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Monday, April 29, 2013

Silver lining

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  Psalm 103:1-5

Ever since this “unexpected journey” began, we have prayed this season would not be wasted. We desire for God to receive the glory. Easier said than done when you continue receiving hard news. I have to be honest, I woke up with a heavy heart this morning, knowing this week could be filled with ups and downs. As you know, there are still many unknowns. Regardless, I know and claim the truth in 2 Corinthians 12 – His grace is my sufficiency in great weakness. Boy, was I claiming that truth today as we headed to Mercy for yet another radioactive injection and scan. We do not know the results of the bone scan yet, but I received a very special promise from a newly introduced sister in Christ who has walked through a sarcoma diagnosis and has been in remission two and a half years. She encouraged me to read 2 Chronicles 20 (thank you Marissa). It greatly encouraged my heart as I waited for the bone scan and my mind raced. This was my favorite verse …

”This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’”  2 Chronicles 20:15

While meditating on this verse, I walked back to my scan only to be stopped by the man at the front desk who knows me on a first name basis now. He said, ‘I noticed you were reading a Bible, what church do you go to?” We had a special conversation, and as I walked away, I said to him, “Yep, this stuff isn’t fun, but I know Who’s in control.” He smiled in agreement.

As they set up the machine to scan my body, that verse kept rolling through my head, “For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” I pray I can continue to claim this Truth moment by moment, especially when fears creep in. Thank you for praying for peace through all of these tests.

Now on to the good news. Later this afternoon, I received a call that my lymph node biopsy was normal. I was honestly in shock, almost waiting for her to tell me something else. But, she said that was it and that I needed some good news. As Chris commented this evening, it is ironic we are surprised when we receive answers to prayer. I want to thank all of you once again for your constant intercession for my family and for my healing. This is one instance I can say with complete confidence, “The Lord did this.” God honored the prayers of His people and we are humbled and give Him all the glory.

Please continue praying that my bone scan comes back clean and the areas of concern on the CT scan have disappeared or are due to inflammation. Also lift up Dr. Smith as she meets with the tumor board on Wednesday to discuss my treatment plan and the appointments I will have with both her and Dr. Keefer this week. We plan to mail my referral package to MD Anderson tomorrow.

The road ahead may be long, but we are taking this moment to celebrate the small victories along the way and give God the praise.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases …”  Psalm 103:1-3

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The newest blow

A sweet Alexa moment today! Her cousins came over this afternoon and she and Rylen built this building using her Legos. Alexa said, “This is the building where they take Mommy so that she will feel better.”

Kelsey got a call yesterday afternoon, informing her that the CT scan results did show a tumor in the vertebrae just behind her neck (the C7 vertebrae for those of you who are in a health profession). She will still have the bone scan on Monday. We don't have a lot of information at this point in time, but it sounds like it would not be possible to do a core-needle biopsy (whether that is just here in Oklahoma, or anywhere, we don't know). There is talk of another biopsy (meaning yet another surgery) or possibly treating it with radiation. Treatment will be discussed with the oncologist on Wednesday.

Once again, not the news we wanted to hear, but once again, we realize that God is still in control. We continue to covet your prayers. Certainly, God could completely heal every bit of cancer in her body. The tumor could also be benign, or the bone scan could show it is some other sort of inflammation in her vertebrae. Also pray there is nothing in her lower vertebrae, the other point if concern - she has been having some pain in her lower back (lower than the other suspected vertebrae) over the past few days. The reason they think it showed on the scan is it may be inflammation from arthritis. We are praying it is just run-of-the-mill back pain from some of the crazy positions she is sitting and sleeping in these days with the recent surgery on her right forearm and shoulder. Keep praying that the lymph node biopsy will come back negative - we should hear back early next week.

We are also working toward getting a referral to MD Anderson. It was said it could take 2 1/2 weeks or more to get in.

The schedule for next week is:

Bone scan on Monday at 8:00 am.
Appointment with oncologist, Dr. Keefer, Wednesday at 3:30 pm.
- Dr. Smith will also meet with the tumor board on Wednesday.
Follow-up appointment with Dr. Smith, Thursday at 3:30 pm.

