Saturday, June 21, 2008

Not Alone and Not Afraid

Loved Ones,

For the past almost three weeks it has been easy to not feel alone because we have literally, not been alone. Ray's sister Debbie, complemented by an array of other sisters, has been by our side. A special angel, and a nurse, she has helped so much in our transition to this new life. As you leave today, thank you Debbie.

It is easy, when faced with what can seem like overwhelming changes and uncertainties, to feel afraid. To seek knowing, certainty, control.

Thinking about all these things is no help! They grow. They discourage. And the need for patience seems herculean.

We noticed today that while we are praying, even about these same things, we do not feel alone and we do not feel afraid. Even in the uncertainty and the not knowing, God gives us enough to go on. Today. And then the next day, the same.

We were able to watch the video of the DC prayer service today. What a wonderful gift. It meant even more today than Thursday. Those prayers surround us!

Ray's appetite is coming back a little and he is pressing forward seeking nutrition even without it. Hooray Ray.

His color looks good and he had energy for a great visit with an old friend.

We continue to pray for his liver numbers (all of them, even the lagging one!) to come down and for that liver to be healed!! Tonight we placed our hands on his stomach too. Get out of here cancer!!

The girls had a great day. We painted more driveway messages for Daddy, swam in the pool and colored with new markers. A good time was had by all.

We leave you with these verses from our prayer tonight. They are from when Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego were to be thrown in the fiery furnace for refusing to deny their God:

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:17-18

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray


Loved Ones,

I've been reading some about Job. Here are the verses that are on my mind today.

One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. Job 1:6-12

Some days feel more like tests than others.

Ray had another quiet day. His second round of chemo was finished at 2:30. Tiredness and loss of appetite seem to be his main chemo symptoms. His color looks good and he is hydrated, but we are anxious for his appetite to return -- he can't lose any more weight!

Some kind of computer virus/electrical glitch caused me to lose all my emails today. This was a bummer! They've been such a joy to us. We do have all the sent emails. So all the emails I've replied to are still there. But it was a disappointment.

Our praises for the day: We continue to research treatments, drugs and therapies for Ray. I had a wonderful conversation with a medical director that works with our doctor. He had nothing but praise for her. This is wonderful to hear.

Ray had a great visit with an old friend from DC. Another one comes tomorrow. These are great things that lift our spirits.

Our prayer requests: We continue to beseech the Lord for total healing for Ray. We are lifting up the side effects to the Lord as well: that they would be minimal so as not to affect treatment. We've been told that growing fatigue is very common as well as nerve issues due to the chemo. We are praying for protection for his nerves and from fatigue.

Our girls are really craving normal things. We are praying for energy and timing to do some things together as a family.

So back to the verses. The thing is, Job passed the tests. He was tested, and he didn't fail. So he was tested even more. And he still didn't fail.

So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, full life. Job 42:12, 16-17

May we all pass our tests.

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Friday, June 20, 2008

Prayers for Healing

Loved Ones,

A wonderful blessing for us today was the DC prayer service for Ray's healing. While we have not yet seen the video, just the program filled with prayers, verses and songs, was so moving to us. We could not have asked for a more meaningful gift than our DC friends, gathered together, praying for Ray's healing! Thank you Lord.

Ray had a quiet day. We've been told that tiredness is pretty common. His appetite is down which is similar to our last round. We think it will rebound soon. Perhaps it is the beet hummus we tried to feed him. Beets are cancer fighters!

We were reunited with the girls tonight. Hooray! They look older from two days!

Our doctor emailed us today with liver function tests. They look good! As we suspected from Ray's color, the liver function is improving. It is all those prayers for the liver! We still have a ways to go, but things are going in the right direction in all but one category. All the most important ones have improved.

While we were discussing Ray's "bili" (bilirubin) counts the girls asked, "who are you talking about?" I got a little nervous and then they said, "Matt's cousin Billy?" "Or Billy that lives next door to him?" Oh. I love it.

We are praying too for minimal side effects, so as to be able to continue the treatments on schedule. Early in the day we were concerned with some trouble swallowing (a possible side effect), but it seems to be contained only to certain pills so we've been told not to worry.

In every instance, God provides the encouragement we need. Today a friend emailed the story of Elijah who was waiting expectantly because God had promised rain. After checking seven times, he saw a tiny cloud on the horizon. And he went and told the King because he knew that God was keeping his promise. He was right.

Here is our verse for tonight:

"And it will be said in that day: “ Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:9

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chemo Update

Loved Ones,

We have a good day to report.

Today was Ray's second round of chemo but our first outpatient trip. It went without a hitch. Ray went first for lab work, then "pre-meds," then the first chemo which runs two hours. After this, they hooked him up to a "European Travel Bag" aka fanny pak that holds his second dose of chemo which runs on a battery pump from home for 46 hours. We'll be done by 2:30 on Friday.

