Update Nineteen

Hello Friends,

Christina here:) Just a quick update before I settle down for my first nap of the day. First of all I want to say thank you for all the comments so many of you are making on the website! I read them all, treasure them all, and my heart is lifted every day by your words. Keep them coming!!:)  Also  thank you for the packages, cards and emails that are continuing  to come… I’m so blessed.  My days are pretty quiet with maybe one small outing balanced out by a super sweet long nap on either side:) I’ve always been a nap person and well, I’ve never had such a great excuse to take so many! The falling fiery leaves outside our windows makes the atmosphere extra comforting as I get ready to curl up in warm blankets with some hot peppermint tea:) Oh isn’t life beautiful….:) My childhood friend Mandy Wood arrived late last night at the end of a long week of teaching kindergartners. She’ll be staying for part of the weekend. I have a feeling she’ll take full advantage of the rest time too. This morning we went to a coffee shop for lunch and a few rounds of Nertz (the most amazing card game on earth). Although I felt pretty sluggish and slow, I’m hoping card playing helped make new brain connections through the fog. We can hope:) Seeing a lot of people right now is still a bit of a stretch, but I am looking forward to church tomorrow! Whoo hoo!

We are still in a waiting period as far as doctors appts. and lab reports go, but that seems to be what God has for us right now. It’s allowing the house to stay peaceful with focus on resting, healing, and reviving the soul.  Mmm… so good. The “what next step to take” process is very much intimidating if I allow myself to get swept away in that.  But once again God is so faithful to remind me that he is absolutely guiding this process and orchestrating details even as I speak. As a good friend reminded me in an email today, just as God protected my body in the hospital, he continues to be with me as we move into this new phase of important decisions and new directions.  “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Oh Amen. And if I ask for wisdom, he grants it…. gladly.

Deuteronomy 34:9

“Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.”

Proverbs 2:6-11

“For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair – every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on you own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Thank you Lord for taking care of us!

I pray your day today is filled with God’s blessings in unique and mind-blowing ways.

I pray your heart is filled with God’s peace for whatever situation you may be going through in your own life.

He is present and wants to walk with you every step of the way!

Love you all,

Update Eighteen

Christmas in September

Christina–“So LInsey, what did you buy at the Adidas sale?”
Linsey–“Well, I bought a few Christmas presents so you can’t see everything?”
Christina–“I might want to see it early.”
Linsey–“You can’t.”
Christina–“Well, you gave me my coffee maker early last year.”
Linsey–“You don’t get your present early.”
Christina–“But I have a brain tumor!!”
Linsey–“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, Teeee-nuuuuuuuuh!  You can’t pull the tumor card.”
Christina–“But I did.”
Linsey–“O.K. I’ll think about it.”
Christina–“It worked!”
Linsey–“Sit down, close your eyes, hold out your hands.”
Christina–“It’s perfect.”  A new Adidas jacket.

We’re still waiting on pathology reports.  I think our job is to wait.  I’m not the best medical coordinator because I don’t understand how all of this works.  As I was trying to figure out how to get another MRI for Christina (which a specialist in Seattle needs to evaluate her), I fell apart emotionally.  I suppose it would be easier if I knew how urgent it is to get treatment started.  Thankfully, I have a great big God who is guiding my steps and I will continue to rest and trust in Him.

Christina, Myrna, and I went to the neighborhood nail salon and either had a pedicure or manicure.  Christina fell asleep (in the salon) after her feet were done.  Sleeping beauty.  She’s now on her second nap today.

Thank you all for your support.

Jo Dee

Update Seventeen

Sept. 27th, late afternoon

Dear Friends,

Christina woke this morning with an absolutely clear mind–thanks for praying.  She REALLY wanted a Jamba Juice, so after a refreshing shower (complete with blown dry hair) we were driven to Jamba Juice by our friends Don and Myrna.  I’m sure the Jamba Juice people were wondering why we were taking pictures outside the store.  It was quite a momentous occasion–our first outing (besides walks) since brain surgery 6 days ago.  We then walked over to the local Bible book store where Christina picked out “The Message” version of the Bible (large print, to help with the double vision problem).  We returned home (tired) and Christina enjoyed a relaxing chair massage by Jeff, some lunch, a little walk, and a nap.  We are astounded and I am thankful that it seems so normal to walk and talk.  We just make sure the naps happen.

I had a very wakeful night.  I was not troubled, just thoughtful.  I do not know the future but I know the One who does.

