Update Eighty-Two

Christina Jo (Ahmann) Nevill
March 4, 1982 – June 13, 2013

Christina Jo Ahmann came into this world on March 4, 1982 and breathed her last breath on earth on June 13, 2013.

DSC_3357She was born to her parents, Doug and Jo Dee Ahmann and grew up in Port Angeles. She attended Jefferson Elementary, Calvary Baptist School, Olympic Christian School, and Port Angeles High School. Her major interests in those years were playing her violin, playing soccer, hunting, fishing, hiking, and skiing. She graduated from PAHS in 2000. Her earliest friends, Mandy (Wood) Penso and Linsey (Tuttle) Fuller remained close her entire life.

Christina moved on to Westmont College. Her 4 years at Westmont were a rich time of spiritual, social, and intellectual growth. She formed beautiful friendships and in the last two years of Westmont became a Resident Assistant and successfully shepherded some amazing women through the rigors and traumas of college life. She graduated with a B.S. degree in Kinesiology in 2004.

Christina moved to Portland, Oregon to study massage therapy and begin her own practice. After being diagnosed with a brain tumor she found a new passion—oncology massage. She did further studies in that field and founded a non-profit, “Consider the Sparrow” to provide free massage therapy for cancer patients.

In 2011, a most amazing man, Doug Nevill, came into her life. Christina moved back to Port Angeles to be near him and they were married in November of the same year. One year later, they welcomed their son, Isaiah Douglas into the world. His contagious joy is a continual reminder of Christina’s joyful spirit.

Christina loved Jesus, she loved people, she loved adventure and she loved her life. Joy and wisdom poured from her and she would willingly share both with anyone that crossed her path. She was an active listener, encourager, and a wise counselor.
To her final day, her greatest passion was worship and prayer with her beloved friends and family. She will be greatly missed but she has left a huge legacy of wisdom, wit, and love. She has taught us how to live with great courage, unshakable faith, unending joy, and immense strength.

She is survived by her husband, Douglas E. Nevill and her son, Isaiah Douglas. She is also survived by her brother, Jesse Ahmann, her parents Doug and Jo Dee Ahmann, and her grandmother, Victoria Ahmann.

She is also survived by her 14 cousins and her adoring aunts and uncles.

Drennan Ford is in charge of arrangements. A memorial service will be held at Independent Bible Church on Friday, June 21st at 1:00 P.M.

Memorial contributions may be made to IBC Women in Ministry where she was a member of the leadership team.

Update Eighty-One

This is Christina’s Mom. As Christina declined in health, her spirit enlarged.  One afternoon I asked her if she wanted to pray together. She had me go first–I prayed. Then she began–I had my computer on my lap and began to type as she prayed. This was the final prayer she prayed that I could hear and understand (her voice got increasingly quiet as the days wore on).

On May 20, 2013–

Lord, we thank you for time together we didn’t expect. We are bombarded by your peace.  We are full of your joy and full of your delightful understanding and we pray for more of it everyday. We pray for your understanding and your excitement and your joy to continue to come flooding in.  We’re excited and thank you for your power and thank you for your wisdom and thank you for whatever you have in store for us.  And for all the stuff we don’t understand in this moment and will become important–we pray for your help.  And we pray for your heightened wisdom in how to handle those well, and protect each other well and honor each other well.

I pray for special respect of each other and of the Lord as we gain knowledge of what you are to us as we figure out our role in this great design of the human race and how we come to understand it better—this incredible design of the world.  You have broken it up into such a beautiful mystery.  Teach us Lord, how to fathom all that it means, all together, without becoming cynical and without arrogance and without believing we own the world, or understand it too completely.  I thank you that you give us grace to do what we have left to do.  I love you, Lord, and I don’t want a shortcut on life.  I want what will make us grow.  We do desire growth and we do desire the hard stuff because it’s what makes us grow.  We love you.  In Jesus Name.  Amen

Update Eighty

Ah, what a beautiful Tuesday. What an amazing day to be alive! I’ve been wanting to share some thoughts for a while, but you know how things get:) Writing things down is a bit slower and harder these days, so I’m thinking that posting smaller snippets as I am able, might be the way to go. We shall see:)

 

Let me start with this. Being put under hospice care is the last place I would have ever expected to feel so peaceful, and thankful, and joyful towards my the Lord. Please know that this is not a “make people feel good” answer. This is as honest as it gets. Has it been the hardest, scariest, and most emotional thing I’ve ever faced? Yes. Have I ever felt God’s presence more powerfully and craved it more hungrily? Never.

