Sunday, April 29, 2012

One Small World

Revelation 4:9-11
"Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.

It's been a while since we posted. We said we weren't going to post every night as long as things stayed on the same path, but we didn't intend to wait this long. Time just got away from us.

Nothing really has changed since we last posted on Wednesday. Tammy had labs drawn Friday and the numbers continue to go up slowly. That's very encouraging, as it means she continues to respond to the treatment. We wish the numbers were normal, but that's not realistic. God is teaching us (read: me) patience once again through this.

Tuesday is our next big day, as we will go back to the Cancer Clinic Tuesday morning. She'll have more labs drawn, then we'll meet with the doctor. If her counts are high enough, they'll do another bone-marrow biopsy that same day. If not, she'll wait until the next visit. The results of the biopsy will determine the timing of the next step. We're pretty sure she'll have another transplant, but when is still to be determined.

I went to a bone-marrow drive Saturday, organized by our good friend, Dr. Stephanie Crabtree. While this one was not in Tammy's honor, specifically, Steph--whose parents are among our closest friends--did write an article in Kansas City Health & Wellness magazine on Tammy's recovery and the donor who saved her life.

Tammy's next donor probably won't come from Steph's drive, just like her last one came from a drive halfway across the country. But every time there's a bone-marrow drive, more people are added to the registry. Thank you to everyone who has registered; you could be the next one to save a life. If you're not part of the registry and want to be, call 1-800-MARROW2. You can go in to your local branch and get registered, or find out when the next drive will be in your area.

This is a good example of how God weaves everything together in His will. Our friend Jim "just happened" to be driving down the street of his hometown in upstate New York when he saw the sign for the local drive that probably was in honor of someone from that town. God knew Tammy needed Jim to donate and nudged Jim into that fire station.

Here's another example. Today in church, we did Phillips Craig & Dean's "Revelation Song," a beautiful song based on Revelation 4. Here's a link to it:

After that song, our worship director Dave read Revelation 4 and talked about how all tongues will praise Jesus together in Heaven. If you weren't getting goosebumps, you weren't paying attention. Then Dave started the chorus of "Our God" with only an acoustical accompaniment. But he did it in Swahili. (Now I don't speak Swahili, but I detected a strong American accent.) After singing the chorus twice, Estera, our intern from Poland, joined in on the keyboards and singing, in Polish. Following a couple more trips through the chorus, the whole band joined in and Lisa led the rest of the congregation, in English.

It sounded really cool as we pictured being in Heaven with voices of all kinds lifting up praises to Jesus in all kinds of languages.

This afternoon we got to speak to Julie and Erich on Skype. I shared the experience from church with them, and they just smiled. When I got through, Julie said, "Daddy, we sang 'Revelation Song' in church this morning." How cool is that?

Literally all over the world, praises were being lifted up, many times with the same song, just in a different language. One of my favorite descriptions of God is "omnipresent," which means He is everywhere at all times. As we face the uncertainty of another bone-marrow transplant, what a comforting feeling it is to know that wherever this path takes us, God will be there and He will be in control.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nothing New

We set a record in Kansas City today as the temperature hit 92 officially. We're thankful for A/C and that Tammy is able to eat ice cream on such a warm day.

There's nothing new to report. We probably won't post every night as things begin to level off. She continues to improve, but it's slow and there's only so many ways of reporting that. We'll post anytime there's something new, or when something comes to mind. Her next appointment is this Friday for labs only, and then she sees the doctor again next Tuesday. We'll definitely post after that as we expect to know much more about future treatments.

Even though there won't be a lot to update, we do want you to keep praying. Once again we believe that she is doing so well again because of the numerous prayers. By the way, we used to joke about the fact that prayers were being lifted up from five continents, and sometimes gave grief to Australia and Antarctica. Well, now we can only chastise the penguins, because Australia has joined the fold.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Making an Impact

2 Timothy 2:20-21 (The Message)
 "In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing."

We went to the cancer clinic today for our first appointment with a doctor since Tammy was released from the hospital. The doctor was very pleased with the results of her labs. All her counts are improving, and he is hopeful that she will be ready for her next biopsy by next Tuesday. He also said the counts may be high enough by this Friday that she can cut back on some of her preventative medicines. When that happens, it means we'll be able to kiss each other, something we're both really looking forward to.