Psalm 139:13-16 says,

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

There are many who say, “It is not right for a young woman to suffer such things.  What about the future?  What about marriage, a family?  What about the dreams?”

I think it was Christina who said something about wanting only the dreams that God had for her–and nothing of her own imagination.  I can’t help but think of the millions of people in the world who have never had the opportunity for any kind of “life” as we know it.  They face starvation, sickness, lack of shelter, poverty, peril of war, infant deaths, and short life spans. I feel selfish even entertaining the thought of somehow being cheated by God.

Please indulge me while I tell you about why I am thankful.

  • Christina knows who made her and serves Him faithfully.
  • She will spend eternity in heaven with her Lord who paid quite a price on the cross for her salvation.
  • She is full of joy.
  • She went through a horrendous surgery and woke up!
  • She can walk and talk and smile and think, even though there is some ugly cancer in her brain.
  • She is surrounded by an unbelievable group of loving friends and family.

I am so thankful to be spending this time with her.

I am very thankful for all the amazing doctors and nurses who have taken the time to love her, care for her, and use their gifts to meet her needs.  Amazing.

I am thankful that God is who He says He is–our comforter, shelter, strength, our very present help in time of trouble.

Isaiah 41:10 says,

“Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

We are certainly being upheld by His righteous right hand and I am thankful.

Christina would love to write more but that will have to wait for later.  Her paragraph from the last update took 2 or 3 hours.  Perhaps tomorrow.  Just know that her heart is full and free.

If my lovely daughter’s life ends up being shorter than I expected, I am comforted that it has not been wasted.

With much love and thanksgiving,
Jo Dee

Update Sixteen

Dear Friends,

We’ve had a good day.  Two long walks, two long naps.

May I say thank you again for keeping in touch.  We love reading your emails out loud and are so amazed at your support and love and prayer and encouragement.  The “house of peace” continues to be a wonderful place of deep fellowship and life exchange.

Linsey (Christina’s dear friend who owns this house) has been so gracious to let her life be turned upside down as all regular schedules are done away with, people come and go, and her personal, private space is invaded.  She even gave up her own bedroom for several nights.  Well, two of those nights she slept in Christina’s ICU room.  She designed the website and faithfully posts updates and pictures.  Living in community, living in love, living as Jesus intended–as servants, this is amazing.

Christina’s church, Solid Rock Fellowship, is providing meals.  MMMM-MMMMMM good.  Again, people doing sacrificial serving things that make this journey a little easier.

Don and Myrna Edmisten sat on either side of me as I began my internet research.  It was so comforting to have them right there helping me to decide which leads to follow.

Nancy Stack (from Hawaii) keeps us all focused on the Word, and praying continuously–go Nancy.

Nancy reminded me of one of my new favorite verses where Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you will see the Glory of God?”  (John 11:40)  Believing is not an intellectual assent but a transfer of trust.  We are absolutely surrendered to Jesus every step of the way.  In the practical, the cost is knowing that we are in control of very little.  But when you know who God is, that He is who He says He is, then trusting feels so good and solid and full of peace.  We really believe that we are seeing the Glory of God displayed in so many ways.  We are thankful that Christina is doing so well.  No infection.  Surgery site healing beautifully.  She even washed her hair today.  Intestinal tract working as it should (very thrilling for Christina).  Pain decreasing.  Did I mention meals coming to the house?  Phone calls and emails at just the right times.  Hearts full of peace, regardless of the facts.

Phil. 4:6-7  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and asking, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Much love,
Jo Dee

Hello Friends!

Here I sit on my couch at home, a few days after brain surgery, hardly able to comprehend what has gone on this past week. My mind still feels a bit hazy but I will do my best to sort through the fog to express some things in my heart that have been dying to get out. And then I’ll have someone proofread it, so it actually does make sense:)  From the bottom of my heart I just want to say thank you for EVERYTHING everyone has done. Over the past few days with visitors to the hospital (whether I  was aware of it or not), the emails, flowers, and phone calls… with the ways you have all ministered to my family and friends through meals, rides, spare rooms, shoulders to cry on,  LONG hours in the waiting rooms, and most of all through your passionate and unceasing prayers, I am so deeply indebted to you.  At one point while I was in the hospital trying to put facts and feelings together, knowing a lot of what I was hearing wasn’t “good news”, I suddenly saw this very clear picture that stopped me in my tracks.  I saw myself all laid out, hospital gown, tubes, IV’s and all but with no bed under me. Instead what was under me were all you wonderful people holding me up with your prayers – passing me hand over hand through the crowd as you prayed both silently and out loud. I saw distinct faces of college friends, missionary friends, childhood friends, family, even people I didn’t know, and a peace  just washed over me. I realized that this is not a battle I fight alone in my heart. The battle is being fought for me. I felt such a relief at that moment I almost laughed.  My burden was being carried… and my job was not to “be okay” with everything and be strong for all you people, my job is to allow you all prayerfully crowd surf me through this journey:) and to let you know why I am okay.

