Update Thirty-Two

Dear Friends,

Christina is now entering her 2nd week of radiation.  Six treatments down, 27 to go.  I made a little chart so that she can mark off the days.   She should finish around December 10th.  (No treatments on weekends or holidays.)  Any side effects generally show up after the 2nd week.

We had a little late night episode last Thursday night.  Christina had found an interesting lump on the back of her neck.  Christina has always been OVERLY concerned about any strange feelings, bumps, rashes, or bites.  When she was about 4 years old, she saw a television special on ticks and lymes disease.  She had nightmares that night and developed quite a fear of ticks.   About one month later, we were on a family backpacking trip.  Beautiful weekend, stunning scenery–just perfect.  Except for the dear woman who came by us on the trail as we were starting out on our hike.  She said, “Such a great day, beautiful trip but there were quite a few ticks around.”  That was all Christina needed to hear.  Doug had to carry her on his shoulders for the entire hike.  No tick was going to come close to little Christina.

So–as we were talking about the lump on her neck, I remembered the tick story and all the other fears she dealt with concerning strange diseases and malfunctions.  I said, “Isn’t it interesting that you, who has always been afraid of things going wrong with your body, have to deal wih a brain tumor.”   We laughed and then agreed that the one good thing about radiation every day is that you’re in the hospital every day with all those great doctors.  We’ll talk to them about the lump.

Dr. Rockhill (Christina’s radiation oncologist) was available, felt the lump, and said with a smile, “I bet you’re afraid your cancer has spread to your neck.”  Well, we knew that brain cancer doesn’t spread but Christina said with a laugh, “Well, what if it’s a new cancer and I’m just going to sprout cancer tumors all over my body.  Oh boy, neck cancer!”   That got a laugh out of him.  (She was rather pleased that she made him laugh.)  It turns out that there is a lymph node system running down the back of the neck that is just draining the refuse from her brain surgery.  That was good news and it put a huge smile on her face.

On a personal note, I’m hoping that nothing in these updates sounds like pride or arrogance in the way we are walking through this trial.  We are normal people, with normal fears, normal desires, and normal anxiety.  What we do have is an incredible God who is doing everything He has promised.  He is absolutely meeting every need.  2 Corinthians 4:7-8 is great.  (Everything in parenthesis is my comment.)

“But we have this treasure (the knowledge of the glory of God) in jars of clay (very normal, fallible minds and bodies) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”  (May Jesus be seen in us.)

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieveing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  SO WE FIX OUR EYES NOT ON WHAT IS SEEN, BUT ON WHAT IS UNSEEN.  for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

We are believing that everything God says about Himself and about eternity and about these being light and momentary troubles is absolutely true.

Much love to you all,
Jo Dee

Update Thirty-One

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Hello Fellow Cheerleaders,

At the radiation center we picked up a couple of handouts that we thought were great.  We wanted to share them with all of you.  None are attributed to an author, so here goes.

ATTITUDE

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.  “Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today!”  So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

“H-M-M,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today!”  So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.  “Well,” she said, “today I’m going to wear my hair in a pony tail.”  So she did and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head.

“Yea!” she exclaimed, “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly…
Leave the rest to God
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…
It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

WHAT CANCER CAN’T DO

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot invade the soul.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

There you have it.  Great stuff for today.  We love you and miss you and long for some time together.

Much love,
Jo Dee and Christina

Update Thirty

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dear Friends,

Christina had her first radiation yesterday.  It went well but I’ll let her tell you about that later.  It was the first of 33 treatments.

Our prayer requests continue along the lines of:

Dear Lord, please

  • help us to see your hand and your many blessings and your assignments for us as we walk through this journey of faith.
  • kill all the cancer cells
  • protect all the good cells, including pituitary gland and hair follicles:)
  • let Christina experience minimal brain swelling so she can stay off the “tumor pill” and stay free of headaches
  • allow Christina to function at a somewhat normal energy level.

She experienced no nausea which means she probably won’t be experiencing any.  Most other side effects kick in at about the 2 week mark, except the pituitary gland damage which shows up at about the year mark.

