Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Papaw's visit from WV

Matt's Dad, a.k.a. Papaw, came in for the week after Matt's surgery. Being that he and Memaw live so far away, we don't have the luxury of seeing them very often. Since the invention of skype our kids get to "see" them on the computer almost every week. Paul came out to help with the patient. Matt was worried that he wouldn't be able to do much with his Dad, but his quick recovery allowed for lots of good times this past week. It mostly consisted of watching basketball. We are so very grateful that he took a week to come into our crazy world for a few days. I love my father-in-law.

Friday, March 18, 2011

More than we could ask or imagine....

Ephesians 3:20-21
"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory...."
Today was Matt's post-op appointment with his doctor, exactly 1 week from surgery. The doctor kept saying over and over again how amazed he was that Matt was healing so fast after such a major surgery. He did go over the pathology reports with us. They didn't find any cancer in the lymph nodes and salivary gland that he removed; however, the doctor believes Matt should still radiate the area (as well as his tongue) to "get ahead of the cancer". The best way he explained it to us was the cancer is like a dandelion. He pulled it out at the root and by the root, but doesn't mean that pieces of it didn't go anywhere else. Matt needs to do the radiation to kill any of the seeds that might have planted in his mouth or neck. The doctor removed the steri strips from Matt's neck, so we got the first look at his incision. Matt's doctor is a plastic surgeon, so he did a great job in sewing Matt up. I don't think his incision will even be noticeable in a few weeks.
I think about this very time last week and Matt was in pain and absolutely miserable. We had no idea what the week was going to have in store. We had no idea how much speech would remain for Matt. I remember sitting in the hospital room just waiting for him to be more alert to hear him try to talk. When he did become more alert, I was able to tell him that the doctor only had to take the margins once which meant, he took the least amount of his tongue that he could have. Matt just gave me a thumbs up in his drug induced state. :)
I am so blessed to report that Matt is doing great! Due to his love for food, he's been trying to sample almost every dish that has come to our house the last 3 days. He has to take it slow and very small bites and his taste buds aren't quite up to par, but he can eat! He also is speaking remarkably well. I really can't believe how well he is speaking. He can't wait to go to church on Sunday!
From here.....Matt will most likely start radiation in 3 weeks. He has one more appointment where his doctor will release him to start the radiation therapy. As he started looking at the calendar today, he immediately pointed out that Easter would fall before week 3 which is when the pain that comes with the therapy will most likely start. He really wants to be able to speak on Easter.
All I can really say is that WE ARE BLESSED! God has given us strength to get through this first portion of this journey. Even in the moments when I felt like I couldn't take another step, God did something, sent someone, or led me to Scripture to remind me He is here with us.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Rock

Matt is doing much better today. He is up and around and even playing video games! One huge blessing is that his speech sounds pretty good for the type of surgery he just had. I was encouraging him this morning on how well he was speaking. That was one of his biggest fears was not being able to speak and be understood. At this point, his tongue is still very swollen, so his speech is slurred and it is painful for him to speak, but I can understand him!! Praise God! He had a much better night of sleep without the neck drain. He even tried eating some pudding and yogurt last night. Since Friday, all he had consumed was water, iced tea and liquid medicine.

We have been blessed by so many cards, messages, etc. We even received a beautifully made comfort quilt and Matt's favorite, a Packers blanket. It has been such an encouragement to us and especially Matt.
A very dear friend sent this ornament to me. She encouraged me to lay my head on the "Rock". Her note was so uplifting to me. I have been trying to be strong for my husband, my family, my kids, the people around me. This strength is not from me. I can't rely on my own strength. It's from God. He is my Rock and my Refuge in time of trouble. He is with us every step of the way. The last couple of days have been especially difficult seeing Matt so discouraged and in so much pain. God wants me to lift my eyes back to Him and lean on Him.

Psalm 62:6

He alone is my ROCK and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

No church for us today

This is the first Sunday in a VERY long time that we weren't in church. Matt is having a rough day today. He was feeling a little perky yesterday afternoon, but this morning he felt pretty miserable. We met the doctor at his office this morning to remove his drain. He removed the drain and said things look well. The doctor said day 2-3 is the worst and that he normally keeps patients in the hospital for 3-4 days after this surgery. He just knew Matt would rest better at home.

We will go back to the doctor on Friday for the post-op visit. He should have the results from the labs on the lymph nodes and salivary gland they took from Matt's neck. If those results come back as cancerous, they would just use stronger localized radiation to kill those cells.

It is so sad to not see Matt smiling. He's always smiling and laughing at something. I told him that this morning and he tried to crack a half crooked smile at me. I love him.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Matt gets to go home!

The doctor came by and checked in on my sweet patient. He is pleased with Matt's progress and apologized for beating him up so bad. :) He removed 20-30% of his tongue during surgery. He was unable to remove the drain from his neck yet. He wants to leave it in for another 24 hours. I asked the doctor how many stitches Matt had and he replied, "tons". His neck is very sore.

