Spring Time?

3/2/18

There is no "spring" time in Alaska.  We have snow up until May, but it's sure exciting to say Spring is almost here. In our minds we can envision the birds chirping, the flowers blooming, and the grass greening up.  Right now I have about a foot of snow in my yard so there is definitely no green grass in sight.  I was talking to Mom today as she was sunning herself in the Texas air.  The birds were chirping so loudly I could hear them through the phone.   She has decided Texas is her happy place which makes me extremely happy.

I had a great day off yesterday. Debbie and I went into Anchorage for a couple medical appointments for me, but we also went to a couple of stores and had a leisurely lunch.  I had a much needed break and I appreciate it so much.  I must remember to take care of ME and take time to stop and smell the roses. (the ones under all that snow.....)

Today I got to visit with Granny and Aunt Connie for a bit which was great.  Family.... it's a good thing.

3/4/18

He had a jagged scar across the top of his bald head. He looked pretty healthy, but was I ever surprised to find that that scar was the removal of Melanoma, and he's suffered from two other types of cancer in the past few years. He's relatively young- in his 30's. The latest cancer affected his pancreas, so now he's on an insulin pump. More health problems than most, but he spends his time volunteering and advocating for cancer treatment. He's even been to Washington DC to advocate for cancer patients. He flew down and back so the nonprofit wouldn't have to pay for his lodging or food. He's a man with multiple health problems, but he sacrifices his own rest to make it affordable for the nonprofit. He said it not to brag, but in response to a story I told him about volunteers not being considerate of charges being made. He and I share the same values regarding fiscal savings. His strength and courage motivates me to be more involved and considerate of others.

This morning Pastor Daulton's message was about helping others and doing God's work without bringing attention to ourselves. It's a great reminder that we are to help people without judgment or condemnation, and without expectations of anything in return.

I'm thinking about one person who is supposed to be in recovery. I talk with his mother regularly. He has the list of rules he is supposed to follow, yet he still does what he wants. She asks little of him, and what she does ask of him, he gets angry and hateful and treats her like she is the world' worst mother. If she doesn't do and say exactly what he wants, he gets mean and vicious. There are no boundaries despite her efforts of setting them up. The one she tried were not enforced, and she has no real support. She's miserable. She is so unhappy, and she is without joy. He doesn't care. Her unhappiness and hesitance to discuss things with him makes him even more rude and hateful. She would love to have a normal conversation with him, but she has found that if her opinion differs from his, he jumps all over her. She's not sure she will survive his attacks. Her mental status is fragile. He left for the weekend and engaged in behaviors that are against his probation. If he got caught, he would go back to jail. She tried to explain this to him, but he cut her off and his tone of voice showed his hatred and disgust for her.  We can all give her the advice she needs, but until she learns to let go and stop enabling him by helping him get out of the situations caused by his poor decision making, she will continue to be unhappy and miserable. She stays in her room as much as she can. It's her house, but she is no longer the queen of her castle. She's been banished, because he makes all the rules and no one stops him. I fear her heart will soon give out. She will die of a broken heart. 

Her son went out with friends again today. That's what he does; he visits with friends, and watches movies in his room. He doesn't clean his room, he leaves dirty dishes all over the house, he snarls at anyone who asks him to help.  He tells his parents that if they keep pressuring him, he will use again and it will be their fault. He's a very good maniupulator.  I think his parents finally realize it.  People have been telling them this for years, but they wouldn't listen. I think they are finally ready to listen. One of the last straws when his mother told him she didn't want him alone in the house because they can't trust him. He replied, " I steal from you even when you are home, so what does it matter?" Ouch. He shot an arrow through her heart, but he didn't care. He just kept pushing on the arrow until she bled no more.

How many enabling parents are in the world? When do they finally stop enabling? When is enough? It's not helping this son of theirs. They are doing him no favors.  The more they enable, the more he expects and demands. He does nothing to better himself. Broken promises, empty words, simple maniupulation. He truly doesn't care. He has driven a wedge between his parents and he doesn't care. He simply cares of nothing but gettng high and having everyone take care of him.  I wish his parents would listen to all the advice from friends, family, and the counselors they have gone to. It's time to stop enabling. His father copes by drinking too much. His mother feels helpless and alone and doesn't allow anyone to comfort her.

3/5/18

i had an early doctor's appointment in Anchorage so I was on the road before 0730. My monthly visit with my Oncologist. I don't think I need to come every month anymore. I'm going to ask for every three months visit. This morning my heart sank as I realized my regular phlebotomist, Monica, who never ever misses my veins, was training someone. I bravely held out my arm to this new lady and she had a puzzled look as she felt and felt for a vein. She called out for Monica who offered to stick me. Thankfully the trainee agreed and one stick and it was over. She's absolutely amazing! I have gained a little weight. I am up to 126.5. I better be careful or I am going to weigh 200 pounds as much as I eat! My blood tests all seem normal. The doctor thinks the rash I keep getting on my face is systemic, which is what I think. Perhaps now another autoimmune disorder?

The morning drive in was spectacular. The frost covered all the trees, the snow was deep, and right beside the highway, was a moose grazing on a small shrub. I live in a beautiful state. God is an amazing creator.

A friend I have been an emotional  support for since her diagnosis of AML, is not doing well. The transplant she was supposed to get has been denied. Her leukemia cells are back and stronger than ever. Her doctors are going to try her on a study in hopes of saving her. I'm thankful she knows Jesus.

My distraught friend is even more distraught. She left her son alone today with a to do list. He did two things on the list. That is it. One of the biggest was to apply for three jobs. He chose to hang out with a friend instead. When his mom called him on it, he told her she is insane. Typical response of him. She told him to find another place to live. He was shocked when he came home and found his clothes on the porch. He figured he could charm, or bully, his parents into giving in like they always did. I'm pretty sure his momma is going to cry herself to sleep tonight. It gives her no satisfaction in setting boundaries. If only he would work with her and talk with her and stick with a plan. He's too busy hating her to realize the enormous sacrifices she has made on his behalf. The only thing she wants in return is his love and his assurance that he's truly trying to change. She doesn't want words, she wants actions. Positive actions and a positive attitude. I don't think she is asking too much and I wish he would stop blaming her for all his problems. I wish he would surrender his life to Jesus. It is his only hope.

3/6/18

Yesterday I spoke with someone who is normally happy, positive, and full of faith. I was surprised when she's responded with "I'm here" when I asked her how she was doing. After a bit, she confided her husband has a terrible illness and it's dragging her down. I told her I understood how being a caregiver for someone can deplete your joy. I told her it was easy for me to be the patient, but it hasn't been easy for me being a caregiver. When Logan was sick, I found it difficult to be happy as my heart hurt for him constantly. When one's heart hurts, joy is hard to find. Being the mother of an addicted son has depleted my joy too. All I do is worry. I'm so numb all the time. I miss being joyful. Another friend (also the mother of an addict) asked if one can die from a broken heart. I believe so. In fact, I am sure of it. Fill is with joy, Lord. Fill us with joy.

I wrote this today after looking through the comments on my social medial support group:

Pros for keeping an addict in your home:
1. You know they are warm, are safe, and have food.

2.  If they aren't in your home, you cry yourself to sleep every night envisioning them dead, sleeping in the snow, and starving.


Cons for keeping an addict in your home:
1. They have no incentive to change as all their needs are being met.
2. You make it easier for them to use drugs because they can steal from you.
3. You don't teach them self reliance; they always have you to fall back on.
4. They rob you of joy because you worry all the time.
5. They cause strain on relationships.

6.  They think it's okay to curse at you because they "have a disease and can't help it."

7.  You are afraid to leave the house because you don't know what you will find (or not find) when you return.

8.  There's always a fear of finding your child's dead body after an overdose.

9.  They manipulate you and make you think everything is YOUR fault.  They tell you you are crazy and imagining it all.

10.  You are the one who keeps track of all the appointments, schedules meetings, groups, and therapy to help.  You are a full-time secretary without the pay, or most importantly, the thanks.  Thank you rarely comes out of their mouths.

11.  You cry yourself to sleep because of the stress and worry.

3/8/18

Tuesday night's Genesis group was good, but only four people were there. I hope everyone comes back next week. The material content is good, and I sure hope people think the delivery by me is good. I want so badly to help people make positive changes in their lives.

