Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Cindy passed away peacefully on Monday August 3rd 2009. She was surrounded by family; her husband Howard, and oldest son Wesley, held her hands. Her funeral will be held Thursday August 6th, at 2:00 pm in her beloved church.
Cindy had completed her final blog, but we are unable to locate it at this time. We will post the blog as soon as we can.
Thanks to all of you for your continued prayers and well wishes.

Cindy's family

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What a Week!

This week has been a crazy mix of up and down. My function has decreased yet again. Physical Therapy has gone fine although I have not been able to do the full routine. I really want to do this though as I am motivated to regain all that I can, as quickly as I can. As usual our church has stepped up their efforts when we need it. Jarvis - there just isn't enough I can say to thank you for everything.

Radiation is going well. I have few side effects from that for now. Unfortunately my pain has increased greatly. We are trying to get it under control and I have no doubt that my doc will find a way to get this under control. I have been seen three days so far this wee and go back to be seen tomorrow as well. I am getting around okay at home though. Once I get up it's fine. Getting up and down is a bit more challenging. Ever hear of Cushings?

This post is a bit more important than many of my others. I want you all to know what my dear friend Linny is doing for me. This is Linny's Blog:

Linny has organized a fast and prayer for me for this Monday. PLEASE go visit her blog to see the details. I have been so humbled by everything that so many are doing. Linny my sweet friend thank you! You are such a shining example of a daughter of Christ!

Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Mark 3:35

Friday, July 17, 2009

His Strength is Perfect

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I gather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

I read a handful of blogs on a regular basis. When I get on my computer in the morning, I have a routine that I follow as I go through them one by one. A few days ago, I clicked on one of my regularly read blogs, The NieNie Dialogs
Steph is a young woman of remarkable courage. Last August she, her husband and a flight instructor were in a horrible plane crash. Stephanie was burned very badly. She has had quite a year, as just living has been a true miracle. She doesn't look the same - and never will. She was a really pretty young girl. She was cleaning out some of her old emails that day and had run across a picture taken of her shortly before the crash. She called the photo "A Ghost in the House". Quoting her "I broke down. My face no longer looks like her, and her is me. But I don't look like her. (yes, I am so feeling sorry for myself) I thought about the song Alison Krauss sings called 'Ghost in this house'."

"I feel like that Ghost. I miss my old self so much it hurts everyday and just when I think I have accepted the "new me" I remember her, and it hurts."

I did feel bad for her - for about 10 seconds; then the uglies took over. I started thinking, okay well, it's hard. But guess what - you're alive and are going to stay that way. You get to raise your four little children - I don't. How unbelievably arrogant of me. So, here I sit a week later - a ghost in my own house. And deeply apologetic to Steph to whom I sending a copy of this post.

I look nothing like I did a week ago. I do not look like the same person at all. And I do not have the same function at all either. If you haven't seen me in a while you will not recognize me. I do want others to know this so it isn't such a shock if you run into me in public which happened today. In my husband's wonderful day o f taking care of me, as we were errand running we ran into someone we had not seen in quite a while. They were extremely uncomfortable and abviously taken aback by my appearance. That tells me that I should have mentioned this before.

I do have my walker now. It is wonderful. Although I was hesitant to take this step I am so glad that I did. It has truly given me my mobility back. I wonder why I thought it was such a big deal. Maybe because it is a big deal - but in the best possible way.

I frankly have been struggling quite a bit over the last week. The loss of independence and function is not something that any of us saw coming. I have adaptive equipment all over the house now. At first frankly demeaning to my prideful self, I now realize what a blessings these items are. I hit a really low point and decided that a pity party was definitely in order. So I threw myself a doozy of a pity party.

In His faithfulness, God sent me exactly what I needed. I had a few songs from You Tube saved in my favorites on my computer. I "randomly" opened the folder and clicked on one of them about a third of the way down. It was Steven Curtis Chapman's 'His Strength is Perfect'. I have embedded it below. Please follow it to the end.

I fell again. At this point I'm just too weak to do anything about it. Limp as a rag doll, my body is just folding up. My physical weakness is becoming more and more evident. Probably my lowest day, His strength is indeed perfect. But when my strength is gone, His is evident. My weakness only reaffirms His strength. Fully experiencing His strength gives me so much more than on my own even in my own physical weakness.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Yesterday I found out what my radiation schedule will be. I will be having radiation daily Monday through Friday for the next 23 business days. Although a very welcome beginning, this does present challenge itself. I really am totally unable to drive. But what an awesome God we serve and what an unbelievable church family we have. A call here, a call there, and in only one hour, rides were secured for me for the entire schedule!

