Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Sweet Girl and the Bible

This has been the most low key weekend we have had in a long while.  Poor Kyle is still battling the nasty norovirus that hit him Friday morning in the wee hours.  It has been a harsh bug on our buddy, but he is slowly on the mend. 

I finally dumped some pictures off of my camera and I was stunned to see through these pictures that our baby is growing up.  We will be signing this sweet girl up for kindergarten in the next few weeks which is exciting and sad all at the same time. 
Here she is at her preschool Valentine party.  Her heart is as sweet as her smile!  She is at the precious helpful stage and we love it! 

Another milestone for her is that we just signed her up for Tball!!!  She is so excited and she kept Mike out in the yard for a long time yesterday practicing!  This will be Kyle's last year in Little League and this will be Hope's first!  We are looking into David playing Challenger Baseball through Little League.  Mike and I both chuckled that we can't believe we have a Tballer again.  We feel a little old to be back in the Tball rank, but we are excited!

Being home so much this weekend has allowed us to finish up The Bible on DVD that was on last spring on TV.  We watched parts of it then but we have really enjoyed watching it all within a short time period now.  It is simply awesome.  Kyle watched the least because he is so tender-hearted that he cannot stand violence at all.  David watched every. single. minute of it.  I will admit that I had to leave the room during the Crucifixion. 

It still boggles my mind what Jesus endured on that cross.  He did it out of His love for me and for you.  Watching this mini-series reminded me of the night many years ago (spring of 1996 if my math is right) when Jesus tugged at my heart during an evening church service at Calvary Baptist Church in Radford.  Because of a dumb boy, I was feeling so down on myself and so unworthy.  I remember I was wearing brown slacks and a creme sweater and I was trying hard not to cry because of the same dumb boy during church. 

Jesus was tugging on my heart reminding me that I am worth so much to Him because He created me.  I felt peace, love, and warmth all over my body and I knew right then I would never be the same.  I had no idea the ride that Jesus was going to take me on, but that night in my heart and in my head I surrendered my heart to him. 

Let me clarify that I am a sinner.  Just because I gave my heart to Jesus back in 1996 does not mean that I am perfect or that I do not sin.  I said a curse word just this morning in the shower when I hit my head on the shampoo holder.  I roll my eyes at my husband, I indulge in small town gossip every once in a while, and I can be righteous. 

But I love my Jesus.  I love the peace and the grace that He extends to me every single day.  He knows me and He loves me anyway.  I was so emotional watching the Bible because of my love and apprecation for Jesus.  That night in 1996 He pulled me out of my teenage pit of boy drama and has been rescuing me every since.  He brought Mike into my life, He has blessed us with three children when we thought that we would maybe not be able to conceive one child, and we have all grown closer to Him.  We have felt his presence during the happiest moments of our life and also the scariest.  His power is certainly made perfect in our weakness. 

I am just a girl that walked into an evening church service in 1996 with a sad heart over a dumb boy and walked out a changed woman.  I am not even sure my parents knew that I had even accepted Christ that night.  I had been baptized when I was 12, but that night when my heart was broken over a silly boy, I realized that magnitude and the need for Jesus in my life.  I am so glad that I did:) 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Friends and Love

When David was battling cancer there were MANY prayer warriors back here is beautiful Southwest Virginia praying and rooting for him.  It has been our joy and honor to meet in person some of the awesome people that have followed David's journey and this blog. 

Tonight david and I had a date to a local high school girls basketball game to cheer on sweet and beautiful Kayleigh in a huge basketball game for her team.  She is Jason's niece so David was pretty pumped up to see Jason!

The girls won in OVERTIME by one point and we cheered our guts out!  David even got Jason to do spirit fingers while the girls were shooting foul shots.  Only David could get grown men to twinkle their fingers in the air!!!  I love it!  Jason and Ashley were our rocks on those first scary and sad days after diagnosis and it has been such a joy to connect with Jason's family. 
Here is the beautiful Kayleigh and the sweet sign we made to cheer her on at the game.  Back in the fall, her volleyball team would break huddle with "David" to remind them to give it their all and to play hard just like he fought cancer.  When Kayleigh's Mom, Tessa, told me that I got the biggest lump in my throat.  It continues to amaze and overwhelm us in a good way how this whole area was rooting and praying for our boy.  We are also thankful to know that many are still praying!
Kayleigh, you and your teammates rocked tonight!  I only yelled once at the ref which is pretty good for me!  Ha!  You ladies gave it your all and it was such an honor to meet you and to cheer for you.  Thank you for praying for our boy and for loving him.  Whether you continue to win or lose you will go down in our book as a true winner!  David said on the way home that "Kayleigh is pretty!"  You are pretty on the inside and out! Good luck tomorrow night-wish we could be there but that game is past our bedtime!  :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dance Marathon

What a wonderful day we had Saturday at UVA!  We attended the 16th annual Dance Marathon to raise money for The Children's Hospital! 