This morning I learned that my friend who has been taking care of her disabled daughter. solely for twenty-three years, is finally accepting help from a trained professional. I am so relieved and thankful to hear that.  She deserves to have time alone, and she deserves to have time with her husband.  Twenty-three years is an ETERNITY when you give of yourself continuously without ceasing.  I celebrate with her and I pray she has the courage to continue these services and get the help she needs.

I worry about my friend, newly divorced and with serious medical concerns, who was recently told her job is being cut.  What will she do? How will she survive financially and without medical insurance?  

I worry about another friend whose father has terminal cancer and her mother-in-law is in recovery from cancer.  My friend has many medical concerns herself.  

Life on earth isn't easy. Won't it be fantastic when we are in Heaven? There were be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more fears.  I long for the day to be problem free. Yet I want to be of service here on earth to help support my many friends and acquaintances who need the love of God showered upon them.  I truly want to further my education and become a licensed clinical social worker. If it is God's plan, it will happen.  I believe I have something positive to give to those I work with, and being an LCSW will open up more doors to help more people. Use me, Oh Lord!

"God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."  Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."  Revelation 21:4-5

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."  John 15:4

This last verse is what I was sharing with my group on Tuesday.  Unless we remain in HIM, we cannot bear fruit.  Sure we can say that we are doing okay, perhaps even doing well, but we cannot THRIVE unless we feed on the word of God.

****Tonight I went to my last United Way meeting. I termed off the Board in November, but because I was in the hospital at that last meeting, I was not able to say goodbye to anyone. They invited me to come tonight and I was blessed with words of kindness being poured over me.  It brought tears to my eyes to hear such complimentary words. I told my granny later that those of us who volunteer a lot never really know if we are making a difference. Sometimes it really helps to hear from people how you affect them. Tonight it made me feel honored to be able to do what I do in the community.  They gave me this beautiful glass clock with my name and dates of service inscribed on it. I was so touched.

3/10/18

Happy birthday to me!!! I LOVE celebrating my birthday. I am thankful for being alive another year. I am thankful for being married to the best husband. I am thankful I have both of my parents and granny. I am thankful for my children and grandchildren. I am thankful for my family and friends. Several people made donations to Make-A-Wish in Logan's memory for my birthday and I am thrilled! More funds to help sick children in Logan's name.

We are at our happy place- our cabin. It's the first time in a very long time that's we have been in the state of Alaska. Usually we are traveling during this time for Patrick's work. Well, I guess just a couple years ago I WAS in Alaska, in the hospital. But many times we were out of state basking in the sun. Last year it was New Orleans. Now THAT was fun- walking around the French Quarter in my birthday!

As long as my family and friends are happy and healthy, then it's going to be a great day. Thank you, God, for another year on earth.

3/13/18

Yesterday I read a great article from Joyce Meyer about changing our attitudes. Specifically I needed it for MY attitude.  When I get really stressed, my attitude stinks.  What I took the most from this article, was how important it is to be careful of my thoughts. Yes, thinking about my thoughts. Sure we can have unconscious thoughts, but we have to capture those thoughts immediately and turn them around. When the unconcious thoughts become concious thoughts, than they become words.  We speak the unhealthy thoughts and by verbalizing them, they can't be retracted.  Now if we choose to retract the unconcious thoughts by being grateful and happy, and by praising God in the midst of storms, then we can get rid of these thoughts before they flow out of our mouth.  Once they are said, they cannot be erased. There's no dry erase board with multiple markers and erasers to make it all go away. What's done is done.  How many of you have said something you later regretted? My hand is erratically waving to share that I have been one of the worst at spouting out negative and angry replies.  I often say things I don't want to say, all because I am angry.  I will speak for myself when I inwardly grumble and complain about things that are not going my way.  It seems at time I verbalize things and others take offense.  I usually don't do that on purpose; I see the other side of things and point them out. Then I am accused of not being supportive and hurting someone's feelings.  When I open my mouth, that's usually not my intent. I think of myself as being in the gray; I am not simply black nor white, but can see both sides in most situations.  I think of myself as having a gift for being an optomist; others see me as being non-supportive and traitor -like because I didn't agree with what they are saying.  There are times when I wonder if life with my family would be easier if I did just agree with everyone. I have always thought that would turn me into a door mat, but maybe that's what they want.  When I consider this, I don't think of my original unconscious thoughts as being unhealthy or "mean", but they seem to be get taken that way.  When I am faced with confrontation over something I said to "help", then those unconscious thoughts of mine do get angry. I act out. I don't want to talk. I retreat into myself.  It can be such a repeatable pattern and I suspect I'm not the only one in the world with this dilemma.  

Joyce says, "A negative mind and mouth will produce negative moods, attitudes, and in all probability a miserable day.  But the positive approach of setting your mind in an uplifting direction, full of godly, faith-filled thoughts will have a good effect on you and your entire day."

There's a saying I love, "Don't reach for the phone- call God instead."  I have often wanted to call a friend when I get angry over a family matter. I want someone to affirm that I as in the right and they were in the wrong.  But that's the worst thing I can do.  God wants us to go to the person who "offended" us and work it out. It's tough, no lying there. It's hard to admit we made a mistake.  The faulty thinking we tend to use is, "There's no use trying. It happens every time we talk. We are never going to get along. We are always going to fight. He's always going to behave this way.  If it weren't for her attitude, I would be happier." TAKE IT TO GOD. Chances are, you are going to be convicted for how you handled the situation. Could you have been less sarcastic? Friendlier? More loving? More compassionate?  There are times when our loved ones NEED to be confronted, but how do we do that without putting them down and making them feel ashamed?  

I believe we first must be comfortable with ourselves and the reasons we need to confront. Are we doing it for a power struggle or do we genuninely care about the other person? What's the end goal in the situation? What do you want the outcome to be?  If you want to prove you are better than them, than you might want to stop right now.  If you want to help them, search your hearts, pray to God for the right words, and deliver your message in a loving and compassionate way.  I'm not saying not to react if someone is being deceitful, sneaky, lying, and stealing from you. You must confront them and it's okay to show anger. Just try to get to the root of the problem without making them feel more shame.  See, they are probably being convincted through their unconscious thoughts too.. Let's help them get to where they are being honest and receive our assistance as we intended. As Joyce says, "A walk begins with one step and then another and another.  No matter how long your journey seems, if you take enough steps in the right direction, you will eventually arrive at your desired destination and truly have the life you've always wanted."   I love this.  It goes for all of us.  If we want to be that great wife, mother, friend, daughter- then we keep taking a step. When you fail by doing or saying the wrong thing. Pick yourself up again and start walking. Sometimes you start with crawling and then taking wobbly baby steps.  Just do it. You are so worth it. I am so worth it.. Stop the  negative thoughts,the negative words, and the negative attitudes.

Summaration of verses by Joyce Meyer Ministries:

This is the day God has made and I am going to enjoy it.  (Psalm 118:24)

I can handle whatever comes my way today through Christ who is my strength. (Phillippians 4:13)

Today I am strong and energetic. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

I am thankful for all God has done for me. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

God is working on my problems and I can wait patiently because his timing is perfect. (Psalm 31:15)

3/15/18

Each day I am astonished at how many incredibly awesome people there are in the world.  I sat in the meeting last night discussing the upcoming fundraiser for a young mother with breast cancer, and was amazed at how so many people came together to help her.  My friend Carol is in charge of it; she is the one who did a prime rib dinner for Logan and also for me.  We were talking about auction items and she brought up how many were donated at my fundraiser and how incredibly awesome my friend Annette was with organizing it all. My heart felt so happy that I could give back just a teeny bit of what assistance was provided for me. I felt completely loved by so many when I reflected on how many people helped and participated in my fundraiser.  One can't help but feel love when the time is taken to reflect on the good things we have experienced.

It makes me realize how valuable it is to spend my days in gratitude rather than irritation.  It truly is the little things in life that matter and those are the things we need to focus on.  Monday I had a flower delivery from an old friend. She wanted to send the flowers on my birthday, but I was not home. The flowers are beautiful and everytime I pass them I say a thankful prayer for my friend who sent them.  She is sick herself. She has more than one very serious disease,  yet she works full-time and sends me gifts.  She is truly amazing. Life has been very hard for her, but she still gives.  I want to be like her. I want to keep going and going and giving and giving.  She is a thougthful and a generous person and i am honored to be her friend.