But I want to focus on something other than kissing or even recovery. While the doctor was in the room, Tammy asked him if he had taken his trip. He looked puzzled, so she said, "To St. Louis, to look at colleges?" Then he remembered that he had told her about his daughter who also wants to be a doctor. She's a senior in high school, so she's choosing the first step of her college career that won't end for at least a decade. He filled her in on which college his daughter had chosen. You could see the joy on his face as he shared about his daughter.

As we were getting ready to leave, one of the nurses who was there three years ago came in to visit Tammy and hug her. She wasn't Tammy's nurse, but Tammy had had enough of an impact on her that she wanted Tammy to know that although she was sorry the Leukemia had returned, she was glad to be able to see her again. She also said she was praying for Tammy.

As we left the clinic, she waved at one of the residents in the office. That doctor got out of her chair and came out into the hallway. She asked how Tammy was feeling, and of course, Tammy asked her how she was doing. She hugged Tammy as well.

The point? Tammy continues to be used by God. Remember from three years ago that Tammy's prayer since childhood has been to be used in a mighty way. She certainly was through her first battle with Leukemia, and every indication is that she will be again.

I'm very proud of her, as you probably know. I know I'm biased, but I see up close how other people are more important to her than she is to herself. She certainly has good self-worth and she's doing everything she can to get better. But she doesn't wallow in self-pity. Instead, she chooses to focus on others and their needs.

You might think, by the way I write so glowingly about Tammy, that I think she's perfect. I know she's not. She's about as close as anyone I know, but she still has faults. She knows that the only way to have perfection is to accept the forgiveness offered through the sacrifice of Jesus. Part of the impact she makes is living out her faith. She doesn't pretend to be perfect. She also doesn't complain about her situation. She simply lives out love. When asked how she can be so upbeat while sitting in a hospital bed, she gives credit to God and the strength He provides.

Now that's making an impact.

Monday, April 23, 2012

One Plate of Spaghetti, with a Beenie Weenie Chaser

Genesis 2:18
"The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.'"

A few weeks ago, I posted on the blog how lonely I was with Tammy in the hospital. I made spaghetti that night, which I love, but I didn't enjoy it because I ate alone.

Well, tonight I ate spaghetti again. It was delicious, and thanks to our good friends, Vince and Debbie, I didn't have to cook it. And even though I was the only one who ate spaghetti, I didn't have to eat alone. Tammy is still on a neutropenic diet, which means she has too many restrictions to eat something "homemade." So while I get to chow down on things like spaghetti, Tammy gets to fill up on such things as Dinty Moore Beef Stew and Beenie Weenies. But we can eat our dinners together, and that makes all the difference in the world.

We have another friend who describes his wife as his "completer." We can't think of a better way to describe our relationship. Even though we have our own identities, those identities are made more complete when including the other. I'm not just David, the sports fan and insurance agent. I'm David, the husband of Tammy, and the father of David and Julie. I'm also the friend of more people than I can count. I am tremendously blessed with many people who impact me on a daily basis.

But mostly, I am a child of God. There are holes in every area of my life, but God is able fill every hole. It is our prayer that you have that same relationship.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rest and Relaxation

Isaiah 40:30-31
"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

We didn't post yesterday and are just getting around to it this evening. But we have a good excuse: we wanted to be lazy.

This has been a very restful weekend. Tammy got home Friday evening, and other than a couple of scheduled trips to the cancer clinic we hardly left the house. I had a chance to go to the NASCAR race today, but I chose to stay home and spend the day with Tammy.

We got to talk to David Lee for a couple of hours on Skype this afternoon, and that was a day-maker. We talked to Julie and Erich on Thursday. The kids are doing well in Poland. They wish they could be here with their mother, but they know that they are where God wants them to be right now. David is coming home for a wedding at the end of May, and Julie is probably coming home when Tammy goes back into the hospital for her transplant.