Yesterday, Christina did have her first headache since surgery but she said it is not the “tumor pressure” kind–just a normal behind the eyes kind.  There is always a wave of concern over those kind of things.  Last Saturday I woke up with a vague awareness that I was feeling sorry for Christina and wondering how I could have a family dinner without her present.  I asked the Lord to help me through that.  I knew something was not quite right in my heart but I couldn’t identify the source.

I turned to I Peter, chapter 1 and started reading.  By the time I was through the first 9 verses, my heart was full of joy and TRUTH.  Each phrase of this passage could be talked about for days.  If this was the only passage in the Bible, it would be enough to get us through these lives we are asked to live. I love and long for the eternal perspective of life not the perspective that says, “this is all there is to life.”  So, I’m just going to type it out starting with the end of verse 2 and let it speak volumes to your own hearts.

I Peter 1:2b-9

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

These have come so that your faith–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

After spending time looking carefully at all the great truth, I felt my heart swing to that beautiful place of knowing that God understands my heart, He knows what He is doing, and I can rest in Him.  I have been studying the book of Daniel with my women’s Bible study.  I echo the words of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah as they speak to King Nebuchadnezzar about their God.  “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

I know that our great God could heal Christina in one moment and perhaps already has.  He is capable and able.  But if He does not, I will not despair or be offended or have a shattered faith.  My only goal in this life is to glorify God–in life or in death.  He knows what is best and He knows what He is doing.  My heart rests secure and strong in Him (shielded by God’s power).

I send my love to all of you,
Jo Dee

P.S.  For you scientific sorts, Christina FISH report came back.  She has the important chromosome codeletion that points to a more well-behaved oligo tumor.  It doesn’t have an effect on the astero part of her tumor.  It’s quite entertaining to listen to the doctors say that this is good, kind of, but doesn’t really tell us much, because each brain tumor is so individual and of course, we don’t know how Christina’s tumor will respond because, well, it’s probably two tumors, and she does have some overexpressed cells, etc, etc, etc.  I’m just glad I know the God of the universe, the creator of Christina’s brain, who knows every cell of her body and knows exactly what it will do.

Hi Everyone!

By the time you get this I will have already had my second radiation treatment. Yesterday went just fine and it was nice to get a picture for what the next 6 weeks will be looking like. The actual radiation part is really short.  They shoot at my brain in four separate directions (fields), and each of the four “zaps” as I like to call them only last 5-8ish seconds. It’s all the positioning between each zap that really takes up the bulk of the time.  I decided I like the fact that I can hear exactly when each field is getting zapped because I can pray super specifically for my cells

in real time. God is most definitely not limited to our silly time lines here on earth… but it’s kind of exhilarating to pray so specifically in the moment.

So here’s a fun little picture for you to give you an idea of what each session looks like:

Imagine me laying on the table, strapped down in my amazing mask, everyone has left the room hiding behind the foot thick walls (don’t worry I wore my extra thick underwear today:) and the first zap begins…my prayers go a little something like this….”Lord please protect my good brain cells! Die cancer cells die!!!!! Hold on little hair follicles, don’t let go!!! Lord keep them strong!”  The therapists then come back in and reposition me, then leave again (still no lead vest:) the second zap begins… “Lord make the cancer cells die!!! Diiiiiiiiiiiiiieee” …. third zap…”Go God! Go brain, stay strong yeehaw!”  Fourth zap…”Jesus protect my brain and hair!!! Let them all come back again and heal well!! Diiiiie cancer!!!!!”

It’s like I have my own cheerleading prayer squad! It’s actually very fun and makes me laugh at myself. I unfortunately can’t pray any of this out loud because the mask fits tight and presses my lips together and it would just sound like zombie moaning (and I guess it would look like it too), and that would be bad because they would think I was in trouble or pain and come running in to stop treatment. All in all it’s a relatively quick and painless experience, it’s just the after effects that we’ll have to wait and see about.