Life is not easy, but it is an adventure.  Some days we never know what the day will bring, but my philosphy is to make the most out of every situation and every day.  God is good.  All the time, God is good.

"By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me-a prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:8

3/16/18

Last night Patrick and I had the opportunity to meet with a very nice couple who are in a similar situation as we were, just a few years ago.  Samuel needs to have a bone marrow transplant. He has a disease of the bone marrow, but it's not leukemia- not yet anyway. The disease he has is known to progress to leukemia and a BMT is a way to cure him before it gets to that point. He has the same disease as a close friend of mine.  He was fortunate to have two siblings who match him!  Samuel and Karen are strong Christian people and have the faith that God will see them through.  I just love how God orchestrates meetings.  We were introduced by mutual friends.

Last week I spoke with a lady in California who is in need of a transplant for AML.  Like me, she can't find a donor.  She is hopeful cord blood matches her.  I just love the role I play now; peer support for others.  It's rewarding and definitly satisfying.  The hard part is when people I am working with pass away.  They always take a little piece of me with them.

Ailynn facetimed Papa last night all on her own.  Her momma didn't even know she did it. Ailynn didn't say a word; she just stared at him and at me when I looked at the phone.  When they got to the Grand Canyon yesterday, she saw snow and said, "We are in Alaska and Papa can hold me now!"  She's two and obviously quite clever and smart!  We sure miss our girls.

Today is a busy day. I am meeting several people to sell tickets for the fundraiser for Cassie Richmond who has breast cancer.  Carol and Mike Fritz are coordinating a prime rib dinner to raise money for her and I got a huge response for buying tickets.  Having cancer costs a lot of money and it's important to help out when possible. I also want to go to another fundraiser at MTA today. One of their employees has leukemia.  The business is having their own fundraiser and I want to attend and support him as well.

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.  The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me."  Psalm 138: 7-8

Tonight I get to hang out with a few friends.  It's ladies night at Lisa's house!  I am looking forward to that and to a date with Lisa and Anya tomorrow at the movies. We are going to see "I Can Only Imagine."  I am terribly excited about this movie!  I appreciate the fact that so many Christian movies are made now. People need to know the love of Jesus.

"Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal." Isaiah 26:4

3/18/18

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day and I forgot to wear green. This is momentous because I have never forgotten to wear green. I am one of those obnoxious people who pinch others who fail to honor this Irish holiday. I didn't even make corned beef and cabbage this year. We are having it today though. I may even wear green. So what if I'm a day late? I can celebrate anytime I want, right?  Since green is my favorite color, I wear it often anyway. We could just say I celebrated a day early and a day later.

Truthfully, I wasn't on my game yesterday.  Something was off. I was dizzy, out of breath, and utterly exhausted.  I went to the movies with a couple friends, then came home and slept for hours. I woke up feeling the same way.  I think I just did too much this past week. Even though most was just mental work, it exhausted me. I talked to my friend Lisa who is almost twenty years post-transplant. She says she still fights the extreme exhaustion that covers her at times.  I'm not even three yet, so I suppose I should be patient with myself as well as forgive myself for my limitations.

Forgiveness- to cease to feel resentment against an offender, or to grant relief from payment. In my case, I must cease to feel resentment against the aftermath of my transplant, as well as the leukemia that caused me to have a transplant in the first place.  Perhaps that sounds silly, but if I constantly focus on the resentment against what happened, I cannot move on.  I have worked with several people over the years who have held on to resentment and pain and it's inhibited their growth as a Christian. How do you tell someone that they should forgive the person who sexually abused them, physically beat them, verbally chastised them throughout their life?  I believe the answer is you don't have to "tell them", but you share with them the freedom forgiveness can bring.

I watched "I can only Imagine" yesterday.  The movie is based on the life of Bart Milliard, the lead singer for "Mercy Me", the Christian band.  I have loved this song since it came out, and it's been the #1 single Christian song in history.  It's beautiful and meaningful. It was written by Bart after his father died.  In his own words, his father was a monster, but he watched God transform him into a man he loved and wanted to be like.  His father was truly a monster; he beat him regularly, he did not show love, he emotionally abused him, he verbally attacked him on a daily basis.  On top of all that, his mother walked out on him when he was ten.  If anyone had a reason to hold on to forgiveness, I would say it would be Bart. But God had a hold on Bart's life and he directed him to return to his father's house and forgive him.  The movie portrayed the struggle, the anger, and the sadness of a man who had been an unloved boy.  Thankfully his father listened to the holy spirit and surrendered and allowed the conviction to take hold as he asked for forgiveness from the son he has so badly abused.  Bart was able to walk into freedom after he forgave the monster who hurt him. He went on to write this number one song that has blessed millions who need the love of Christ. I remember listening to this song as I walked the hospital floors. I imagined what Heaven would be like and how I would feel when I was there. I imagined being there as I walked those halls and imagined the feelings I would have when I was face to face with God.

The movie reminded me of stories Joyce Meyer has shared about her childhood. She too had a terrible upbringing. Her mother was absent, not physically, but emotionally. She didn't protect Joyce against the terrible sexual abuse her father inflicted on her. Joyce openly shared how the anger and the hurt followed her for years until she forgave both her parents.  We might wonder how she could possibly forgive her father for sexually abusing her over and over and over again. Who can forgive a monster that inflicted such great pain upon them?  It's amazing that God can forgive us of ALL our sins and faults.  But God is omnipotent, right? He doesn't hold resentment and anger, but we humans do.  How does one possibly let go of the hurt and anger and why should we?  What does forgiveness truly mean to us?T

The steps to forgiveness:

1.  Acknowledge that it happened.  Forgiveness isn't about "forgetting."  Once you have acknowledged it, think about the growth you have experienced because of it.  I"ll use Joyce Meyer as an example again.  She forgave her parents. She acknowledged they did not meet the expectations she had to be raised in a abuse-free home. Instead of focusing on what happened, she focused on the growth she experienced because of the trauma.  She became a woman who understood the pain of others. My heart hurts for the children like Bart & Joyce, but to see God use them to help others who are in similar situations, helps us understand a bit better of how they survived such horrendous trauma.  God didn't cause their trauma, but he knew about it. He knew that one day they would share their lives with others, and others would break through the victim cycle, and some would break the cycle of offending.  There is true growth to be had when we acknowledge what we learned, and teach others how to cope and heal.

2.  Think about the character flaws your offender had.  Was he or she brought up in a home similar to yours? Did they parent how they were parented?  Did they feel unloved, unworthy and passed that on to you?  I think of one person I know who was "given away" and raised in an orphanage.  He was sexually abused and he grew up to be a sexual predator of other vulnerable children.  There is NO excuse for hurting a child. I often wonder how someone can grow up and do harm to their children when they know how horrible they felt. I can't understand it and I won't try to explain it. I just don't get it.  But when we take the time to examine our offender's character flaws, we might have an idea of where they were and acknowledge they are stuck in that faulty mindset. We must break the cycle.  The generational curse must end.

3.  Let's get back to forgiveness.  I have given you two excellent examples of true abuse.  Joyce & Bart each forgave their parents for their terrible parenting.  Joyce bought her parents a house and took care of them when they were ill and dying.  She certainly wasn't obligated to do so. There was no earthly reason to do so, but she was convicted by God to forgive.  Bart didn't need to leave his tour and go back to see his father, but he listened to that little voice that told him to do so. He was furiously angry with his father.  He found a medical paper with a diagnosis written on it; his father was dying from pancreatic cancer.  He chose to offer forgiveness because he knew he could break free from the pain and change the image of his father's abusive parenting into an image of loving and supportive parenting. He broke free from the spiritual bonds that held him captive. What images do you hold in your mind? You have the power to change the images. Think of holding a remote in your hand. Change the channel. Go from a horror show to a love story. (in my case it would be a Hallmark movie)

Those are two extreme examples of two people who verbally forgave their offenders.  Sometimes people don't feel they can do that. There is also forgiveness to be had by writing a letter to your offender. You may not choose to send the letter, but writing it down is helpful. I read that it's important to handwrite a forgiveness letter, and to do so by using both hands.  Your left brain controls different parts than your right brain does. By writing with each hand, you are using your entire brain to think, feel, and resolve the feelings you have.