More than anything, we spent the weekend re-acquainting ourselves with each other. I love spoiling her, and I got to do that uninterrupted for two days. Life returns to near-normal tomorrow, but I'll still spoil her whenever possible.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Home Sweet Home!

1 Samuel 25:35b
"Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request."

I went to the grocery store this evening. I haven't had that much fun at the grocery store in years. Why? Because I had a list of things to get for Tammy since I was able to bring her home from the hospital earlier in the day. The last time we brought her home from the hospital, I went to the same grocery store with a list. That wasn't nearly as much fun, because I was nervous that I would do something to make her sick. Now that I know what foods will taste good to her, and how to do things to help her recover, I could focus on spoiling her.

It's such a blessing to have her home with me. I keep looking over to where she's sitting and just smile at her. I can't believe how much warmer this house is with her here. There's an ambiance of joy in the air.

We know there's a long road ahead. We don't know how long she'll be home before she heads back for another bone-marrow transplant. When her numbers come up, she'll have another biopsy. The results of that biopsy will give the doctors the answer to that question. They're reaching out to another potential donor to see if he is willing to donate when the time is ready.

If you want to stop by and visit, please call first. Our home number is 913-262-0740 and her cell is 913-908-4795. Please don't come if you've been sick or been around anyone who is sick. Also, if you've been around small children, please refrain. Drive-by's are okay (you can wave at her through the window).

She's also still on a special diet, at least for the next couple of weeks. She has too many restrictions to have someone else prepare meals. We'll let you know when she's ready to accept meals from others.

We appreciate your prayers.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


John 14:3
"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

I know, this is totally out of context. Jesus was talking about preparing a place for us in Heaven, so we can be with Him. But as we were looking for a verse that was relevant to today, we found this one. I've had a lot to do to get the house ready, but I can't wait to come back to the hospital tomorrow and take her home to be with me.

We've had about 10 hours to digest the news of this morning, and we're more excited than we were then. We still know it might not happen tomorrow, but the fact that it's possible is encouraging.

After spending some time at home this afternoon "preparing a place for her," I came back to the hospital. We've spent most of the time talking about how we'll do things once she's home. We talked about the layout of the house (we're thankful for a small home) and how she'll get around when I'm not there.

It's little different than what we went through after her transplant. She won't need round-the-clock care, and her diet won't be as restricted. She'll still have to visit the clinic at least three times per week, and we'll set up a schedule for people to take her to her appointments. Other than fatigue, she feels pretty good, so we don't have to worry much about how she'll handle the days she feels sick.

We've had a lot of time today to be thankful. Once again, we've thought about how thankful we are for the wonderful treatment she's received at KU Med Center. We're thankful that she recognized the symptoms quickly, so she could get treatment right away.

And of course, we're very thankful for the prayers that have been lifted up on her behalf. We're a long way from being done with this journey, so we continue to covet your prayers.

Big News!

The doctor came in this morning and told Tammy that her counts went up a little bit more. We were pleased to hear that, though it didn't prepare us for what he said next. "They're not yet where we want them, but I think they will be tomorrow. So plan to go home tomorrow."

I'm home now trying to get the house ready. I thought we'd have two days, but fortunately we have family and friends who can help us out. So if everything goes well, Tammy will get to come home Friday.

It's not guaranteed, and we've learned not to be disappointed when encouraging news doesn't exactly turn out. But at least we know it's coming. If I'm still awake after a bunch of housecleaning (this place looks like a bachelor has lived here for four weeks!), we'll post again this evening.

Thanks for your prayers. Keep them up!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Every Step Counts

Philippians 4:6-7
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Tammy is responding to the latest "tweaks" in her treatment. Her blood pressure has elevated slightly, and her counts are up a little bit too. They're not jumping up yet, but every step counts.

It is the goal of the doctors to send her home as soon as her counts are high enough that releasing her would not be risky. She won't be 100 percent, but she has to have more strength than she does now. The fact that the counts have started to go up again, means it could happen soon. We're still hoping for Friday, but it's more likely to be early next week. The good news with that is that when she does go home, she won't have as many restrictions as she did after her transplant.

