Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bridegrooms and Brides

Revelation 19:7
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready."

We had a great opportunity yesterday to focus on something other than Tammy's illness, as we attended the wedding of two good friends, Brooke and Josh. We have known Brooke for about four years, as she works with Tammy. We've known Josh since he came into Brooke's life about a year ago. Every time we attend a wedding, it reminds us of our own wedding, and reminds us how blessed we are to have each other.

The wedding and reception were simple, yet very nice. We were privileged to be a part of the evening. The dinner was great and the dancing afterward was fun to watch (we didn't feel like wearing out Tammy any further).

It reminds us of the relationship we have with Jesus. Scripture (Revelation 21:9) reminds us that we (the church) are the bride of Christ. He loves us as a husband loves his wife, and He gave himself up for us. The wedding feast that awaits us after His returning will be like nothing we've ever experienced. The "marriage" will be a celebration to top anything we can imagine. But we must be patient to wait for His return. It will happen in His timing, not ours.

The same is true with Tammy's journey. We are anxious for the transplant to take place, because that starts the next step toward recovery. But we must be patient to wait for His timing. We do know that a match has agreed to be the donor, but we don't have confirmation on the date. We are moving forward as if it will be March 9, and we will continue to do so unless we find out that it won't happen then. It's in God's Hands. Please continue to pray that we will be content to wait on Him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trying to Be Patient

1 Samuel 3:18
Then Eli said, ‘He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes.’

Tammy is home from her second day of tests in preparation for her admission to KU Med Center for a bone-marrow transplant March 9. There were several procedures, back-to-back-to-back, and they are very draining. She said this morning that she is more tired than at any point so far. She's a little dizzy too, which made getting ready a long ordeal this morning.

We are ready for this process to move faster. Waiting is the hardest part. But we also know God's timing is perfect, and if it went faster than He wants it to, it wouldn't be best. So we wait patiently--or not so patiently--for each step.

Please pray for both of us, and for our kids. David Lee is going to school full-time and trying to find a job as well. Julie got back in the States from Ethiopia this morning and is preparing to come home this weekend. She’s also preparing for her life-after-internship transition. This is hard on both of them too, as they're not used to seeing their Mom slowed by anything.

Please pray that we can abide by the Scripture verse above. It really is our desire.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quick Update/Praise

Tammy just came out of the bone-marrow biopsy. She felt no pain, just a feeling of pressure on the spot. This is a HUGE positive answer to your prayers and ours. Thank you for lifting her up at this time.

We are now waiting for the next consultation.

Evaluations Begin


Matthew 11:28
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

This is one of our favorite pictures of Tammy. It was taken in the fall of 1989 along the Big Thompson River in Colorado, when Julie was 4. The roar of the river going by has a very restful effect on you. We love going up into the Colorado mountains and relaxing. We'd certainly rather be there today.

Tammy heads to KU Med Center today to begin three days of evaluations to make sure she's ready for the bone-marrow transplant in March. Todays appointments will last about four hours. The next two days will take about six and seven hours, respectively. They include everything from another bone-marrow biopsy (today) to psychological, financial and nutritional evaluations, all of which will be helpful, but none of which will be real enjoyable.

Tammy is particularly burdened about the biopsy today. They do not use a general anesthetic at KU, and she is worried about the post-procedure pain. When she had her last one done, the doctor used a general and Tammy still was in some pain for a couple of days afterward. Those of you who know Tammy know she's tough and not a complainer, but she is struggling with this this morning.

Please pray for peace, comfort and rest for Tammy, mostly the spiritual kind, but also the physical kind. God knows her needs. He knows that she needs to be calm and trusting. But He also knows that she doesn't want to hurt.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Making Progress

1 Corinthians 13
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

We haven't posted all week, because the news came in little by little, with nothing major to report. Here's a recap of what we've found out this week.