**Kels here. Yesterday & today have not been fun. I hate cancer! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! As I lay in bed last night waiting for the Lortab to quiet the pains in my arm and back as well as put me to sleep, my sis read excerpts from a book that has meant a great deal to me through some difficult seasons, Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot. This poem by Elliot is one of the many cries of my heart during this season.

Lord, give to me a quiet heart
That does not seek to understand,
But confident steps forward in
The darkness guided by Thy hand.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Another biopsy down

IMG_0884 (cropped)I was told I would be next in surgery if I posted this picture as taken (so it has been edited slightly). I thought it was good of Kelsey, but she thought she looked too groggy. I took this right after Alexa got up from her nap and went in to see Kelsey. She loves her mommy!

Kelsey was a rock star today and did a great job before, during and after her surgery (I suppose she was only conscious for two out of three of those times, but that doesn't change her rock star status).  Everything went pretty much as scheduled - she got in to surgery about twenty minutes late and got to spend more time in the recovery room before they woke her up. Kelsey had mentioned that she didn't like waking up so soon after surgery last time, so she got over an hour in the PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) and was much happier once she woke up. She had a really good nurse in the recovery room as well, making for an even easier transition.

The surgery itself went well - Dr. Riggs (the general surgeon) said that he took a biopsy of a lymph node on her right shoulder blade. That was the lymph node where the greatest amount of dye had traveled after the injection. After the surgery he came out to talk with Marilyn, Holly and me and said that everything went well and he got a good sample to send off to the two labs. They will collaborate on the results and we should hear back early next week. He said that the lymph nodes were slightly swollen, but nothing looked abnormal. As usual, though, it is all about the pathology results.

Our prayers now aren't too terribly different (although we are adding slightly to the list). Pray for great rest for Kelsey, that the incision would heal quickly and that the lymph nodes would not need to be drained. Dr. Riggs didn't think it was necessary to leave a drain in her arm, but there is potential for the lymph nodes to weep after this type of surgery, which could lead to inflammation. Continue to pray that the cancer would be 100% localized in her forearm and would not have spread elsewhere. We also know that God is without any doubt, completely capable of fully healing her body and continue to pray that He would do that if it is His will.

Here is another story of God's sovereignty in all of this: We were originally planning to travel to see my grandmother and family out in Southern California tomorrow, but this surgery and all of the tests put a kibosh on our plans (more of a postponement - we still hope to get out there after Kelsey is recovered from surgery and feels ready to travel). I needed a doctor's note in order to cancel our car reservations without a penalty, so I went by to drop the paperwork off with Dr. Smith's nurse. She asked how Kelsey was doing and I told her she was in good spirits going in to surgery and she really liked Dr. Riggs. She was glad Kelsey had been able to get in to his schedule. The nurse explained that Dr. Riggs is their preferred general surgeon. When she had called his office originally, it had sounded like it would be several weeks before he would be available, but then his nurse had said, "Wait, we just had a cancellation and he will be available on Thursday." Dr. Smith's nurse told me that Kelsey clearly has Someone looking out for her. I told her that we are certain that God is looking out for us each and every step of the way.

Thank you again for your constant prayers for Kelsey and our family. We can feel your prayers and it is incredibly encouraging to know that we have such a great team!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Testing 1, 2, 3 . . .

Wow! Today was certainly a whirlwind of scheduling for Kelsey. She was able to get in for a CT scan today to get a better look at the two small spots on her spine. Tomorrow is the sentinel lymph node biopsy. She will check in to Mercy at 7:00 am, and will be injected with a radioactive dye at 7:30. She will be scanned at 9:30, which will allow Dr. Riggs to determine which lymph node is next in progression from the tumor, then he will do a biopsy at 10:20 (this will take place under general anesthetic). The biopsy will determine if her lymph system has been affected at all and will be sent to two pathology labs for results.

Monday morning (April 29), she will be back to Mercy at 7:30 for a bone scan (she will be injected with radioactive dye for this scan as well). Next Wednesday, with that battery of test results in hand (MRI of her arm from yesterday, CT scan, sentinel lymph node biopsy and bone scan), Dr. Smith will present her findings to the tumor board she is a part of in order to determine the best course of action.

Wednesday will also be when we get to meet the oncologist Kelsey will be working with in the coming days, Dr. Keefer. The appointment will be at 4:00 pm.