So why am I peaceful, thankful and joyful? Most simply put I’d say, it’s a miracle to my heart, and God’s character of grace on full display.

Peaceful.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.”

He promises us peace. When we trust his purposes above our own, keep our eyes and thoughts fixed on Him, no matter what the circumstances, (even death) He promises peace. Not without struggle, not without tears, or grieving, but a deep settled peace, CHOOSING to believe that God’s “good” is much more powerful and complete than my own “good”. Even if my emotions have trouble catching up sometimes.

Thankful.

Who gets this kind of time?! Oftentimes, people in my situation (even those dealing with cancer for a while), will face an abrupt end to their fully functioning state. Grand mal seizure leading to a coma can be a common one in brain cancer. This doesn’t mean this will be my route or anyone else’s for that matter. God can do whatever He chooses. But, look, here I am! 2 big seizures into this, tumors suddenly spread all over my brain, and I’m feeling better than I have in months!  I have way less pain, more energy and definitely much clearer thoughts. Yay:) All on hospice, who would have thought?! The first seizure, and the following MRI was God’s perfect provision allowing us all to be aware of my new health status. I am so thankful for the beautiful time I/we have all gotten to experience because of this. Friends and family have been able to fly in and I’ve loved the relaxation of my home, only made possible by so many people contributing to help–the Isaiah care, the food, the cleaning, the super fun yard work parties, errands run for us, the worship nights, Doug’s awesome work allowing him to take so much time off. We’ve had overnight baby care (thanks Mom!) for quiet restful nights and sleep-in mornings with lattes waiting for us when we get up. Oh yes. The list goes on and on and on. We are SO thankful.

Joyful

I’m joyful, I just am. Really I think it comes down to 2 things.

1) Remaining thankful. Taking every moment to remind myself of all that God is doing, what He has done, and what He might continue to do through this. I have SO much to be thankful for, and things could always be much worse.

2) Hope. The truth is I am grieving. Mostly grieving the pain of those who will be affected by my death. Especially my husband, my sweet Isaiah, my parents, and beyond. This is the hardest part for me. It can feel crushing at times. Surrendering my own life is one thing, but surrendering two more precious lives, is entirely different.

BUT I am not without hope. My hope is in Jesus and the eternity we are promised when we accept Him. I KNOW I will see these lives again. I KNOW I will meet my Maker face to face! I KNOW life on the earth is just a breath in light of eternity, and death has no power over this soul!

I have fought this disease, this, pain, this potential hopelessness, every second of the way, but not without His grace. It has been through many ups and downs, tears, laughter, adventures, heartbreaks, but even overflowing happiness. He has not given me a spirit of defeat. I will be thankful and soaking up every day He chooses to give me, and I will also look forward to that beautiful day I get to walk into my Savior’s arms and be finally swallowed up by LIFE. The life we are designed for! 2 Cor. 5:4-7

So there it is. I am unafraid of death (although easy to squirm with all the unknowns of what that might look like), I but I know that He comforts in those moments, for myself, as well as everyone else. I am also unafraid of leaving my boys (although not without tears) because I don’t get to control their pain (whether I’m alive or not!) I have to fully surrender their journeys to the Lord, as I have had to do for my life over and over again for the past 6 years. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and am still doing on a minute by minute basis. 
But He is helping me. It is NOT by my own strength. It’s purely Jesus and the deep Truths He promises in His Word.

I hope this doesn’t sound trite. But I had to share. I’ve experienced the despair and hopelessness, but I have been freed from them.  A miracle. Totally His miracle. So if all I can do is share that reason and that hope with others, I will:) Always. A hundred times. It’s what makes this journey worth it.

Love to you all,
Christina

Update Seventy-Nine

Wow, what a whirlwind!  I must admit this is an update I’ve sat down to write a few times, but the intimidation of having so much to catch up on paired with wanting to be able to express my heart, well, I got a bit paralyzed.