God continues to surround me with his perfect peace.  I am met every day with the temptation to start worrying about… well, anything and everything (over analyzing new symptoms, reliving old headaches, fear of the unknown, burdening loved ones… the list goes on) but again I am reminded that to live in the midst of this trial requires daily surrender on my part.  Like I mentioned in my last update, every day I have to lay down every single burden, every single worry, everything that I am tempted to hang onto….. and “cut the rope” so to speak, to lay it at Jesus’ feet:) Please pray for me as I continue to do this and pray my heart remains thankful, trusting, free and absolutely full of joy. I am certainly joyful now and so so thankful for all of you.  God bless each and every one of you. May his face shine so brightly on you today. I love you all.

Christina (the masked warrior)

Update Twenty-Nine

Dear Friends,

We are happily settled in Seattle at this beautiful home.

In Portland, we were at the “house of peace”.

In Seattle, we brought God’s unparalleled peace with us but the house has a different name.  It is called the “House of Strength and Courage”.  Joshua 1:9 has been given to us several times.  One we wear around our necks in the form of a necklace that Ryan’s mom made for us.  The whole verse is right on the necklace.  We call them our Warrior Princess Dogtags.

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Christina was also given one of those beautiful little Willow angels.  This angel has arms spread high above her head and is called the Angel of Courage.

The owners of the Seattle house fought their cancer at this house and it was a house of courage, determination, and strength.

It would be so easy to think too far into the future.  What will Christina be like in 3 weeks?  Will she be too tired to function?  Will she lose a bunch of hair?  Will her pituitary gland be damaged?  The questions are endless.  I am taking Joshua 1:9 seriously.  Be strong and courageous.  We have had such delight and joy and laughter for the past 6 weeks.  God has blessed us abundantly beyond what we could ask or imagine.  Why would He leave us now?  He won’t.  …for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.   That is as true today as it was 6 weeks ago.

This morning, as I was reading through Philippians, I came across these very familiar verses.

Phil. 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 everything through him who gives me strength.”

True, true, true!!!

Christina’s treatment begins on Tuesday at 5:00 P.M.  She has a practice run on Monday at noon.

A few prayer requests–

  • protection for the good cellls
  • destruction for the bad cells
  • Christina would love to keep her hair
  • continued strength
  • no damage to pituitary gland
  • and many opportunities to share the reason for the hope within us.

Much love and many thanks,
Jo Dee

P.S.  Some have asked for an address.  I think the easiest would be to send mail to Christina c/o IBC, 112 N. Lincoln, Port Angeles, WA 98362

Someone will pick up and deliver:)

Dear Friends… Christina speaking:) Again let me start by saying thank you for your prayers and love. It’s been a wild ride on the waves of your prayers, but I’ve never felt so protected and safe in the midst of the storm around me. Thank you for walking this journey with me. Thank you also for all the feedback you continue to give… hearing how your own lives have been affected through this and what God is doing in your own life, well I just can’t get enough of it. You brighten my day with your words and stories. If our Lord is glorified… I want to hear about it! Whahoo!  This week for me has been FULL of internal processing. For those of you that know me.. you know what I mean. Receiving a lot of information, hearing new things, understanding doctor’s predictions and limitations… all things that force me to look at my life and say wow, okay what does this mean? Does this change anything? Do I need to be doing anything different? Do I need to be feeling anything different? Am I really happy and content or do feel that way because I’m totally naive and don’t know it? Honestly in meeting with a few of the doctors, I’m sure that that’s what they were thinking. Oh poor girl, she’s smiling because she doesn’t know what this really means for her. So then they try to explain… and well, the smile remains… go figure:) It baffles me sometimes, but hey, isn’t that the mystery of our God? Joy instead of mourning… inexplainable joy. It’s my new favorite thing:)