This afternoon I begin Physical Therapy. While PT is not generally something that people look forward to, I am quite anxious to begin. I have to be better than this. And indeed the therapists I saw were wonderful. They are kind, compassionate and helpful in developing appropriate exercises for me. They do not want me to over extend as whatever is going on, is unfortunately still going on. The incident has not abated and is getting a bit worse daily. Although there was a sudden onset, recovery will not be. Hopefully we can slow down or stop what is going on, but evidently it will take several months to recover.

As of Monday, I had a quad cane. Now they want me to have a walker. But it is one of those cool souped up models with a seat on it. My ride companions will be glad to hear this - no more carrying my heavy pocketbook.

Today as I got my physical therapy schedule those rides were also secured in record time. I have so much to be thankful for. Rallied around both me and my family are an awesome group of people who love the Lord and look for opportunities to serve Him. I thank each and everyone of them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monkey Bars, Duct Tape and Bungie Cords

Many of us carry duct tape. That isn't so surprising. I buy it in the little flat rolls so that I can conveniently drop it in my pocketbook. I never go on a trip without it.

Bungie cords - okay I got some flack on that one the last time I went to China. But in Tokoyo someone threw my new rolling suitcase off the airplane and onto the tarmac. The result was that the new suitcase now had no pull-up handle and the entire wheel assembly was broken rendering it useless. Ah - the joy of bungie cords. I took out a couple of them and strapped said suitcase to my larger roller affectionately nicknamed Bertha. We lost less than 5 minutes doing this. Nobody was laughing now.

It was on this trip to China that we adopted Lulea. Three years later, her speech issues although vastly improved, still linger. Sometimes she says things that you really have to listen hard, digest and try to translate. She came in the den shortly after Christmas and said, "Mama, I like your monkey bars." Well, that's what it sounded like anyway. I frowned, had her repeat what she said and then sat and tried to digest what in the world she had been trying to tell me. She became a bit insistant at that point. Both her frustration and mine was mounting. Finally she motioned to me and said "I show uo." The minute she headed to the bathroom it hit me and the mystery was solved. I had been the recipiant of grab bars for the bathroom, which I really appreciated. To Lulea they were monkey bars. How funny her perspective!

Being prepared for the future is a favorite topic of mine. Type A to the core, I carry duct tape and bungie cords. Sometimes though the future brings with it, an altogether different set of circumstances than what we felt such a great need to be prepared. As expected, my monkey bars have been a life saver - till this weekend. Over the weekend, three days to be exact, I a significant amount of function. My left side decided to go on strike. Then my hearing began to diminish. Finally, the strength in my both legs vanished along with decreased strength and function of my arms and hands along with a fair maount of tremoring. Oh yes, and then there's the approximately 20 pounds that suddenly appeared over the course of the last week.

At my oncology appointment this morning, my blood work was again just fine. That was very welcome news. Because of the extent of my downward spiral in such a short time there was quite a bit of consternation that perhaps the tumor in my brain was growing out of control. The verdict however went in another direction which was bit unexpected though welcome. This is all evidently a fairly impressive effect of a high dose of steriods.

One look at me and my oncologist went into high gear and arranged for new radiation treatments to begin Tuesday. She isn't the type to throw her weight around unnecesarily so when she says jump - people do. Once the radiation has begun, they can begin weaning me off of the steroids - thank goodness. Driving is out of the quesition - my legs don't work well enough for it to be safe. In fact, both my onc and a PA in another office insisted that I go buy a quad cane. That is not exactly something I would have forseen just a week ago. But for once I decided to be sensible and listen to my doctor when she pointed out that if I fell and broke a hip or a femor they would have to suspend all treatment until I was healed. So I got the cane. It's a metallic purple and blue - A throwback to my younger years, I call it my British Racing cane.

As a result of all of this functional loss so suddenly, I had the most humbling experience of my life and it is not without some trepidation that I tell this. I have lost so much strength that I was unable to stand up in the bathroom and had to drop to my knees and crawl out. My husband calmly though took charge. He had to have me reach around his neck and hold on so that he could lift me back to my feet. I didn't want to do this - I wanted to figure out a way to do it myself. I cried in pure frustration and humiliation. But he calmly assured me that he could lift me and all I had to do was to reach out, put my arms around his neck - and trust that he really could get me up. And this wonderful caring dedicated man to whom I have the honor of being married did exactly that. I tried to thank him, but that wasn't what he wanted. He simply wanted me to trust him to help me. All of my preperations were for naut. My duct tape, my bungie cords, not even my monkey bars were of any use without trusting another to help me.