All that said, here we are. It’s time. I’m just going for it, and we’ll see what happens!:)

The new happenings:

For all of you that don’t know, Doug & I are expecting!!  And actually quite soon.  My official due date is December 18th and  as I write this, I am 32 weeks along. We are SO excited:)

The reason I say soon, is that instead of having 8 weeks to wait, we actually are most likely looking at 2.  My brain MRI’s have recently shown a re-occurrence in tumor growth.  This tumor  needs to be taken out with surgery and, as usual, the sooner the better.  My next MRI appointment to track the tumor growth will be on November 5th.  If it has continued to grow,  they will be quickly setting me up for my 3rd brain surgery– with a baby in the mix.

The plan at that point would be to check me into the hospital that night, and slide me into my reserved 9am c-section surgery slot.  They would then give me a week or two to recover and then usher me right into brain surgery.  Yes I know, totally crazy.  Is this really my life??   Or am I watching some fun dramatic medical show??:)  I have been assured, this IS my life… and you know what, I  STILL love it!

A lot of people wonder and some ask, “Sooo was this pregnancy an accident?”  Or perhaps in other words, “why in the world would you guys decide to get pregnant in your situation?”

This is our heart.  Doug & I decided from the very beginning of our relationship (including getting together in the first place) that we never ever wanted to let any of the decisions we make be based out of fear.  Let me tell you, there are plenty of fears to choose from!  We quickly realized that if we let our lives revolve around trying to avoid possible pain, or maintaining some perfect picture we wanted to create, we would never do anything.  I would have never agreed to go on that first date with Doug (which almost happened), we wouldn’t be married, and for sure children would NEVER be an option.  Too much potential pain.  We would also not have any close friends, close family, or dreams/excitement for the future.  The bigger the blessing, the bigger the loss.  Right?  It’s understandable at times to try to avoid that pain, but we knew it was no way either of us wanted to live life.  Doug made that decision when he chose to pursue me.  I’ve gone through a process of making  “no fear” choices in the past few years.  Together we solidified that “no fear” conviction (over a tearful cup of coffee) wondering how in the world this life together was supposed to look.  We knew God had brought us together as a gift, but it really was our choice for how to walk it out.  To me, accepting Doug was another way to accept LIFE–all its joys, all its pains, all the blessings God is so kind to lay in front of me–even if that means great sorrow if those gifts have to be taken away.  In the end, I’m choosing to LIVE!  WE are choosing to just LIVE as the Lord leads, asking for wisdom all along the way.  I love His statement in John 10:10,  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Abundant life.  That can’t mean, “unless you have cancer” or “unless your baby will have to be taken from the care of your body prematurely” or both!  Really it boils down to this.  Can we have “abundant life” when life takes a swerve that feels like it could crush us?

The answer is YES -– because Jesus said it and we believe Him. Not to mention all the ways He’s already so powerfully shown us that abundance over and over again even when all things could so easily point to despair.  So how are Doug and I choosing to believe the promise?  We choose to keep embracing the life we’ve been given–to live, and love, and laugh, and cry…  and praise Jesus all along the way.  He walks with us, and we trust Him–not to eventually mold His will to ours, but to fill us with His strength and His joy.  He is teaching us to experience and reflect (in the good times and the hard) our beautiful God, every chance we get to breathe in the gift of another day on this earth.

This isn’t to say we’re not living in the full reality of our situation.  We know it’ll be hard.  We know we can’t do it without help.  I’m imagining the trauma of my last surgery, my current energy level,  then throwing a sweet little pre-mature baby in the mix. Impossible!  But you know what?  Our God is the God of the impossible.  I will admit to you I’ve had my meltdowns, I’ve had my pleas with God, “I just want to be normal!  I just want to be an energetic go-getter wife who takes care of her man, a athletic young woman who can train for half-marathons with her friends.  I want to do the pregnancy to birth thing without stupid cancer getting in the way.  I want to be the best mom to that baby boy I can possibly be!!”  But what if I think he deserves better?  What if I become disabled, what if I die, what if I have to leave my Douglas alone to raise our little boy? Where is the abundant life now?

Here’s the truth. The abundant life is everywhere.  All along the way–all intertwined in the beautiful complexity of God’s all encompassing care.

It’s strength when you want to collapse.
It’s joy in the despair.
It’s loving friends coming out with sledgehammers to break down your walls.
It’s laughter through the tears.
It’s family to surround us with comfort and love.
It’s flooding me with trust when causing pain to those close to me is my greatest fear.
It’s hope when it doesn’t make sense.
It’s understanding what a thankful heart really means.
It’s trusting the Great Healer to heal me in the way He sees fit.
It’s getting to talk about my Jesus more often.
It’s even seeing others come to Him!
IT IS AN ABUNDANT LIFE!!

