Update Seventy-Two

Mandy brought a beautiful poster made by her kindergarten class.  They have been praying for Christina.  They asked to see Christina’s picture so Mandy showed them one from their childhood and one from their adult life.  They talked about ways to pray for Christina, and Mandy wrote down their prayers.  The top of the poster contains pictures of the kids positioned in different letters to spell ‘CHRISTINA’.  They loved that project.  So here are the prayers directly from Miss Wood’s kindergarten class to the heart of God.  We join them on this Sunday morning.

Dear God…

  • Help Christina to get lots of sleep to feel better.
  • I hope she would feel better and that she would not throw up anymore and I hope she can keep her food down and that she won’t feel sick when she eats. I hope she feels better.
  • I hope she keeps her food down, that she will be able to eat it and not throw up.
  • Give her strength so she can do whatever everyone else is praying for and that she won’t have cancer anymore.
  • I pray that her taste will be okay and back to normal and that will never happen again.
  • Please help teacher’s friend that her bruises will go away.
  • I hope her smell would be better.
  • Make Christina not hurt. Give her peace so she won’t be scared.
  • Please make her brain feel better because they had to take some stuff out. Please help it heal.
  • Please make Christina feel better. Remind her that You are with her always.
  • I wish her nightmares would go away and that she will have good dreams.
  • Please Lord make Christina feel better and that she will be much more better.
  • Please help her eyes get better and that they won’t be blurry anymore.
  • Make Christina’s neck be all good and heal up.
  • Please help her head to be better and that her head will stop hurting.
  • Please help her balance to go back to normal.
  • Please remind her that Your angels are watching over her.

Christina slept well (no nightmares) but woke in much pain.  We are working to help her be comfortable.  We took a little walk and she tried to explain her weird eyesight.  It is a matter for prayer.  Thank you all for your love and concern.  It makes this journey a little more bearable.

Love to you all,

christinaahmann@gmail.com we will post them.  (One of our 4 computers was able to post yesterday.)

Update Seventy-One

Happy Saturday, everyone.    Fun facts from last night and this morning.

  • Mandy arrived last night in time to join us for story time
  • Christina, after much anxious deliberation, went to sleep with very little pain meds and only had Ibuprofen in the middle of the night.
  • Because of this, we all slept all night—no middle of the night shifts for medication.
  • Mandy joined Christina in a supportive swig of Milk of Magnesia.  What a friend!
  • It’s sunny here in Portland so Christina, Mandy, and I went for a real walk.  We made it up a huge hill—at Christina’s request.
  • Friend Grant retrieved Christina’s massage table and delivered it here.
  • Laurel Henke arrived from Bellingham, borrowed Christina’s massage table and is at work on Tammy, right now.
  • We may go out for Jamba Juice a little later.

It is such a relief and we are so thankful that Christina’s pain has passed the critical stage.  It’s so great to have the funny and attentive Christina sitting up and relating well.  The eye journey continues to be difficult.  Christina would love to be able to focus and she commented on our walk that as she feels better, it is all the more obvious that her eyes are not co-operating.

We have much to think about from all your contributions to our “story time”.  Big thoughts to ponder and we thank you.

I love the adventure and the mystery of how life unfolds.  Who knows what this next month or year will hold.  I feel content to live for the day and it is my deepest desire to see the hand of God as He leads, comforts, and protects.

Update Seventy

“Story time” was great last night.  We loved hearing your thankful hearts.  Christina always wants to hear your thoughts before she drifts off to sleep.  When sleep didn’t come so easily last night we just talked quietly.   We talked about her future.  She is very careful not to be presumptuous about the future—about her own life or anyone else’s.  She lives, as we all should, like her days are numbered.  She feels driven to get better.   She explained that she didn’t want to get well in order to get on with “normal life”.  She really wants to get back to work.  There is a new fire burning in her heart to help alleviate the suffering of people who are struggling with cancer.  She believes God has put that there for a reason and she will work to move in that direction.  It really is up to Him.  She knows she is frail but she knows well the truth of 2 Cor. 12:9-10.  The apostle Paul writes–

But He (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Christina wrote update #55 about the hard time of learning that truth in real life.  This truth is very familiar to me, but it is counter-intuitive when it comes to living my life.  I tend to want to be healthy, full of energy, at my best, mentally alert, and well rested.  Then I feel like I have something to offer this world.  Jesus sees it differently.  He shows up in power and with His might when we are weak.  I told Christina last night that even if she has just a few years left, she can be sure that God will continue to pack in amazing encounters that only He could plan.  He will send her to people that need her kind of love and encouragement and even if she only has enough energy for a few hours a day, it will be the best spent few hours she could imagine.  Her life, her impact, her days on this earth will be exactly what God intends.  This is not an accidental or tragic life.  This is life at its best.  It is a continual challenge to my own heart.