First off thank you to the Dance Marathon committee!   Thank you for all the time and work you put into the Dance Marathon this year that raised over $70,000 for kids like our David who received chemo and radiation at UVA Children's Hospital.  I know your plate is full with classes and preparing for your future.  You carved out time to not only raise valuable funds, but you gave us a day of fun that we will never forget. 

Thank you for playing with our children yesterday and letting them have a day of fun away from clinic and the hospital.  Thank you for welcoming our children with love and a kind smile whether they had hair or not. 

Thank you to the clinic staff for coming out with your families to have fun.  After your child has been through the nightmare of cancer treatment you become part of our family.  You really are lifesavers to us and you know first hand what we have been through.  You held our hands as you shared the cancer diagnosis with us, thank you for also jumping, bouncing, and playing with us.  You are a special group of doctors and nurses and we all thank God for you.  You are our heroes. 

Thank you Josh and Ryan for passionately raising money and awareness for UVA Children's Hospital.  Your work is way more than a job to you both and thank you on behalf of the all the miracle children for what you do.  David adores you both!
Thank you UVA football team for being so sweet and kind to David and all the other children.  These kids look up to you and thank you for spending a Saturday with some amazing kids.  Whether you win or lose this upcoming season, you were all winners yesterday with these kids. 
Thank you Dance Marathon crowd for letting our kids shine yesterday.  They have all been through their own special kind of medical nightmare, and yesterday you let them be the stars that they are to us, their parents.  We are so proud of our kids and what they have been through and yesterday you celebrated all their progress with fun and smiles.  Lets hope next year David is not quite as "shy"  :)
Thank you to all the special athletes that came yesterday.  David thoroughly enjoyed socializing with the football team and he even played a little game  called "how many football players can I stuff in the bounce house" that was really fun.  Thank you for getting in there and bouncing with David. 
Thank you to Krissy Pitts, a fellow cancer Mom to sweet Anna, who choreographed and taught the families, doctors, nurses, and kids a special "flash mob" dance that we surprised the Dance Marathon students with.  I am feeling pretty confident that we totally rocked it. 
Thank you Dr. Belyea for your continued care and compassion.  Not only do you and your wife have the CUTEST twin boys, but you are a fabulous physician.  You patiently answer all my "what if" questions and it truly stressed you Friday night to call me with those iffy labs.  Your heart is gold Dr. B and we are so thankful for you and all the doctors that care for our kids. 
Thank you UVA football quarterback, David Watford, for allowing David to school you in some hoops and for letting him coach you on how to win next year.  Here he is giving you a lecture on how to score touchdowns.  We will be cheering you on next season just as loudly as you cheered for our kids yesterday. 

Thank you Ryan Lightner for coming up with this hilarious and fabulous idea for David's introduction.  Each miracle child was introduced and David did the "Lebron James dusting" with powder when he came on stage.  It was hilarious and what a fabulous idea:)

Overall it was a fabulous day of fun and memories for our kids!  We will definitely be back next year!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Clinic news

We let the roads thaw out a little and when the sunshine came out we hit the road to UVA. Mike and Kyle stayed back so Pops joined us on this road trip.  We took Valentine cookies to clinic to share with the staff because we love them all so much.

When we got to clinic I mentioned to Margie the nurse practitioner and Dr. Belyea that Dave mentions being tired often.  Because David received a lot of chemo and one that is known to cause heart problems, they decided to do an echocardiogram to check his heart.  We had to "encourage" David to get that echo and a trip to the toy box did the trick.  When his beautiful heart came on the screen he said "where is God because he is in my heart," I just about cried right then. This kid may have a significant cognitive disability but that is so sweet and smart that he knows that God is in his heart and looked for him on that echo monitor :)

After lots of socializing and craziness by David, we drew labs and then headed to Dave's favorite Cville eatery- Cici's pizza.  While eating Dr B called and shared that his labs were off today.  His creatinine which shows if his remaining kidney is happy and functioning, was way high today.  His potassium, sodium, and BUN were also elevated.  Of course I am nervous and my brain goes straight to kidney failure.