Please be praying for completely clear results from the lymph node biopsy, CT scan and bone scan. Also, pray for wisdom for the tumor board and for Dr. Smith as they look at all of these results to determine the best course of action going forward. This is a very rare tumor. In our most recent appointment with Dr. Smith, she said she respects this tumor and she is aggressive with it, because it is a “mean” cancer. That is why prayers for wisdom are so needed.

Please pray for endurance for Kelsey. She felt a little overwhelmed with all of the information she received today. Getting constantly poked, injected with dyes, run through machines and rolled to ORs can feel daunting. The waiting is equally exhausting. However, she is always thankful for the technology which makes these tests possible so she has the best chance to fight and beat this cancer.

Thank you all for your prayers – we are constantly blessed and humbled as we hear from so many they are lifting us up in prayer. We know God hears!

** If you would like to join us, we are praying Psalm 86 throughout this journey.

Here are some random photos from a recent trip to the University of Oklahoma. Alexa loves being on campus! Sorry, I just had to share . . .  (We don’t make her wear her helmet to visit campus, she was riding her bike.)




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Today's news

This is Chris again - I know that several people have been asking about how everything went today, sorry this is slightly slow, Kelsey had an MRI this afternoon so we just got back home.

The appointment went well - things look good on the PET scan, there were two areas of slight concern, the two lymph nodes up her arm and two vertebrae - one up by her neck and the other in her lower back. Dr. Smith was honestly not too concerned about them, but we will do a bone scan & CT scan to check on her back (potentially a core needle biopsy if that bone scan raises concern) and a sentinel lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer has moved to her lymph nodes in her arm. If it has spread, they will remove lymph nodes in arm. Dr. Smith has dealt with this specific type of cancer three times before, so that was also encouraging.

Kelsey had the MRI to get a better picture on her arm, to know if the tumor would be able to be fully removed while still maintaining arm functionality. If too much functionality would be lost or there is concern about the cancer being fully removed, amputation would likely be the route we would go. Regardless, chemotherapy will be involved definitely after removal of the tumor, maybe before (won't know the span or type of chemotherapy until the MRI results are back). Next Wednesday, Dr. Smith will be discussing the best plan of action with the tumor board that she meets with. Praise the Lord that our prayers were answered in regard to cancer spreading - keep praying that these other concern areas are false positives (we would of course be thrilled with complete healing as well). We praise the Ultimate Healer for hearing our petitions.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Please pray . . .

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

I know, ironic title, since the fact you are reading this is evidence you do care and are praying. I am sorry I left the blog empty this weekend. I have to be honest (Just so you know, I will always try to be real on this blog). It was a rough weekend. Just plain dark at times. Lots of tears. Lots of fears. Lots of unknowns. Lots AND lots of waiting. Lots of shaking my head and saying, “I don’t want this. I just want to wake-up and everything be back to normal.”

The last several weeks have played out like a bad dream in which I never awake. This “unexpected journey,” as I think I will term it from now on, is my reality and my family’s reality. And, this reality I never would have chosen is slowly, painfully sinking in. So, although my “reality” never leaves me, I just didn’t have the energy or will-power to write about it. Thankful that you don’t forget us even when I don’t write. We are needy & weak right now. We need you!! We need Him!!


I survived the PET scan on Friday and experienced great peace during the whole event. Even as I was entering the tube, radioactive and all, I was thanking the Lord for modern medicine. During the scan, I was able to sing a few hymns, pray for a dear friend who was undergoing chemo at the same time of my scan, and feel fairly relaxed. In fact, my lower exterior actually fell asleep. I was also able to believe & trust that the Lord had contained my tumor to only my right forearm and have faith that the rest of my body was clean. Thank you for praying.

Apparently, I am radioactive for 12-17 hours (differing opinions from the techs), so my sweet Alexa had to stay another night with her cousins in order that I wouldn’t share my glow with her. That was hard for me as I miss her anytime she isn’t around but especially for this reason. She did very well at my sister’s and I’m so thankful for family that loves on her & supports us unconditionally. Here are a few pics of her time with her very special cousins, aunt & uncle.


