Saturday, March 30, 2013

The past few weeks

The past two weeks have been filled with some much needed R&R! We've taken it easy, enjoyed some family time and we even managed to go on a date! Most importantly, we've successfully managed a consecutive two week period without any sickness for the first time in 2013. WOO HOO!!!!!!!

Here are my instagram pics to sum up the past couple weeks!

Jackson was very concerned about the wind messing up his "awesome hair" on this day...

It was nice outside and so we spent some time raking up the stickyballs outside the house. Turns out that dustpans are the perfect shovels for the kids to scoop them up!

At a St. Patty's Day parade-- and we didn't have any green. Oops!

With the nicer weather, we've walked down to visit our neighbors a couple of times. Miss Charlotte was Derek's kindergarten teacher and I love that Belle loves to read books with her!

At the waiting room of the doctor's office-- Jackson gathered all of the dinosaur family and said, "There are two dads! They all got hungry so they just ate the mommy all up!"

I met Dad for lunch on his birthday at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant and it was delish! And it was fun to spend some time with just Dad!

The kids helped make a birthday cake for Derek-- and this is of course, their favorite part!

"Mom, I'm going to Texas. I'll be back in 1042 days."

Belle LOVES accessories... including "scarves"that are really part of a bath robe. She's worn it out of the house twice this week.

On a walk the other day-- Jackson was shooting bad guys with his legs. He is a master at turning any object into a gun, but even when he didn't have anything-- he still managed to find a way to keep the neighborhood safe.

Last night, we ventured out for some ice cream!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Completely Normal!!!!

After two weeks of waiting-- Monday was finally MRI day. Jackson was a trooper! Derek and I sat in the waiting room for what felt like an eternity watching an NCIS rerun and playing on our phones-- anything to make the time go by faster! After about an hour, I began to scrutinize every single minute because they said they'd be done by then... but finally we were called back in to see Jackson. As we were preparing to leave, the nurse was telling us to give the doctor's office two days to call us with results. Before we even left the room, I realized I had a voicemail from our doctor's office that said the Jackson's MRI results were completely normal. 

Completely normal. Praise God!!! If my son never gets to be "normal" at anything for the rest of his life, at least his brain images are normal. I'll take it!

As Jackson woke up from his anesthesia, he was pretty loopy (which is the best word I can think of other than the word intoxicated... and that just seems like a weird term to use for a 4 year old). He was eating and drinking, but was having trouble getting his hands to his mouth on the first try. He couldn't hold his head up well, but he didn't want to lay down. He kept talking and talking even though he didn't make sense sometimes. It was humorous. And it was definitely easy to enjoy knowing that a possible brain tumor was now out of the question!

His appointment was at 4:00 on Monday. I spent the afternoon keeping him busy and pre-occupied so he wouldn't focus too much on being hungry. It was a really windy day and it turned out-- he was already so pre-occupied with the wind "messing up his cool hair" that I didn't have to try hard to distract him. He kept his hands on his head all day-- and didn't even take it down to play on the playground. 

It is SUCH a relief to have the MRI done and results. So, where does that leave us now? We are rejoicing in the fact that it been almost two weeks of no-vomiting for Jackson... which is huge coming from a 3-week period of daily vomiting. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of reasons to continue to explore this if he isn't still getting sick, but I've been on the phone with his doctor's office a couple of times this week and we have a follow up appointment on Monday. I want to make we are doing everything in our power to make sure he's still healthy and there isn't anything more for us to be doing, but I have trust in our doctor's judgement so we'll just follow her lead.

Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for all of the love and encouragement! The meals, the cards, the phone calls-- just thank you so much. I am certainly one lucky lady to have such wonderful friends and family to rely on in times of crisis. Mostly, thank you SO much for your prayers. 

During this whole ordeal, an old high school friend of mine has taken me under her wing to check on me almost every day. She's a brain cancer survivor and was full of such great insight and support. Plus, she has a really cool name, Amy Marie. :) Anyway, we were talking the other day about how the role of prayer in situations like these. 

