Sick Again?

There is a joke between my friends that the Slaven kids get sick in November and stay sick until March or April.  This year is proving to be no different and yet it has felt so much worse because they are all old enough to really complain about their infirmities.  Yet, they are still young enough that they feel the need to wake me up at night (my sweet Benjamin) to tell me that they need to go potty.  I have just about had my limit of illness, but my God, who meets all my needs, knows I have so much more to give.  It is at these moments that I cry out to God and beg for His mercy so that in my sleep deprived state I don't say or do the wrong thing to hurt his precious babies.  The amazing thing is that when I do cry out, surrender my will/desires to Him and rest in His strength I make it through the day without feeling like a failure.  The sad thing is that there are many days when I don't surrender to Him and as a result everything falls apart by the time Jonathan gets home from work. On those days,  I bet he takes one step in the house and wishes he could hightail it back to the office or anywhere but here.  Then he quietly takes over and sends me out the door for some quiet time and prayer (maybe I should say sometimes when he is not overwhelmed with work).  I am so blessed to have an understanding husband who is seeking to lead us in a godly direction.

There are blessings in the midst of these illnesses and sometimes I get so bogged down in the surviving that I forget to look for the moments of grace.  One of those moments was when I was having to torture Benjamin and Emily with their eye drops for pink eye.  These eye drops are extremely painful and it is so hard for a little one to understand that what hurts is sometimes good for them.  I was able to talk to Emily and Benjamin about God's great love for us and that there will be times in their lives that God will ask something of them that will be painful, but He sees a much bigger picture than we do.  His desire is to make us Holy and Christlike, not to make us happy.  Sometimes, the tools that God uses to get rid of the yuckies in our hearts are painful just as those eye drops are painful to get rid of the yuckies in their eyes.  I reminded them that if I didn't treat their eyes it would just get worse and they would not be able to see until we used the drops.  I wonder how often God wants to say to me, "Martha, it will hurt for a while, just trust that I know what is best for you."  The beauty is that when I relinquish my desire for ease and seek His face the pain is not that great because He comes along and bears my burdens for me.   His yoke truly is easy and His burden is light, because he caries it all for me - if only I remembered to leave my burdens at His feet.  He is a gracious and loving Father and only desires our best.  What a wonderful place to rest - in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father.


Always a Teachable Moment

I can't believe it, my baby is officially a 2 year old.  We celebrated Courtney's birthday on Friday the 19th with Grandma and Grandpa Slaven, Grandpa Barraclough and Aunt Jonalyn.  Uncle Mike couldn't make it because of his work schedule.  Courtney had a blast opening her presents and especially eating her cake.  Her brother and sister enjoyed the process almost just as much.  After all, at this age it is just as much fun to help open the gifts as it is to get the gifts themselves.  It provides a constant training opportunity to teach them to share and to think of others needs above their own... some days I grow weary of the training.  It is at those times that I think a recording would work the best.  "Ok, Benjamin, Emily, Courtney (whichever child needs to hear), go push play and listen very carefully.."  If only, (HUGE sigh) but then we would lose the personal touch of communicating to these little people that God has entrusted to our care.  There is something truly precious and intangible when I see the understanding dawn when looking into their eyes as I explain an important truth from God's Word.  It is even more precious when that child chooses to follow what God wants instead of what he/she wants.  Ahh, those are the moments to celebrate, especially since at this precocious age they are few and far between, and praise the Lord that He is using me a, a sinner saved by grace, to teach and train His priceless children.

What is your morning worth?

We had another God moment today.  Our van went back to the shop last night to hopefully fix the gas gauge once and for all.  This is the second time it has been in the shop for this problem... please, please let them fix it!  We took it in on Tuesday night so that I would not have to get up and get all the kids ready to leave in the morning in order for it to be at the shop by 8 a.m.  Yeah right!  I know some Mom's can do it, but this one can't... give me 2 cups of coffee and about an hour of awake time before I can navigate my own house!  Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.  I did find out from the dealership that we might get our van back tomorrow and then again maybe not... it all depends on if the new gas gauge makes it in on Thursday's shipment.  Thankfully, everything will be covered under warranty.  PTL!