Christina had a great day yesterday.  She was up more than she was down and had that light in her eyes that we love so much.  And even though she feels “foggy” in the brain, our conversations were quite rich and she is processing well.  She would appreciate continued prayer for her eyes.  It seems her left eye has some extreme deficits.  Not only is it not focusing well, it has some large areas (left of center) that she can’t see at all.  And I think even that would be manageable if it would just begin to work with her right eye.  (She really loves the independence of being able to drive.)

Love to you all,
Jo Dee

P.S.  Tammy and I had to run to the hospital to pick up a new prescription for Christina and so I thought we should stop by TRACU to see how Ryan and Dina were doing.  We arrived in time to see Dina walking (with help) to her wheel chair.  Ryan (with those ever present tears in his eyes) told us how much “Christina’s Song” by Andrea Davenport (on the front of Christina’s website) meant to him.  He listened to it over and over (sobbing) and can’t wait for Dina to hear it.  He wants Christina and Dina to meet when they are both well enough to do so—for lattes, of course.  He thanked us again for our concern and prayers and is thankful for all of you who are praying.  Ryan is a high school counselor and a cross-country coach and Dina is an athlete, a mom, and an opinion column writer for the Oregonian (Elizabeth Hovde).  They are quite a team.  Thanks for praying.

Update Sixty-Nine

After “storytime” last night, we talked about how God can be taken at His word.  We thought we’d share with you some of our “take Him at His word” suffering verses, from our hearts to yours.

“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—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  (I Peter 1:6)

“We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on GOD WHO RAISES THE DEAD.”  (2 Cor. 1:8b-9)

“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  (2 Cor. 4:7)

“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 achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”  (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

These are deep and lasting truths that we stand on with both feet, arms raised heavenward and our mouths singing praise.

In the midst of her pain, Christina said, “If I get better, I want to ask Dr. Grewe if I could be on call for his surgery patients.”  She longs to comfort those with the comfort she has received.

And we wondered about all the people in this world who are suffering alone, in hard places, without comfort, without support. So late last night we decided to make a list of the many reasons we are thankful—Feel free to join us in the comment section.

We are thankful that our new friend, Dina, is doing well.  She is beginning to walk and talk and move about.   We rejoice with Ryan as he works with and watches his wife come back to life.

We are thankful that we can look forward to an eternity with Jesus.  This life on earth is not all we have.  It is just a mere shadow of what is to come.

Meanwhile, we are thankful that we are warm and we are fed.  We have comfortable beds, warm baths, clean clothes.  We have amazing medical care, medicine, pharmacies, massage therapists who love well.  We have praying, loving, supportive friends who would do anything and drop everything to help us.  We have meals dropped off by people we know and people we don’t know—who drive miles and miles to get it to us.

We have friends to take us in when we can’t take care of ourselves and friends who drop everything to come and live with us.  We have cars to transport us to doctors—imagine the difficulty people face in many parts of the world—just getting to any kind of medical care.

For purposes beyond what we can imagine, God has given Christina more days on this earth.  He knows the beginning and the end and He knows the multi-layered reasons she lives and breathes and loves and serves.  It is our prayer that she does not miss seeing His hand at each turn.  It is my prayer that I also see His hand, follow His lead, and not miss any part of this great adventure of faith that He has us on.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”  (Luke 12:48b)

Update Sixty-Eight

Christina is back in the land of the living.  After a very hard morning, Gayle McDonald answered our SOS for another massage.  We are so thankful that she has poured out so much love toward Christina.  Gayle taught Christina all that she knows about oncology massage.  Gayle is the author of two books dealing with massage therapy for oncology patients and for medically frail patients.   We’ve experienced her expertise first hand.  Christina is newly enthralled with her work and excited to be able to get back to her oncology patients.

Thank you all for praying constantly for Christina.  I firmly believe there are some significant reasons God has allowed this time of suffering in Christina’s life.  Some things will become clearer as she moves forward and some things we will not know until we are at home with Jesus.  In the meantime, we trust Him and we love Him.