Speaking of transplants, the plan now is to have another transplant. She has to be healthy enough for it, but what we expected might happen now looks to be more certain. When Tammy's counts get high enough to warrant another bone-marrow biopsy the results of that biopsy will determine when that transplant might occur.

It's pretty amazing how much peace God has given us with this whole process. We always had faith that God was in control, but there was great trepidation as we faced the last transplant. Now, as we face the same prospect, neither of us is worried. We know that it's risky, but we are very calm.

Don't stop praying. We know that we are strengthened by your prayers. We can face the trials in front of us because God gives us strength.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Holding Pattern

It's late, but we wanted to post a quick update.

Tammy is about the same, as her counts have leveled off. The doctors are not sure why, but they're not worried. They're trying to figure out what will kick-start them into growth. Until then, she'll stay at KU Med Center.

The good news is that's exactly where she needs to be. We're thankful that it's an option. Insurance is not dictating where she goes, or for how long. The decision belongs entirely to the doctors. She won't come home until she's ready.

Both of us would prefer her to be at home, but we're also both comfortable with the fact that she's in the best place she could be. We're being patient, knowing that God's timing is always perfect.

Have a blessed day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hair Follies

James 1:12
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him."

For a woman, the loss of hair can be an ordeal. It certainly was for Tammy three years ago, at least when her hair first started falling out. She dealt with it pretty quickly, and proudly wore scarfs throughout the summer as her hair slowly began to grow back.

This time, she looked forward to losing it, because it itched and was difficult to take care of. But she still looks in the mirror as she walks by and is startled by the "bald is beautiful" look.

It's been a couple of weeks since Tammy's hair began to fall out and we shaved off the rest of it. Now the follicles are coming out. If you look closely at her (which I've done a lot since we're not allowed to kiss each other), you can see how many of the follicles are gone, especially on top.

It appears she has male pattern baldness, which is appropriate since her DNA is mainly that of a 40-year-old male. We don't know if Jim is "hair challenged," but the chemo has done it's duty with Tammy's hair.

We can laugh, because Tammy is doing pretty well. Her blood pressure is coming up, and she feels better. She's still a little dizzy at times. We're still hopeful of bringing her home later this week. We'll post when that becomes official, though if you live in KC you won't need a computer. Just listen for a "Yippeeeeee!" coming from my direction.

I still think Tammy is the prettiest girl at the ball. It doesn't matter how long or short (or completely missing) her hair is. She has a perfect face.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another Hurdle

Romans 15:30
"I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me."

We knew when we first got the diagnosis that the Leukemia had returned that we would be in for another long road toward recovery. We feel like we are better prepared, because we've been through it before. But at the same time, we knew there would be new challenges, because the treatment is different.

Today Tammy is fighting extreme fatigue. The doctor said it's because her blood pressure is low. Tammy asked him if this was a problem, and he emphatically said, "No. The medicine will take care of it." It's just a side effect of the treatment.

The doctors have been quite encouraging throughout this process. They applaud every positive step she takes, and build her up on those rare occasions when she gets down.

She was able to keep down a chocolate milk today, something that has given her trouble as recently as a week ago. Not only is that a good sign, she loves chocolate. (In her mind, the four basic food groups are chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and hot chocolate.)

Please keep her in your prayers. Even though she has a very positive attitude, there are still days when she gets discouraged and wonders how long she'll feel like this.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's Just Physical

Psalms 16:8-9
"I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure."

Tammy has a great attitude, as you know if you've been following this blog for a while. Yesterday, she told me that the hospital chaplain had visited her and asked how she felt, especially when she got the news that the Leukemia had returned.

Tammy's response was exceptional, and at the same time what you'd expect. "I knew that I needed to come back to the hospital, so I was ready. The doctors here are world-class, and they knew exactly what needed to be done to fix my body. It's just physical."