As far as the life expectancy thing goes… I think my mom’s email totally captured it. Yes it can be a shock to the system to year an actual number in years… it’s been a big transition in my own mind and heart as well.  Old age is something we’re just used to picturing, kinda like we’re kids picture our twenties being a nicely packaged progression of college, career, marraige, start of family… just because that’s what happens for a lot of people. It doesn’t mean it can or even should happen for us… but it does for a lot of people and so we begin to expect it for ourselves as well. I want to die to those expectations because they are not necessarily what the Lord wants for me.  If the Lord doesn’t want me to live more than 5 years, I most certainly don’t want to pine after extra years devoid of the Lord’s blessing buried in my own dreams trying to fulfill my own idea of “happiness”. No thanks:) I instead want to live every second of this life in communion with my Saviour leaning on Him for JOY, strength, love, wisdom, compassion, encouragement, and the excitement of sharing his love to ALL who I encounter along the way. Because I have a brain tumor and it’s likely to overtake me at some point, people ask about my faith, and they listen intently to what I say… it’s almost intimidating. I hope I say the right thing. I hope my words and actions point totally to Christ. This is not an opportunity to be wasted:) I PRAY with all my heart that I can live every moment that the Lord gives me on this earth with vitality that just screams Jesus Christ. I PRAY that I can hold loosely the things of this world. I PRAY that my heart aches only for things that are eternal both here and in Heaven. I PRAY that I will live with no fear of the unknown, but with hope and knowledge for God unlimited power in all areas of life. I PRAY for protection from my own weaknesses when I allow myself to drift from God’s presence (fear, feeling weak/useless/a burden, selfishness). I PRAY I will DAILY lay my life at the Father’s feet and surrender my life completely to Him. I PRAY I will live this life in Courageous Victory with my arms held high… because the battle is already won:) Mmmmmm I’m just smiling….. God is so good.

I feel like I could write pages and pages. We’re at the library though and running out of time. Jesse and Kristin are driving into town and staying for a long weekend… so fun!!! Gotta go meet the family.. but more will definitely come later. I plan to share exciting radiation stories with you… maybe not exciting, but I hope to get a picture in my mask for those of you who have never seen one before. Pretty funny. You just might pee your pants. Can I say that? whoops I just did……:) Love to you all. Talk to you soon.

For His Glory,
Christina

Linsey Here :)  I was listening to this song this week and it really reminded me of Christina modeling for us how we all should live.  I put the song on the welcome page if  you would like to listen to it!

At All Times
Vicki Beeching

In the mountains of joy, in the valley of tears
I will love you, I will trust you
When the flame’s burning bright, when I’m weary and dry
I will love you, I will trust you
You are my strength and you are my song giving me hope and guiding me on

(chorus)
At all times I will sing of your greatness
At all times I will sing of your love
At all times I will sing of your faithfulness
For your goodness remains and your love is the same at all times

When your guidance is clear, when I can’t see ahead
I will love you, I will trust you
In the summer of life, in the soul’s darkest night
I will love you, I will trust you

Update Twenty-Eight

Dear Friends,

I’ve heard from many of you regarding the shock of seeing Christina’s life expectancy down on paper.  Here’s how we feel about it.  Christina says she prefers living this way.  Living becomes very intentional.  It’s really how we should always live.  Time is not to be wasted on non-essentials.  Do not put off important conversations or important activity.  I’m quite sure Christina won’t be spending her remaining years building up her financial assets or pouring a lot of time into having the perfect amount of material things.  She intends to build relationships and to pour into people.  She longs to live out her days in a way that honors God and brings people into a more intimate relationship with the God who created us.  I also know that spending time mourning the loss of Christina before she’s gone doesn’t allow us to enjoy the moments we’re given.  We are doing a lot of celebrating.  One more day of life.  One dear friend said, “We must not miss Christina before she’s gone.”  I love that.  As we were walking in Seattle on Monday, Christina nearly walked in front of some fast moving traffic.  I grabbed her arm, we laughed at the irony–girl with malignant brain tumor run over by car.  She said something about wasting so much time worrying about dying from a brain tumor, when the truth is she could be run over by a car today.  The last month with Christina has been amazing.  If we multiply that by 60 months, I feel like I’m living in the richest possible world.  We strongly believe that this is all in God’s hands.  If He wants her to live 20 more years or 50 more years, that is up to Him.  Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention–Christina’s eyes have improved dramatically and she has been given permission to drive.  She is quite pleased, to say the least.

Much love to all of you,
Jo Dee

P.S. Thanks to Tammy and the Independent Bible Church women’s Bible Study for the incredible worship, powerful prayer, supportive hugs and tears, and for the spontaneous love last night.  (I needed to come home for a dental appt.)  Thanks especially to the worship team–Jamie, Tammy, Dave, and Jeff.  An amazing gift to my heart.