Suddenly I realized, Lord Jesus that's what you do for us. Everytime we stumble and fall if only we put out our arms out to you, you take them. You then pick us up to our feet and set us on our way once more. You sacrificed your life to ours - to saving us from our selves and our stubborn insistence on doing it our own way. All we have to do is reach out our arms and trust that you really will pick us up once more. We don't need duct tape and bungie cords - we need you.

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's a Hundred Little Things

It's the unspoken sadness that seems to have taken permanent residence in the eyes of my husband. It's friends who are no longer able to make eye contact with me. It's hearing my husband whistle, wondering who will inventory the pantry, who will kiss away each and every one of my little children's boo-boos. Its curling up in my chair while Lulea rubs my arms, smiles and says, "I wuv ou Mama." and knowing that she isn't old enough to remember me long term. Its that infernal racket that the leaf blower (big boy toy) makes when my husband uses it Saturdays.
It's the grin on my husband's face when he comes in with a grocery store bouquet of flowers for me. It's trying to hide my heart as my children turn to each other, guarding their own hearts against a future of pain that they realize awaits them. It's watching them cry themselves to sleep and knowing I can't fix it.
It's when my younger kids ask me about getting a part-time job when they're older and want to know what they can do? As I start to answer, I realize that I won't be here to help them decide. Or when one of my older girls dissolves into tears finally choking words through tears and tells me, "You won't be here to help me plan my wedding. Who's going to take me shopping for things for my dorm room? Daddy can't do that."
It's our tradition of biscuits on Saturday morning after which my heart takes a picture of my two older girls gripping each other's hands for strength across our broad kitchen table; one brown hand of fingers locked and lovingly blended with the white ones across the table. It's my heart pictures of an older child curled up on the sofa helping a younger sibling with schoolwork. It's building a fire in the fire bowl on the patio and making S'mores in the evenings on summer weekends. It's the realization that after 31 years of doing Thanksgiving for our families that I may very well have hosted my last. It's knowing that some of our favorite traditions will likely be broken, Grand Illumination to start the Christmas season in Williamsburg, baking Christmas cookies and handing out our tins of them throughout the neighborhood, our annual MOMYS retreat (there won't be a MOMYS in the house anymore), shopping trips to the outlets in Smithfield, family vacations of spring at the beach, summers in the mountains. It's knowing that I won't be able to do a hope chest for my younger girls like I have done with the older ones. It's knowing that likely my tradition of giving each child a meaningful Christmas ornament every year will likely be discontinued. It's wondering who will do a birthday celebration for my younger children - cake and ice cream at 7:00pm. What will they do with my violin?
It was that final stroll down Duke of Gloucester Street. It's trying to figure out real priorities of my pending projects; several scrapbooking albums in desperate need of finishing, updating photo albums for the kids, the cooking, cleaning, laundry, schooling, and a multitude of other items all vying for my time, attention and ever dwindling energy. It's the realization that my time is really limited.

How can I leave, how can I say goodbye? Then almost in direct response to my questions God lays on my heart a few simple sentences from a sermon I heard many years ago. When Howard and I first joined our church, Jarvis Memorial our associate pastor was David Fishler. He was not there for very long after we joined and I honestly do not remember anything else he may have said during that time. But I distinctly remember a portion of his sermon shortly before Christmas. He was talking about King Herrod and how sorry he felt for Herrod. David made the statement that Herrod was unwilling to give up what he had, even to have something better. How sad for Herrod that he clung so fiercely to the familiar and comfortable. He could have had so much more if only he had made a different decision for his life. David spoke with the authority of one who truly knows what he is talking about through personal experience. You see, David was Jewish, or at least he used to be. When he made a decision in his life for Christ he walked away from everything which he had ever known. He was literally dead in the eyes of his family. This man lost everything familiar and comfortable in his life when he, as Peter, bravely stepped out of his boat and onto the water to the outstretched hand of Christ.
Would I have chosen to leave my family prematurely had it been left to me? Fairly obviously no mother would chose to leave her little children or a wife to leave her husband so early in life. Over and over I have heard God quietly nudging my heart with a persistent question, "Do you love them more than me Cindy?" Honestly I have struggled with this question. Clearly scripture tells us that we must love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and first above all others. However, I am human and I have children as young as five. It has been so difficult to come to terms in my heart with God's question. Am I simply clinging to the abundant blessings I have even when being squarely confronted with the prospect of something even better awaiting me? Oh this is so hard!
Shortly after the auto accident in which three of my children were involved last fall I received an email from a very wise friend. She said that she felt God was showing me that He will take care of my children. I agree with her, as if I really should have needed anything more to know this. As the time progresses I see more and more evidence that He is calling me to release them to Him.