It's just physical. No matter what happens with this disease it cannot affect her attitude or her soul. She belongs to Jesus, and He will protect her. "He's at her right hand." She's not worried about how the disease affects her body. Of course she wants to get better, but she's focused on doing the right things to recover, rather than worrying about what might happen.

All of us face struggles, whether they're physical ailments, life situations that cause stress, or anything else that can get us off track. It's easier said than done, but Tammy has the right idea. Those things can't take us down if we don't let them.

Can you tell why Tammy is my hero?

She Has That Effect

Sorry we didn't post anything last night. We promise to post something together tonight.

Those of you who know Tammy know that she has an impact on everyone she meets. I've been at the hospital when the cleaning lady comes through. Tammy engages that lady, asking about her family and things going on in her life. She makes her feel good.

So this morning I was feeding the cats. I told them that Tammy would be coming home soon. They didn't seem to notice, because there was food in their bowl. Thus their attention was focused squarely on the food. But when Larry walked away from his bowl, there were a few pieces left. I took the picture you see above.

I ain't sayin'; I'm just sayin'.

Have a great day.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Taking More Steps

Psalms 37:23
"The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him."

We're like most people; we take things for granted. When Tammy had her transplant three years ago, I remember how much we celebrated when she was able to walk all the way up and down the hall. When she returned home and was able to walk up the hill to the top of our street, we really celebrated. When she walked all the way around the block, a full 1/8 mile, we were jubilant.

Before this latest set-back, we would go for mile walks at a brisk pace and barely think about how tough it was for her just a couple of years ago.

Now that the symptoms are back, we're once again celebrating small achievements. Tonight, she walked up and down the hallway, plus back and forth on the short extension where her room sits. She was pretty tired when she got back to the room, but a couple of days ago she wouldn't have been able to do that much.

We're still hopeful of a return home early next week. The counts still have to go up some more, though they have improved since yesterday.

When I asked her what she wanted me to write about tonight, she asked me to tell you how thankful she is for the cards she's received. Any time we get one at home, I bring it to the hospital and she enjoys the thoughts conveyed. It's only been very recently that she has been able to read them for herself, but she's appreciated them all along.

We'll keep updating as long as you keep praying.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Things Keep Getting Better

Romans 12:6-8
"We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."

Encouragement is such an important thing. we receive so much encouragement from the cards and emails we get from all of you. The doctors and nurses here are a big boost. They tell Tammy that she is a remarkable patient (the doctor today said she's soft on the outside, but she's "one tough woman" on the inside).

Tammy also is an encouragement to others. I know some of the nurses and aides come in to her room to get a "boost" of Tammy. She has genuine concern for them, and it shows. She's the perfect medicine for me as well when I'm down, either because she's in the hospital, or I'm falling behind on work projects, or anything else.

We continue to be encouraged by how well Tammy is responding to treatment. When I got to the hospital this morning, I met with the PA who said that Tammy's counts are "jumping up" each day. Her white blood cell count was 0.4 on Monday. Yesterday it was 1.0 and today it's 1.5. Those numbers sound low, and they are (normal is 4.5-11). But considering the number was 0.0 less than a week ago, it's encouraging.

After her transplant three years ago, that number increased by 0.1 each day, if that. She told me today that she can't believe how good she feels. And she continues to look very good.

The critical number for her release from the hospital is her ANC (Absolute Neutrophil Count), which needs to be 500. Right now, she's well below that. However, those numbers can go up dramatically. There is a slight possibility she could go home as early as this Friday, though it's more likely that it will be early next week.

When she does go home, it won't be with the same restrictions as when she came home after her transplant. She still has to be very careful to stay away from sick people, and those who have been around other sick people. But she won't need round-the-clock care. We can't wait for her to return home.

This is a very fluid situation. We have been very pleased with the progress, and we believe that a lot of that has to do with the amazing care she's received at KU Med Center. We also believe that a lot of that has to do with the numerous prayers being lifted up on her behalf. Please keep them coming, especially as she prepares to come home.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Waiting Game

Psalms 27:14
"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."

We're now in waiting mode to find out the next step. The doctor came in today and confirmed that her next bone-marrow biopsy will be at the end of next week. That may be while she's still in the hospital, or it could be on an out-patient basis. That will be determined in the coming days.