Our God moment - actually our whole morning - was the sacrificial giving of one of the precious ladies in our church, Betty.  She had offered to take me to drop off the van, but since Jonathan and I were able to take it on Tuesday night I called to let her know we would not be needing her services.  In the course of our conversation I told her I was hoping to take Emily back to Children's Mercy Urgent Care to see if there was a reason why she was still acting sick.  She offered to help me out since I would not have transportation.  She had no idea her offer was going to take up her entire morning!  She picked us up at 9 a.m. and braved the hospital waiting room until 12:30 with my three busy children.  The kids did great and even got a number of compliments from the nursing staff and doctor on their behavior (thanks to Biblical training and God at work in their hearts).  After a not so pleasant experience of flushing Benjamin's and Emily's ears with warm water, the doctor announced that yes, Emily still has an ear infection.  Benjamin's are a little irritated, but that may be due to the trauma he just endured to his ear or the onset of another ear infection.  Let's hope and pray it's not getting infected again.  I must say that Benjamin was quite a trooper.  He was so brave while they were trying to pick out the ear wax that it about made me cry.  Emily, on the other hand, was so scared that the nurses had to wrap her in a sheet to keep her still, but once wrapped she quit fighting and just cried like her little heart was going to break.  After all was said and done, our dear friend, Betty, took the kids out for McDonald's to reward them for their bravery.  That was all it took to wipe the last tear from their faces.

I know I would have survived the Urgent Care experience with all three kids, but I was more thankful than words can express to have someone there to help me.  My Mom is already waiting for me in heaven, and I wouldn't want her anywhere else, but the times I miss her the most are when my babies are sick.  I think those are the only times that I fight the tears over not having Mom around, but God provides for me is such amazing and wonderful ways.  My mother-in-law is one of those wonderful ways that God has provided.  I can truly say, when I married Jonathan I didn't just gain a great husband, but a precious mother.  However, she is an hour away and not always accessible at a moments notice.  It is in those times that my loving, heavenly Father provides precious woman to hold me up and help me through the tough times.  Even in this small thing I can always trust that my Father will always take care of not just my physical needs, but my emotional needs as well.  My heart is safe in the everlasting arms of Jesus and I trust Him with all the most precious gifts He has given me - my husband and children.


A Baby no More

Our baby, Courtney, is no longer a little baby.  In the last month she has decided to grow up right before my eyes.  One night while getting her ready for bed she told me very clearly that she wanted to sleep in her big girl bed.  The conversation went something like this:

Courtney: "Piwow (pillow) here, Mommy." (pointing to her big girl bed)

Mommy: "Are you sure you don't want to sleep in your crib?"

Courtney: "No, Mommy. Piwow here." (like duh I already told you where I want to sleep)

Mommy: "Courtney, do you want to sleep in your crib and not your big girl bed?"   (thinking, I am not ready for you to grow up yet... really she doesn't want to sleep in her big bed.)

Courtney: "No, Mommy, sweep here." (once again pointing to her big bed)

Needless to say, I decided to put her to sleep in her big girl bed thinking, "yea right, this is going to last all of 5 minutes."  Well, she had me fooled and within 2 minutes I opened her door to check on her and she was sound asleep and looking so precious that it took my breath away.  As a result of saying good-bye to my baby in the crib, I spent the next hour in tears or fighting them, and praying constantly.  She has done wonderfully in her big girl bed and I am so thankful there were no tears on her part in saying good-bye to her crib.  Now, if only Mommy could get on board.   The next step in this natural process is the removing of the baby crib.  I really thought I had a handle on my emotions and was to the point of rejoicing that we were past midnight feedings, sleepless nights from crying infants, spit up and all the wonderful things that go hand in hand with a new baby.  And then the act of taking apart the crib... lets just say it was a miracle Niagra Falls did not commence.   After six years of having a crib up in our house it is gone.

As if moving from the crib to the big girl bed wasn't enough, she decided that it was time to potty train.  In less than 2 weeks Courtney was completely potty trained and only uses a diaper at night.  And this was one milestone that I didn't shed a single tear over.  No sireee, I was rejoicing to no longer have to be spending money on diapers and having that poop in the potty and not on her cute little bottom.  Now that was a day of great rejoicing!  Yippee... do a little jig... She loves to use the potty and is very good about announcing to the world that she needs to go potty.  It is pretty cute if I do say so myself.

While watching these mile stones take place, my eyes have shed many a tear because it is the end of such a precious time of my life, and yet, it is a time of rejoicing becuase it is the beginning of a new and wonderful chapter in our lives as a family.  There is something so precious and intangible in "casting all your cares on Him (the Lord) for He cares for you" because the Lord truly did wrap His arms around my heart and hold me up in my greiving and rejoicing.  Talk about a mixture of emotions, but all so true.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for us in the next 5 years of our marriage and parenting.  In the last 8 years He has sustained us, taught us to surrender all to Him, helped us to have complete reliance in His perfect timing and provision - if it is this wonderful now, I can't WAIT to see what more He has in store for us.