Yesterday I read a quote that has hung in mind:
"God uses the troubles of our lives, culminating in the inevitability of our own deaths, to pry our grips off this world and refocus our hearts on what lies ahead with Him." -- Rick Holland

This was hard to read, but timely. My journey is necessarily and not unhappily toward home. That home is not here on this earth. I am but a temporary resident renting space in a temporary dwelling (my earthly body). It is hard to leave them. My fears are for them. It hurts my heart to think of the pain they will endure. But yes, Lord, I love you best.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thankful Thursday

My sweet friend, Linny does a Thankful Thursday on her blog every week and encourages the rest of us to do as well. Today, I'm taking her up on it.

This is a Thankful Thursday for me. It started when I got out of bed this morning. For many who rose today it's just another workday, another dull job day, another mountain of laundry day, another day of trying to juggle too many tasks into too little time, another day of the never ending drudgery of housework undone nearly as soon as completed.

For me, it's another day of life. I got up, I have my family, I live in a beautiful world in a very comfortable home with a wonderful friends and top notch medical care. I don't say it enough, but I/we have been blessed in ways I never even knew existed. When I was re diagnosed last fall we were put in a huge bind. At the time, we were in the middle of a complicated
"refurbishment" on our home. The older girls and I were doing most of the work and it had to be immediately suspended as I was unable to then breathe the fumes of what we were doing.

Our church stepped in immediately and just took over, completely redoing the upstairs and part of the downstairs for us. Now resources have been provided that we can finish the downstairs as well - or at least close to it. It may not be exactly what we were going to do, but will be so much better and we will on our way to finally completing this project.

On my chemo weeks, our church is still providing meals after these long 10 months! Isn't that utterly phenomenal? In fact, with all my big people out of the house this week (missions trips, summer etc) they're feeding us again this week. The faithfulness of Jarvis Church em boding the faithfulness of Christ provides a testimony unlike any other.

Beyond mere meals, our church members call often, "What do you need this week? Do you have any transportation issues I can help you with? I'm just running out to the store or the farmer's market, can I bring you some Silver Queen corn? Oh yes always to Silver Queen corn!!!!!

A faithful member of our congregation provided transportation for my youngest all year long to her speech classes. Summertime rides have been provided for my children for VBS, Mission Explorers and any other activities they wish. This has been so helpful to me. I cannot predict in advance which days are "good days" and which are not. To have things like this provided in advance takes a huge load off of me. Yesterday, we not only dinner provided (mostly fresh from her garden) and then someone brought us a huge flat of fresh blueberries fresh picked off of her mom's bushes. Oh boy do they make good smoothies. All day long people were in and out bringing us things, just checking to make sure we were okay.

My dear friend Darlene has spent the last three years of her life making sure that we always have what we need. Yesterday and the day before she spent time looking for exactly the right Vitamin Water I drink. It's a little hard to find with that magic "10" on the label. Did I ask her to do that for me - no she just does it. This has been the story of our lives.

Every day there are calls, emails, visits, blessings everywhere we turn. My "imaginary friends" in cyber space have meant so much to me. I will not meet the majority of them in person, although I certainly would like that. But they hold such a special place
in my heart. Their comments and encouragements bolster my spirits in ways that are difficult to explain. In fact some of these wonderful friends have put together a retreat in a couple of weeks right here in NC so that they can visit me and I can attend. Isn't that awesome! I am looking forward to this long weekend of fellowship.

In all of this, have I lost sight of the fact that I have some rather large issues going on? Well no, and it's been a long and difficult couple of weeks. Tough decisions have had to be made which have produced quite a bit of stress. The steroids do not agree with me. I ma having the fluid build ups, and impressive overheating which isn't pleasant at all. But I am beginning to be able to tell if I'm late taking a dose as some subtle neurological signs are emerging.My energy level has again fallen and I've had a little bug all week. Wow - sounds like I'm falling apart and leaves you wondering about that thankfulness thing.

But even this, provides opportunity for growth. Immediately scripture comes to my mind.

Not the I complain of want, for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am, to be content.
Philippians 4:11

Well okay, Paul's contentment is more of a lofty aspiration for me rather than reality. Clearly though I hear God calling to consider the big picture of life to enjoy, not to dwell on little irritations or what simply cannot be. For now, I have what I need, and way beyond, making me thankful this Thursday.