My new greatest fear is wasting the life God’s given me:) “Normal” does not exist and is never worth striving for. Abundant life does not mean easy, and easy is not likely on the schedule for a while:)  But we walk forward ecstatic for the birth of our son, little Isaiah Douglas:)  We trust Him with our future, whatever it may be.

Please pray with us, friends.  We need every one of those prayers.  Will you pray for the health and growth of little Isaiah, for a successful surgery, and an easier recovery this go around?  Will you pray for Doug watching me go through this for the first time?  And will you pray for my friends and family to experience Jesus as they surround our little family?  Will you pray for everyone who encounters this story to experience the amazing love and presence of our God?  These are the greatest gifts we could ask for.

We love you.  We are thankful for you.  We will figure out how to keep this updated somehow, as a gift to our friends that fill our hearts with such joy.

Until next time,
Christina Nevill:)

Update Seventy-Eight

Oh dear.

It’s been 9 months since my last update! This has NOT been on purpose:) Since then my heart’s been barely able to keep up with it’s own emotions/processes. Trying to figure out how to relay it to others (in an official ‘pen to paper’ kind of way), was just more than my brain and heart knew how to do, I think.  Of course, it’s been an absolute joy to run into people, exchange updates on life and God’s amazing unexpected paths. But it’s true, the more time has passed the more overwhelming it has been to know how to start this update and figure out how to relay the whole thing in a way that captures my heart.

So I decided I’m going to stop feeling paralyzed and just not worry about it:).  It doesn’t all have to happen at once. (Thanks Nancy for that reminder).  So whether this comes out in several parts, or it all just comes together now… here we go.  We’re jumping in!  Can we all hold hands? That’s even better:)

2011 Recap:

  • January 12th – 2nd brain surgery
  • January 25th – My sweet grandmother went home to be with Jesus.
  • February 14th – Started chemo (Happy Valentines Day:).
  • March 4th – My 29th birthday. Amazing surprise party. Doug Nevill (who I barely knew) asked my dad if he could take me to dinner.
  • March 9th – Doug took me to dinner. (THAT conversation could be a book in itself:). A relationship began… (as did a daily battle surrendering a whole new onslaught of fears).
  • May – Started my part Portland/ part Port Angeles existence.
  • June – Mandy, one of my childhood best friends became my roommate. Also, a delightful trip to Hawaii with my parents and good friend Stacy.
  • July – Trip to Montana for my grandparents’ memorial. AMAZING time with family…
  • and Doug;)
  • August– Little Christina Lamb was born.  (New daughter of former roommate, Stacey Lamb and her husband Adam.  My cousin Chris & I introduced Stacey and Adam–now there’s a baby…. YES:)
  • August. 23rd – Doug proposes.  I cry and say “yes”.  He cries.
  • September – last of 8 rounds of chemo. Oh… praise the Lord:)
  • November 26th – Doug & Christina get hitched (A sweet & small wedding, perfect for my brain oh-so-badly needing simplicity).

Now for 2012.  I’m turning 30 this year.  Woohoo!! I’ve been reflecting on the journey through my twenties.  I have had financial struggle, relationship struggle, and a failed personal business, Well and yes, there was definitely the diagnosis of brain cancer at 25, the 2 brain surgeries, 1 recurrence, radiation & chemotherapy, partial seizures, and a statistical life-expectancy of 4 to 7 years.  Through all of this however, I have also experienced God’s absolute generosity and kindness.  I have traveled, I have launched a non-profit and have been continually surrounded by amazing friends and family.

Though some of this can sound grim, God has given me a heart full of life!  I am challenged constantly to focus on God and trust in His daily provision of peace and power.  The second I let my eyes stray from that intentional place of surrender, FEAR is the first foe to come racing in to shut me down. But 2 Timothy says, “God did NOT give me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of sound mind.” Love the “sound mind” part;).

My friends, we are meant to live powerful lives! What does powerful look like to me? Abiding SO deeply with Jesus that no degree of pain or difficulty that enters my life will be able to sway me from trusting His goodness, sharing His hope and being open to any way He would like to use me to make His name known on this earth.