For those of you who are wondering why I am greiving this so much God has given us a new path as a result of Jonathan's cancer.  The surgery and everything that we have gone through to destroy the cancer has made it so we will not be able to have children unless we adopt... and who knows it may be in our future, only the Lord knows that for sure.    I am thankful and rejoicing in our three energetic wonderful children and praise the Lord that he chose to bless us with three - and at this time in my life, only three.  Once again, He does know what is best for us, equips us for what He has called us to, and does not give us more than we can handle.  We give God all the glory for anything good in us, because of our own selves we are sinners in need of a Saviour.  I praise God, that through the death of Jesus, who was sinless/perfect, that in accepting the precious gift of His salvation we can be saved from our destructive sinful natures.  That is the hope that lies within us. because we have the Holy Spirit living in us we are more than conquerors in our battles - even something as little (in God's eyes) as cancer.


Life is moving far to fast...

My life is so busy of late.  Right after Jonathan's surgery I was able to keep everyone posted on his progress almost every night.  Now that Jonathan is about back to 90% I have been focusing on getting our lives back on track.  It was amazing how much everything in our house fell apart because of the extra demands on me in caring for a very sick spouse.  Needless to say, I have not been able to write like I would have liked to.

Jonathan is doing great!  He started back to work full days the Monday after Thanksgiving and was back into the swing of things pretty quickly after that.  It probably took him about 2 weeks after going back to full days before he was able to do anything in the evenings other than sit on the couch.  The kids are starting to see that Daddy is in charge - not Mommy. WHEW!!!! And Daddy is taking time to play with them again.  They have really missed having play time with Jonathan, and it does my heart good to see them interacting.  It is so true, we don't know what we have until it is gone - I am just so thankful ours was not gone just postponed for a time.  We are so blessed.

Jonathan is scheduled for his first follow-up appointment on January 18th.  He will have a chest x-ray, lab work and a chance to see our doctor again.  Be praying that we will be a testimony to those we meet and especially to our doctor and nurse.  I can't wait to see how He is going to continue to work.


Where is my couch?

I just love being a part of the little things that God does for us.  It continues to amaze me that He chose to use us to be a blessing and a testimony of His amazing grace, mercy and provision.  We experienced His hand of provision in a mighty way involving our problem couches.  I decided to have a garage sale on the spur of the moment two weeks ago and pulled it together in one day. It ended up being quite a success. Our couch and love seat were sold before they were even set down on the drive way along with a lot of other "treasures".  When Jonathan came home he was a bit surprised to see that we no longer had anything to sit on in the family room.  Oops...  Needless to say we started praying about how to go about replacing at least one of the couches.  Should we use the funds from the garage sale to buy a couch or wait and use those funds for other needs.

On Saturday night I took the girls to Nebraska Furniture Mart to look for fun at the couches available in their clearance section - mainly to give Jonathan a break from the noise.  I really did not think there would be anything there for the amount we made at the garage sale.  Well, let me tell you my surprise when I found this beautiful chocolate brown Broyhill couch for $330 when the regular price was $1300.  I quickly called Jonathan and asked him if it would be a wise purchase.  We both felt like it was a great price and something that we actually needed; so I puchased it.  We made a few phone calls to see if one of the guys in our church could deliver it for us.  One of the couples in our church were able to and would be delivering it on Tuesday.  Yippee!!!  On Sunday morning, after praying about it we could not get peace about our purchase.  So, I took the receipt and all three kids back to Neberaska Furniter Mart and prayed that they would accept the return.  Praise the Lord, they did accept it and gave me a check back for the full amount.  I was praying all the way to the store that they would accept the return since they have posted in severel locations in the clearance section that all purchases are final and if they do return it, they assess a 10% restocking fee.  It was such a huge answer to prayer for us.

Now the exciting time came, waiting on God to see what He was going to do.  We didn't have long to wait.  On Monday night, I was talking with another friend and she had heard that we were getting a new couch.  I told her the story and conveyed our excitement about waiting to see how God was going to work.  She told me that her Dad's couch was in perfect condition and since he was moving to a nursing home it would be available if we were interested.  By the end of the week we had a couch - given to meet our need.  The same guy that was going to bring us our brand new one was able to deliver the second couch.  He was so excited to be a blessing to us and even more excited about how God worked in our hearts.  The whole thing was such a blessing.  Now, every time I look at our couch, I am reminded of the incredible blessings we receive when we submit to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and wait on His perfect timing.  I may not always choose to follow His leading but the rewads are amazing when I do.  Even if we had gone months without a couch, there still would have been a great reward in the peace of knowing that we did what God wanted us to do.  The first couch was beautiful and a great price, but I kept thinking if we ended up not being able to return it, what blessing would we miss out on because it was too good a deal to pass up.  It was a great deal, but the blessing far outnumbered the price.

