Update Seventy-Six

I generally consider myself a pretty even-keeled sort of person.

I have my ups and downs emotionally, most of the time internal. Occasionally in the company of a ‘safe’ friend or family member, I can reveal them bit by bit.

I say all this to try and share a small piece of my quirky inner-workings. I’ve discovered recently that in this journey, I’ve been thrown into a whole new experience of difficult emotional responses.

I’ve never experienced “I’m done” before.

I’ve never gotten to the place where I honestly didn’t care if I lived or died. Every last physical and emotional reserve was sucked out of me, and I couldn’t see a way out. The present was too much, the future was pure fear, and hope… well hope, was long gone.

I could go on, but the point was, I was in a quick downward spiral and nothing was stopping me. Nothing…until two things happened. First an email showed up in my inbox.

This was an email from Ryan Hovde, whose wife (suffering from severe brain trauma due to a ski accident) was just down the hall from me in the hospital. I call it my ‘kick in the butt’ email.

With his permission, here are portions of it.

“…I’m told she should recover to some degree but I lay awake nights wondering if my true 39 year old wife will ever be the same again…

…I say all this knowing that my wife will live and we’ll have a life together regardless of how that life may look.  This brings me to you.  You have no idea what you and your family have done for me in this, the most difficult time in my life thus far.  When your parents prayed for me and Dina in the waiting room of the ICU I couldn’t believe it.  I’ve been a Christian since I was 13 years old but in the last 26 years I’ve never experienced what I did with you and your family.  How can a family who is dealing with the difficult pain that yours is, take the time to put their arms around someone else who is in a far less trying situation? It is simply amazing!

I want you to know the beautiful song your friend wrote for you that is on your website has been played over and over again for Dina.  I play it through my itouch and she listens to it over and over again as I wheel her around the hospital.  She has gotten to the point where she even sings along.  The first night I heard it I listened to it in my living room several times crying uncontrollably.  The tears were not tears of pain but tears of joy.  Tears of joy that this world cannot keep us down forever.  Tears of joy that one day we, as a Christian Family, will live together forever in Heaven with our Lord and Savior. Without pain.  Without suffering.  Without sorrow.

I look forward to that day when the Lord calls me home.  But for now, I want you to know that for as long as I am on this Earth; you will always be in my heart.  That one, five minute talk with you has left a life-long impression on me that will never leave.  You are my hero, Christina Ahmann.  I will carry your story with me always.  My wife Dina will one day know of you and my children will know of you as they grow.  You are truly a child of God and I am so blessed to have known you if only for a few minutes.  God Bless you and your family always…“

I cried and cried. My first thought was. “How arrogant Christina, how arrogant to presume what your journey is or isn’t about??  How about let’s try to take a little focus off SELF.” The truth is there is NO LIMIT to what God may want to do — even if it’s through a man my family and I crossed paths with a few days in a hospital. This man’s life has changed suddenly and drastically. He is walking down a path that I can’t even fathom! The fact that any part of my story can bring comfort to his situation, how humbling. How amazing. How incredibly worth it.

The second thing that happened, was when a friend came over a couple days ago, to visit and drop off a gift. She came full of questions… even printed off a few pages of my website to talk through with a mutual friend. She so badly wanted to know how in the world we could possibly see any good in suffering. A couple hours later she was praying with my mom and I to receive Jesus right here in our living room! Unbelievable! What an absolute honor to be a part of that day.

I’m done saying, “I’m done.”  Bringing a new friend encouragement on a difficult path and witnessing a new life join us in eternity– how could I ever measure the worth of that?!!:)

I have to trust Him. I have to trust that even if I lose parts of ‘myself’ through this, or even die a young death from cancer, I have no idea what He may have in store. That is so beyond my limited non-eternal comprehension. I have to trust Him to carry me through this life, whatever it may look like!

Yesterday I met with my oncologist in Seattle. I came home with chemo in hand (pill form) and will be starting on Friday. I will be taking a dose every night before bed for 5 days. Then I will have 23 days off and start the process all over again. They are expecting this to go about 8 rounds.