The results of that biopsy will confirm the next steps in the treatment. We don't know those steps now, but it's not important that we know. The doctors have a firm grasp on the process, and they're not surprised by anything. When we need to know, we'll know. Once again, God is teaching us patience.

Tammy's counts continue to go up, and she continues to feel better each day. When the counts get high enough, and her dizziness is completely gone, they'll let her go home. The fact that they're talking about when they might release her is cause for optimism by itself. The fact that she's feeling so good is further cause for optimism.

It's also easier since we've been through this before. When she does have a down day, we can hold on to the fact that it's part of the process and not symptomatic of a problem.

We continue to covet your prayers. If you've never been prayed through a rough time, you have no idea how comforting those prayers are, or how much you can feel them as they're lifted up on your behalf. It would not be too much of a stretch to say we're blessed to be going through this so we can feel that support once again. We wish we didn't have to face the difficulties of a relapse, but God has definitely blessed us through this time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Expected Good News!

We'll try to update this evening, so I'm going to make this short.

The doctor came in this morning and told Tammy that the chemo had worked; her Leukemia is gone from her system. Her bone-marrow is empty, which was necessary as well, in order to rebuild her system the way they want to.

She'll have another bone-marrow biopsy in two more weeks. We're not sure where that will be, either in the hospital or as an out-patient. It depends on how her counts rebound. When they hit a certain level she'll be free to go home.

We're expecting some more results tomorrow, which may lead to more plans being finalized. We'll let you know.

Thanks for your prayers. Keep them coming.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Luke 24:1-8
"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: "The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again."' Then they remembered his words."

Easter is our favorite day of the year. As our pastor mentioned today, for Christians this is bigger than the national championship or the Super Bowl. We celebrate the ultimate victory over death.

I know this isn't about me, but I can tell you that Easter is the only day all year that I don't struggle to get up. I'm a night owl, and I'd rather sleep in. But on Easter, I love to get up, because of the anticipation of the worship that's about to come. Last night, I was working on a big project for work until a little past midnight. Yet, this morning when the alarm went off at 6:40, I was already awake. I couldn't wait to go to church.

I have to wonder if the women mentioned at the beginning of this chapter went to the tomb "very early in the morning" in anticipation of what they might see. We know they weren't convinced that Jesus had risen, because when they got there, the "were wondering" why Jesus' body was not there. But they had been around Jesus for a while, and they had to hear Him say a number of times that He would rise again on the third day. Could it possibly be true?

Do you anticipate seeing Jesus in everyday situations? He wants you to see Him as you go through life. We're seeing Jesus all over this particular journey. It's our goal to reflect Him so others can see Him through us.

Tammy continues to do well. She's still sleepy a lot as they slowly rebuild her blood counts (and with that, her energy levels). But she continues to recover nicely. Tomorrow or Tuesday we will find out the results of Friday's biopsy. We're hoping that it will show that the Leukemia is completely gone. The doctors will determine the next step depending on what the test shows. We'll keep you posted.

Today's picture is courtesy of our friend, Anthony. He came up to me after church today and showed me a knit hat he had made for Tammy. We had no idea he was so talented. Tammy was impressed. She immediately put it on, and she looks good in it.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Peaceful Saturday

Numbers 6:24-26
"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."

Today was a very restful day for Tammy. She hasn't had a lot of activity, so she's been resting in her bed most of the day. I was able to get a lot done at home before heading to the hospital to watch the Royals beat the Angels with her. I'll head home soon to finish up my chores around the house.

I would love it if Tammy were able to move around freely, but I know that she just doesn't have the strength yet. It's normal at this stage. The fact that the doctors remain pleased with her progress gives us encouragement.

Our faith allows us to trust the path that God has laid in front of us. In our "wisdom," we might make decisions that could affect her adversely. He has given us peace to wait on Him.