Our personal paraphrase of I Peter 1:8  “Though we have not seen him, we love him; and even though we do not see him now, we believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. “

Update Sixty-Seven

Christina’s mom here.  I apparently sounded very desperate and actually fell asleep as I was talking to my pastor this morning.  Before I knew it, Pastor Mike had called Dave and Tammy who were staying a few miles down the road.  They arrived and had made all sorts of executive decisions.  I packed up a few belongings and was moved to the very peaceful, very nurturing home of Peter and Steph Quint.  I was put straight to bed in the world’s most comfortable bed.  In the meantime, Tammy and Stacy took care of Christina.  Then when she could be moved, Tammy packed up Christina’s stuff (including special pillows) and she and Dave very carefully moved Christina to the Quint’s house and tucked her into bed in the room next to mine.  My favorite quote of the day was Christina telling Tammy, “This would all be so much easier if I just felt better.”

So, I am thankful for the amazing love of Jesus that is poured out through His people at all times in all kinds of ways.  We feel amazingly loved and known.

We are in the best possible place for us.  Dr. Peter is calm about all things medical and nurse Steph is nurturing and unflappable and a prayer warrior and she understands the fine art of pillow arrangement.  And for me, it helps to have others around as Christina is dealing with the effects of nausea (puking, etc.)  Tammy is snuggled into the upstairs bedroom that adjoins the worship room.  Ah, the worship room.  I believe I’m in the right house.  Tammy says, “I am quite a bit happy, myself–down the hall from the worship room, in the prayer room.  It’s pretty cool.”

We’ve enjoyed another wonderful meal provided by Christina’s friends.  Christina says, “I am so thankful for everyone’s love and messages—still needing and feeling your prayers every second.”  Here is a list of Christina’s physical frustrations.  Feel free to pray.  Her vision is blurry and sensitive.  Her balance is off.  Her head hurts. :) She has severe acid reflux.  It’s hard to keep food down.  Her sense of smell and taste are way off.  Her neck and shoulders are still tweaking from surgery positioning.  (Imagine about 9 hours face down with your head screwed into the table sideways.)  She has various other parts of her body that are bruised, bumped, and still numb from surgery.  And she is confused by all this nausea—she doesn’t like things to go wrong with her body that she doesn’t understand.

We were very sorry to have Stacy fly home to Chico today and Dave leave for Port Angeles.  Stacy has some of her own medical issues to attend to and Dave has to get back to work.  I think it was quite hard for them to leave also.  I’m pretty sure Dave cried—as did Tammy.  We will miss them.

Update Sixty-Six

It was a rough night last night.  Christina had much pain, much nausea, and nightmares.  Christina is discouraged and doesn’t know what would help.  This leaves the caregiver (me) feeling quite inadequate and even incompetent.  So, reading through my journal of the past month, I came across December 22.  (Apparently, a hard day.)  I know it’s hard when I have to write out the scripture that God leads me to.  It’s not enough to read it, I must write it out.  I think it must help to plant it a little more firmly.  So here is my scripture for this hard day.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

That is enough for me.  I look forward to seeing how He works that out in my life today.  He said it.  I believe it.  Today, this day, He will strengthen me and help me and hold me up—and He is with me.  He is my God.  And He is extravagant—He gave us also

“For I am the LORD, your God, Who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

I think He is wonderful to tell us twice—“do not fear”.  We must be prone to fear.  We must also be prone to feeling alone and powerless.  I know that feeling.  That’s why I cling to the truth of what He says about Himself.

I am with you.
I will strengthen you.
I will help you.
I will uphold you.

The beautiful thing is that this applies to all His people in every circumstance.  I am praying for our new friend, Ryan Hovde, to know this truth to the core of his being.  Christina and I prayed last night for all the suffering people, the poor, the sick, the lonely, the orphans.  We pray that they will find their hope in Jesus.  And we pray for you in whatever trying circumstances you are in—that you will to turn Jesus, the compassionate, all-powerful, ever-present Lord of Glory.

A very humble thank you to all who are praying for us and a most grateful child thanks my good and caring Shepherd for leading me to the green pastures of His Word.

This is the air I breathe,
Your very word, spoken to me.