Update Twenty-Seven

Dear Friends,

So much to share that I may do this in 2 parts.

First, we are in Seattle at the most incredible house.  I almost cried when I walked in.  It’s far beyond what I could ask or imagine.  I even had a bath in the jetted tub and sat by the gas fireplace sipping tea:)  I feel lavishly loved by our Wonderful God and so generously shared with by the wonderful family that is letting us use this home indefinitely.  To call this home for 7 weeks is almost more than I can handle.

Today, we spent most of the day planning a course of action for treatment for Christina.  I hardly know where to start.  Maybe I’ll do basics and fill in the blanks tomorrow.  We met first with Dr. Chamberlain, the head of the brain tumor dept. at UW.  He is, as he put it, willing to be the quarterback in Christina’s medical care.  That feels like such a relief.  What a great guy.  He spent quite a long time with us, explaining, answering questions, and advising.

Here’s an incredible thing.  All of our records arrived in time for the tumor board LAST week.  I can hardly believe it, after all that worry about mail systems.  I asked him what they all thought.  They thought Christina had a GREAT surgery in Portland.  We knew that.  :)  Their lab is now working on the final FISH analysis.  You can google that and learn all about it.  I certainly can’t explain it for you.  It would be great if it came back with the specific chromosone deletion they are looking for.  It they find that–present in about 30% of glial tumors–Christina’s life expectancy goes up to an average of 7 to 8 years.  If she doesn’t have the chromosone deletion, then the average life expectancy is 3 to 4 years.  This morning as I was praying, I asked the Lord if Christina could have 5 good years.  I feel like I was getting an incredible YES.  Because of her young age and her good health, she could be on the high end of the scale.

Christina will have about 6 weeks of radiation.  She will have daily treatment that only takes 15 minutes.  The major side effect is fatigue that increases as treatment continues.  Other possible side effects include permanent hair loss at the site (a nice size bald spot), perhaps a little nausea or headache (very treatable), perhaps a loss of cognitive skills (can’t quite think as fast)–could be on the permanent side, damage to the pituitary gland (medication can restore what the pituitary gland does), good brain tissue could be damaged, and the radiation could cause another brain tumor way down the road.

She will not have chemo therapy at this time.  Dr. Chamberlain does not know of any benefit for grade 3 glial tumors.  We are very comfortable with that.

So, all you prayer warriors know how to pray.  Christina is doing well–having a nap, of course.

On Wednesday, she has a face mask made (it is marked with radiation sites according to CT scans and MRI’s).  Then, each time she has radiation her face is positioned in the face mask.  She should actually ready to start radiation on Monday if all goes well.

I’ll write more later.  Thanks everyone, for the support, love, prayer, emails, notes on the website, and encouraging calls.  We are all so grateful.

Much love,
Jo Dee for all

Update Twenty-Six

Hello Friends!

We had such a fun birthday weekend! Jan, Kim, Tammy, Myrna all drove down from Port Angeles to have a slumber party in a beautiful retreat house offered to us by very generous friends. We had an amazing night of relaxing, incredible conversation, delicious birthday dinner, and lots of laughter. Happy Birthday Mom!!!!  I love you!!!!

So tomorrow we leave for Seattle. It’s hard to believe we’re finally moving on to the next phase. I feel ready though. The transition from rest and recuperation to that of a slightly more active nature will be interesting, but also a little exciting. We’ll be sure to keep you all updated as these appointments take place.  Please pray for us as we try to understand everything we are told and discerning as we try to make decisions based on all options available. We have full confidence that the Lord orders all our steps and will make our path absolutely known.

Remember the Ryan who brought pizza to my family in ICU that 2nd night in the hospital? Well that crazy guy’s still hanging around, still bringing yummy treats, but also sharing in great memories and lots of laughter. Ryan’s headed to Africa for two weeks for a short term mission trip. Please pray for him. You can follow his travels at ryaninburkinafaso.blogspot.com.