I am okay because my life is not my own. I am okay because my joy does not come with the “joys” of this life.  Philippians 1:21 says “for me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”  I am excited to live in Christ joyfully and with full abandon as long as He has me on this earth, and then for goodness sakes I’m excited for eternity too!:)  I love you all and will try to write and get back to you all as I can.  My biggest prayer request today is that you would pray for my mind to clear so I can keep in close communication.

In His Hands,

Update Fifteen

Hello Dear Friends,

We talked to Dr. Grewe’s wonderful physician assistant, Kyle, about Christina’s lab report.  The lab at Emanuel Hospital could not decisively determine what Christina’s brain tumor is.  It is a mixed up, multi-faceted tumor.  Leave it to Christina to have an indecisive tumor.   They have sent the samples to Mayo Clinic for further analysis so it will be several days before we hear anything else.  We are now doing the wonderful internet research game to find great brain tumor treatment centers.  Any ideas?

Kyle said many at the hospital have been positively impacted by Christina as she walks through this fiery trial.  I told Kyle about the world wide impact and about her new website.  He said he will check it out.

Christina had a great day.  She took two wonderful walks, two wonderful naps, and she’s stronger by the minute.  I asked her how she was handling all this.  She said she feels VERY PROTECTED.  Thank you for praying.

My own heart is absolutely peaceful.  I had an anxious moment just before calling Dr. Grewe’s office but my friends Nancy, Myrna, and Don prayed the cloud away.  The “House of Peace” remains peaceful.

Much love,
Jo Dee

Psalm 4:8  I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Update Fourteen

Dear Friends,

We had our first night at home after surgery.  Christina was so glad to be in her own comfortable bed.  I snuggled with her for awhile until my annoying cough took me away.  Linsey slept on her floor to keep seizure watch and give meds in the middle of the night.  I am just tired enough that the responsibility of getting meds right just about put me over the edge.  What if I give her the “tumor pill” in the dose of the laxative and send her into a huge overdose situation.  Well, so far, so good.  I’m reading the bottles carefully and thinking through as slowly as I have to, in order to get it right.  It’s amazing what a challenge everything is when you’re tired.  I can’t even “cut and paste” on the computer.  Oh well.

Dave and Tammy left this morning.  I know they need to go and visit their son and daughter-in-law but they have been such a BIG help that I can’t picture the daily activity going smoothly without them.  Don and Myrna Edmisten are coming down from Port Angeles today to get some R and R after walking through Myrna’s mom’s death.  It will be so great to have them in the vicinity.

Some of you have asked why Christina has a full head of hair.  We asked Dr. Grewe’s assistant, Kyle, that question.  He usually prepares the head and we were pretty sure she would have no hair after surgery.  He said, “You can thank Jeff for the full head of hair.”  We don’t know Jeff’s last name but he’s another “neuro guy” who ran the fancy “brain computer–locate the tumor” game.  He apparently offered the idea of the racing stripe haircut.  It’s not even very noticeable.

My heart has been running through the possibilities of what we might hear on the pathology report.  Since God has prepared our hearts every step of the way, I believe that He will walk me through the news today.  Thank you all for praying.

Christina’s hallucinations have almost stopped.  Her double vision is worse than before the surgery.  We pray she will gain back normal vision.  Her heart is strong.  She is still smiling.  Doug took her for a walk outside this morning and now she’s moving toward a nap.  We love being back in the “house of peace”.

Thank you all for walking with us.  I hope you know each of you is vital to this journey.  I have been receiving emails from people that I’ve never met who are praying with us.  I do not think we were meant to journey these hard places alone and I humbly thank you all for doing your part.

Romans 12:4-5  For as in one body we have many members and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though we are many, are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.