I know that a lot of prayers were prayed on Jackson's behalf. I believe that God hears our prayers, answers our prayers and I whole-heartedly believe that God can and does perform miracles of healing. The fact that Jackson is better and we don't have devastating news upon us is a true blessing from the Lord. The power of prayer is greater than anything we can truly understand. God calls us to pray and to pray without ceasing. But God's will and plan is greater than all else. His plan is divine. As much as I wanted to continually pray, "No tumor please." (and I did pray that prayer a few times)... I know the greatest prayer is in accepting of God's Will and trust in Him. I tried my hardest to pray that prayer for myself and I know many you prayed those prayers on our behalf!

Thank you for those prayers; I know God heard them. They made a HUGE difference in our lives as we waited. But I also don't want to send the message to anyone that we have a healthy boy because we prayed hard enough. Or because so many of you prayed for him too. Over and over again. There wasn't a prayer quota to meet in order for God to spare us the devastation of a brain tumor diagnosis. 

In reality, Jackson doesn't have a brain tumor because God has different plans for Jackson... whatever they may be in the days, weeks, years to come. God has plans for him. As parents, Derek and I take our role seriously to raise him and guide him down the path of God's will. Hopefully, we'll do it right. :)

This post could have ended paragraphs ago with our great news of the MRI results, but I just couldn't waste the opportunity to share even greater news that God has a plan for you too! Ultimately, His desire is for you to love and know Him; to follow and obey His commands. And for those who already have a relationship with Christ, He desperately wants you to trust in His plans for you, your family and for your children, too. It's hard and I'm not perfect at it, but let me know how I can pray for you! We're all stronger as a team! :)

Thanks again for all of the support and encouragement! Love you all!!!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Meet Slimey

Meet Slimey, our new family pet. And by pet, I mean, a worm that Jackson found in the dirt, named him Slimey (after first naming him Jackson), asked if he could live inside, and when we told him no, he proceeded to collect materials to build some sort of habitat for Slimey.

Jackson played with Slimey for over an hour and even took him on a walk around the block. I kid you not. I even heard him talking "baby talk" to the little worm. At one point in the evening, Derek and I heard squealing from Belle, we rushed over and asked what happened to which Jackson replied, "Belle doesn't like the worm." We aren't quite sure what exactly went down, but we have a good idea.

Typical boy.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Today was Jackson's scheduled MRI. However, the day didn't quite go as planned. I received a phone call first thing this morning to learn that the insurance has denied the test and I have spent my entire day making and receiving phone calls. Believe me when I say that Derek and I are both irritated beyond belief, however, there's no need to complain here. Despite the circumstances, I got to spend an unexpected day at home with the kids and it was a good day. 

I wrote a blog last night to post today, but then in the craziness of the day and change of plans, it almost seemed out of place. But I want to go ahead and share. 

Jackson goes in for his MRI today. I don't have any news yet, but I wanted to document some of my thoughts from this week. It's not often that scheduling an MRI takes a full week's wait, but because of Jackson's issue of vomiting, along with the vomiting that can occur with sedation, we needed to schedule an anaesthesiologist to be available throughout the entire testing process. It took extra time, but I can't deny the divine intervention. {edit: clearly this was just step 1 in our waiting process. But even so, we can still trust in God's plan}

I have gone full circle time and time again regarding how I “know” the testing will turn out. When Jackson went a day and a half without getting sick, I began to even wonder if we needed to continue with the MRI. And then the day he vomited 4 times, I became certain that the worst news was just waiting to present itself to us today. Being in Texas occupied my mind and helped me not to dwell too much on what is yet to come.

While floating in time of waiting, I haven't had any news to officially “accept” and to process. But in just waiting, I feel that I don't have to just accept what has come our way, but to welcome it.... and that has been so hard. So, so hard. It seems to me that it'd be a million times easier to simply be told whatever the news may be and then to just accept it for what it is. At that point, it's already been done so you can't ask God to undo it. But now, I feel as if God is asking me to tell him that I trust in him SO much as to welcome even the worst possibility if that is what He has in store for Jackson's life. Welcome discomfort. Welcome pain. Welcome the very thought of losing Jackson at a far too young age. And that hurts. It hurts so much. I suppose this is what God has called all of us to do as parents, even before potential heartache is on the horizon.