We WILL face trials, we are promised that.  We are even told to not be surprised when they happen (I Peter 1:12).  But how will we walk through them? Will it be along with the rest of the world in fear or anger (as is our first human instinct), OR will we be known for our joy–a joy that can only point to Christ?

It is my greatest desire to choose joy. Not because I understand all His ways, or am not concerned about what some of them might look like, but because I don’t want to waste a second of this beautiful life paralyzed by fear.   I want to embrace the purpose and adventure that God has for me rather than mourn the loss of the plans I can so easily create on my own.  I am so thankful that I have been alive on this earth 30 years! And I’m glad you’re here too! Let’s celebrate, my friends!

Love to you all,
Christina

Update Seventy-Seven

Yesterday morning I had the absolute privilege to meet up with Ryan and Dina, my next-door neighbors in ICU from my hospital stay back in January! Picture above:) They’ve been mentioned in several updates, but Dina was the one who suffered from a severe brain trauma in a ski accident and arrived in ICU just about the time I did. Read back if you want more of the story:)

I am happy to report that Dina has made an enormous recovery! She’s walking, talking, laughing, and quite the spitfire I might add! We had a fun time making brain jokes as we set up our meeting, knowing full well that we were working with 2 heads very much in recovery. We’d send each other reminders at the exact same time, distrust our own directions, we hoped that we’d both arrive at the location in one piece and actually recognize each other! We weren’t exactly completely aware when we met the first time, (her in bed in a half coma with restraints, and me getting wheeled in, woozy on pain meds, wrapped in a head bandage.:) THIS was much better, and we had a great time! She’s still doing therapy a few times a week to work through a few lasting issues, but in general passing her in the street, or chatting in line at the store, you’d never know anything had ever happened. Just amazing! It was really fun to tell them how much so many of you had been praying and asking about them. They in turn told me how many of their friends had been tracking my story. We talked about the power of prayer and how none of us knew how important or powerful it was until God had met us so specifically and suddenly at some of our darkest moments… with our amazing friends lifting us up. Both Ryan and Dina got teary talking about certain friends on their knees in prayer for them. All of us agreed… how absolutely humbling.  And how beautiful is the body of Christ?!:) Please continue to keep Dina, Ryan, and their boys in your prayers as they take one step at a time navigating a world with new changes – especially as the world moves on, but some of the changes may not. I am so excited to continue these new friendships!

So round 3 of chemo is coming up this Friday! 3 done out of 8. Not bad! Yes September is a long way off, but 5 rounds left does sound a lot better than 8:) So sorry that I haven’t written an official update since asking for prayer right before the first round. It’s actually gone amazingly well!! During the 5 days, I am definitely very tired, but have had almost NO nausea! Thank you for your prayers!! I KNOW that much of this has to do with all of you! Thank you for walking with me through this  dear friends. I have never felt alone to fend for myself, ever. What a gift! In general I am doing very well. I have low energy but am able to do most things if I am careful to pace myself:) Haa, easy to forget! And to not compare myself to the world around me:) hmmm, the kicker! Good lessons for sure.

My eyes are still about the same, as of a couple months ago. They focus well now, praise the Lord! I am still adjusting to my blind spot issue, which will just take some practice:) Imagine if each eye was broken down into quadrants, like crosshairs in a scope. I am missing the whole lower left quadrant in both eyes. There’s a really long word for it — totally forgot it, of course:) It makes reading, walking, driving all new experiences. It takes awareness and practice to stay safe, functional… and not frustrated:).  I’ve learned to drive slower and keep my eyes scanning at all times. Walk around corners with an arm out (yep dorky but might save me a bruise, or… bumping faces with a stranger!:) I’ve learned the hard way, to glance down at my feet more often – curbs, suitcases, tables,, little dogs… have all made for some spectacular award winning falls. The middle of the night, half-asleep ones are the best! Poor downstairs neighbors:) SO if you happen to see me walk into a men’s restroom because I missed the WO in the WOMEN sign, (yes that happened — thanks mom for the shout and save!). Or if I happen to shoulder-butt you in a crowd at church or something (yes that’s happened!), don’t think I’m having a bad day or am giving you the literal cold shoulder:) You just appeared out of thin air!