I must say I love the couch the Lord provided for us. It looks perfect in our family room, and it even reclines on each end.  It was so much more than I dreamed of getting and the best part was how God worked.


God of the Impossible!

Our God is the God of the impossible!  We just received a call from Dr. Holzbeierlein with the most amazing news.  He told us the final pathology report came back as the non-metestatic teratoma tumor and NOT cancerous!  Yes, we are now cancer free!  We are both so overwhelmed with the news that we don't know what to say.  Our initial response was a lot of crying, a little jumping for joy by me and Jonathan's mom and a few shouts of praise the Lord's.  We are so thankful that God chose to cure Jonathan now instead of having to go through more chemo.  We also know that if he had chosen to take us through more chemo He would have been faithful to provide the strength, grace and mercy necessary to finish the journey.  We are so thankful for the prayer warriors who got on their knees on behalf of us.  God was glorified through the prayers and faith of our friends and loved ones in answering the thousands of prayers.  It has been a humbling experience to see the hand of God so dramatically in our lives and to know that He was glorified in our suffering.  We can honestly say that we rejoiced in our tribulation because we were right were God wanted us to be, and as I said before there is nowhere else we would rather be.

Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him.  This Summer has been a difficult journey for us, but through it all we have kept our focus on our Heavenly Father.  There are no words to describe the fear and overwhelming feeling of despair when we found out Jonathan had cancer.  But our God, who is faithful, has held us through the chemo and now the surgery.  I know it through the power of the prayers of our friends and family.  Without you, we would not have been as victorious in our journey.  Thank you for being willing to stand in the gap for us.

Yes, I started this blog yesterday right after receiving the GREAT news, but was so emotional I wasn't able to finish it until today.  What can I say... I have a husband who is recovering from extensive surgery and three very demanding precious children.  Oh, I do induldge in a bon bon moment and watch my soaps every day... but hey what more can a girl do?  Just kidding, I don't even watch the very few shows I allow the kids to watch.  Ahh, the life of a Mommy/ Wife/ Administrator/ Nurse/ Peace Keeper/.... you get the gereral idea.



Well, we did come home yesterday around 4:30p.m.  I wasn't certain Jonathan was ready to be released from the hospital yet, but the doctors felt that he was.  I was mostly concerned about his pain management not really anything else.  I knew it was going to be difficult on the kids to not climb on Daddy, but I also knew we could handle that. I didn't anticipate little Courtney, who is not so little anymore, lunging herself at Daddy while he was resting on the couch.  Talk about a wake up call!  He survived and so did Courtney after he scared her with his grunt of pain.

Today we went back to the hospital because his pain level was not getting below 5 and for the most part around a 7 or 8.  The Tylonol/Codine mix just was not cutting it so the doctor had us go to the ER to check everything out.  We were there from 3:30 until 7:30 and this time the ER did help.  They gave him some "happy" drugs so that the pain really didn't matter anymore.    It really did work to bring the pain down along with making him a little loopy.  When we left there he was pretty unsteady on his feet and his speech was a little slow, but at least the pain was at a 3 or 4.  That is the best it has been since waking up from surgery.  The doctor gave us a stronger pain perscription to have him take for the next couple of days to get us past this hump and on the road to recovery.

Our doctor should hear from pathology tomorrow about the final results of the tumors that were removed.  Lord willing, the preliminary was wrong and we will get really good news tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.  If not, we have a few more bumps yet to come.  Thanks for your continued prayer support.  God is faithful and will continue to sustain us.

Please pray for wisdom as we try to help our kids through this time.  Bnejamin and Emily are both old enough to understand that Daddy is not well, but I don't know how much they grasp.  Benjamin is acting out by crying about the smallest things. Emily sturggles with going to bed because I think she is afraid I won't be there when she wakes up.  It makes bed time a very long and difficult process for both of us.  Courtney is just my extra attachment on my hip.  It is sweet to have her want me, but all the time?  Help!  I am working to reassure them with spending time playing with them and also teaching them Bible verses about God's faithfulness.  My experience so far has been one step forward and two steps back.  Ahh, the life of a Mom... and the ever changing hats she wears!