Dr Belyea told me not to worry that it truly could be a lab fluke.  He is also conscientious enough to reach out to our local pediatrician to make a plan to redo labs locally next week.  This is where our faith comes in.  It is so easy to go into panic mode.  He has had a lot of toxic chemo that can hurt organs, but I just have to stop and remember.  God has walked with us each step of this journey, and he is too faithful to walk away now.  We will just wait in faith until labs can be rechecked Monday.  We would be appreciative of prayers that today was just a fluke and that his labs are holding steady.

We are staying here overnight and waiting to have fun tomorrow with the clinic staff and other families at the Dance Marathon!!  We love this event so much and clinic staff and families have been practicing a flash mob dance.  We are going to totally rock it tomorrow! Thank you dear friends for your prayers and love.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

God's Word

Sometimes life throws us a curveball that we never saw coming.  Maybe it is a child with a disability like us, or maybe it is cancer, divorce, bankrupcy, or betrayal.  Some circumstances on this side of heaven just do not make sense.  We all have experienced those times in our lives when the world stands still and we are in utter shock.  This week our sweet community lost another dear person in a very tragic way leaving many in shock and bewilderment. 

I believe that our God has a perfect plan for each of our lives.  As a mere human on this side of heaven I do admit that tragic deaths, childhood cancer, and sudden illnesses make absolutely no sense.  I am no theologian and I do not even try to understand why tragedy strikes.  I do believe firmly in a Sovereign God and we as a family witnessed his presence and his mercy during the nightmare of David's treatment. 

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

During David's treatment this verse from Corinthians encouraged me on those awful days.  We do not know why things happen, but His word tells us that His grace is sufficient for us.  During those times we are weak and begging God for mercy, His strength is shown.  I saw it over and over at UVA and I continue to see it to this day.  When we are weak, He is strong. 

When I was at UVA I always got a little sad on Sunday mornings because I missed being at church in the presence of God and in fellowship with friends.   I missed the uplifting music and hearing God's word preached.  I guess on Sundays mornings I was always just alittle homesick for sweet Smyth County.  This week the technology is up and running where you can listen online to the previous week's sermon.  I had to unexpectedly miss this past Sunday because Hope was not well, and this morning bright and early I got to sit down and listen to the sermon.  When Jonathan preached this sermon Sunday morning he had no idea that this community would lose someone in such a tragic way later that day. 

If you need twenty minutes of encouragement from God's word, I strongly urge you to click on the link below and hear a powerful sermon  on a popular myth that we often hear- "God does not give you more than you can handle."  You are always welcome to visit church in person, but if you do not live locally and need some positive and life-changing encouragement from God's word, join us electronically!  You can listen here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A weekend of hoops

I have been a wee bit of a blog delinqent the last few days. Sometimes life is full and busy and you can barely keep your head above water. This past weekend our AAU team hosted a tournament to raise money for our team. We love the players and the families on our team and despite the HOURS and HOURS of work it takes to pull of a big tourney, we had a blast doing it.

This weekend we hosted over thirty teams to our neck of the woods for two full days of basketball, basketball, and more basketball. Even though today I am weary and bone-tired, I so appreciate the memories we are making as a family with our sports friends. We worked very hard this weekend but I laughed more than I have in along while!

I love sports. I love the lessons that can come from sports. You cannot win them all, and it is such a valuable lesson to win and lose with grace and class. Mike and our other coach, demand that the boys have class and are good sports. I love seeing Kyle with his teammates encouraging each other. I love the leadership that I see in Kyle while he is on the court. Kyle is not going to be the next Lebron James, but I am so thankful for the life lessons, fun, and memories that he will take away from these precious years of playing hoops with our Hornet families.

After an entire weekend of basketball, my house is a wreck, my laundry is piled up, and I have a ballerina who needs to get her tutu on for class. I am so thankful that God blessed us with these three kids who keep us hopping. I know these days are fleeting and will be gone before we know it, so I will thank God for the friends and memories that he continues to bless us with even when we are delirious after so many hours in a basketball gym!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This is Cancer

Today is World Cancer Day. Cancer is very personal to us now after David battled the Beast called Stage Four Wilm's Tumor.

We were blessed with amazing care from awesome and compassionate people. I remember asking the oncologist "Are you trying to tell me that my baby has cancer" and she sweetly nodded her head yes. Cancer plays dirty and sneaks up on our sweet and innocent children.