The day between Good Friday and Easter has always been a strange day. There's a pall hanging over us as we contemplate what Jesus had to go through on our behalf. There's also an anticipation of a huge celebration tomorrow. Counting on God's peace is something we all have to do. Our prayer is that you would feel His peace today as well.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Good Friday

Isaiah 53:5
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."

I remember as a child wondering why the day we commemorate Jesus' death was known as "Good Friday." If Jesus died on this day, what was good about it? I'm sure a lot of people have thought the same thing. As I grew up, I understood that Easter wouldn't be possible, and by definition, my salvation would not be possible without Him being willing to die on my behalf. That makes this day we commemorate Very Good Friday.

I don't want to make Tammy's health struggle to sound anything like the eternal struggle that mankind has with sin. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But here's an analogy that might work.

Tammy had another bone-marrow biopsy today. It was planned from the day she arrived almost two weeks ago. The purpose was to determine if the chemo has adequately killed the Leukemia in her system. It caused her pain, and now she's sleeping off the effects of the medication and the intrusion into her body. It was painful, but it's worth it, because with this test the doctors will be able to determine if she is on track in her recovery.

Jesus had to endure pain--physical and spiritual--so that we could face eternity with hope and optimism. It was planned from the beginning of time. The purpose was to establish a way for us to be forgiven.

Our prayer for you today is that you can understand that God loves you so much, He was willing to send His own Son, to die on your behalf.

How good is that?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Late-Night Update

Song of Solomon 1:15
"How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves."

You can never go wrong with quoting Song of Solomon, especially when talking about a beautiful woman like Tammy.

I just got home from the hospital. Tammy continues to do well. I brought her a supply of do-rags, okay, scarfs, so she's set from the shaved-head perspective. She still looks beautiful, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. I can't tell you how many nurses tell her that each day.

When I got to the hospital, it took us 15 minutes to open all the cards and packages, just from the past two days of mail. We are indeed blessed by the many family and friends who love us. And while we appreciate the cards and gifts, we appreciate the prayers even more. Keep them coming!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Genesis 21:6
God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.

Three years ago I walked into Tammy’s hospital room on a Tuesday morning. Our son and I had shaved our heads before Tammy went into the hospital in anticipation of her losing her hair, and that morning I had attended a bi-weekly meeting for the first time since the “hair-removal” procedure.

She asked me that morning what the people in our group had said about me shaving my head. I told her the first reaction was that they thought it was pretty cool that I would do that for her. She ran her fingers through her own hair and said, “Wouldn’t it be something if I never lost my hair?” When she pulled her hand away, it had clumps of hair, and she started to cry. It was the first time I had seen her cry during the whole ordeal.

She calmed down after just a couple of minutes, and did it again. More hair, more tears. I took her tray out of the room and went to the nurses’ station, and I asked what to do. They said to shave it off, which we did. And Tammy was fine.

Today, about a half hour after I got here, she was scratching her head. She looked at her hand and shouted, “Yahoo!!!” I asked what happened and she said, “My hair is coming out. I get to shave it!” It was a little different than the last time. She pressed the nurse-call button. When the nurse came in, she said, “My hair is falling out,” to which the nurse said, “I’m sorry. It should be expected.” Tammy said, “I know. I’m ready to have it shaved!”

The doctor was just outside the door, so the nurse said she’d wait until his visit was complete to do it. He came in a few minutes later and told Tammy she looked much better today. Then he said, “I hear we’re going to do some ‘hair alterations’ today.” Then—and he probably shouldn’t have said this—he said, “You have the cutest face, with and without hair.” I agreed.

Tammy really does feel better today. Yesterday we mentioned that she was able to relax and was even joking with the nurse. She felt like she had turned a corner, and I mentioned that I noticed a difference. We didn’t want to say anything in the blog, in case it was temporary. But the difference today is even more noticeable. She laughed all the way through the haircut. She hasn’t been drowsy since I got here.

We know there’s still a long way to go in her recovery, but days like today are a real boost for both of us. We appreciate all the prayers. Please keep them up. We’ll keep updating.

By the way, the Syracuse shirt is in honor of our friend and Tammy's donor, Jim, who lives near Syracuse.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Proverbs 16:9
"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps."