I am reminded of a phrase that was first introduced to me by a young couple while I was in high school. At bedtime, they'd always say “I love you, but remember, Jesus loves you more!” Time and time again, I have translated that in my mind as if God was saying to me, “As much as you love your son, Amy, I love him more.” I want God to love him more than me, and I want God to orchestrate His will for Jackson's life-- but the human mommy in me just wants to put a stipulation on that to say “but only keep him healthy, happy, and safe!”

Even though my legs might be shaky at times, I'm still standing on the promises of God. I've been through the scriptures time and time again. Some are ones that I've looked up myself, but others are ones that have been shared by some of you. I will share a few with you:
Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. 
Psalm 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation. 
Philippians 4: 4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Truly and honestly, I am coping much better than I ever thought possible. I have experienced this peace that passes understanding for a majority of these days since visiting the doctor last week. More so than any verse I have repeated to myself is this one,
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I have found myself capable of catching myself in “what if” thought patterns and then simply switching my thoughts to something different. This has never been a strong suit of mine and I am certain that this is evidence of the prayers that have been offered on our behalf.

I have allowed myself to focus on one “what if” throughout this week. There are a potential million different types of diagnoses (or even a total non-diagnosis completely), and I began to wonder if my role as a mom changes depending on the outcome. It started with a train of thought that started “Will I make Jackson do something he doesn't want to do? Will I still make him eat veggies? Will I refrain from disciplining him?” … and I stopped myself not long after because I stumbled across an answer that supplied the answer to them all.

I know this is a devastatingly long post, but stay with me for one more moment. This is the best of what I have to say about this whole ordeal. I really began to question what my role as a mother to my children. And one day it hit me like a ton of bricks and I just couldn't keep it to myself:

My job as a mother is to provide my children with love and support, nurturing them into productive and respectful adults, primarily teaching them to know and love Jesus.

My role as a mother is not dependent on circumstance. The answer to all of the above questions (and most other parenting questions) is the same regardless of whatever hurdles and obstacles we will face in raising our children. Will I still make Jackson eat veggies even in a worse case diagnosis? Absolutely. His body is a temple and he needs to respect it. Will I make Jackson do something he doesn't want to do? Yes, because he's a child and as his mother I get to decide what is best for him. Will I refrain from discipling him? Not at all. To know and love Jesus is to follow and obey his commands-- even at age 4. I have seen many mothers across a plethora of different situations fulfill this duty and I hope to be among the ranks. 

Regardless of whatever we hear today, I will love and support, nurture and teach this little guy.

And my little Belle as well, along with any other children we may or may not have in the future. It makes my heat so happy to be given such an important role and I pray so much that I am as good of a mother as they deserve.

In closing, my biggest prayer for Jackson is that we can find an answer. I don't particularly wish for it to be found on the MRI, but I know if that comes up empty that we'll just end up with more testing, more prodding and poking. My biggest worry is that we'll be on a lengthy journey in which we won't ever have an answer, but I already know what scripture says about worrying so my plan is just to take it one step at a time. I covet prayers for our perseverance and strength.

Jackson and I will arrive at Children's Mercy at 11am today (after exploring through the skyscrapers on the way) and he will undergo anesthesia between that time and when his MRI begins at noon. Derek will arrive around that time. If you're reading this before that time, pray for his tummy to not ache from not eating as we wait throughout the morning. If you're reading and praying through the time of his testing, please pray for the anesthesia to be gentle on his body, for the doctors to be diligent in their work, and for Derek and I as we wait. If you find yourself reading after that time, continued prayers for our family are always appreciated, but also I urge you to reflect the role that you play in your family and to pray about how God can use you!


So as for now, we wait. And honestly, aside from the headache I have had all day in dealing with all of this... I do have a genuine peace in knowing God has his hand in all of this. We've received so much support from friends and family, near and far. At times it's felt like too much, like more than we actually need and it is humbling to accept. Like, it's not that big of a deal-- we can manage, right? But truthfully, the out pour love and support is keeping us at ease. The messages, the texts, the meals... it is all keeping us together. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. As always, I'll be sure to keep you updated!!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Three-for-three, Texas Wins

I'm trying not to take it personal, but Texas just seems to be out to get me! In the past few years, I've been down here twice. The first trip included multiple expensive tickets along with a broken down vehicle. The second trip was filled with a sick baby who refused to sleep along with a different bug that invaded the living space affecting our travel companions severely. I was a tiny bit worried that my plane would crash once we crossed the Texas state line, but to my surprise we landed safe and sound! I just assumed that Texas was going to play nice! There haven't been any car problems or tickets and no sicknesses either, but... it's been cold. Very out of season cold. After the snow a few weeks ago, I was began to really look forward to some Texas warmth and my friends assured me that flip-flop weather awaited me! I have packed my flip flops and have yet to wear them. Texas, why do you hate me?