If you feel like praying for this process, you’d forever be my hero;) Basically the main side effect is nausea, and the reason I take it right before bed is that they’re hoping I will sleep through the most intense part. So, my directions are to take an anti-nausea pill one hour before bedtime and at that time cut off all food and water. When it’s time to climb in bed I will take my chemo, snuggle in bed and pray for the best. I’m, of course, wondering if I’ll be all nervous and lay there awake and helpless while all the grossness sets in! God did not give me a spirit of fear right???:) Great practice in surrendering that one. Eeks! I share all that detail just hoping to give you a little picture of my 5-day routine if you really do want to be praying. Between other updates, I’ll try to always post something when a new round is starting, just to keep ya’ll in the loop:)

I am doing so much better since the last update, thanks so much for your prayers! My knee feels great, my appetite is returning, and my eyes continue to improve! I can read, write, watch movies, and even drive – doctor approved! Thank you Jesus! There is still much room for improvement (please keep praying), but am so thankful for each small step in healing. They feel like little miracles.

Bye for now…. Christina

Ok now go hug someone you love! It’s fun.

P.S. By the way, Ryan is bringing Dina home this week! Please keep Ryan & Dina and their two little boys in your prayers as they navigate this new journey together. God’s doing spectacular things:)

32 thoughts on “Update Seventy-Six

  1. oh dear Christina.  It was with tears as I read your update.  So sorry for your pain and suffering and so thankful that God reached out and touched your heart at just the right time.  You are MY hero Christina…keep fighting…I love you!!!  
    oh, and Dave might want to consider a keeping his day job!!  just kidding…they looked great.
    oh, and wow Christina…someone remembered you when you were an AWESOME middle school counselor…huh :)   isn’t God good?

    Hebrews 11:27
    It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger.  He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.

  2. Dear Christina,

    The two you mention aren’t the only two encouraged through your journey. Thanks for giving me my own "kick in the butt" today, reminding me Who is in control of each moment of our journeys even in the moments we lose sight of the truth.

    Praying for you as you begin the chemo phase of your journey. May God give you the gift of knowing you are held securely through all of this.

  3. Christina,
    Your testimony is such an encouragement for me to keep pressing on through the rough days…the Lord definitely knew that I needed to read that update last night. I am so thankful that the Lord allowed our paths to cross…

  4. I am consistantly trying not to cry as I read your updates! I’m just so moved by the way God uses you in other peoples lives. Thank you for sharing, even when it is really hard. It is always worth it. I will be praying for you as you endure chemo.

  5. Dearest Christina,
    Thank you for sharing your difficult and wondrous journey with all of us.  I see Jesus in you.
    Love you so,

  6. "He determined the times set for them and the exact places they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us." Acts 17:26b-27

    God’s purpose for your steps through pain and your willingness to share your thoughts gives many a vision of the Hope available to them. While none of us wants you to suffer and we pray for healing and restoration, you’ve encouraged me to evaluate my own choices in how I can honor Him with my life. I am changing because of you. And these are changes I needed to make. May God Bless you.

  7. Note to self: don’t read updates while trying to get ready for work. Makeup doesn’t stay on with tears :D

    I’m glad you’ve come out of the "black period" and I know too well what that feels like. It’s a whole new level of trust! You will be prayed for during chemo for sure! Just take your ondansetron, curl up in the Lord’s lap and sleep (that’s what I’ll be praying for.)

    REALLY glad to hear of the improvement in vision! Yahoo! It’s such an honor to read your updates and to learn from Him as He works in you. Please keep us updated on Ryan and Dina, too. BIG hugs…. (((((((HUGS))))))))

  8. Sister,

    Honestly, I love your honesty (redundant, slightly).  Just last night Matt and I were talking-or should I say he was listening to me have a "Sad" moment"-and I said, " I just don’t think I would make it if I really ever had serious trials." Then we discussed faith, I thought a lot about you, and and then got worried because the faith I desire is like the faith you have-and like you said, it hasn’t been easy.
    I guess what I am trying to say is thank you.  You have blessed me immensely and are a great frame of reference when my heart needs a serious check. Your faith is radiant-you are such a David (Davidess???) with your honesty and transparent heart. I know He delights in you.
    I pray I use the faith I have learned from you to pour out to others and I thank you, for reaching thousands (even if you are keeled over sick and the knee thing…really?…really?…I so hope there is laughter in heaven because you will surely laugh at that one day).  
    The Normans love you.
    A lot.