Thank you for all your prayers! We are blessed beyond belief…

Much Love,
Christina

From Streams in the Desert today:

Phillippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing…”

“This is because we have a Father in Heaven who is almighty, who loves his children as he loves his one and only Son, (John 3:16) and who’s complete joy and delight it is to continually assist them under all circumstances.”

Update Twenty-Five

Dear Friends,

May I share with you my great joy?  Oh, so many things to be thankful for.

#1  The pathology slides (traveling through slow mail systems) have now been fedexed to UW.  We wondered if they would ever end up in the right place.

#2  We picked up most records yesterday and had another look at the MRI.  The tumor was even bigger that I remembered.  I am more astounded and thankful to our great God for the lack of impairment it caused Christina.  (It took up nearly half of that side of her brain at it’s widest point.)

#3  I saw the follow-up MRI for the first time and she still has quite a cavity of air in that side.  I was a little concerned about how fast the tumor might be growing back but she is an airhead.

#4  I got to read for myself the lab reports from Mayo.  I am still amazed at the unusual cancer cells they describe.  They just call it “most unusual” and can’t quite diagnose her.

#5  I was sitting in church last night thinking through all the reports and feeling quite ready to move to Seattle when I suddenly realized that there were no surgery notes or angiogram notes in our packet.  Remember, I’m praying that God will make me smarter than I am:)

#6  So, off to the hospital again this morning with Christina in tow.  The woman at medical records was SO VERY HELPFUL.  She said,  “Oh, you’re the slide girl.”  Apparently, our missing path slides were well-known.  She printed off 17 more pages of reports that we had not seen and then took us to the imaging lab (difficult to find at Emanuel hospital) for another CD of MRI’s that we had not seen.  She is a fellow follower of Jesus and encouraged us all the way.  What an incredible woman.

#7  My sisters, Loralee and Jennifer, took us to Safeway and loaded up a shopping cart of food to help us supply the house in Seattle.  (Well, Jennifer wasn’t here but she helped pay for it.)

#8  My doctor friend, Kathie, keeps telling me that we seem to be on the right track and progressing correctly.  I need to hear that really often.

#9  Christina’s eyes seem to be getting better–slowly but surely.  She’s not too thrilled about the medicine induced acne but that’s a small thing.

Much love to you all and many, many thanks for all the support,
Jo Dee

Update Twenty-Four

Dear Friends,

To say I am overwhelmed by you love, prayers and kind words is the understatement of the century. I’m just flabbergasted:) To hear such warmth and encouragement from SO many people, some from church, from family, from old college friends, from my sweet and amazing little cousins, from in-laws, from friends of in-laws, from missionary friends all over the world, from strangers, from my hometown Port Angeles, from neighbors, from my high schoolers here in Portland… the list goes on.  All I can say is wow. Thank you Lord. I feel like I want to write an 8 page letter in response to every message I receive… just thanking you, sharing my heart, asking about your life… I guess all that will come with time and hopefully many of you I will get to do that in person:) Just know that my heart is just overflowing with gratefulness. I am indeed once again absolutely humbled by the radical outpouring of God’s love and encouragement through all of you. Yeah!!

So it feels like things are starting to move now. Yesterday was a big day as you probably read in my mom’s update. It’s nice to actually have an appointment scheduled and to know exactly what we need to do to be prepared for it. The minute we start feeling helpless and unsure of the next move… something happens that suddenly makes everything fall into place. Isn’t it so amazing how the Lord takes care of us to the tiniest details… even so small as planting a question in our head (that really has no significance to us) but it turns out to be the perfect question that gets the ball rolling in 3 different areas? So cool! He will never leave us or forsake us – from brain surgery… to whispered questions in our ears…. He is so faithful. It looks like I’ll be leaving for Seattle on Sunday the 14th and packing for an extended stay just in case. We have no idea how quickly they will be wanting to start treatments but we’ll be ready just in case. If time allows we may even squeeze in a trip to Port Angeles…. yay!:) Thanks to an amazing and generous family (Yes, you, Mary Adams) we have been offered a fully furnished beautiful house in a perfect location to stay at while undergoing treatments in Seattle. Again, all I can say is wow. God you are so good. You are indeed my PROVIDER.