Despite being cold, my trip has been worth the wrath of Texas. Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic.... but is it too much to ask for a tiny bit of sunshine during a 5 day visit? I've enjoyed the learning and I've kept good company.

The purpose of my trip was to attend a Urban Economics and Ministry conference at the Land Center for Cultural Engagement. The focus was on the economic, social, and cultural challenges faced by predominately by inner city African Americans. Why is this relevant to me, you ask? Well, it's very relevant to where I intern. It was a great experience.

I was a little weary of coming down to Texas with Jackson still getting sick. It was really hard to leave. But, there was no reason to stay. And it was truly divinely inspired that I be here. There was no better way to occupy my time as we wait for an MRI on Tuesday than to spend it deep in God's word surrounded by Godly men and women from across the country, including Pastor Fred Luter, president of the Southern Baptist Convention. After speaking one night (it was an amazing sermon!) he took the time to say a special prayer for Jackson. So many of the other attendees mentioned that Jackson is now on their prayer list from their churches-- These are predominately black churches and let me tell you, these people can pray! I swear, I feel like Jackson has been the most prayed for little boy this week and I am beyond amazed at the support we've received... and we don't even know what's going on yet!!

SBC President, Pastor Fred Luter and me!

The conference ended Friday and since then, I've been hanging out with some really good friends who moved down from Kansas City a couple years ago. Despite beginning my time here in Texas discussing urban culture, I found myself at the Forth Worth Rodeo last night. As much as I love city living, I can't deny my small town roots! It's a good balance. 

Other than the rodeo, we've mostly just been hanging out. It's been a wonderful retreat from my very hectic and crazy life at home, but I really do miss it and I can't wait to be back tomorrow. Derek and the kids will be there to pick me up and I'm really, REALLY looking forward to those hugs! :)


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

At day at the gym!

I found this post sitting on my blog dashboard yesterday that I had written two weeks ago and never published! I'm boarding a plane to Texas in just a minute, so now seemed as good as time as ever to share it! For those wondering, Jackson has seemingly been getting sick less frequently over the past few days, which is certainly a praise! We, of course, welcome your prayers over the whole situation! :)

On Belle's birthday, the kids and I ventured out to an open gym session at a local gymnastics facility! It was so much fun as you can tell by the pictures!

She's practicing to be like her Aunt Ashley!

Jackson was nervous to do it by himself, but eventually he made it across!

I love this shot!! Super Jackson!! :)

There was lots of jumping into the foam pit.

Belle's favorite was the trampoline. 

Check out this face... she is SUCH a cutie!! :)

I'm surprised that Jackson actually climbed up and dropped down.... several times!

Jackson's favorite was this rope. 

Oh we had so much fun! The kids really enjoyed exploring. It was the perfect activity because it was raining like crazy outside! Being able to have some special time with my kids is the highlight of my work schedule. I absolutely love going to my job and I love being with my kids, so staying home on Mondays gives me the best of both worlds!! 

For dinner, we headed out to Steak N Shake! Belle ate a lot of milk shake, some fries, and only a nibble of the tiny burger, but she was the birthday girl, so I didn't protest.

Overall, it was a great day! A great birthday, for sure!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Update on Jackson

