" attitude or spirit. Perhaps the hardened person has had a lot of tragedy in their life. Maybe they are in a dead end relationship, they are having financial problems, perhaps they are sick, or maybe they are an addict. When they are placed in GOD'S HOLY WATER, their tough, hardened presence begins to soften and God molds and makes them into a person experiencing spiritual freedom. They are no longer hard.

Now take the egg which had a soft yolk and membrane. It was perfectly shaped.  It was put in boiling water and became hardened.  Think of it this way- you are the perfectly designed by God, egg. You surround yourselves with non-Christians, you focus on all the tragedies in your life and in the world. That boiling water you were put in was the world. You have no longer maintained the presence of God in your life. You have let the world take over and harden you.

Then there's the coffee beans. After boiling, they changed into a wonderful beverage many of us love; coffee.  It smelled good, it tasted good. The water changed the form of the coffee bean. It was a scientific procress of change. But that's what God does to us; he changes us from the inside out. He gives us the power to be a light in the darkness; a delightful aromatic presence that will soften the hardest person we are around. We must be careful not to let the weight of the world turn us into hardened eggs, but strive to be changed people, inside and out, and transformed like the coffee bean.

I hope that makes sense to you. I had a conversation yesterday with a mother whose son had struggled with an addiction problem for quite some time. When her son allowed God back into his hardened heart,he had a burning desire to share his love for God with his friends who also struggled with addiction. His mother wisely counseled him to be careful, because she knew that his friends could still easily influence her son. God tells us to surround ourselves with people who have Godly characters and not to let the sins of the world touch us.  Of course we should share the love of Jesus with the unsaved, but we must be careful not to allow the "world" to touch us.

"Of course you'll encounter trouble. But behold a God of power who can take any evil and turn it into a door of hope." Catherine Marshall

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous of the fear of the Lord.  There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17-18

One Hundred Things God Loves About You (Copyright Zondervan):

When the world comes crashing, banging, stomping, and complaining through your life, it can make you want to turn and run and hide.  So DO IT! Hide away from the world for a little while.  Let God heal your wouldned heart.  Let him fill your spirit with his strength and your soul with his songs.  Then you can go back and face the world again, because God loves the way you hide in him.  

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.  Psalm 32:7

3/31/17

The end of March. It came in roaring like a lion and I think it's leaving the same way. At least I am hearing a lot of roaring from people. Complaints, dissatisfaction, unhappiness, grief, anger, disgust, disappointment.....All of us have strife in our life. We all have disappointments, and at time feel unhappy. But the joy of our Lord is our strength. We can be optomistic and hopeful in ALL circumstances. There are reasons for everything. It's not God's fault when things go wrong. If only we would all make a deliberate decision to consult God before we speak, before we leave our houses, or before we confront someone who hasn't treated us kindly. What a difference we would make in our own lives and the lives of others.

We are a selfish nation and we desire our own happiness, we want a pat on the back for our good works, we want to be appreciated. We want.....we want..... we want...... How about we start giving for a change? Give someone else a compliment, a pat on the back, a helping hand. It starts with us. I'm going to be kind to everyone I meet today. Will you?