There is a fourth match, and this one is the best option so far. This is a 20-year-old female. Generally males are better than females because women who have had children produce antibodies that make them less than ideal as bone-marrow donors. But this young lady has not had any kids. Her age makes her a better option than even the 37-year-old man we had before. We still don't have an update on whether any of the potential donors have passed the necessary physicals, but we're hopeful. We ask that you continue to lift up all these potential donors. Their generosity is greatly appreciated, and we ask God to bless them richly.

In the meantime, we're progressing with the preparations for March 9, which is Tammy's scheduled admission date to KU Medical Center for the transplant. She underwent another series of chemotherapy shots this week (with the last one tomorrow). On Tuesday, we begin a three-day set of tests and consultations to make sure we're ready. They include lots of physical tests, as well as "psychological evaluations" to make sure we're prepared for the road ahead. We believe we're ready, but you might continue to keep us in your prayers. We know there will be things we're not expecting. Only God's grace will get us through them.

Following the tests next week, we're probably in "relax" mode until March 9th. There won't be too much more to do to get ready.

Please continue to keep our family in your prayers. Julie is still in Ethiopia. She'll return next Wednesday night. She actually gets to come home for a couple of days next weekend. David Lee has been real sick this week, visiting the doctor twice and having him say, "Wow!" when he looked at David's throat. He's doing better today, but he still needs to get better. Tammy is tired all the time, and tired of being tired. David is trying to hang in there with so much on his plate. He's trying to get his business ready for him to be away from the office a lot during Tammy's recovery time.

Because this is Valentine's Day, we are very aware of God's unconditional love. Even though we don't deserve it, He showers us with blessings every day. We pray that He does that to you today.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Good News, and a Couple Requests

James 1:17
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

We just returned to work from an appointment with the hematologist. The lab results taken yesterday were as good as they have been in several weeks. Tammy's hemaglobin is holding steady after a transfusion three weeks ago. Her white blood cell counts are climbing, as are her platelets. The best news is that her blast cells are dropping.

Blast cells are the initial cells that transform into red and white blood cells and platelets. They are supposed to remain in a person's bone marrow until they transition into the other cells. When they show up in the blood, that's when there's a problem. When they reach certain levels, that's when leukemia is diagnosed. Three weeks ago, they were above leukemic levels (23), though the doctor thought that might be a temporary spike. Two weeks ago, they had dropped back down to a more tolerable level (7). Last week they were at 2 and yesterday's labs showed ZERO blast cells in her blood.

The doctor believes that she is responding well to the low-grade chemotherapy she gets one week per month. (She started another round this morning.) These treatments are not curative, so he still wants her to go through the transplant, but this is excellent news, because it means she should stay healthy until the transplant, which helps the chances of a successful transplant.

We praise God for these positive results. We know He is the source of all good news.

We do have a couple of things we would like you to pray for. First, our daughter, Julie, is boarding a plane that begins her trip to Ethiopia. She will be there for a little more than a week. She is very excited about this opportunity, and we are as well. God has blessed her richly through her internship in Kentucky, and this is the last trip she'll take as part of that internship. We ask for your prayers during this trip. If you want to keep track of what's going on, log on to her team's blog (http://eeethiopia.blogspot.com/).

Finally, when Tammy goes into the hospital for her transplant, we will have to do a lot of preparation to our house. Part of that preparation is to find new homes for our cats. Tammy's parents have agreed to keep Hank and Larry, our two upstairs cats, for as long as we can't have them at home.

But we need to find a permanent home for Link and Seprator, David Lee's two cats who live downstairs. They are brothers and are extremely friendly (they just don't get along too well with Hank and Larry, which is why we keep them downstairs). They still have their claws, but they are "fixed," so you don't have to worry about them getting friendly with neighbor cats. (They can go outside, though we have kept them inside.) If you know of anybody who would like to take them, please let us know. Please pray that we can find a home for them. We have become very attached to them.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cool Video

Matthew 28:19-20
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

A few weeks ago we talked about how we view this journey as a missions trip. One definition of a missions trip is leaving your "comfort zone" to tell or demonstrate the love of Jesus to others who may not know Him. While we're not comfortable with Tammy having to go through this, people are seeing a love for Jesus, and the love of Jesus, in Tammy. For that we are thankful.