Update Sixty-Five

Christina is resting well, sleeping well, and even had her first bit of ‘light, aerobic exercise i.e. walking’ that the doctor ordered.  Dave walked her down the 2 flights of stairs, over to the mailbox, and back up the stairs to her sweet little apartment.  (Dave carried the mail.)

We had quite the talk this morning about eyesight.  Christina remembers that it took a while to straighten out last time so she is not panicking.  She loves to read and loves to drive and loves to watch movies and just generally see the world around her.  Eventually I read to her from my text messages on my phone and then she asked me to read from her text messages.  She was getting her phone ready for me and then she slowly began to read her text messages—both eyes open!!  Focusing!!  As long as she didn’t change the focal point, she could get through the texts.  We are thankful for answered prayer.  We are so thankful for God’s generous provision in so many areas.  Her ability to focus is coming and going but I am sure that it will settle in.

One of the amusing side effects of the first surgery is that she can’t watch 3-D movies.   Her brain just can’t quite decipher them.

My heart feels full of gratitude for all that God has done for us.  And I am so thankful for all the care that has been given us.  I feel very inadequate to express the depth of my gratitude to My gracious God and like “thank you so much” is a pretty lame expression for all of you who are writing, bringing food, staying here, checking in, and just generally loving us.  Unfortunately, these are the only words I have right now.

Christina is having to cope with the reality of the situation.  There is so much that needs to heal up, big and small things and there is much to think about in the near future.  She will start chemo in 4 weeks and who but God knows how that will go.  Please pray for her strength as she processes all that is happening to her.

christinaahmann@gmail.com, and we will post it for you.

Update Sixty-Four

Christina is happily home and resting.  Thanks to all who prayed for a stress free transfer.  It really was easy and she is so glad to be here.

Since she really can’t read or watch TV comfortably, we read to her.   We just started calling it “story time.”  We just read the Caring Bridge Site of some new ICU friends.  We would like to ask you to pray for Ryan and Dina Hovde. (He gave his enthusiastic permission—the more people praying, the better.) Dina was in a serious ski accident and suffered a serious brain injury (in spite of wearing a helmet) on Tuesday.  She spent 3 days in ICU and then followed Christina to her new floor.  They are believers in Jesus and we have prayed with and for them.  They have 2 small sons and we are all hoping Dina will be restored to full function.  She has begun to respond to vocal commands.  What a huge improvement for her.  Christina’s neurosurgeon is working with them.  We already love them very much.  Yesterday Ryan came to meet Christina and today Christina was wheeled into their room to say goodbye.  Oh, we would love to be able to have a conversation with Dina someday.  We pray she wakes up completely, very soon.

Doug (dad) and our prayer warrior, Nancy Stack left for Port Angeles today.  We will miss them both.  Work calls and we really are doing well.  Dave and Tammy Hansen are still here helping and Christina’s cousin, Chris Newbury, is here and doing lots of “man” duties such as running to the store, carrying and transporting our “stuff”.  We would also like to thank Peter and Steph Quint for much help in lodging guests and helping us to navigate the medical world.  Linsey Fuller has been coordinating and delivering much food.  She also prepared an amazing ‘Welcome Home’ banner.  (Chris just informed us that he helped.)  Christina could hardly believe her wonky eyes.

Christina also asks prayer for good sleep, not much pain, and that all bodily functions will be fully operational. :)  She says to “read between the lines.”

Update Sixty-Three

Christina had her best night yet and was actually pain free at some point.  Thank you, Lord, for that beautiful gift.  When I arrived at her room, she was back in the middle of a very painful episode, sitting quietly in the dark, waiting for the next possible dose of pain meds.  Guess what she asked for?  She wanted me to read your messages.  That used up the time until the meds arrived and now she’s resting peacefully.

The great news is that she is ready to go home to her restful apartment.  We will be loading up things in the next hour and when her room is empty, we will get her dressed and drive her CAREFULLY home.  She asked for prayer for 2 things.  First, she would like you to pray that her wound heals up with no infection. Secondly, she would like you to pray for her eyes.  They are not working well together and it causes great fatigue and light sensitivity and headaches.   Last time around, the eyes gradually figured out how to focus and we pray for the same result.

Thank you all for your concern and love–for your encouragement and prayer.  It means so much and makes this journey much easier to walk.

Thanks again to Stacy who stayed through the night and helped accomplish the first shower and shampoo.  Oh happy day!  This just wouldn’t be the same without you.