Of course, we desperately covet your prayers for my appointment tomorrow at 10:30am – for peace, confidence, strength and a deep, deep trust in Him – regardless what medicine says. This tumor is very rare. So, even what we may hear tomorrow is based on a limited scope of patients. We have to believe God to be the Ultimate Physician and Healer of this nasty thing. We also continue to boldly ask that the tumor is contained only in my right forearm. We also ask for prayers for wisdom as we hear some of what the next steps may entail as well as what information might still be needed. We need wisdom to know if a second opinion will be needed. I am pretty sure I will have a high-density MRI as well.
--And please continue praying for our precious daughter. This journey has been equaling exhausting & confusing on her. I can hardly type her name without a tear falling and my heartbreaking for this mess she also has to endure.

As my dad said this evening, this event has changed us all. So much will never be the same and I grieve that. However, we are so thankful for the constants - we have each other. We have a multitude of family & friends supporting us on their knees, and we have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Please pray we can cling to Truth with great hope so we can be there for each other.

Praying for the best possible news we can hear tomorrow!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PET scan tomorrow

Although most of you will be reading this after the fact, we wanted to let you know I will be going in for my PET scan tomorrow morning at 7:45. It was really encouraging how it all unfolded. Due to the nature of insurance and the lab wanting to ensure they would get paid, it has been a waiting game to get an appointment scheduled. I called the lab this morning to see if there was anything else I could do to expedite the process. The gal at the lab said no, all of the paperwork had been sent off and we had to wait for approval (normally 24-48 hours). She anticipated my scan would be Monday or Tuesday at the earliest. I was concerned because I wanted the results before we met with my doc on Tuesday. So, I hung up and started to pray that God would take care of it and I would trust Him with the results. I hadn't been praying long when the gal from the lab called me back and said the insurance company had contacted her during our conversation and I was approved. I actually started crying at the realization the Lord had answered my prayer so quickly. I felt like He was tenderly reminding me, "I'm in control, Kelsey. I do love you." I actually caught the gal off guard and she asked me if I were okay. I said yes and simply added, "The Lord just answered my prayer and I'm thankful."

If you haven't had a PET scan before (and I assume you haven't), here is the lowdown:
- I had to eat a low-carb, high-protein diet and drink lots of water today.
- I will go in tomorrow and be injected with a radioactive dye and wait for an hour. (I have to be isolated during this hour because I guess ... I'm radioactive.)
- After the hour, I will have the PET scan. It should last 45 minutes.
- I will be done at that point, however they cautioned me to wait for 2-3 hours before coming in contact with small children or elderly people. No worries, Alexa is staying with her cousins and I will be extra careful around dad (his hazmat suit is hanging up and ready to go).
** I did ask the gal what effect this would actually have on me. She said she isn't aware of any side effects, but I will be on the lookout for more freckles.

I doubt we will know the results of the test until the appointment on Tuesday. Our greatest prayer request continues to be that the tumor is isolated to my right forearm.

I received this quotation today and it reminded me how I should continually process this situation I never anticipated, "I need to interpret my circumstances through God's love for me, rather than interpreting God's love for me through my circumstances."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The latest news

I feel like I will be repeating this statement for many posts to come, but repetition doesn't diminish its sincerity. Thank you so much for your concern and prayers for our family. We learned today that I have a rare sarcoma (cancerous tumor) in my right forearm. Our biggest prayer request continues to be that the cancer is contained in my right forearm. I will have a PET scan and another MRI early next week to see if it has spread and learn more about the extent of the tumor in my arm. This information will help to determine the best plan of action when we meet with the doctor on Tuesday, April 23. Please pray for wisdom on behalf of the doctors concerning treatment and how to eradicate the cancer. We are humbled by the prayer support of so many!

In the weekly Bible study I attend, my group leader said something today that resonated with me, "Don't put your problem on the pedestal, put God there." Ultimately, I know God is on His throne, but it is a moment by moment exercise to remind my heart and combat the enemy. Thankful He is Emmanuel, God with us!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Still waiting

I apologize for the delay between posts as I know many of you have been directed to our blog for updates. After the news of cancer on Friday, I believe our whole family, especially me, has been processing that news. It’s been overwhelming. Frightening. Disappointing. All-consuming. Downright difficult.

We want to thank you again from the depth of our souls for your support & encouragement through texts, emails, messages via family, and most of all, through your prayers. We are indebted for your willingness to join us in this unknown journey we never anticipated walking down. We know, that ultimately, the most powerful thing we can do now is pray and believe.