Cancer causes physical pain and suffering to the victims and emotional pain to the family and caregivers. I am a different person now than I was before David was diagnosed. I have been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of David's diagnosis due to the high anxiety and intense nightmares I suffered during and after his treatment. Cancer tries so hard to steal your peace. No longer is David allowed to be sleepy, tired, or even have a headache without me as the Mommy thinking he has relapsed. Cancer tries to steal our peace, thankfully for us we have Jesus who is the Prince of Peace!

Cancer treatment scarred our sweet baby's body. He has a scar across his abdomen and a scar on is chest from his port. David endured painful port accesses, lab draws, GCFS shots, all on top of his chemo and radiation regimen.

Sadly to stop the Beast called childhood cancer we had to pump him full of poisons (like this "red devil" drug) that is KNOWN to cause heart problems and even death for children. We held our baby while he threw up after chemo, lost his hair, wiped his bottom from the most painful diarehha caused by abdominal radiation. It was the most miserable eight months of our lives.

God bless David and all the childhood cancer warriors who fight the good fight. I LOVE this picture of David because as you can see he is bald, skinny, pale, and he was showing us some spunk and fight. I remember taking this picture because he insisted on another movie during the eight hour marathon of lab draw, checkup, and finally chemo, and he unplugged his own IV pole and took off down the hall! It was very sassy of him but as his Mom I could not have been prouder! That same spunk (and Jesus) was what got him through the HELL called cancer treatment!

I am sorry if these pictures are graphic and hard to look at. Believe me when I say that I have bawled over these pictures many times. Often childhood cancer pictures are beautiful children smiling with gorgeous bald heads. When David was bald, I too took a million pictures because he was goegeous, but there is this graphic and painful side to childhood cancer when NO ONE is smiling. Happy World Cancer Day! Spread the love for our childhood cancer warriors! Check out this link to learn more and get involved in the fight for David and all the other children that have had to battle this mean Goliath.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Basketball, Church, and Memaw

This weekend was a wee bit of a whirlwind. We headed out early Saturday morning to head to Pulaski for Kyle to play with our 7th grade Hornets team. The first two games were rough with some stiff competition, but later Saturday night they played their hearts out and rocked the house. Sports teaches that valuable life lesson of never giving up.

David also had an Upward hoops game this weekend. He LOVES playing and being on a team. He once again made another basket which thrilled him. 
He is super competitive and loves to run his mouth to Daddy the referee!  It is terrible sportsmanship and once again he did not get the Christ-like star for being a good sport, but it is hilarious!!!
The excitement at this game was that Kyle helped out Mike refereeing the game!  Kyle knows basketball and was a natural to jump in and help.  Here are my two referee guys praying with the teams before the game. Upward refereeing is VERY different and involves more herding cattle and teaching versus calling fouls:) 
This weekend in between games we were able to visit with my Memaw who is still in the nursing home under hospice care.  She is SO ready to go home to Jesus and has lamented many times that she does not know why she is having to suffer so.  It is heart breaking to think that she is so miserable but she really is.  I had a few moments alone with her the other day and it was precious to me. 
My Memaw is not a "huggy kissy" kind of gal.  She is practical and very smart.  She was leaning over her food tray sitting up to try to breathe better and I held her hand for a few minutes.  She then shared with me that she is proud of me and that I am a good Momma.  She knows her days here are limited and she said that even though she is ready to go she is sad she will not see David grow up.  She said that she was proud of me that we are raising our children in church and I told her that she is one of the reasons that my children know and love Jesus.
My grandma raised my Dad and his two siblings in church.  For at least ten years (maybe even longer) my Dad did not miss ONE Sunday morning Sunday School.  For ten straight years my Dad and his family went to Sunday school and church-often catching the city bus to get there!  That is kind of mind boggling to think that my Dad never missed church!  He and my Mom both have a strong faith and raised me and my brother Chad in church, and now I am just doing what is natural in my family.  Mike and I both take church attendance seriously and we take the biblical message of training up our children seriously. 
Selfishly I want her to get better and stay here longer to tell us more about the "peach man" and her days as a mother and wife.  I want her to feel better and be able to go home to her house again.  Considering her age and her heart function at this time, that is not likely to happen.  Just like I told her the other day, because we both know and love Jesus we WILL see each other again soon.  She will have a perfect heart, David will not have the scars from his battle with cancer, and hopefully my belly will not hurt in Heaven.  We will be reunited on the streets of gold.  My heart hurts because she is suffering so and because her days here are so limited, but the sting that is now, is nothing compared to the eternity that we will be together again with Jesus.  Because of Him hard and sad times such as this, and death truly lose their sting!!