Today I go in for my first MRI since chemo started. These I will do every 2 months to track any changes. We hope for none:). Then Friday I will have my appointment to go over those results and hopefully have good enough blood counts to start round number 3!

Stuff with work and Consider the Sparrow is really coming along. I’m set to start up again here at the hospital very soon, and in Port Angeles we’ll be having a fundraising banquet in May. How exciting! And nerve racking for me… always. Maybe someday I’ll grow out of my fear of attention… eeeks:) But tingly buns and all, I’ll be there!

Don’t you just love life??? I sure do. I love being able to walk, type, and drive. I love being able to go to the gym, even as brief and wimpy as it might be! I love having an appetite! I love dogs and coffee, birthdays, cousins…crepes:) I love miraculous recoveries of friends! I love leisurely mornings with lattes and soul capturing music.  I love to have to have an abundance of time to just sit and soak in the Lord’s presence. I love my comfortable bed, and showers and my sunroof. Even this rain today — ice pellets in April?? Ridiculous! But nothing a delicious candle or a fire can’t fix, right?:) I love unexpected over-the-top blessings that don’t even make sense!!:) I love connecting with friends… both in Port Angeles and Portland. I am SO thankful for the AMAZING communities I have in both places! Relationships old and new… all very exciting;)

Celebrate WITH me everyone. Today is right now… and we are all ALIVE together in this moment! Why waste it on grumpiness, or stress, or worry for the future?? The future is uncertain for all of us! Today is NOT something we are entitled to – it is a gift for YOU as well as me:) Be excited and hopeful for where your journey might lead — because he does have incredible plans in store for you. Jeremiah 29:11 –believe it! 2 years, or 20 years, or 2 weeks, or 2 minutes. He doesn’t waste a second to use you and/or draw you closer into his presence. But you do have to actively choose that. Love it. Life will never be more rich, adventurous, or SO deeply satisfying. I have to work on this every day — surrendering worries and control is hard work and an every day choice. But, so far have found NOTHING more worth the sacrifice. Wanna join the party?? Jump on my friend!

Love to you all…  off to the tunnel I go!
Christina

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:)

Update Seventy-Five

Hi it’s me Christina. Ahhh so good to be back at the keyboard again, even with eyes that are trying to pick a fight with me:) Spell check and proofreaders are my lifesavers! So sorry about the long silence. It’s been quite the time since returning to Port Angeles. As my mom mentioned in the last update my grandmother passed away last Tuesday. Time with her was beautiful and peaceful just before she died. I am so thankful for that time.

A little surprise when I returned to my parents house that night was that due to their brand new carpet and the OVERPOWERING smell (with my ridiculously sensitive nose since surgery), there was NO way I could stay there. So off I went to yet another house of some very amazing friends. It was comfortable, peaceful and perfect for resting. Yay:)

Friday was an interesting day. I was visiting home for lunch looking out my parent’s window with my aunt Loralee at a beeeeautiful rainbow over the water, and then in a risky pivot maneuver, I turned to sit on the couch. I heard a pop; a searing pain shot through my knee, and then heard another POP! I just sat there dazed and cringing. Am I now headed into knee surgery?? Really??!!!  After a few “are you serious????” tears, an icepack, and a bite of pizza, we made the short trip to the ER to assess the situation. The good news — I’ve TOTALLY met my deductible already for 2011. Take THAT ER visit!  Ha.  As it turns out, I dislocated my kneecap (cheering because it wasn’t the ACL!), and along with icing/elevating my leg for the next couple days, I will have to “take it easy” for the next several weeks. We laughed. Besides now having to wear a knee brace the size of Texas (ok close enough), my life really doesn’t need much adjusting. Nice.

That night I’m laying in bed thinking wow, gotta lay off the desserts. My big bowl of ice cream really wasn’t feeling so good in my stomach. About an hour later with it only getting worse, I suddenly knew. RUN to the bathroom Christina! I threw off the covers, flung my icepack from my knee and sprint-hobbled to the bathroom. The rest of the night continued with getting up every 10-20ish minutes to deliver many-a-content to my porcelain friend. I must say, I went back and forth between crying and laughing (maybe once) at myself as I attempted to get myself down to the floor, up on the pot, down to the floor, and to bed again without bending that blasted knee! Let’s just say the rest of the night was one that I thought would never end. EVER. I wondered if it was possible to die from stomach flu on the bathroom floor. A shriveled pile of Christina, with a leg sticking straight out of course:)

I know it’s silly to compare the agony of that night to what I’ve just been through. Definitely had a night of throwing up in the ICU – (bless you Stacy). But I guess with losing a whole night sleep, in an already fatigued body trying to heal, with no reserves… it was really more than I thought I could possibly take.