Please, please, please continue boldly approaching our Father’s throne for these requests . . .
- For a PET scan to be scheduled this week. Please pray for the cancer to be contained only in my forearm. Please pray it has not spread to my hand, upper arm or other parts of my body.
- For an accurate, conclusive pathology of my biopsy. At the moment, they are still testing a few strains and I should know results tomorrow morning as far as the specific type of tumor it is.
- For wisdom on the part of Dr. Smith, the pathologists, the hand specialist and other oncologists who will be discussing treatment & how to eradicate the cancer.
- For my post-op appointment, next Tuesday, April 23 at 10:30am. This will be the next time we will meet with Dr. Smith and talk next steps.
- For further testing to understand more fully the road ahead including MRIs, chest scans, etc . . .
- For the docs to be able to save my arm and its functionality.
- For peace & grace. For rest and trust. For belief in a God who sustains the entire universe by His word. That He would be holding me, protecting me, and ultimately performing a miracle in my body so He alone will receive the glory.
- We would also appreciate prayers for our sweet little family, especially Alexa Hope who definitely knows something isn’t right. I want her to feel safe, secure, and know with confidence God is healing Mommy’s arm.
- Pray against fear & the unknown especially in this waiting and especially at night.

**Also, if anyone could provide us with a great resource or recipes for high-calorie meals and/or shakes that would be packed with the vitamins, minerals, protein, iron, etc, I will need in the days ahead. I’ve already lost a few pounds from anxiety and the waiting. I need to be as healthy & strong as possible heading into the next stage of fighting.

Thank you again for being a part of our team. For fighting with us on your knees. We could not do this without you. I promise a more spiritual blog is coming. The Lord is still speaking to me even in what seems to be the midst of despair, I’m just not capable of forming words & making my hand work well right now.

For now, I’ll leave you with this encouraging note sent from my brother-in-law’s uncle. Thank you Uncle Richard! I’m sorry so many folks are having difficulty commenting on the blog. I’ll ask my techy husband about that.

There comes to mind a quotation from Alan Redpath in his book Victorious Christian Living which goes as follows,

“There is nothing… no circumstance, no trouble, no testing… that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in joy of what my Lord is. That is the rest of victory.”

Friday, April 12, 2013

Not the news we wanted ...

This is a guest post from Chris (so, you know right off the bat that it won't be as well written as an entry from Kelsey).  We went in to Mercy Hospital this morning for Kelsey's biopsy.  The surgery went well - Kelsey is recovering, but is in a good deal of pain.  The news we got today was not what we wanted to hear.  Dr. Smith was very surprised to find that the mass in Kelsey's arm is malignant.  We don't know much more than that at this point in time.  Kelsey will have a PET scan next week.  We should have the biopsy results later next week, which Dr. Smith wanted to see before we develop a course of action.

I know I personally have been so encouraged to know that so many people (literally all around the world) are praying for us as we walk through this new chapter in life.  It is interesting to walk into this sort of situation when you know in your heart that God is in control, but at the same time wonder what He is doing.  My mom reminded me of something that I have said before which certainly rings true in this situation, "Why pray if we can't accept God's no as His answer."  We continue to pray for Kelsey's healing and that the cancer has been confined to her arm and has not spread elsewhere, but we trust that His will is being done in this situation.  We are also praying for fast healing from the biopsy and that the pain will reduce in the coming days.  Kelsey's folks are here with us at this point in time, which has been a big encouragement.  Either Kelsey or I will be continuing to post to let everyone know of updates in the days ahead.  This song really stuck out to me as I have been thinking through what lies ahead.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Another step closer

"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him, our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you."  Psalm 33:20-22

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Once again, I am humbled by your prayers for me and my family. I feel like today was confirmation the Lord hears our heart's cries. 

My meeting with the orthopedic oncologist went well. We still don't know what the mass is but the doc said it is a 50/50 toss-up between being benign or malignant (which was more encouraging news than Monday). I will have a biopsy tomorrow at 9:20 am. It will be an hour-long surgery. The biggest prayer request is that we will have no conclusive news tomorrow. By that, I mean they have to send the biopsy off to pathology to know clearly what it is (with the hopes it is benign). The only other answer we would have tomorrow is that it is cancer and they just don't know what type (which also means sending off to pathology for more information).