4.  Forgiveness is letting go of the feelings you hold against someone else.  It doesn't mean you are "excusing" what they have done to you.  But you cease to allow them to have any power over you anymore.  You will never forget what happened to you, but you can have a life without allowing the shame, guilt, and sorrow consume you.  Finally, I must emphasize that anything that happened to you in your chidlhood was NOT YOUR FAULT.  The shame and guilt is not yours to own. Children are innocent little creatures and they deserve to live in a loving and stable home.  I encourage you to forgive so you may heal and grow and be the parent you wanted for yourself.

One thing that helps me when I think about forgiving others, is how easy it is for God to forgive us.  When I am angry about some silly little thing- I think about how God forgives the big things, and realize if he can forgive ME than I can certainly forgive someone who hurt my feelings.  

When I think about the Bible and forgiveness, I automatically think about Jesus dying for our sins- he forgave us and we remember that by the blood he shed for us. I expect to find more about forgiveness in the New Testament.  But when I looked up forgiveness in the concordance, I came across a verse in Genesis 50:17, "This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly." There are many more examples in the Old Testament.  We cannot ever forget the Lord's Prayer in the New Testament:

Our Father in Heaven

Hallowed be thy name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done,

On earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts,

As we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one."

Matthew 6:14-15:  "For if you forgive men when they sin against you,your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

You know the saying, "life is too short"? It really is.  Don't let the bitterness eat you alive.  Use your experiences to help others. You will learn to forgive, and by doing so, you will learn how to live.

 "I Can Only Imagine"

Mercy Me

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine

Yeah

Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus,
Or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
And I find myself standing in the sun
I can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you
I can only imagine, yeah
I can only imagine

Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus,
Or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine
Yeah
I can only imagine

Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you, Jesus,
Or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah?
Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine
Yeah
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
Yeah
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever, forever worship you

I can only imagine
 
3/21/18
 
Twenty eight years ago, I gave birth to my second child. A bouncing baby boy named Casey Marre.  Casey weighed in at 7 # 7 ounces and his older brother, Logan, was so excited to meet him.  Casey was born with a huge chest and a funny looking head. I always teased him that he looked like Austin Powers.  He grew into a very handsome child and I don't think I caused him any emotional distress over that comment.  He's doing very well and excited about his new job..  My prayer for Casey is freedom to heal, to love, to grow, and develop a unique and special relationship with Jesus.  I pray that this year will be the best year of his life. I pray he makes new & healthy memories, and is able to weather all storms that might come his way. I pray blessings over his health, his mind, and his emotions.  I"m thankful for the chlld God gave me twenty-eight years ago.  Casey is a blessing and a true gift to have.  I am proud of him.
 
3/22/18
 
Perusing social media early in the mornings is not always good. I find it "sucks me in" and before I know it, an hour has gone by.  This morning though, was a certain theme I could get behind.  Three videos in a row were about making life work for you, rather than be miserable working just to sustain life. All validated how it's important for us to do things we enjoy.  What is the point of going to work only to be miserable.  As one video pointed out, we work to buy a beautiful house that we are never in because we are always at work.  I was fortunate to be able to stay home when my children were small. I loved staying home.  When I did go back to work, I loved my job so much that I couldn't wait to go to work.  I truly did. Most days I was thrilled to get up and go in because I knew I would be able to make a difference in the life of another.  I felt that way when I worked wtih victims, and I felt that way when I worked with offenders. I loved my job.  Not having a job has been difficult on me because I am not wired to just sit around.  That is why I spend so much time advocating and helping with various causes.  It's simply in my blood.
 
With that said, my big announcement is coming..... DRUM ROLL PLEASE.......... I was accepted into a graduate program at UAA.  Come this fall, I will be a full-time student in the master of social work school.  When I am finished with the two years, I will take a test to become a licensed clinical social worker.  This has been my dream for so many years. Finally, I said to heck with all my excuses. You know the ones; leukemia, no money, no energy, the fear of not being successful. I am no longer going to be bound by these fears, and I will no longer succumb to the doubts. I am going to do it. I am going to be a life changer.  I owe it all to GOD.  He put the desire on my heart, he rescued me from death, and he put the opportunity in place. I listened. He told me this was his plan for me and I listened and I am obeying him.
 
3/23/28
 
I napped from 6-8:30 tonight so I’m not ready for bed now at 10:30.  I was up last night until 0200, but I also napped late. I’m so tired lately and I guess I should try napping earlier in the day. I am not sleeping well because my hips hurt so bad all the time. I am in so much pain. I broke down and took Ibuprofen tonight. A couple times recently I have woken myself up crying from the pain. My hips are getting worse, not better. Because of insurance problems, I haven’t been able to go to physical therapy. I walked on the treadmill the other day and it hurt the whole time. I went to my “geriatric” exercise class today and it hurt. My blood pressure kept dropping and I was constantly getting dizzy as well.  It’s frustrating for sure. Yoga hurts bad but I keep going, hoping eventually it will help.
I reread some reports my oncologist wrote before my transplant. I had partly forgotten how sick I was. Reading it again stirred up some unpleasant emotions. When I was going through treatment, I didn’t have time to process it; I was too busy fighting to live. Now I read about my many physical issues and I feel like crying. In one day I went from 123 pounds to 179! I remember how swollen my body was and I was completely red, bald, and covered with a rash. I’m so thankful to be here. Yes, my hips are bad, but I don’t have leukemia! I am surviving and thriving.
 
 This is what I wrote on my bone marrow survivors group site:
Sometimes I wonder if I truly remember what my life was like not even three years ago. In some ways it seems distant and unreal, but in other ways it seems the battle is still going. My hips and fatigue remind me something bad happened. My hips are getting worse, not better. I’ve woken up from crying in my sleep from the pain. I went about six weeks without taking a nap. Now I’m falling asleep at 6 pm, then have trouble going back to sleep. I re-read the early notes about my physical status. I was so, so sick. Yet here I am- alive, functioning, a wife, a mother, daughter, a grandmother. I start my master of social work program in two months. Life is waiting for me. It’s here now, but sometimes I feel like I don’t fit anywhere. I can’t do the physical things I used to do. I think differently now. I plan my days around how I might feel. I’m helping at a fundraiser tomorrow. I worry I will get so tired and have to leave. I want to give back- will people judge me for being tired? All these thoughts are going through my head. Reading those reports from three years ago hurt. I hurt for the woman who lost so much, but I rejoice she’s alive. Sometimes I guess we all need a good cry.
 
I met with my advisor today and received papers I have to fill out. More essays for me! I’m thinking I will work on that Sunday. My mind is not clear right now. Patrick is in Homer. Tomorrow is the big fishing derby he participates in annually. It would be great if they won!
 
3/25/18
 
They started arriving before 5:00, even though the fundraiser didn’t start until 6:00. These are the people who know what fundraisers are like; droves of people coming out to help one of our own. The room was buzzing with excitement and the lines for food and auction items were long. The room was beautifully decorated with breast cancer paraphernalia. Pink was everywhere. We needed no reminder of why we were there; the young Palmer mother needed our support.  At the age of thirty-four, she had been diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer. She has a grueling treatment schedule ahead of her. She’s only completed two rounds of chemo. Her hair is gone and she was wearing a beautiful wig.  I am so glad I had the opportunity to help at this event. The lasting effects of my own treatment has zapped all the energy from me and I feel exhausted beyond exhausted. Still, I am glad I helped. I am more than pleased at how well it was organized and thought out. There were more auction items than I have ever seen. I was the highest bidder on a few. I was both disappointed and relieved when I wasn’t the highest bidder on a GIANT teddy bear. The girls would have loved it, but where would I have put it?!
 
3/26/18
 
 

The effects of leukemia don’t end when one has achieved remission. Some may experience physical and emotional trauma. The treatment wreaks havoc on our bodies and can cause long lasting pain. Just because someone looks “normal”, it doesn’t mean they “feel normal”.  Similarly, some may experience emotional distress when remembering the hell they went through to live. Imagine how it would feel to be in a mall and having  people shooting at you- it would be terrifying, right? Now imagine a person in the hospital with various medical providers coming in. They shoot you with poison, they take your blood, they invade your body, and take away your dignity and privacy. Recovering from leukemia, or any other cancer, takes time and patience. If you are the one recovering, be patient with yourself and allow yourself to feel the impact your treatment had on you. If you are a caregiver, be patient with your loved one. Understand they have been in a battle and the scars are there. It’s going to take time to heal.
I posted this on my bone marrow survival page and the response was tremendous. I was told I summed up the feelings of many. There are some really hurt people out there. Some don’t feel the support anymore now that they are in remission. Some spoke of going to counselors and some admitted they are on medication for depression.  It’s important for us all to check in with our friends and family who have been treated for a life threatening illness. It takes a long time to recover in some cases. Check to see if they need a meal, help with childcare or housework, or just invite them out for a cup of coffee. Let them vent about the trials they have because of their illness and/or treatment. Listen, listen, listen. That is what they need.