But I did. I’m alive:) Shriveled a little, but replenishing bit by bit. Three days later I’m still mostly wanting to sleep and the stomach doesn’t seem to like more than a few sips or bites at a time… but am so thankful to be improving every day. Thank you Jesus for immune systems… even with not much to work on:)

I have been learning LOTS in the areas of surrender. LOTS… and still processing. I’m going to have save it for the next update because 1)it’s way past my bedtime, 2) between brains and eyes… this is has become a bit of a slower process. I am anxious to write though! Thoughts are flowing; heart’s stirring. We shall talk soon.

Love to you all. I don’t have words to thank you for all your prayers and encouragements through this time. I wish you knew how much it all has meant to me. Many times as they were read to me and my head was spinning in pain, all I could do was just cry. The good kind:) It’s so good to not feel alone. It’s so good to be surrounded by those that lift us up to the only true Comforter.  You my friends have been God’s gift to me.

Big Huge Hug (don’t worry, not contagious anymore)
Christina

Update Seventy-Four

Sorry, dear friends, for the silence.  Our little Christina is doing well.  After some of her worst days, she has definitely turned the corner.  On Tuesday, she had her staples removed and she is feeling free, more energetic, and, well, her humor is in full form.

After the staple removal, I (Jo Dee) was informed by my sisters that my mom was close to dying.  My hard working sisters and friend Katy had been caring for her for some time so this was not a surprise.  Christina told me that we needed to leave for Port Angeles RIGHT NOW.   Our good friends, Dave and Tammy and Kim, drove us home and we arrived two and a half hours before my sweet mother passed away.  All of her children arrived in time to say goodbye.  So, thank you all for your continued love and prayer.  God is good.  I love that He enabled Christina to be able to travel and He allowed us to be home in time.  Christina was able to hold her grandma’s hand and say goodbye. And now my mom is with Jesus.  Amazing.

Update Seventy-Three

To our Dear Friends—

You are loving well, you are praying well, and God is pouring His mercy on us.  Yesterday (Sunday) was Christina’s hardest day to this point.  She spent most of the day crying, hardly able to move because of pain, and despairing at the loss of some of her most basic visual skills.  We called for a prescription to help alleviate muscle spasms and by evening and an hour of massage she was beginning to relax.  We have learned not to presume what the next day will hold so we have been thrilled with today.  Christina slept very late and woke with mild pain instead of excruciating pain and has had a great day.  We took a walk in the sun, and she’s eaten well and laughed well.  As Tammy was leaving for the store, she asked if Christina wanted anything.  Christina’s response was funny—“Pick me up a brain with no cancer, make sure all the vision parts are intact and working, and a head with no incision would be wonderful”.  Tammy didn’t find any of that at the store.

We had a wonderful visit from Pastor Mike and Jan Jones and Kim Mason.  We talked and prayed, laughed and cried.  It was a great time AND Kim stayed behind for a little extra visit.  What a beautiful surprise.

We press on—with much help from all of you.  Meals are still being brought in by Christina’s church.  Dave and Tammy continue to minister with presence and whatever help we need.  Peter and Steph Quint never stop helping.  Peter has been such a knowledgeable source of medical information and Steph helps with everything from prayer, to food to comfort items to cleaning.   She also puts up with our rotating “parties”.  This home is a beautiful place of peace and strength and rest.   I am still amazed at the abundant way God provides for us.  We even had a dear friend from Montana call and arrange to have dinner delivered on Thursday night (thanks Al)—above and beyond!!!!

My heart overflows with thanksgiving and I stand in faith saying, My Lord is risen and has given me everything I need to walk through this life.  He is present, He is powerful, He is compassionate, His kindness overflows, and His peace is abundant.  What more could I desire?

Love,
JoDee

P.S.  We LOVED the video Emily.  We laughed and laughed.  What a gift of love.

P.P.S.  Christina said that she would like to get presents from Dave and Tammy, not just presence.  :)

P.P.P.S.  Dave is out right now buying nail polish to give Christina a pedicure.