So, please pray for no news! We're going to continue praying that the mass is benign and that there will be no damage to my median nerve or flexor tendons whenever they remove it. It must be removed in the future whether it is cancerous or not, but the biopsy will let us know what we're dealing with and how to proceed. 

The earliest we would know final results of the pathology tests would be next Wednesday.  If the mass is complex or the doctor wants more information, it may be up to two weeks before we get results back. However, we will know a little more tomorrow. This is one time I definitely want to hear, " We don't know. More waiting."

Please pray for Dr. Smith and her team, for wisdom in extracting the biopsy, for accurate pathology tests, for quick healing, and for my heart to continue to abide in Him - trusting He loves me, He is in absolute control and He can do the miraculous.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What we know

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


First of all, I want to express a heartfelt thank you for your prayers. I have been humbled by the outpouring of love I have received since I shared our most recent news. No matter what happens, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am loved and so is my family. It makes me teary to know I have a small army on their knees for us.

Yesterday was a whirlwind morning. We still don’t know anything concrete but this is what we do know, the doc said it didn't look good. The tumor is large & has undefined borders, perhaps a sarcoma (don’t ask me what that is, I’m not looking it up). Test results reveal it is not wrapped around my nerves but my flexor tendons. The doc suggested surgery & a biopsy (and we actually scheduled one for today at 5:30pm). He played out several scenarios but there is no need to go into that. Because once my sis & I got out to the car, she contacted a few of her friends who are surgeons, and I contacted one of our lifelong friends who is also a surgeon. They all recommended a 2nd opinion. Not because my original doc isn’t capable but because it would be good to go to a surgeon who deals specifically with cancer. (My original doc was an orthopedic surgeon.)

In fact, they all recommended the same surgeon. So, I am going to an orthopedic oncologist this Thursday at 2:30pm. She is one of two in the state and her fellowship dealt specifically with sarcomas, so we feel like I am in good hands. She also partners with a hand specialist (when needed), so we will have a cancer doc & an orthopedic doc on our team. If the results are as expected, there is a possibility of surgery as quick as this Friday or Monday. Of course, there has not been a biopsy yet, so we can continue praying for a miracle & a benign tumor. Wouldn’t that be a kick for them to open me up and God has taken care of it!?

Alexa asked me when I picked her up yesterday, "Is your appointment over and your arm better?" I could only say with complete confidence, "Yes, God is healing Mommy's arm. It's not better yet, but He is taking care of it."

No doubt about it, yesterday was tough, especially since Chris is still out of town. However, I see God’s provision in so many areas. The ability for my sister to come with me (who has connections with many people in the medical field and knew how to handle everything calmly and efficiently). The prayers of so many covering our family and petitioning God’s throne for healing. And the ability to get in so quickly to a highly specialized doc who deals specifically with my potential diagnosis. Chris was able to get a flight home this evening instead of tomorrow and his bosses are very supportive of whatever he needs to do to take care of our family. My dad drove in today to be with me and help out with Alexa.

We will do our best to keep everyone updated on what is happening. We realize this will probably be a marathon although I’m much more in favor of a sprint. Claiming, moment by moment, His grace is sufficient.

My song choice for today . . .

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The waiting place

“All worry is caused by calculation without God.”  Oswald Chambers


We’ve all experienced those moments in which we know we’ll never be the same. In just one instant, our life changes. Some of these moments have filled us with indescribable joy – a salvation experience, a marriage proposal, the moment you first held your child or completion of a long-term goal. Many memories flood my mind as I think back on the “high” lights of my time on earth – and I am filled with that giddy “I-don’t-want-this-moment-to-end” delight once again.

And then there are those moments filled with the same life-changing power – but it’s weightier. Joy isn’t the immediate response – rather pause, reflection, and a realization this is bigger than yourself. In these moments, you ask yourself, “Is this really happening?” And you know - deep down - it really is. And you know all too well, these moments will change your life too. Unfortunately, I have memories in this category as well – watching a loved one pass from this life to the next, the gut-wretching news they can’t find your baby’s heartbeat, news of chronic-illness, receiving a phone call a friend had taken her own life. And, in these moments, the question is always, how will you respond?