I am having flashbacks of the hell I went through. It’s somewhat irionic since I had such a good attitude and was brave during treatment. Now I sometimes feel paralyzed remembering what it was like. My hips hurt so bad. I woke myself up crying again. I hurt. I’m determined to go to Zumba today. I went to yoga Saturday. The doctors say to continue exercising. I feel worse afterwards though. I can’t wait for the next hip injections and I pray they help.

3/27/18

I reached for the eye drops I keep on the shelf of my headboard. It’s common practice to use the drops every couple of hours during the night to help with severely dry eyes. I pride myself in making contact with the drops, while in the dark with my eyes closed, each night. I think of myself as a Ninja with uncanny skills. This time I reached them and with one swift move brought them to my eyes. I had one fleeting thought, “That’s strange they were in the back right corner.” I mentally shrugged it off and started pouring them in my eyes. My second thought was, “ Wow! These drops are coming out fast like they do on a pressurized airplane.” Then I smelled it and knew. Earlier that day I had noticed a bottle of DoTERRA OnGuard essential oils in the back right corner of that shelf. I jumped out of bed easily, the pain in my hips magically disappearing as the pain in my eyes intensified. I frantically splashed water in my eyes while leaning over the sink. I yelled, “I need help!” Patrick got out of bed and said, “What do you want ME to do?” I told him to  use the shower to spray water directly in my eyes. I envisioned kneeling over the tub, but he ordered me to get in the shower. My eyes were tightly shut and I blindly attempted to undress. He snapped at me, “ Get in the shower!” I responded with a whine,” I’m trying! Don’t be mean to me!” He began spraying my face and I was sputtering as I loudly moaned. I kept leaning back, contorting my body to get away from the spray. “”It keeps getting in my mouth”, I protested all the while thinking that maybe instead of moaning with my mouth open I could try shutting it. He demanded I lean into the water rather than leaning back. I used my fingers to pry open my eye lids to allow the water to rinse out the mixture of herbs while wondering why I didn’t keep a large bottle of eyewash in an emergency first aid kit. I looked into the mirror and I was pleased to see me. My eyelids were purple, but I was relieved to see there didn’t appear to be lasting trauma to my eyes.

With the completion of the emergency eye care, I crawled back in bed. The smell was still there. It took me several minutes to realize the oil was on my pillowcase and it was soaking into my skin around my eyes. I got up and washed my face again facing the fact I probably won’t sleep anymore tonight. I want to keep my eyes open to make sure two eye fulls of essential oils doesn’t impair my vision. Another bright moment in the life of Kelly Marre.

3/28/18
 
Sadly I had to resign as a director of the MVFCU board. It conflicts with my fall school schedule. I wanted them to have the opportunity to replace me this coming May during their general elections.  The night of our monthly meeting is on the same night as two of my classes. Even though my classes will be online, I still have to sit in front of my computer to interact with the professor and other students. I don’t like quitting things I have committed to.
 
I ran into a friend today who saw me hobbling. I hate complaining about my hips and ailments. I just want to be content with being alive. I appreciate his comments. He told me that cancer doesn’t stop with remission. He verbalized what I was just sharing with my bone marrow support group. “Just because someone achieved remission and looks normal, doesn’t mean they feel normal or that everything is perfect.” He’s never had cancer and that meant a LOT to me that he expressed his concern and compassion for me. We just dont know what someone else is going through, we must be kind.
 
 
 

Who AM I?

I am the 90 year old grandmother who is lonely. I spend my days calling my family. Many of them won’t answer my calls. They may be busy, but I feel rejected. They don’t call back, so I keep trying, often without success. I feel rejected. I just wish one of them would pick up the phone and call me. I won’t be around forever. My body is weak and you callously remind me I have told you the same story a thousand times. I have a lot to share and no one has the time to listen. I have survived wars, the depression, and the death of family members. I feel the pain of loneliness as more and more of my friends die each year. When will it be my turn? Will you take the time to come to my funeral? I would rather you came to visit me now so I can see you, hear your voice, and hug you. Won’t you take time to see me?

Who AM I?

I am the middle aged woman whose husband has left me. He said he doesn’t love me anymore. My heart is broken. I have given him the best years of my life and now I am alone and afraid. How will I support myself? Who is going to comfort me when I am sad? What is my purpose now? My friends don’t understand- they have their husbands each night. They are comfortable with the wrinkles and the signs of age because they have someone who loves them. All I can think about is, “who will love me at this age and why am I not good enough for him anymore”? My heart is broken and I need a friend to walk along beside me and guide me. I need a friend to encourage me and lift me up when I am feeling especially weak. Will you be that friend?

Who AM I?

I was just given the news that I have a life threatening illness. I am in shock. I don’t know where to turn or what to do. I am worried about my family, our finances, my job, and especially about my ability to survive this. I need you to be here for me. I need you to really listen to me and reassure me that everything is going to be okay. Please don’t tell me I just need to have more faith. Show me what faith means. Please don’t stop encouraging me and please don’t forget me after the initial shock of diagnosis has worn off. I am going to need you for a long time. Will you be here for me?

Who AM I?

I am the elderly couple who has sacrificed our entire lives helping others. When you need us, we are there. We are called in the middle of the night and we answer the phone. You come to our house and ask for food and we feed you. We give our time and resources freely. But do you see we have needs too? We are tired. Our bodies don’t work like they used to. We have so many projects to do, but no one offers to help us. Who am I to you? Your helper? Your counselor? Your teacher? I want to be valuable to you too. Will you help us sometimes too?

Who AM I?

People call me all kinds of names: loser,degenerate, garbage, hopeless, and worthless. I am a person with an addiction problem. People like to call me an addict. I don’t want to be defined as an addict. I am a person who has an addiction. I am a person. Someone must find me valuable. Someone must still love me. Where are they? They have all turned their backs on me. They say they can’t take it anymore and they have to show me what tough love is and I need to hit rock bottom. What exactly is rock bottom and how do I know when I have hit it? It sounds painful to hit the bottom of rocks. I feel pain now. I hurt because I have no spouse, no job, no home, and nothing of value. I need a helping hand. The first time I used drugs was a choice. After that, it no longer was a choice. Using consumed me. I had to feel normal. Nothing makes me feel normal. I keep crying out for help, but no one comes anymore. I want to change, but I don’t know how. I wish someone would walk beside me and accept me and my shortcomings. I wish people wouldn’t point out my wrongdoings, but encourage me when I make progress. Will you be the one who stands beside me? I could be your son, your granddaughter, your sister, your neighbor, your fellow church member, or your friend. I need you. Will you help me recover?

Who Am I?

***

I went into Anchorage tonight for a business dinner with Patrick. We went to Sullivan’s which is their usual choice. It was time to order appetizers and most were in favor of oysters and Ahi- neither of which I like. I spotted the calamari and ordered that. Everything came out and I scooped a large portion of calamari on my plate. It was incredible! I was talking with one of the visitors about her daughter’s recovery from leukemia. Patrick tapped me urgently on the arm and apologized for interrupting us. “There are nuts in the calamari”, he said. I panicked and looked at the menu. Clearly in writing it says “crushed peanuts”” My heart sank at the possibility of a long night of vomiting. I declared I was going to order my main dish, eat it all, and then hurry home before that two hour window hit. It’s exactly what I did. It’s been almost four hours and I haven’t vomited! I think I actually ate some without nuts. I’m relieved and so incredibly thankful!

I discovered a way to help my hips at night. I put my body pillow horizontal in the middle of the bed. I make sure my hips are on it. The pain has definitely decreased during the night. I ordered a standing keyboard tray for my desk. I’m at the computer a lot prepping for school and doing volunteer stuff.  Sitting causes excruciating pain, so I will try standing and typing.