  9. I write this response with tears in my eyes Christina. You have absolutely all the reasoning in the world to say "I’m Done." That’s what I said tonight, with my little trial. I was seriously at a breaking point, and then I stumbled across your post, and I started crying, but for a different reason. I hate that you have to go through this. I hate that there is suffering in this world. Yet, we are here, and we must press onward, and have faith that there is something going on greater than we can see. Thank you for being the "voice of God’s truth" tonight. I’m truly sorry that you must endure so much suffering in order to bring glory to God and his Kingdom. I don’t get it. It isn’t fair. But you are worthy of it. And you will be in my prayers as you go through yet another series of trials in these months to come. Let me know when it is safe to bring over some cookies and coffee.

  10. Grateful to God for the improvements with your eyes and the ability to drive!!!  
    Thank you for continuing to share your story so transparently for all of us as we pray for you and your family. Prayers you do sleep through the chemo meds or that the anti-nausea has a sleep aid to assist you!
    Thank you for posting the photo of Dave painting your toenails..they are socool!
    Our love and prayers, Kim for the Suttons

  11. Good Morning. I thank you so much for your words this morning. You bring joy to our lives even when you have your own "I’m done" moments. And I do say moments for as one who is a follower of Him, we have moments so that we are back to understanding how much He is needed. We will be praying that the chemo pill gives you no trouble at all and that you don’t eve notice you are taking it. May the Lord continue to bring you peace and comfort during all of this. BTW, love the color of your toenails.

    Much Love,

    Wyatt, Steffi and David Webb

  12. Christina,
         I shared about you with my homegroup last night, as we were talking about God’s authority and what it means to submit to that even in the midst of pain, sickness, sadness, and all the other things we endure in this life. Thank you for being such an encouragement and example, but also thank you for sharing so openly about your struggles and fears. As many others have said, you are helping to change my outlook on things and my faith in Jesus, in such good ways. Lovelovelovelovelove and prayers by the bucketfull to you!

  13. Christina – We love your transparency!  Unbelievably, it makes you an even more wonderful witness!  Your testimonies have been sure, strong, unwaivering.  It’s been easy to just sit back in awe at your maturity and a Christian walk that seems much stronger than some of us.  So, you’ve hit a little snag in the road and doubts have wriggled intrusively into the fifedom; BUT God, who does exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever see, hope or think brought 2 instances to light that broke through the gloom.  How like Him!  And, how like you precious Tina to recognize the truth beyond the lies.  Of course, praying for you is a top priority in this household!  May you rest this night in peaceful sleep, knowing you’ve still got a very special purpose!!  Hugs!

  14. Oh Christina, I love your heart and I love that you share what’s going on in your heart. I remember that day where you hit your lowest of lows and just wanted to be done with it all. It broke my heart to see you hurting so deeply. The neat thing about that day was that you may have felt "done" but you didn’t give up. You kept on fighting. And you continue to keep fighting. You knew deep deep down that God was using your story in amazing ways. And boy is He doing just that. What a blessing it is to be one of the ones who gets to be a part of your journey. I love you so much and continue to be amazed and encouraged and challenged by all that God is doing in your heart and in the hearts of others through your story. I pray you continue to surrender it all to Him and allow Him to do the unimaginable. I have always looked up to, ever since I was little, and I know I always will, but I have never been more proud of you than I am now.

  15. Hi Christina, I’ve been following your blog the last few weeks as mutual friends have been sharing it on facebook.  It makes me recall having you as my wonderful middle school counselor at IBC. I just wanted to say that I’m praying for you these days. I had a small surgery last Friday and when I woke up from anesthesia I had three long horrible hours of nausea.  It was such a helpless feeling. After having that recent reminder I will especially be praying that you won’t suffer from nausea from the chemo. ♥
    Kristen (Blakeman) Rafferty

  16. Thank you so much for the update. It was uplifting and encouraging to my soul. And it resulted in a good cry at my desk, thank goodness I have an hour before my next patient.
    The Lord is doing such profound and life altering things for the people in your life through this journey. I feel so blessed to be getting to know you and I appriciate your specific requests for prayer as I am continually yearning for ways to support you and your family.
    Janelle Doolittle

