Monday, May 30, 2011

...they are weak, but HE is strong....

In just a few short hours, we'll load up once again to make the drive across town to the radiation clinic for Matt to resume his treatments. He has a remaining 12 treatments with an ending date of June 15. While taking a break from treatments was not originally a welcomed idea, it has truly been a much needed blessing for our family. Matt was physically at the end of his rope and this short retreat gave him the physical strength he needs to continue this fight. As for our family, we got to see a little of our Matt back this week. You have no idea what a joy it is to see my husband smile and joke around after the last 3-4 weeks we've had. He actually left the house several times this week. My kids got to have their Daddy lay on a blanket in the backyard with them while they ran around and played. What might seem like little things were huge blessings to me and my kids. We are grateful. This week gave us all a chance to come up for air and take a huge breath before diving into the weeks ahead.

With this week under our belt, we will embrace tomorrow as the first step to the end! Matt has been very bothered by the fact the paper chain (see earlier post) has not gotten any shorter this week. He's ready to get this show on the road. :) He's ready to get done and get better. I feel like this break was a gift of strength for Matt and for me. We know where our strength comes from. Nehemiah 8:10, "...the joy of the Lord is my strength."

I heard this song several weeks ago on the radio. I had to download right that minute and ended up playing it for Matt on one of our car rides to get his treatments.

Strong Enough
by Matthew West

You must
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through
Well, forgive me
Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough Strong enough
For the both of us

Well, maybe Maybe that's the point
To reach the point of giving up
Cause when I'm finally Finally at rock bottom
Well, that's when I start looking up
And reaching out

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give upI'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough

Cause I'm broken Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God and you are strong
When I am weak
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be Strong enough Strong enough

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give upI'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Benefit...Blessing Dinner

On Friday night, May 20, 200+ people gathered to serve, support and love on our family. When we walked into the doors of the church, we were both overwhelmed to see so many volunteers scurrying about helping with food. Then, we walked into the PowerHouse and saw table upon table full of people that have been in our lives, some for 8+ years.

It's hard to express the overwhelming feeling that I had that night. What a beautiful night! So many details were put into to making this the perfect blessing for our family. A group of ladies worked hard making enchiladas and desserts from scratch. The centerpieces told the story of our family with words and pictures. My Dad, Pastor Si and Scott Brownson were all part of the evening to encourage my husband.

My Dad got up spoke of the man of God that Matt had become and how very proud he was of him. (We had a bet going that he would cry....he didn't!) Then, Pastor Si encouraged Matt to keep on. He reminded him of all the people that love him and are supporting him right now. Then, he said "Don't give up. We all need you." Every person in the room stood to their feet and began to applaud. I was so proud of myself because I had held it together up to that point. Goose bumps covered every inch of my skin and tears filled my eyes. While he would probably never admit it, even Matt had tears in his eyes in that moment. That was it. We need him. There was a new spring in his step after Friday night. What a blessing. My Matt needed that encouragement to his weary soul. We are so grateful for all the time and service that was put into Friday night. We will never forget it.

Children's Church

A friend captured Payton as he was helping lead the songs on Sunday morning at church. He takes after his father and loves to be the center of attention.

Who's in charge?

I anticipate writing in the near future about the beautiful benefit dinner for our family on Friday night. I’m waiting oh-so patiently for some pictures that a friend took to capture the amazing evening.

I have gone back and forth in my mind about whether to be completely open with what is on my mind and the lesson that I am learning. You see, I don’t like to be vulnerable to really let people in to see the real me. It might come from being a Pastor’s Kid all my life and living in what they call the fish bowl. Everyone seemed to know everything about me and my family and have an opinion on how we “should” be. It took me a long time to let go of those expectations put on me by others.

One of my greatest strengths AND my greatest weakness is that I am a perfectionist. There….I said it. That being said, I will be the first to assure you that I am FAR from perfect. While this is not the first trial God has used to teach me in this area, this has definitely been the most difficult. I long for the day that I have my organized, on-time, prepared mind back. A friend recently said she had covered for me to someone that emailed me and never got a response (in my defense, it had been less than 48 hrs). She told this person that I wasn’t good at returning emails. Hearing that come from her mouth made me stop in my tracks. That wasn’t me. I do return emails. My life has not been the same since February 14 this year. My time is consumed with supporting my husband through this journey and making sure that my sweet children are phased as little as they can be by what’s going on in our house. There are days that it is all I can do to put one foot in front of the other and make it to bedtime. I am emotionally, physically and even spiritually exhausted. Everything that I once had to just be on top of…emails, house work, phone calls, appointments, etc….all of those things are not a priority. It’s not that they aren’t important. It is that those are things that I had to move to the very bottom of my “to do” list. My time is focused elsewhere. My focus was shifted to one thing….I have to get my husband and family through this. All of the other things, I let go. I do hope that there is a day when I can feel like I have a better grasp on the little things in life again.