3/31/18

The end of March is here. Tomorrow is April Fool's Day- on Easter no less. I don't ever remember that happening before. I can tell you one thing, it is no joke that Jesus died, he rose again, and he saved us all from our sins. I am so grateful to be a child of God and free from the bondage of sin.

I went to see "God's Not Dead- A Light in the Darkness" today with my friend Anya.  The best part of the movie was the realization that so many today fight for the right for freedom, when freedom has already been bought and paid for.  There are "women's rights", "black rights", "gay rights", etc. All these different groups of people standing up for "their rights".  We have turned into a society where we are easily offended, easily angered, and easily swayed to "accept people for who they are." We preach tolerance and acceptance at all levels.  We change the Bible around to read how we want to interpret it.  We can sue anytime we are offended and claim our rights have been trampled on.  We have redefined Christianity.  We welcome people to church in their offensively printed t-shirts,low-cut shirts, mini-skirts, their battered jeans, and their hats.  We accept them as they are, because if we don't, they won't come.  We live in a world where we question if there is a God.  Science has overtaken our schools and God has been booted out.  We battle over gun rights, freedom of speech, and separation of church and state.

But we don't need to fight or be insecure. Our future is guaranteed. It doesn't matter how much money we have, what we wear, or how many protesting groups we attend to.  We have the right to eternal life.  Why?  Because Jesus died for us. He actually took our sins when he was beaten and killed.  He died so we may live forever with him.  For those who are scared, lonely, or afraid-this message is for you. You are free. You are free because of the blood of Jesus being poured out for you. There is victory.  If you wonder why you can't hear God, its because you aren't listening. He is talking to you. Can you feel his presence? Do you notice the beautiful world he created?  "Now the Lord is the Sprit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Embrace the freedom you have been given.  Shrug off the pain, the hurt, and the anguish.  I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but don't let it crush your spirit.  There is freedom.  He has RISEN!

4/1/18

Easter service was fantastic; many were baptized today and Heaven was celebrating. Granny’s was fun and enjoyable. Then Casey and I drove into Anchorage to see Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames. The spirit of God was present. This momma has prayed for years for my son’s deliverance from drugs, and for him to have a relationship with Jesus. Sin had hardened his heart and although he believed, he wouldn’t allow God to break Through the hardened armor surrounding his heart. Until tonight that is, God took a chisel and broke it off piece by piece until Casey felt Jesus penetrate his heart. My son gave his heart to Jesus tonight and I have never felt happier. Thank you, Lord for saving my son. Please send good Christian men into his life so his walk with you will grow. Thank you and AMEN!

4/3/18

Tonight is our sixth lesson for the Genesis group. I pray that the people who come really learn from this process. It truly is a process.  Most of us have probably heard of people being healed from addiction immediately. We want that same experience for our loved ones, but most find it's a long and sometimes difficult process to get where we want them to be.  It takes time for plants to grow. First you have to have healthy soil, then plant the seed.  The seed needs to be watered and it needs sun.  When you take away water or sun, the plant wilts.  In the same way, we must water our loved ones by sharing the love of Jesus with them. We must provide the sun- the son of God to them. We must show them, feed them, and fertlize them. We do this by our prayers, our words, and our actions.  Our hearts need to be pure and unselfish. We must learn to not react negatively even when we don't hear what we want to hear from them. They are growing and they must be nurtured. Not enabled, just nurtured-loved, not judged.

My friend Sheri really needs some prayers right now. She is so weary and exhausted from caring for her disabled daughter over the past twenty plus years. She rarely gets a break or time to herself or time with her husband.  She is weary. She needs to be lifted up in prayer. Will you pray for my friend?  

4/4/18

Last nights Genesis group lesson was about letting go of the past trauma that keeps us captive. Trauma can be identified in several ways. Some people have had severe trauma such as being involved in a horrific accident, being raped, being beaten, or being a victim of a violent crime. Others may be a victim of childhood abuse, but don’t realize that it was traumatic. They may just assume that all families yell, scream, and hit. They may not see that as dysfunctional. Others are traumatized by childhood neglect- emotional or physical neglect. Some may have experienced a physical illness or disability that caused them great emotional pain. Whatever past trauma that occurred, it’s important to come to terms with it and surrender the power it holds over you.  One lady summed it up perfectly last night. She said “my past does not define me.” How freeing is that statement! Whatever traumatic experience we have had does not define us. It can not dictate how our life will turn out. We have choices and we can choose to live in the moment and prepare for the future. But we must come to terms with our past. We must accept what happened, forgive our offenders, and forgive the ones who did not protect us. If we are the ones who caused the traumatic occurrence, then we must ask for forgiveness from those we hurt and forgive ourselves.

When I got home, I saw a post on FB from someone I know sharing her emotional struggle. She has had a lot of trauma in her life and I don’t think she’s even aware of how intense these situations were. Thankfully she is reaching out to a counselor and hopefully she will process all the negative experiences she has had. She asked the question, “Do you find it easier to get through struggles when you have a relationship with God”.  I could readily assure her that yes, having faith ensures we will be comforted as we go through trials and tribulations. I cannot imagine going through what I have gone through, without God being at the center of my universe.

This morning I read a comment from my bone marrow support group. One lady is struggling with wondering why she is alive after transplant. Her physical abilities are greatly diminished. She feels as if she’s not really living and she doesn’t seem to enjoy life. She is housebound, in constant pain, and it appears her joy has been depleted. She’s afraid this is all she will know for the remaining time she has on earth. She didn’t mention God, so I don’t know if she has faith or not. It’s hard to comfort people who are in chronic physical and emotional pain. They hurt terribly and they don’t see a bright future ahead. All I can do is pray for them to feel better and to find joy in the midst of pain. Life should be about celebrating what we have, not lamenting  what we don’t have.

4/5/18

Yesterday I spent the entire day in Juneau lobbying for smoke-free workplaces with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. It was my second trip to Juneau and i found it to be fascinating to see the actions of how bills become laws, first-hand. The old School House Rock song kept going through my head. It's a process that i still can't fully grasp. The thousands of pages each Representative and Senator has to go through each time a bill is introduced is overwhelming.  They are hard working people for sure. I was more than pleased when the session began with a prayer praising GOD and the Pledge of Allegiance being said.  How wonderful it is to live in a state that is not afraid to praise God in a state building. In fact, one of the representatives even made a point about sharing and reminding people that Jesus is the center of all and Easter was about him. Amazing!

I boldly told ACS CAN's employee, Heather, that I could go down to Juneau and back in one day- no problem.  Well I crashed in the middle of the day. The exhaustion hit me like a ton of breaks and I had to find an office with a couch to lie down on and sleep for an hour or so. Thankfully people were understanding and supportive.  I didn't get back to my house till about 11:00 pm last night and collapsed into bed. This morning I forced myself to my exercise class. It was a new one for me. I kept getting light headed and frankly, I was afraid I was going to pass out in the class. Think about this- I completely forget to bring water every single time I go to the gym! Me who is constantly dehydrated! Stupid and ridiculous for sure. I must remember to take better care of myself.  I went grocery shopping this afternoon, dropped off a goodbye card to a valuable employee of United Way, and came home and napped again. I still feel like I have been run over. I simply must learn I can't do too much in one day. My doctors have warned me, my husband has warned me, my parents & grandparents have warned me, and my friends have warned me. I'm going to to start listening- really I am!

4/7/18

I leave tonight for Mayo.  Thirteen appointments in three days. Plus training for my new insulin pump and sensor, a meeting with the social worker about Be the Match support, and meeting with patients and caregivers. It's going to be a long three days. But after that, I fly to see my parents in Texas and I am happy about that.

We need some prayer here. Casey did not get the news we were all expecting and things look grim for him right now. He is so new in his spiritual renewal and I ask you to pray for him so he may be comforted and lean on Jesus to get through the difficult times. My heart is breaking and the timing of my trip is horrible.

4/9/18

It was a very long night of flying. I slept intermittently, waking often due to the uncomfortable seats on the plane. I hurt so badly. It didn’t help that the child behind me constantly kicked my seat and played with the seat tray. I had a 1.5 hour drive after getting off the plane. I was a zombie by the time I got to the hotel. I decided to eat at the restaurant attached to the hotel, and then went back to take a nap at 2:30. I pullled back the covers and saw a large crumb that at first looked like a dead bug. I decided to ignore that. Then I found an Uber card on the sheets and was seriously grossed out. The sheets had not been changed. I called the front desk and he assured me someone would be right up. Twenty minutes later, no one had come. I called again and the phone rang about 40 times and no one answered. I dragged myself downstairs and found the manager standing around at the front desk. One look from me and he offered to change the sheets himself. As he was changing them, the male housekeeper  arrived. His pants were hanging down and I could see his gray boxers. I was so exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I slept for several hours, was awake for couple more, then back to sleep till 0700.