I received some news this week that, although the Lord had prepared me to hear, still caused an internal gasp as the reality sunk in. I might have cancer. The doc basically told me I have a tumor in my arm and it’s either benign or malignant. He said he didn’t want to scare me and cancer is uncommon in that part of the body – but he has to tell me it’s a possibility. I believe I can honestly say the “c” word ranks up there with most people’s biggest fears. No one wants to hear that word associated with their name.

And, so now, I find myself in the waiting room. I jokingly call it “purgatory” as it’s that in-between stage of knowing enough that you can’t be oblivious anymore and yet not knowing enough to have the answers. Indeed, the waiting can be more excruciating than the knowing. When they couldn’t find our 3rd baby’s heartbeat, I can remember “waiting” through a weekend to see if an ultrasound would detect life. It was one of the longest weekends of my life, and the reality brought even more heartache.

As humans (or maybe I should just say for myself), I believe we always go “worst case” first. I totally wish I didn’t, but I seem to. And, so that’s what I’ve been fighting since the news I received on Wednesday. I am playing that spiritual tug-of-war between the Enemy’s lies & the Father’s Truth. Between worrying & trusting. Between wanting control & letting go. Between fretting & praying. Because I am always talking about choices to Alexa, I keep going back to that for myself. I have the choice, every second of every minute, to decide whether I will take my thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5) or let them run rampant. Do I choose to marinate in Truth or wallow in lies?

It’s been quite an exhausting mental exercise. One moment crying as my imagination runs wild and the next moment crying because I am surrendering to the One who is lovingly in control of all things. (Alexa will ask me why I am “drippy” & I wish I could just be strong and hide that from her). Because ultimately, I know this mass in my arm was not a hiccup in His plan. He isn’t scrambling around trying to figure out how to fix this. This was His plan – benign or malignant. This is His personalized way of showing me His faithfulness, His goodness, His sovereignty, and His promise He will never leave me. He’s got this (I don’t). And . . . as a wise friend told me long ago, “The Lord doesn’t give us grace for our imaginations. He gives us grace for what we He has called us to walk through.” So, I can’t expect His grace to cover something that hasn’t even happened yet.

Another friend’s wisdom came to me this week while bathing Alexa (and mentally bathing myself in fear), “Kels, God is not the author of fear.” So, if I am experiencing fear, it is from the Enemy. And goodness, the Enemy has been busy shooting fear darts my way – and sometimes – I believe them (sigh). The Enemy has no place for victory in my life.

I can say, at this moment, I am doing better. I truly sense the prayers of so many dear friends & family who are lifting up me, my family, the docs, these tests & the surgery. They are praying for healing, for peace, for strength, for His glory. I go in Monday morning for the results of my 2nd MRI & CT scan. We know surgery is required to remove the mass but I don’t believe we’ll know what kind of tumor it is until they biopsy it . . . more waiting.

If you can tell, I don’t like waiting. And yet, this is something the Lord has ordained (often) in my life. Waiting for a spouse. Waiting for a child (and waiting once again for another). It seems He knows I’m weak when it comes to being still and letting Him be God. So perhaps, this is another exercise for me to “choose” to believe, “You are God. You know what you’re doing. You are enough.”

He keeps bringing me back to Psalm 16:5,  “Lord, You have assigned my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure.”  I am held securely by the One who loves me more than I can imagine. And, even in the waiting, that’s the very best place I could be.

If you’re still reading this, you know me well enough by now to know I love music. It ministers to my soul in a way few things can. The two songs/videos have been on repeat on my iPhone this past week. I also have a host of hymns that are very meaningful to me but “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” has currently been the one running through my head, especially this verse.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting Arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting Arms.
Leaning, Leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, Leaning,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

** It’s good both of His arms are in tiptop shape!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Our two week retreat

Once again, I need to backtrack a few weeks to share a few happenings in our crazy lives. In March, we were out of our home three weeks in a row. Two of those weeks were spent with a precious family who graciously opened their doors to us during our floor renovation. The other week was spent in NYC celebrating our 7th anniversary (more to come on that adventure). We also celebrated Alexa’s 3rd birthday during our stay.