Ray is doing very well. For the first time, I am typing this email up in his room on my laptop because I just can't bear to go downstairs. He is talking so much and even telling stories. He ate dinner, even a cookie.

To understand why this is such a big deal: two days before the first chemo Ray was hardly talking at all. He was just so quiet -- and when he did speak he was very hoarse. He told me that he thought he would be talking a whole lot less.

Ray's color is normal. To understand why this is such a big deal: last Monday he was yellow.

We are continuing to praise the Lord for the evidence of healing we see, knowing that there is much more to be done, and trusting the Lord for continuing miracles.

The chemo is a long road and we are told that the side effects will multiply -- sometimes even impacting how often Ray can have treatment. We are praying that the side effects will be manageable.

While we were at the chemo our blackberries kept buzzing. Plans for the prayer service in DC tomorrow, a person fasting in Kenya, a person fasting in California, a person praying without ceasing in Texas, powerful verses from a friend's mom in Indiana.

Can you imagine what it feels like to be us? Here's one way of describing it: the center of God's will, being fed by his very hand.

Here are our verses for today. We are applying them specifically to the cancer cells in Ray's body:

"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tonngue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father." Phillipians 2:10-11

We will be thinking of all of you in Washington at the prayer service at 3 pm tomorrow. There is no gift we value more than your prayers.

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chemo Update

Loved Ones,

Ray had a great day today, took a walk and was outside in the yard which was wonderful for him. He is still eating so well. We've been studying cancer fighting foods so gave him a great salmon and yam dinner which he ate while watching the White Sox with a special buddy, Mike Morgan.
We are excitedly preparing for tomorrow's chemo at 1:30. Ray gets one infusion at the clinic of a hard and fast hitting chemo. His second chemo is a longer duration -- he'll do that for 48 hours from home.
We are praying for the chemo to have a miraculous impact -- eliminating the cancer altogether. We are prepared for this healing to take time, but it is this end result that we are praying for.
With Lucy still sick, the girls have gone to Nana and Grandad's where they happily waved goodbye to their mother while painting the sidewalk with paint from our neighborhood friends. As a friend said tonight, the girls have angels on their shoulders. I cannot express how true this is. Like us, the girls are being cared for from above.
With the girls gone, it ended up being wonderful to de-germ the whole house in preparation for our return after Ray's chemo tomorrow. We are ready!
We thank you all so much for your continued prayers. There is nothing that could possibly mean more.

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray

Monday, June 16, 2008

Singing Praises for the Good Days

Loved ones --

I just have to report that today has us singing praises. What a wonderful day!!

Ray's sister Debbie and I were upstairs talking to Ray tonight and he just seemed like his old self. Talking so much! Smiling and laughing at the TV when I peek in!

Nora and I were praying this evening and she forgot to pray for her dad so I reminded her. She said, "Mom, he already seems well." Well Amen to that sister!

The progress from where we were one week ago is astounding. Truly! Praise the Lord! I do not know much about chemo or the power of one chemo treatment. But I do know about the power of prayer and I am giving credit where credit is due!!

Ray's next chemo treatment is this Wednesday. We are gearing up and he is psyched. We are praying for the chemo to have a miraculous impact -- eradicating the cancer from him completely! We are thrilled that the prayer service for Ray this week in DC will be during the time of the treatment. Thank you so much for these continued prayers!

In addition to all these things, we pray for continued strength -- it takes a lot of food to keep from losing weight! We also pray for continued safety from infection and other illnesses (especially with our germy kids! Lucy has a fever today!)

We know that there will be hard days and good days. We thank the Lord for the encouragement on the days that are harder. We praise him with all the more joy on the good days.

On that note, here are our verses for tonight:

"Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." Psalm 103:1-5

not afraid and not alone --

kristin and ray

Father's Day

Loved ones,

Thank you all for your continued prayers. What a blessing they are to us. Every single day we get an email from someone new telling us that they are thinking of us and praying for us. Or someone who has already emailed saying that they are STILL praying for us. It is truly incredible. It ministers to us in many many many ways -- helping us to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on the firm foundation we have in Christ!

Ray had an ok day today. He was more tired and less hungry -- he seemed a little better later in the day. He had some nice time with the girls and ate dinner downstairs with us. That was a true blessing, the first meal together in all these weeks.

Ray's cousin emailed us the words from the Litany of Healing at his church during which they prayed for Ray. I thought they were so beautiful and wanted to repeat them here for all of you.

Almighty God, giver of life and health, send your blessing on all who are sick, and upon those who minister to them, that all weakness may be vanquished by the triumph of the Risen Christ — who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

not alone and not afraid --

kristin and ray