Im waiting for my third appointment of the day. I just had lunch with my friend Joy. She was my dietician while I was going through transplant. I’m trying to be brave and feel the peace of God over me, but it’s hard when I realize Casey was denied house arrest and he’s in jail. He’s been doing so well. He had an amazing job and was engaged in sobriety groups.

4/11/18

So far the appointments have been uneventful. Today is the big day- I see Dr. Hogan and the orthopedic doctor. Yesterday I had shots in my hips. The doctor numbed me well and it didn’t hurt much. A tear rolled down my cheek as she was injecting me. She asked me if I was okay and I laughed and said, “I’m really not crying, I had plugs put in my upper eye lids today to help me retain tears.” My right eye is watering constantly now. I guess it’s better than dry eyes, but I guess I will be redoing my eye liner a lot.  I told the doctor who injected me with Toradol that my hips are worse and I can’t figure out why they didn’t order another CT scan. She asked me what I thought they would find. I told her I didn’t know and she replied, “that’s why we don’t want to do  another CT scan. It’s a lot of radiation and we may not find anything that we don’t already know about.” I was dumbfounded at that remark. Isn’t that what a CT scan is for? To see if there’s something else going on? I chose to remain silent because I couldn’t think of a single response to that idiotic statement.

I met with the BMT social worker yesterday, along with Tara, another transplant patient. We shared new Be the Match literature with her and she was very excited. Today I meet with patients and caregivers at Station 94 to share my story and the resources with them. I hope to bring them hope and comfort.

Since I have been here, I have felt quite a bit of anxiety. I’m having flashbacks of my experience and I have to fight off the sorrow and anxiety. I don’t like feeling like this at all. Everyone tells me how brave I was, and now I feel like curling up in a Fetal position and crying. I don’t like this feeling at all. I want to tell myself to snap out of it. But my training and education tells me my feelings are real and I need to validate them, accept them, and process them. It’s easier to be a counselor than it is to be a patient.

4/12/18

The PA I saw yesterday for my hips agreed something else is going on with my hips and I need a special MRI with contrast and some injections while they are doing them. Problem is trying to do this in AK and get the insurance to Pay for it. Overall things are ok. Lungs aren’t the same- bones a little worse, but stable, one medication increased and the others remain remain same. I got my new pump and sensor training last night and hope it helps my blood sugars and Overall diabetic health. Plane is taking off for Texas! Off to see my parents!

4/14/18

Fligjt was great- just about 2.5 hours from Minneapolis to Austin. I was super tired when I landed and ended up falling asleep in the car and when we got to my parents‘house, I had to take a nap. I wanted so badly to have energy and visit. We have gotten to catch up since then, thankfully. I’m not sleeping well because my new insulin pump wakes me up several times during the night. I actually lost my new meter! I’m sure I left it on the flight, but they have not responded to my lost claim report. Thankfully, Medtronics FedExed me a new one . Not the way to start a new system for sure. It must have fallen out of my bag.

I got to see a nice a Texas thunderstorm last night. Lots of lightening lighting up the sky and so some hard  rain. Dad loves the deer that frequent the yard ever morning and evening. He also has cereal cats he feeds. He is working so hard on their home, that it’s the only time I see him relaxed. Their house is going to he beautiful, but it is definitely a fixer-upper. They have done a lot, but so much left to do. I wish we could all be here for a week to help them.

4/16/18

Sadly I am leaving my parents today and heading home to Alaska, but at least I have the assurance they will be home in a month. I enjoyed visiting with them so very much.

Dad told me a story about him flying here in January. He was by himself with a five hour layover. He got to chatting with a young lady who was on her way to a new job. He said they chatted just for a minute and he thought nothing of it. A short time later, she brought him a big bag of chips and water. He was shocked she would do do that and wondered why she did. When he landed in Austin, he was picked up by a friend and dropped off at the house. He was dismayed to find there was no heat in the house, no food there, and his truck wouldn’t start so he couldn’t get food or supplies. But what he did have was that bag of chips he hadn’t gotten around to eating. It got him through the night. I know exactly why that young lady bought him chips and water; God told her to bless him and he was certainly blessed. I love the timing of God.

I was people watching here at the airport and overheard a conversation with two men who were both in their 20’s. One asked the other how old his little tyke was and shared he also hadn’t a small son about that age at home. I had to chuckle as I thought that just a few years ago they were in high school and I figure never thought they would be chatting about babies. I love devoted dads! I have one and I married a man that became one. And I love that my daughter did as well.

Mom and I got her kitchen cabinets sanded, primed, and one coat on them. I can’t wait to see pictures of the finished project. We worked on them for two days. Today they took me for a  cavern tour and it was spectacular. I was really impressed with how well Mom managed to get through it. There were many times we had to crouch for a long time to get through the low ceilings. I struggle doing things with my issues and imagined being twenty years older and trying it. As many issues as I have, I don’t think I could do it.

We also went to church Sunday and I got to see some former Alaskans. The church was spectacular- huge! It even had a gymnasium. I loved the message too and  it sure was applicable to my life right now. 

4/18/18

I got home about 0100 yesterday and haven't stopped since. I had hours worth of paperwork to do and then had a Thrive meeting and then more running around, then the community opioid meeting. A few weeks ago I had posted information about this community meeting the state officials were sponsoring. (along with United Way and Mat-Su Health Foundation) I got a lot of criticism and people said some pretty ugly things about addicts. I invited them all to the meeting to let their voices come through. You know, there was one person from the community there. The rest were all of us who work/volunteer in the social services field. I found that to be pathetic. It's easy to sit behind a keyboard and talk about being "holier than thou" and criticizing the one with addiction and his/her family. But to actually DO something about it? Nope! They would rather criticize. Wait until it happens in their family.... Last night a nurse told that of the ten nurses he works with, TWO have lost a child to addiction issues/OD.  Yep, I would say it affects us all.

Tonight is the third to last Genesis class.  We started with about ten and down to about two. Sad really that people aren't willing to put the work into recovery. One person left for an extended vacation, one person has been sick for a few weeks, another is in jail.  So we had five going strong for awhile and now two.Broken heart

I found a place in the Valley that can do my complicated hip MRI. Both sides need to be done with two injections. I wasn't sure if anyone could and was happy I don't have to fly back to Mayo for it. Potentially I may have to have surgery, but I am hoping not. My Mayo orthopedic doctor suspects a problem with the labrum. I had never heard of a labrum before. I did not take human anatomy in college. I work much better with the mind.

I have an interview tomorrow with a local agency about a potential intern placement there this fall. It's a place I truly want to be, so I hope it works out.

Today I saw a man holding a sign at Fred Meyer. I didn't read the sign, but went out of my way to drive over to him and offer him one of my "homeless snack bags" I carry around. You should have seen the look on his face; disdain- true disgust.  He said, "My sign says 420. I am looking for marijuana to use for medicinal purposes. I really didn't know what to say except, "can't help you there- do you want the food?" He acted like it was contaminated but took it. I just shook my head in disbelief.  He's the first homeless person who has turned down my snack bags.  Next time I will read the sign.

Today the realization hit me; I am not a biological child of my parents. My DNA is that of my donor. I wonder if they need to adopt me to make me "their child" again. Maybe they wrote me out of the will! Wink

4/21/18

I have done too much since I have been home and am paying for it. My left hip is worse- how can that be? But it is. My right one is actually doing a bit better since the Toradol shot.  I wake up all night long with the left hip pain. It makes it difficult to feel totally rested. Plus my darn new insulin pump is always waking me with some issue or another. I do love it though.  Thursday night I went to my friend Annette's house for an H2O party. I knew before going that it was going to be hard for me; I was simply exhausted. Yet I went. In the middle of the party I felt like I was just going to die if I didn't sleep. I had Debbie drive me home. Too much in too few days. I must learn to pace myself.  My face is red and splotchy AGAIN! I'm fed up with reacting to everything I put on my face. I am using the mildest products and products that are very reputable, still I am reacting to everything. Silly French baby skin!