I Corinthians 12:7  In each of us, the Spirit manifests His grace for the common good of all.

Much love,
Jo Dee


Update Thirteen

We are thrilled that 3 days after brain surgery, Christina has returned home.  She looks and feels great.  Dave and Tammy and Linsey worked all day to make the house so welcoming with flowers and balloons and candles.

Christina asked Dr. Grewe about why her head feels like soda pop bubbles inside.  Apparently those are air bubbles.  So, she is officially an airhead.

Her eyes are still a little “wonky” as she calls it.  She still sees double and has other alterations that apparently can be drug induced.  For instance, when someone smiled, their teeth were colored black and white checkerboard.  Or when Doug (dad) was talking to her it looked like his mouth was falling off his face. Or, a person’s arms were sparkly animations.  Or (she just told me) my teeth fell out as I talked (one of my personal nightmares).

Tomorrow or Wednesday we will receive the pathology report.  Then the next phase will begin.  These few days have been like green pastures provided by our Shepherd for rest and refreshment.

Christina is still at risk for seizures, so we are watching her closely.  We appreciate the prayer as we wait and watch.

Phil. 1:3-4  I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all.

Much love,
Jo Dee

Update Twelve

Sun. 1:00 p.m.

My heart is about ready to burst with joy.  I have been in my hotel room resting and Tammy sent me a text message with a picture attached.  The picture was Christina sitting outside in the sunshine, smiling beautifully with not one tube attached to her.

She’s been to the restroom twice on her own and can now sleep in whatever position feels good–on her stomach with 12 pillows piled around her.

Doug and I went to the worship service at the hospital this morning.  It was great.  The chaplain was talking about Job and his suffering and then talked about the end of the story (Revelation).  It felt so great to have all that Truth pouring in.  The chaplain talked to us later.  He met Christina right before her surgery.  He said she is a remarkable young woman.  He cannot recall seeing any  person in her condition with such great faith.  He is very moved by her and by the support of her church family both in Portland and in Port Angeles.

How Great is Our God
Sing with Me
How Great is Our God
And all will see
How Great, How great
Is our God.

Much love,
Jo Dee

Sun.  9:30 p.m.

The hospital today was full of worship.  Chris (Christina’s cousin) drove in today with a wonderful group of family and led worship in Christina’s room.  Twice.  Fifteen people in that little tiny room.  Christina sat in her bed, eyes closed, tears streaming, arms raised in praise to God–again handing her life over to Jesus.  Amazing.

Andrea Davenport (who wrote that beautiful song for Christina) also came and sang her song with Linsey harmonizing.  Hopefully, it will be available soon for all to hear.

We had a long talk with Dr. Grewe.  He is expecting Christina to be ready to go home tomorrow.  The idea of taking a brain surgery patient home so soon frightens me but if she improves as much in the next 18 hours as she did in the past 18 hours, she will be ready.  He also explained to Kristin (sister-in-law, nurse) how to shampoo Christina’s hair.  So tomorrow she should be feeling as beautiful as she looks.

Signing off again,
Jo Dee


Update Eleven

Dear Friends,

What a day we’ve had.  I walked into Christina’s room around 6:30 a.m.   She was sleeping peacefully with her dear friends, Linsey and Kelsey, keeping the night watch.  When she awoke, she smiled, of course, and asked me how my cold was.  A whole lot better than your head, I imagine.

Anyway, she has a full head of hair with one racing stripe from top to bottom on the back right side and some pretty good looking staples.  Her color is great and her smile is remarkable.  For all you medical sorts, her brain drain was removed (she didn’t even flinch) and she walked to the recliner to eat her lunch. (jello, crackers, and juice).  She is still in ICU but only because they don’t have an empty bed to move her to.  I cannot believe that she had brain surgery yesterday and looks like her normal self today.

Jesse and Kristin (brother and sister-in-law) arrived today.  It’s very nice to have them here from Montana.  Kristin is a nurse and keeps a close eye on the medical issues.  Jesse just needed to see his sister.  It’s so much easier to be here and see that Christina is doing well.  Christina’s massage therapy partner, Jeff, visited and worked on Christina’s feet and shoulders.  She was relieved to have some of the knots worked out of her shoulders.  Nancy Stack also arrived from Hawaii with her tremendous spiritual insight and encouragement and footrubs.