We have attached a video that our church shot of our family when Julie was home over Christmas break. This five-minute clip speaks to who we are and why we are so passionate about missions. We hope you enjoy this glimpse inside our world.

Nothing has changed in the preparation for the transplant. We don't expect to hear any news until sometime next week at the earliest. We'll post if we have any news.


video

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More News, More News Coverage

Hebrews 13:15
"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name."

Now that a match has been found, we are preparing for the transplant itself. The euphoria of the past couple of days has been dampened by the reality of the risks associated with the transplant. We know that the transplant should yield better results than not having one, and we know that all this is in God's plan. That's how we can "offer to God a sacrifice of praise."

We had a visit with KU Medical Center today to get the next steps scheduled. Here's a brief synopsis. Next week Tammy will have another round of low-grade chemotherapy, similar to what she had in early January. The following week, she will go in for her "evaluations," to make sure she's up to the transplant. The week of February 23, she will have another bone-marrow biopsy. This will determine the method of collection for the bone-marrow cells.

She is scheduled tentatively for admission to the hospital for the transplant the week of March 9. This will begin a four-week stay in the hospital, with the transplant occurring about a week in.

There are now three potential matches, with the first choice still being a 37-year-old male. He will be contacted in the next few days to make sure he is still willing to be a donor. He'll then have a complete physical to make sure he's healthy. If he is, he will be scheduled for his donation, either through a donation of blood or bone marrow, which will be determined by Tammy's tests. We are thankful to God that this young man is willing to sacrifice to help save Tammy's life. We don't know who he is or where he's from, but we ask God to bless him richly.

The detail outlined in the paperwork we received today is amazing. The day the "donation" arrives at the hospital, it must be placed in a "20ml yellow ACD tube" and the coordinator must be paged at this specific pager number. It's pretty detailed, but it gives us comfort to know how much preparation goes into this.

We'll update with more information as we get it.

A story appeared in today's Neighborhood News section of The Kansas City Star. Here is a link to the story (and just so you know, Tammy is really 49, not 50): http://www.kansascity.com/318/story/1015931.html

Once again, the media has done a good job of telling Tammy's story, and letting her share her faith. You all are a big part of that story, as you have carried us repeatedly to the Throne of God with your prayers. Please continue to do so. We love you all.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Great News!!!!

Psalm 117:1-2
"Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD."

We received word today from KU Med Center that further testing has revealed two well-matched donors. This means that two people match up with all the necessary markers and can be a bone-marrow donor for Tammy.

Our next step is an appointment Wednesday afternoon, where Tammy will sign release papers and get a physical to make sure she's ready for the transplant. Once the papers are signed, the National Donor Registry will contact the two matches (one at a time) to see if they're still willing to be donors. If they are, they will have a physical to make sure there are no hidden medical issues. After that, they'll receive medicines to stimulate their bone marrow to produce extra cells. A week later, their blood will be removed and the extra bone-marrow cells will be filtered out of it. The remaining blood will be put back into the donor and the bone-marrow cells will be given to Tammy in a transfusion.

The hospital told us that if everything goes smoothly, she could be in transplant in about three weeks.

We're still a long way from completion, and it's going to be a tough road. But God has been faithful to show us His guidance, and we continue to count on Him. We thank you for your prayers during this whole process. We believe that God has blessed the efforts of the group who planned the bone-marrow drive last Saturday. If we already knew there was a match, we might not have had the same ambition to get the drive going and maybe not as many people would have showed up. We are praising God that many more people may have found their matches through the drive.

God is good, all the time.