Last week, I posted about our trip to Children's Mercy regarding our hope to have found the solution for Jackson's daily vomiting. Unfortunately, the sickness prevailed and we went yesterday to our primary care doctor to try to figure this out once again. I emailed some family last night with an update and I've had so many others who've been checking in to see how Jackson's doing that I just wanted to share the update for all:
As some of you may have been aware, Jackson has been getting sick each day for a couple of weeks now. We've tried everything from a bland diet, antacids for reflux, and even an enema to clean his bowels and it hasn't seemed to make much of a difference. I took Jackson into our doctor today for another look. It seems to be a perplexing situation as appears so healthy in every way possible. 
Failing to use my better judgement, I googled symptoms the other day and it, of course, offered many serious potential explanations. It was easy to brush them aside knowing it was just coming from the internet. However, it was certainly scary hearing words like "brain tumor" coming from our doctor and not the internet. She said unexplained vomiting can be a symptom of such diagnosis. Having a history of a brain tumor in my family has been a little extra scary.  
Jackson will be undergoing an MRI next Tuesday (March 12th) at noon. He will need to be sedated in order for him to be still. We will be at Children's Mercy so I know we'll be well taken care of. 
In the mean time, we will try another antacid to treat it as if it was reflux. He was a trooper as he got his blood drawn today to see if any answers can be found in that method. Should his vomiting stop even now, the doctor recommended to move forward with an MRI.  
This is obviously scary news even just knowing the potential of what may come. Prayers are certainly coveted as we wait. Prayers for Jackson as he remains such a trooper and that it is as pain-free as possible when he does get sick. Prayers as we prepare for anesthesia and the MRI itself-- for him and for us! Prayers for an answer to be found, regardless of what it may be and that we can continue to praise God for his glory regardless. And prayers just to lift the worry from our hearts for if God can take care of even the birds, surely He can provide for us now! 
Love you all,
Amy and Derek
So many questions, so many possibilities floating through our heads... Our goal for now, is to simply focus on today, and take each new day one day at a time. This is a concept that tell my clients in sessions all of the time and so I'm trying my best to practice it myself. I am choosing not to live in fear and anxiety of what the future holds, but to grasp to the peace that passes understanding, which comes from Christ alone. That being said... I am doing okay about 95% of the time and I'd say that Derek is about the same. We make a great team and we're taking it all in stride. I am heading out down to Texas tomorrow for a conference and to visit some friends. Part of me wants to stay, but there's really no need. I will fly home late Monday-- just in time to take Jackson to the MRI.

In the meantime, Jackson is in no pain (other than minor discomfort when getting sick) and he's is his normal happy, energetic little self. When I explained to him that he was going to have his blood drawn yesterday (I compared it to his shots... that instead of putting something into his body, they would take just a little bit out) he quickly asked, "Are they going to take out my guts!?" Typical boy stuff. :)

He's been practicing his Wii skills lately and has even beat me (without me losing on purpose!) at bowling and baseball...

Jackson had Belle cracking up in the backseat this weekend by holding her hand... not sure what was so hilarious  but they were having fun.

And.... he spent the weekend at my parents house pretending to be a dog....

We are already feeling the prayers from those around us. The emails, texts, and messages-- they have all been very encouraging. We are so truly blessed. I'll be sure to keep you posted!

Above all else, may God be glorified.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

A boy. A dog. And the snow.

This weekend was Derek's drill weekend and as usual the kiddos and I headed up to spend some time with my parents. My brother flew out this week to Equador for a two month medical missions trip and has left his dog-child, Malcolm, with my parents. I brought out my camera to take some pics of Malcolm having some fun to send to Phil to let him know that his baby dog is being taken care of and having lots of fun. (Malcom is so much like Phil's "baby" I almost wonder if I should if my kids and Malcolm are cousins....) I ended up with some quite a few pictures showing the fun we had while playing in the snow on Saturday afternoon. I love the ones of Jackson and Malcolm... boys and dogs are so cute together.

Don't they both look thrilled to stop playing to pose for a photo? :)

This is Belle playing in the snow-- laying like a log, never moving any muscles, other than smiling as she slides down and then is carried up. 

Malcolm liked to chase down with the sled as kids went down the hill

We eventually moved from the side yard hill to the bigger one by the large pond.

The kids slid REALLY fast and so Dad ended up sprinting down to catch them from sliding on to the pond! He caught them in time, but not without wiping out. :)

Next time, Mom stationed herself down low to catch the kids. She didn't have to sprint, but she wiped out too. One minute she's vertical  the next I see two feet flying in the air. But it was a success-- no kids in the pond!

There was a snowball fight at one point... (notice Belle-- still laying like a log?)

And a super cute pic of the kids and my parents! 

Now that the roads have been cleared and driveways shoveled, we've been out to enjoy the snow as much as possible!



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