All of you…. all of you are an integral part of this journey, and I feel like I need to reiterate that. You are making this a unique, incredible, and faith-building experience for me but you are also on your own adventure. And for whatever reason I got really excited about your adventures today… I have no idea where you are at in life and what you are going through but I do know that God is passionately pursuing you… whether you feel it or not, whether you believe it or not, whether you feel surrounded by him or a million miles away. God wants your heart.

This passage in John has been laid on my heart to share with you.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I call you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit– fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:9-17

blessings on your journey…
Christina

P.S.  For those of you receiving these as email updates, I wanted to remind you that they are all posted on Christina’s website — www.christinaahmann.com

Update Twenty-Three

Christmas in October
October 8, 2007

Linsey:  I have a Christmas gift for both of you.
JoDee:  We’ll wait for Christmas.
Linsey:  But I can’t wait that long.  It came in the mail today.
JoDee:  No Christmas gifts in October.
Linsey:  Pleeeeease.  (Whiny voice.)
Christina:  Mom, she really wants to give it to us now.
JoDee:  Oh. O.K.  Go for it.

What followed was amazing.  Linsey had 2 copies of a book made for us called, Beautiful Lord–Christina’s Journey of Faith.  Great pictures, great text, great delight.  How does Linsey come up with these things?  She’s so much fun.

On a more serious note, I awoke with a lot on my mind.  I’m gearing up for the treatment plan in Seattle.  As usual, I’m feeling way out of my league on this one.  So, I spent some time with the Lord and my journal.  I think I’ll just type in my prayer from my journal and then tell you what happened next.

O Lord, help us, help us, help us.  We’re about to enter in to a world that is not my specialty–medicine.  Please make me smarter than I am.  Please help me with questions, with discernment, with hearing your voice clearly.  As I relied on you for the right surgeon, I rely on you for the right oncologist.  Lord, I pray that you would slow down those cancer cells–perhaps you have already made them slower by their unique design.  Lord, most of all I want to say that I trust you with my life, with Christina’s life–you know our desire–we desire to honor you, to allow the splendor of You to shine through.  Lord, we are absolutely dependent on You for peace, for joy, for direction, for healing, for endurance, for wisdom, for insight, for ALL things.  It’s always my desire to see you at every turn.  Help me to not miss your observable presence.  We love that we are experiencing (as Ryan says) non-circumstantial joy.  Only you can give that.  I thank you for the laughter, the truth, the peace, the amazing blessings you are sending our way.  I thank you for the people who are willing to walk this journey with us.  I thank you for every provision you have already made.  Thank you for your Word, for Jeremiah 17:7-8,

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
Its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

Amen, Lord, Amen.

After my time with the Lord, I called UW to tell them our records are on the way for the Wednesday tumor board.  The nurse asked if we fedex’d the records or sent them by regular mail.  I was pretty sure that Dr. Grewe’s office sent them by regular mail.  She told me that it takes 7-10 days to go through the UW mail system–oops.  Too bad we didn’t know that ahead of time.  I was just about to end the phone call (a little frustrated with the number of important things flowing through mail systems that I have no control over) when I asked the nurse if time was an issue at all.  Can we afford to wait another week, another 2 weeks, a month.  Would someone please address this matter?  She stopped and said, “You know, why don’t we just get you in next week with Dr. Chamberlin (neuro-oncologist).”  O.K. that sounds like a plan.  So, Monday morning, Oct. 15th, we’ll be at the UW medical center.  I asked Dr. Chamberlin’s office what I need to have in my hands.   I should have all records and pictures concerning Christina’s course of treatment.  So, this week, I will be gathering all necessary information to carry with me–no more mail systems.  If, by chance, everything arrives in Seattle for this Wednesday’s tumor board, that would be great but we are no longer dependent on that.  I am very thankful for the opportunity to actually see a doctor, quite relieved, in fact.

I stand with the declaration of a sovereign God who is not surprised, or distant, or unconcerned, or powerless.  He is my All in All and there are no accidents in this walk of faith.

Much love,
Jo Dee