We are still trying to organize our lives from the chaos (I would show you our house, but I’d be embarrassed). Regardless, I do want to share a bit of what happened in March because a lot did happen and a lot of it was fun! Here’s a glimpse of what it was like to live with a super fun family. They were incredible hosts – hospitable, generous, funny, gracious, flexible, warm, delightful. At one point I told Shannon, “I kind of like this idea of living in community.” As our floor renovation carried on, I joked, “Ya’know, you may never get rid of us!” We are so thankful to the this family for their hospitality and a March retreat we will not soon forget. Trust me, Alexa mentions it almost everyday!! We hope we can extend the same hospitality to you whenever you are in need – we just need a bigger house!



Steve creating a sweet ‘coaster for all of us (er, I mean, Sulley) to enjoy.


Shannon reading the last chapter of C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle to her little man, Sulley. She read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series to him, and we were privileged to hear the last chapter.


Sulley – a bright, creative, precious young man of God. Those sparkling eyes say it all. I mean, look what he can do with balloons!?


Cambelle Grace – a beautiful little girl who is as equally bright as Sulley and she’ll charm the socks right off of you . .. adorable!!


Shannon provided an instant coloring pad for Alexa including A’s pic (below).

Sulley hosted a green “K & H” party (our last names) for us one evening including artwork throughout the house and green cookies.

Who wouldn’t want to take a bath with these fun toys? The kids were so good about sharing their toys with Alexa.

And, we cannot forget the container filled with dress-up clothes waiting for Alexa. As you can see, Alexa was a big fan of the shoes!




As Alexa’s birthday approached, she insisted on having 10 balloons. So, Steve granted her wish. He even decorated the mantel with the balloons in her honor.


Cambelle even shared her bicycle helmet & tricycle with Alexa. She loved the helmet and never wanted to take it off, even to eat.





As I mentioned, Alexa celebrated her third birthday while we were at the Ho’s. We had an “official” birthday party for her that weekend but we did a few special things on her big day.


Alexa’s special birthday tee.


Meeting Daddy for lunch at A’s fave place, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop on Campus Corner.


Daddy brought home 10 balloons for his little girl.


She was thrilled!!


Those balloons went with Alexa everywhere. They are still floating in her room!


And, we had to celebrate the big day with party hats (A’s request) and some cupcakes. As you can see, Alexa loved dressing up. She’s Tinker Bell now.





She was also able to open a gift from her friends in St. Louis, Whitman & Chamblin. She loved her bracelets. She would line them up and wanted to sleep with them every evening, making sure she had all six.





Alexa not only turned three but also experienced her first wasp sting while playing at a playground nearby. She was very brave about it & once she stopped crying said, “God will heal it, Mommy.” She was right. He did!

Another big thank you to this precious family who provided us with the perfect home away from home.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter!


Mommy, Daddy & Alexa enjoyed a wonderful Easter weekend together at home this year (Since we have been out of our home three weeks this month, this was a treat.) It was an action-packed weekend including two Easter egg hunts, A’s 1st bike ride on OU’s campus, fountain splashing, church, resurrection eggs & Easter lunch with Mike & Ginger Tinney. The weekend was just perfect for playing outside and celebrating the resurrection of our Lord. The tomb is empty! Jesus is alive!!

I have to start with Alexa’s Easter dress. My sis & I always had a new dress for Easter. It’s very special to carry on that tradition thanks to Mimi.




Because of the dear friends I’ve met at BSF, Alexa is invited to this family & friends Easter egg hunt. It’s packed full of kiddos & oodles of eggs. So delightful! Alexa’s only concern this year was the size of her basket. She quickly noticed the other children’s baskets were bigger. I feel like a bad mother for not getting her a special one – maybe next year. This basket was given to us from a neighbor shortly after she was born when she was cleaning out her house (is that bad)? If the treats inside the eggs weren’t enough, Alexa also enjoyed the ice-cream push-up at the end. When we got in the car, Alexa said she really enjoyed “picking Easter eggs.”








Since Alexa received a big girl bicycle for her 3rd birthday (yes, a blog update is in the works), she often asks to go on an adventure. This weekend’s outing included her first bike ride at OU & fountain splashing followed by dinner at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. (Notice the progression of the wetness of her pants in the fountain pics.)







A precious family invited us to join them for an Easter feast & festivities after church on Sunday. It was a delightful afternoon including a full-fledged Easter egg hunt just for Alexa. Mike & Ginger really made Alexa feel special, and she loooooooved it!! She also loved playing with the Tinney’s dog, Mocha. When we left she said, “I had fun hunting eggs & chasing the dog.”