I really wanted to have a chance to talk to Dr. Grewe and thank him for the great work and skill.  One of his fellow neurologists, Dr. Bonovich, who saw us on Wednesday, did the angiogram, and was present during surgery, came in to see Christina.  He described the surgery and I am amazed at what God seems to have done during that time.  Once they saw Christina’s tumor and realized it would not be the easy to remove meningioma, he planned on just removing a small section for biopsy.  He did that and then stood there for awhile.  He then decided to remove one more small piece that seemed safe to get at.  He then stood there for awhile more and decided after studying the screen (of the fancy piece of equipment to show the exact location of the tumor and his tool) he decided to remove another piece.  He continued in this manner until it was nearly all gone.  It seems he did more than he intended but with all the skill necessary to do no damage to any good brain cells.  I am so thankful to God for being so present, so powerful, and so merciful in this whole procedure. Having so much of that tumor gone will relieve some of Christina’s troublesome headaches and maybe even help her vision to get back to normal.

A few minutes after Dr. Bonovich left, Dr. Grewe arrived.  I thanked him for everything.  He was quite humble about the whole thing and said he just did what he thought he could safely do (with the help of his high tech computer game).  I told him many had been praying through the surgery.  He just smiled.  We talked a bit about the future.  We all know that there is nothing to be done until we have more information from the pathology report (probably Tuesday).

Christina’s ICU nurse for 2 nights, Paddie, was such a great encouragement.  She let me cry on her shoulders.  She gave us her cell phone number so we can keep in touch.  She is willing to answer any questions and wants updates on Christina.  It turns out that her son had a skull reconstruction when he was 1 year old for a deformity.  She knows a mother’s heart in ICU.

Christina has asked for prayer that her pain medication does not affect her very sensitive intestinal tract.  She is quite worried about that.  (She said to put that one out there for much prayer).  If anyone out there has that kind of problem, you’ll know why she is so concerned about avoiding any trouble.

My verse for today is 2 Corinthians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.”

Much love,
Jo Dee

I forgot to tell you of a wonderful treat.  Two very kind young men (Ryan and Matt) came to the hospital with a stack of pizzas for all of us.  They had never met Christina but had been reading all updates forwarded by friends of Christina’s.  They brought pizza, drinks, and Ryan had a special devotional from “Streams in the Desert”.  Then I took them in to meet Christina.  What fun.

Update Ten

Our dear Christina came out of her very long surgery, in very fine condition.  My greatest hope was that Christina would have no impairments–mental or physical.  She was smiling and talking and moving her arms and legs 30 minutes after surgery.  By the time I got to see her in ICU she was still very peaceful and smiling.  I asked Christina what kind of brain surgery patient smiles afterwards.  The ICU nurse wondered the same thing.

She is handling her headache (my head kinda hurts) with a little help from painkillers.  She looks beautiful and radiant as always AND she still has lots of hair.  She was actually quite pleased about that.  The beanies will cover the bald spot on the back of her head.

The doctor got most of the tumor out–the first biopsy determined malignancy.  The next biopsy will tell us what kind of cancer and how aggressive it is.

Christina asked me right away, “What did the doctor say?”

I told her everything and told her my great desire to still have my daughter at the end of the day was fulfilled.  The next step is the research to find the best treatment for whatever she’s got going on in her head.  We are on this journey together and she will not walk alone.

I sing:

“I love you, Lord,
and I lift my voice,
to worship you,
O my soul rejoice.
Take joy, my king,
In what you hear.
May it be a sweet, sweet sound
in your ear”.

We have had so many people here supporting us.  From Port Angeles we have Dave and Tammy Hansen, Mike and Jan Jones, Kim Mason, and Susan Kroh.  The members of Solid Rock Fellowship have been so supportive.  We had great snacks brought into the hospital waiting areas and some extra bedrooms supplied–thank you Marshmans, and lots of prayer.  Jesse and Kristin (Christina’s brother and his wife) fly in tomorrow and Nancy Stack (from Hawaii) also arrives tomorrow.  The body of Christ is working together and it is beautiful to behold.

Right now, I am in great need of sleep.  Doug is sitting by Christina’s bedside.  Linsey and Kelsey (both good friends of Christina’s) will stay with her through the night.  Kim is out buying me some cold medicine and soft kleenex.  Ah, for a good night’s sleep.  I am about to turn in for as long as I’m able.

Thank you to all of you for your e-mails, calls, prayer, concern, love, and friendship.
I feel unbelievably wealthy.

Much love,
Jo Dee