We've talked many times about steps of progress during the past three-plus years. As she is facing the same challenge again, we are constantly looking for steps in Tammy's recovery. Sometimes they're very small steps; sometimes they're bigger. Even in a long process like this one, baby steps are something to celebrate.

I've been at the hospital for about three hours today (I'm working...really). I can see some improvement in just the time I've been here. For the past few days, she's been very restless. She's had a fever, so she just couldn't get comfortable. It's part of the routine, but it's still tough to see and tougher for her to endure. But she seems to be a little more comfortable now. The fever is down for now, which has allowed her to relax. We had a good chat with one of the nurses, and Tammy was laughing and joking along with us.

Tammy will have another bone-marrow biopsy this Friday. The doctors are hoping that the Leukemia will be gone, and how she responds once it is gone will determine what and when the next step will be. We're praying for no signs of Leukemia and that the next step is a booster dose of bone-marrow cells. But we're not in charge, and ultimately, neither are these wonderful doctors. Because we can plan our course, but the Lord determines our steps.

Monday, April 2, 2012

No Change

Philippians 4:12-13
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want, I can do all things through him who gives me strength."

There's really no change today. Tammy continues to receive fluids and an antibiotic through her IV to try to keep her fever down. She's still very weak, but as we have said previously that's very normal. We really don't expect much different over the next few days. Please conitnue to lift her up in your prayers.

Tammy is remarkably content, in spite of her weak condition. She wishes she could move around, but I haven't heard her complain once. She knows that God has a plan, and she just wants to be obedient. I'm just trying to follow her example.

She is storing up energy for tonight. She's looking forward to watching the KU basketball game tonight. Hopefully she'll be able to stay awake until the end.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Desiring God's Will

Luke 22:42
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, and those of you who know us well, know that our desire is to follow God’s will. We know He is in charge, and He knows what we need much better than we do ourselves. Sometimes our desires are for things that may bring us harm in the long run.

It’s pretty easy to say that. It’s a little tougher to believe it. It’s much tougher to live it. We’re doing our best, and we appreciate your prayers for us to be able to do that.

I want you to read something we wrote in November 2008, when we were still trying to figure out the options for treatment and wondering what God had in store.

“Tammy is very much at peace with whatever this disease brings, because she knows that God can be glorified. If she is healed completely, as is our selfish prayer, then God can be glorified because of His power. If He chooses to have her suffer with the effects of the disease for a long period of time, He can be glorified through her faithfulness. If He chooses to bring her Home because of this disease, He can be glorified by her peace.”

That thought carried us through some really tough times, including the night after Tammy had her transplant when she was rushed to ICU. The words of the doctor—“The next 12 to 24 hours are critical for her survival”—still ring in my ears. I will never forget talking to our kids on the phone and telling them how much of a fight she was in. She made it through that fight and did wonderfully well over the next three years (today is the three-year anniversary of her transplant), until last weekend.

She’s now in another fight, though she is responding well to the treatment. She has been battling a low-grade fever for the past 18 hours, but that’s fairly normal at this stage. The doctors are still pleased with her progress. They're in the process of determining the next steps. It’s not that they don’t know what to do. Each step is predicated on how she responds to the previous step.

(The chemo has not weakened her sense of humor. Remember that she’s at the University of Kansas Hospital, so it may come as no surprise that last night around 10 p.m. two nurses came into her room and asked if they could watch the final couple of minutes of the KU basketball game with her. She said that was fine, and they pulled up a chair. She looked over and said, “May I get you ladies something to drink?”)

No matter what the future days, weeks and months provide, we know that God has a plan. Once again, we are okay with whatever God decides to do. Obviously we want her to survive and get healthy quickly. But our honest prayer (most of the time I can do this) is “Not our will, but Your will.”

That’s not giving up. We’re not saying, “Well, since we don’t have control, we’ll have to go along with whatever You decide. Oh, woe is me.”

It’s actually quite freeing. God has Tammy’s—and my—best interest at the core of His will. We don’t have to figure out what’s best. We simply have to trust.