This has been an eye-opener to get my focus back on God and not trying to be or have everything perfect. I have learned that as much as I’d like everything to be perfect, it’s not going to be. And, that’s okay. I want to love God with all my heart, soul and mind and that has to be my main focus. Then, I want to love my husband and precious gifts from God with every ounce of my being. If everything else falls down around me, that’s okay. I do still believe God calls us to be good stewards of what we’ve been given and I’m not speaking just about finances. We are called to be good stewards of our relationships, our families, our blessings, but getting so wrapped up in trying to control everything and make it perfect is consuming and has to be given to God. I cannot make things perfect. When things are not going as I would have liked them to, I have to remind myself that God is God and I am not. I want to, again, lay this at Jesus’ feet. I give all my control to God. I surrender. I have no idea what You’re doing in our family, but I need you and I want you to be the Guy in charge around here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Life is hard, but God is good

Matt is pushing through the radiation treatments. We met with his doctor yesterday and she reprimanded him for not taking in enough calories. So this week, I work on fattening him up. :) She warned him of the side effects getting worse throughout this week. She said it looks like he may have to take a week off because of the blisters and other things going on in his mouth. This is typical with treatments of head and neck cancer. Matt would rather just push through and get it done, but she said proceeding could cause permanent damage and they want to make sure that doesn't happen. She'll check him out again on Monday and decide.

This is hard on our whole family. Just yesterday, Matt was exhausted and headed back to take a nap. Maylee Grace said, "Daddy, I don't want you to go to sleep." :( The kids miss their Dad. I miss my husband. He's not himself. I have to remind myself that this is just temporary and I'm constantly praying for strength from God.

We made a paper chain with the number of treatments Matt has left. It helps the kids have a part in what's going on and they get to see an end. Here is my slim and trim husband. He weighed in at 267lbs before surgery. He weighed in Monday at 237lbs.

The Sun is Out and the Wind is Gone!

The days have been beautiful lately and the kids are loving be outside as many hours a day as they can be! I love to see the smiles on their faces and I thought I'd share them!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our baby boy turned 10!!!

On May 6, Camden turned 10. Where has the time gone? We celebrated this year by going to an indoor waterpark hotel in Albuquerque. He brought his great friend, Bryson, along with us. Unfortunately, Matt wasn't able to come because his radiation treatments were making him so fatigued. We did celebrate with cake and presents at home before we went to the waterpark. All the kids had a blast and were worn out by the end!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This is NOT fun

Tomorrow, Matt will complete radiation treatment #14 of 37. He still has a way to go. This week was supposed to be a week of celebrations at our house. Our 13th wedding anniversary was Sunday, my birthday was today, Camden's birthday tomorrow and Mother's Day on Sunday. Unfortunately, it has been a trying week for our family and most especially Matt.

The side effects of the radiation have worsened over the last week. Matt can now only last about 4-5 hours in the morning and then, he needs to sleep. He comes home from work at lunch time and takes a 2-3 hour nap and then, never really bounces back after the nap. He feels nauseous all the time. His mouth is filled with a thick mucus that makes it hard to swallow and talk. He has blisters on the inside of his cheek and lip and his tongue is basically raw. He has also completely lost his taste buds. This morning, he said to me, "I can't do this anymore." It's getting tough.

I feel completely helpless watching him suffer. There is not much I can do to ease his discomfort other than let him sleep and rest. It breaks my heart to not hear his laughs or see his smile all day. I just want to scream, "Why?? Why does he have to go through this?" On the other hand, we need him to do this for us. This radiation will hopefully be away to get ahead of the cancer, so we never have to deal with this again. I am just holding on with white knuckles to the Truth I know, but sometime it's so hard to grasp.

I Peter 1:6-7
"There is wonderful joy ahead even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world."

"Like a metalsmith, God places His precious ore in a fire to consume the dross--to purify the metal, not to destroy it. And He never leaves the metal alone in the fire. He stays with it through each step of the refining process, until He can see His own image reflected in its surface."

This is NOT fun. I pray that as God is refining and purifying Matt and me that He will be pleased with the final outcome. It's going to hurt, it's going to be timely, and it's going to require total loss of control. He loves us so much that He will not leave our side during this entire journey. I pray that our purified metal reflects Christ's image to reveal His glory to all when this is over.