Matt is ready to be home in his own bed. We look forward to being discharged in the next hour. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Good Morning 7:45am

"We're not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us;
we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."
C. S. Lewis

Matt is doing as well as can be expected. He is much more alert this morning. He is very swollen in his tongue and neck which makes it difficult to drink, talk, etc. He is drinking water a little easier this morning. He is still sleeping a lot. His doctor is supposed to come by this morning to remove the drain from his neck. The drain was placed there to catch any infection or "garbage" coming from the surgery. Normally, this is the job of your lymph nodes. They act as little trash cans for the things that drain from your mouth. That's why when you're sick your lymph nodes get swollen and sore. This drain is keeping all the "yucky stuff" (yes, that's a medical term) from his neck and lymph nodes. As long as the doctor thinks things look well, he should be released to go home later today.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Evening update 8:45pm

Matt is in ICU for the evening. Because of the surgery on his neck, they want to keep a close eye on him and his airway. He is in a lot of pain right now and trying to sleep. This crazy husband of mine is already trying to talk. :) I bet that doesn't surprise you much.

I sit here so relieved that this part of the journey is over. It seemed like forever waiting in the waiting room and then waiting to be reunited with Matt after the doctor came to tell me the surgery was complete. Now, it's onto recovery, which I know my big, burly husband will be a trooper.

I want to thank everyone for praying. We were absolutely blown away by Facebook messages, emails, texts, phone calls, etc. The love that pours from the family of God is so soothing. What a privilege to know that our family was being lifted to the throne of the Most High God today all over the world, literally. It gives me goosebumps. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Please continue to pray for Matt. I hate to see him in pain. Pray that he will fully regain his speaking ability. God is not finished with this boy yet!

Surgery is Complete

Matt is now out of surgery. The doctor removed what he thought was about 7 lymph nodes. He removed all the cancer in the first set of margins from his tongue. He has a drain placed in his neck temporarily. He should be released some time tomorrow.

Let's Get This Party Started

Matt was rolled into the Operating Room at 1:20 this afternoon. It will be at least a 3 hour wait from here.

The doctor marking Matt's neck for incisions

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Simon Peter's Surf Club

I was getting Payton dressed yesterday in his "Simon Peter's Surf Club" shirt. He always asks what his shirt says. I told him and asked him if he knew who Peter was. He said he wasn't sure so I began telling him the story. As I got to the part where Peter gets out of the boat, he says, "Oh, I remember. Peter stopped looking for Jesus and he sunk in the water."

I have to admit as my sweet 4 year old said that, I got goose bumps. He had just given me a revelation for the day. In all of the uncertainty of life, the moment we take our eyes off of Jesus, we sink. We go under. We can't take a breath. We can't see the light of day anymore. I admit I have those moments everyday. My thoughts get away from me. My fear overcomes me. My anxiety consumes me. Then, I have to look up and put my eyes on Jesus again. He is still there and ready for me to hand the burdens and the weight of what I'm carrying back over to Him. Sometimes it's foggy and it's so hard to see Jesus, but He's there. Don't stop looking for Jesus.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Last Sermon-March 6, 2011

So anyone who knows Matt is fully aware that he doesn't take many things seriously. He has been joking about his "last supper", etc. for a while now. Well, this Sunday was his "last sermon".

This Sunday Matt got up with as much fervor as ever to share the Word of God. He had just gotten back from Catalyst West Conference where he and thousands of church leaders were filled up and encouraged. It couldn't have come at a better time. It was as if he had so much to say knowing he wouldn't be able to speak in the weeks to come. I am so proud of him. He has stayed focused on the vision of our church through all of this. Whether he is there or not, the people of Rio Rancho, NM need to be reached with the good news that God loves them.

Nerves have set in for Matt. All the "what if's" are creeping in as the surgery day approaches. I've found myself waking up in the middle of the night and wondering what it will be like after Friday. We're planning for family to come in and getting things done around the house that Matt won't be able to do after surgery.

I have no doubt in my mind that God is right here with us. In my own life, I have had several "victories in Jesus" almost as if to give me a boost of confidence and a net of support for what is to come. Yesterday day, I heard Mercy Me's song, "Bring the Rain", in the car. I found myself crying as I listened to the lyrics. I've heard it so many times before, but this time I sang along as a declaration of my own heart. I was all alone in the car, which is rare, so I just belted out even though there was pain in the offering. Whatever God chooses to walk us through, we will give Him the glory. He has paid a far bigger price for us.

"Bring the Rain"
by Mercy Me
I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain
I am Yours regardless of the dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain
So I pray
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain
Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Music City-Nashville, TN

A friend of ours from college, Scott Brownson, who played college ball with Matt and was in our wedding, is recording a Worship CD. He invited me to come out and lay down some background vocals for his CD. What a once in a lifetime experience! I had such a great time learning about the process and cannot wait to hear the finished product. Check out his website: http://www.scottbrownsonmusic.com/

Scott and producer, Paul Coleman (from Paul Coleman trio/Newsboys)
It was not all work. Matt and I were so blessed to get away for a couple of days during the craziness of life right now. What a blessing to spend some much needed, uninterrupted time together. We checked out all Nashville had to offer. We went to downtown Nashville and walked the MusicCity Walk of Fame. We saw the Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ol' Opry. And....we visited "Cooter's" a museum full of history from...The Dukes of Hazard. Oh yeah. Unfortunately, the General Lee was out for repairs, but we did get to see Daisy's jeep, Cooter's Tow Truck and Roscoe's police car. Fun stuff!

Scott's wife, Carla (one of my long-time college friends) and baby Cooper
Hanging in the studio