I was able to visit with Casey yesterday which made us both feel better. He's trying so hard to do the right thing. Please continue to pray with me for him. 

4/23/18

You know the calls that start with, “Don’t freak out and you immediately know you are going to freak out?” I received one of those yesterday. Sharmin called. “Don’t freak out, but Michelle has had a stroke.”  Michelle is the oldest daughter of my brother Mark and husband wife, Sharmin. She is 27 years old. She also is a nurse and was able to recognize her symptoms and direct her husband Jimmy to call for an ambulance.

Michelle has a blood clot on her brain. She had a TIA- a mini stroke which means no tissue died and she is fully recovered. They kept her in the hospital because they need to know why she got this clot and what they can do to prevent it from happening again. Jimmy said that just a week ago Michelle had confided in him having a stroke was her worst fear. I instantly understood that was God’s way of preparing her because it also happened to me before Logan’s leukemia diagnosis and mine. Michelle handled it like a champ and said, “Now I can tell my patients that I know what it’s like!”

I stood in her doorway after rushing from Wasilla to Anchorage and just stared at her. She was smiling and laughing as she chatted it up with her husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nurse, and her supervivsor. I just stood there with tears rolling down my face unable to speak. In my head I kept repeating, “Thank you, Jesus that she is okay”. Her supervisor looked at the monitors and back said, “Michelle, your heart rate is 143!” Michelle responded, “It‘s because Aunt Kelly is here.” I knew I had  to calm down so she wouldn’t get upset. These loved ones of mine are going to put me in an early grave!

4/24/18

An update on Michelle- she is doing better and has been released. I went in to see her yesterday after her TEE test.  They stuck a camera up her nose and down to her esophaugus.  Thankfully she was asleep during the procedure and woke up feeling well. I was there when the final doctor came up and basically summed it up with telling her that her heart appears to be completely normal. They are testing her for two autoimmune diseases and the results will be back in about ten days from now.  They released her and I helped Jimmy (her husband) carry the gazillion flowers and gifts she received. She is very, very loved.  We texted this morning and I reminded her that she doesn't need to have anxiety. She can't control what is happening, but God is with her all the way- all the time.  It's times like these that we lean on our family and friends for support.

Interestingly enough, my monthly Be the Match support call was about family systems and dynamics and the importance of having a good support system. One person can't provide all the support another needs, so it's important to have multiple people available to meet certain needs we may have.  If you depend on only one person, there will be times when you will be completely disappointed.  The exception, of course, is Jesus. We can ALWAYS depend on him to be our support. But sometimes I understand (all too well) the importance of having someone we can see and openly dialogue with.  Jesus speaks to our hearts for sure and I am not discounting that; but he also sends people around us to share his love and support for us. I took Michelle a Unicorn coloring book. She always loved unicorns; Uncle Pat used to make fun of her for that. He also calls her "monkey head", so nice uncle....... She adores him and he adores her so all is good.

Today I get my MRI for my hips. I pray they figure out what is wrong with me and how to fix it. I'm fed up with being in constant pain.  I have doctor's orders not to work out for a few days until we figure it all out.

Casey is getting a really bad attitude again. I can't say I blame  him. He applied to do his court ordered treatment to an inpatient treatment center in Anchorage, but no one at the jail will turn his application in and it must come from them. It's been a whole week since he turned it in and they still haven't received it. I checked with the treatment center yesterday in person and on the phone. It is more than frustrating and I can understand why he's angry, but my heart's prayer is he gets back to trusting God and being calm about things. Please God, let them figure this out!!!! Your will be done. I pray for complete recovery for Casey- mind, body, and spirit.

4/25/18

I have been at the hospital all day with Michelle. They are going to do two More  CT scans - one on her heart and one on her abdomen. They are checking to make sure she’s doesnt have cancer. I can’t  say the words out loud because I won’t be able to bear it if that’s the diagnosis. I’m confident it’s not. But they can’t explain  why this is happening. Why does a 27 year old have four blood clots on the brain?

4/26/18

Thankfully, Michelle does not have cancer or a heart problem. The doctors are still stumped as to why she has the blood clots. They are most worried about the big one on her brain. They suspect the other three are clots that broke off from the big one.  Her medical team beieves they will dissolve on their own. The big one however, is lodged so deeply in her brain that it would be risky to attempt to get it out.  She will meet with the head stroke doctor at Providence today. The family is thinking she probably needs a second opinion out of state.   We want to make sure her precious brain is protected the best it can be.  She remains in good spirits and is most certainly loved by many. She has had so many visitors. They keep pouring in; most from her work. She kept saying, "I don't know why so many people love me." I can tell you that so many people love her because she is so loveable.  She is kind, compassionate, sweet, intelligent, funny, and beautiful inside and out. Of course everyone loves her! Her coworkers donated six weeks of leave to her so she doesn't have to worry about rushing back to work.

I have a copy of my MRI results for my hips and it is not a good report.  Part of it is good- there is no necrosis and minimal arthritis. However, I do have bilateral tears in my labrum. The pain continues and I have been awake since 0300. I have decided to use my Grandpa Marvin's cane. I am struggling to walk and getting in bed is a five minute long process. The pain is intense and I am miserable.  I spent about nine hours at the hospital yesterday. Sitting is difficult on me. Driving is difficult because I have to use my right foot, which is the worst side right now, to push on the gas.  By the time I got home I was in tears. I couldn't figure out how to get out of the car without hurting myself. I was carrying my purse and the mail and had a difficult time manipulating the stairs to get into the house. By the time I got in I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry; but I can no longer curl up in a ball. The pain is too bad. Mayo is reviewing the MRI I had done up here and they will call me with a plan. We have to do something; I can't live like this. I have a new appreciation for people in pain.

4/27/18

Despite the problem with getting my insurance to pay for any orthopedic care in Alaska, I called desperately seeking answers. I was diagnosed with "Iliotibial Band Syndrome" ("IT Band Sydrome) on my right side. This explains why it hurts to touch my leg. The PA I saw said, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but I have nothing to offer you except narcotics and cortisone injections." I don't take narcotics- I vomit with every single one of them. I can't do any more cortisone because it caused me to develop diabetic neuropathy in my feet and well as Adrenal insufficiency. My blood sugars are still not perfectly controlled like they were before. They are getting better- but it's been since August since I had my last cortisone injection. It has taken that long to improve.  Never again. Then I got an email from my PA at Mayo. She basically said, "there is nothing we can do but offer you pain management." I feel so desperate and scared. I hurt so badly and now I am facing never being the person I used to be. I got myself through chemo by walking miles each day. Now I can't even walk without going slow and frequently stopping. Will it ever go away? Am I going to end up in a wheel chair? Why is this happening? Yes, I am doing the pity party thing right now. We are going to see our grandchildren next week. At this point, I won't even be able to hold them in my lap because my leg hurts to touch. What use am I to anyone? I have been so proud of my recovery- even though it's been slow. I was finally getting back into exercising and feeling like myself and now this. No one will help me. Why won't anyone help me?

The doctors now think Michelle is having frequent seizures. They can't figure out what is going on and why it's happening. She is still in the hospital and will likely go out of state for a second opinion. I'm so worried about her.

4/28/18

Michelle has a hole in her heart. Combined with her IUD, that's apparently what caused the blood clot and the stroke.  We have an answer. It's fixable. After 40 days on being on medicaton, she will have an outpatient procedure to repair that hole. We are very thankful it was discovered. Her husband Jimmy did a lot of research and he convinced her doctors they needed to relook at her heart. I am so impressed with him! If it weren't for his insistence, they may not have found it here in Alaska.

My leg feels better today. There are a couple procedures they may do for me at Mayo. But the problem is, I am a transplant patient and it may not be safe for me to do. One is stem cell injectons and the other is PRP injections. Both should help with my multitude of issues,but because of my leukemia diagnosis and transplant, they may feel it is too risky to try. I'm praying they accept me. Yes it means another trip to Mayo, but if it fixes me, I am willing to pay for it. I want freedom from pain.  I can walk today without a cane which is super nice. There were times I wish I had a walker- no kidding. It's been that bad.

I visited Casey today and was able to hug him. That made me feel better. I kept encouraging him that God is here and he needs to hold him closer in his heart and not let his heart get hard again with all the disappointment.

Logan and Meghan

My parents and me- Texas