  17. my dear friend:),

    the letter from ryan evoked a similar response from me;  lots of tears. all of his words so very true.  i also can distinctly remember the day of chemo and wondering (ok, FRETTING!) what my symptoms would be, waiting the minutes and hours.  you are walking through SO much with so MUCH grace.  i LOVE how I continue to see in you a humble desire to see your journey through HIS eyes;  to understand with His heart.  your life, in every single way, continue to point me to the cross of Christ where all strength and peace is found.  thanks for continuing to be so open and share not only your journey…but also your days with all of us.  

    i continue to think of and pray for you constantly.  you are never far from my mind, seriously never :).  counting the days until God crosses our paths again…or until that transporter is up and running :) !!  missing you my friend.  may God begin to pour His beautiful peace into your very spirit as Friday, next week, and next month approach  (ditto to you jo dee and doug and the rest of the crew :).    

    so so MUCH love to you,
    ps.  love the pedicure!!

  18. Seeing such a strong person as you confess to feeling like being done is actually a blessing… because it is something we all feel at times and something that we don’t really like to admit to or talk about, so we tend to hold the belief that feeling that way somehow makes us less… when in reality those are the times that the Lord is working on us the most.  I may be done, but His work in me is never done!

  19. A. Jen

    So I was reading today and was so deeply encouraged by Psalm 36 today, and as always, think of you in every Scripture these days… so here it is.  

    Thanks for dropping in yesterday… wish I would have had my wits about me to sit and pray with ya… (bad auntie!) Can I have a ‘do over?’  ok, here is most of Psalm 36…

    Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
          your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
    6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
          your justice like the ocean depths.
       You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
        7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
       All humanity finds shelter
          in the shadow of your wings.
    8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
          letting them drink from your river of delights.
    9 For you are the fountain of life,
          the light by which we see.

    10 Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you;
          give justice to those with honest hearts.

    Yummm… praying you feel every jot and tittle of this in your world today.  Hugs!

  20. You are amazing . . . you should consider writing a book!  You truly have a gift for the written word and share your emotion so freely through your blog.  It is so uplifting to read and we wish you only the best in this time of healing for you!

  21. My Dear Christina
    Thank you for your testimony! I am so thankful that God showed you at least two lives that your story has touched in such a huge way. Please know there are so many more…mine included. I will keep praying for you and your beloved family. Love, Cassie Karj.

  22. Wow.  Ok.  I don’t want to say that I can "relate"…that would be way too presumptous for me.  But…I appreciate knowing that you do struggle with the "walk of faith" that we are called to.  I have often asked the alway’s present "why me, Lord?"…(why am I the one who is abused in my first marriage to a "christian"…why am I the one who is Rh- and has RhoGam Failure (2% failure rate) when Gretchen is born…why am I the one who has to watch their newborn Anneka go thru a double-volume exchange tranfusion…why am I the midwife who has to endure infertility treatments to concieve and carry Derek…why am I the one who has to endure 40 days and nights in Kazkhstan to adopt Sasha and redeem her out of an orphanage…. etc, etc, etc….)  and, of course, there are no answers except that God is Soverign.  And, in His Soverignity He is Compassion and Grace and Love.  

    So…we are right there with you.  You are blessed.  You are loved.  You get to see some of God’s amazing grace.  You continue to be an inspiration to all of us out here in "Christina-cyber-land".  We hold hands and walk together toward the Heavenly Kingdom.

    Love, Karla

  23. You don’t know me. I’m a friend of your brother’s on Facebook.  I have been reading your blog.  You are touching more people than you could possibly know with your journey and your faith and courage.  I appreciate your candor about your struggles.


  24. Christina, Your honesty and vulnerability is so dear, and much much appreciated. What a gift, that you give us all your heart so openly. You are so beautiful. Jesse and I will be praying for you tonight as you take your first pill.

  25. Well, this is the day.  I’m praying for you to have great peace and rest all night long as the chemo does it’s thing while you SLEEP!  I love you…

  26. Oh Christina,
    Your heart is beautiful, your toes are beautiful, you are beautiful.

    Jude 24,25
    Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

  27. Christina,

    Thank you for your update and testimony. I am truly touched by god each time I read through one of your updates.  You are courageous and are fighting the good fight. I pray for additional strength upon you as you now start the Chemotherapy.  May you be blessed to be a blessing during this time.

  28. Christina and family– please contact the Tuttles if you need our Seattle house again!  We check here occasionally and You are all continually in our prayers!  God creates each of us special for the purpose as he intends it.    Laura, Giles , Mary, Alana and Isabelle

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