Praying and Waiting

"Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord; hear my voice!  If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand:? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.  My soul waits for the Lord, More than those who watch for the morning - Yes, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.  And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities." Psalm 130

The last few days we have been on an emotional roller coaster.  The stress of Jonathan being in surgery was enough to make me feel sick, but the news that we might not be finished with this fight just about sent me on the run.  If there was a way to outrun this disease I would gladly do that for my precious husband, but then I would miss out on all the blessings and lessons God has in store for us.

Yesterday was my day to cry and feel discouraged about the results of Jonathan's surgery.  No, it wasn't what we had hoped to hear, but it was exactly what God wanted us to hear.  For whatever reason, He has not finished with us yet on this training ground.  We will boldly walk forward, resting in the arms of our Heavenly Father, knowing that He loves us more than I can possibly ever love Jonathan.  With a love that great and perfect He will not allow anything to happen to us that is also not for our ultimate good.  You may ask how I can say that when the person I most treasure on this earth is in extreme pain and with the possibility that it will get worse before it gets better.  I can say that because I know God hears my voice, He has forgiven me, and His word does give me hope.  The best part for me when I read Psalm 130 was the last part "for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption."  He is a God of great compassion and mercy and I rest in the knowledge of who He is and not in my circumstances.

Today I was able to spend some quality time with our children this morning while Jonathan's parents went to the hospital to be with him.  It was very needed for the kiddos.  Benjamin has been very emotional the last couple of days and Emily and Courtney are afraid I won't come back.  It is so hard to reassure an almost 4 and almost 2 year old that Mommy will be here for them when I have been gone so much lately.  We do the best we can and pray that God will give them peace in the midst of their storm.  I took them to the hospital to see Daddy and it was the right decision.  I wasn't sure how they would respond to seeing him with the drain still coming out of his neck - kinda yucky.  I think they were so glad to see him that they didn't really notice the incision on his neck or the tubes coming out of his neck.  In fact Benjamin and Emily were not ready to leave when Grandma and Grandpa were ready to take them home.  It was good for Jonathan to see his kids as well.  I was so encouraged with how well Jonathan was doing today.  He got up and walked a lap around his hospital floor before collapsing in bed.  He looks so much better, thanks to all your prayers.  Tomorrow may be the day he gets to drink something.  Pray that all goes well and that it actually happens - he is getting pretty thirsty and that little bitty sponge that has a little water on it does nothing to wet his mouth much less quench his thirst.

Praise the Lord, I was finally able to meet with Dr. Holzbeierlein the Urologist who performed the surgery on his stomach today.  He told me that he felt the ENT (ear nose throat) was able to get all the tumor out of his neck, but that Dr Tsue (ENT) might not have felt as confident since he doesn't work with this type of cancer very often.  That greatly encouraged Jonathan and me.  He also said that there was a VERY slight chance that the preliminary pathology report could be wrong and when the final report comes back it could show that the disease is completely gone.  Not something we should anticipate, but something we can definitely pray for.  If it does come back as cancerous then we will be facing another couple of rounds of chemo, even if the surgeons were able to remove all the tumors,  Hey, aren't you glad we serve a BIG God and nothing is too difficult for Him.  He will either choose to heal Jonathan now, or He will choose to carry us through the next difficult phase.  Whatever the outcome, His name will be glorified.


The Road to Recovery

Jonathan is doing so much better this evening than he was this morning.  The pain in his abdomen was severe enough that the morphine had to be increased and another pain medication added.  Thankfully, after the doctor increased his medicine he was able to get some relief in order to sleep.  After he woke up from his nap, the nurses did indeed bully him into a chair.  He sat up for 30 minutes and was more than ready to climb back into bed and sleep again.  It really wore him out, but at least he was up and moving a little bit.  Tomorrow they will get him up three times and have him take a few steps around the room.

The doctors did tell him that he would have to have chemo after he recovered from surgery.  He was discouraged with the news, but I think the pain is keeping the thoughts at bay right now.  The reality probably won't set in until after we are ready to head home.  We won't find out the full extent of the pathology report until Monday or Tuesday.  At that point we will know for sure what direction the oncologist will want to go.  Or we could be surprised and hear that the preliminary was all wrong and there really wasn't cancer growing anymore in his body.  Wouldn't that be a nice and welcome surprise!

Whenever I start to get a little down about what we still have to overcome I am reminded of many verses to help keep my focus on Christ.  Right now my brain is so fuzzy that there is not much of anything left except a silent plea for sleep.  My desire is not to leave you with a message of hopelessness, but of great peace and abundant hope.  I just wish my brain were in gear enough to remeber those verses.  The long hours are really starting to catch up with me. I leave you knowing that my God will sustain us with His presence and no mountain is too big for Him to move - however he sees fit to move it!


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