Looking back. Looking forward.

I’m back.  Both on the blog and in Dallas.  And both have been good to me.  Thankful again for the blog to receive the comments and texts and emails of encouragement and have an easy way to update our friends and family on progress and prayer requests.  And, despite the heat, we are thankful to be back in Dallas – our home where we feel so loved, cared for, and supported.  On the last day of our trip, I asked Scott if he was sad about going home and I don’t know how he so quickly and perfectly summarized it for both of us but he did … he said, “I’m not sad we’re going home but sad we don’t have more time here.”  What a sweet life that even when temperatures are in the 100s we aren’t sad about coming home.  And as I shared on the last post, I’d confessed my transition home anxiety to the Lord and Scott and I prayed that He’d give me the grace and strength and energy I needed to come home and unpack in the heat and get settled in.  And, guess what?!  He did it again!  Before I knew it, the bags were unpacked, laundry was started, and my mom was bringing dinner, Gigi bringing yogurt and we were all happily in our living room watching the Olympics.  It was good to be home and settled.

I appreciate the inquiries about part 2 of our vacation as we roamed Colorado.  We actually probably relate more to the homeless people we love in South Dallas than ever before because, every day, I wasn’t exactly sure where we’d spend the night but, most nights, it was on someone else’s place.  The first stop was 3 nights with the Kraus’ in Buena Vista* at a ranch house they’d rented.  Gorgeous views.  The Kraus’ are Jamie’s family – aka, B.  And since I also went to college and love her husband and absolutely adore her 3 boys* and her parents and her niece, this was a fun fun place to land with them.  And, as I wrote last time, her boys are adorable with Lincoln so it was fun to fish*, play, roam, farkle, cheer for the Olympics and be with them.  But, as I mentioned, Scott has wanderlust so by 3 nights he was itching to roam – and fly fish.  So we did both.  We planned to go to Aspen or Breckenridge but never made it because we had so much fun with Jamie and then other friends who were camping near Fairplay.  We headed to join them on Wednesday but, thankfully, not to camp.  Scott sprung for a bed and breakfast in the town of Como.  Population 20.  Actually, 19, the owner of the bed and breakfast told us one was in jail.  And, I use the term ‘bed and breakfast’ lightly.  It’s not what you’re picturing*.  We were the only guests apart from 2 guys on motorcycles and the owner was also our waitress, receptionist, concierge, cook, and housekeeper – and he ate dinner with us both nights.  After writing in the last entry that I wasn’t sure where we’d be sleeping and was just hopeful not camping, my friend Kristin texted and said she was praying for ‘quaint bed and breakfasts’ but when I sent her a picture and asked if that’s what she’d prayed for (also attached for y’all) she responded with, “does it have plumbing?!”  Despite the laughs, Scott and I had a great time and we actually loved it.  It was definitely ‘cozy and quaint’ as it was advertised.  But maybe cozy and quaint for the 1950s?!  But, we weren’t in Como for the accommodations, we were there because friends were there and that was a huge treat.  Kurt and Julie are good friends of Scott’s and another friend of mine, Jenny Wallace, was camping with them as well.  And, not only did I have great conversations with Jenny she’s also a doctor so she became the answer to some of my prayer requests from the last week – she gave me a topical steriod for my eyes that made a huge difference in hours!  I was so thankful.  And, after the post from last week, I felt your prayers because my feet, toes, mouth sores all got remarkably better and then Jenny eased the pain in my eyes.  I’ve still got some ugly feet and nail issues as well as some eye issues (can’t recall big word doctor used yesterday about a flap of skin growing on my eyeball …) but nothing like the constant watering and burning as before.  Thanks Lord!

Another real fun thing happened amidst sweet times at the campfire* on the Neale’s land.  The first day we arrived, Kurt, Julie, and Jenny were all fly fishing so Scott couldn’t get his gear on fast enough to go join them and Linc and I followed with him in the  backpack.  There was no trail along this river just lots of high brush and an incline up to the road.*  Scott was meandering along the river catching “brookies” and I wanted to wander up to see our friends so Julie came and met me and we started the watch-your-step hike to Kurt and Jenny’s fishing hole.  It was a pretty slow hike with tall brush, baby on the back, lots of tributaries and a river to cross.  I even had the thought that it was good for Scott that Julie was my leader instead of him because I know what was fun with her could have easily been “I can’t believe you think this is a good idea!” if Scott was trapsing me through the brush for a better fishing hole (…confessions of a sometimes-fussy-fisherman’s-wife!).   Julie and I hiked to our friends and then she, Jenny and I decided to go back to camp.  We hiked back up an incline to the road where I was happy to be on solid, flat, cleared ground.  Until I realized that I’d lost my phone along the way.  Not that we had any cell service up there but all my pictures of the week, contacts, and communication with the outside world were now gone – and, by the length of these entries and by y’all knowing me, I do like me some outside communication with my peeps:)  Not to mention the hassle and ugly money to replace it.  So, when I told them I’d lost it and looked back over the terrain, I surrendered.  I didn’t even want to tell Kurt or Scott because didn’t want them to waste time looking for it (which they did but to no avail).  Later around the campfire, Jenny said, “let’s look tomorrow – it’ll be a fun  hike and time together!”  I thought she was sweet but crazy.  It’s bad enough that it was lost in rough brush and without any clear ability to retrace steps but Scott had also knocked my very-tired pink cover a couple days before and suggested I throw it away so, as a good teachable wife, I did – much to my dismay because it would have been much easier to look for pink than black.  But, the next day, the group insisted and I agreed to at least feel like I made an effort as I considered the ugly money required to replace it.  5 of us headed out to look for it.  We walked for about :30 trying to guess where we’d walked the day before and even backtracking considerably at one point because we realized we’d crossed the river upstream the previous day.  We prayed before we searched and my prayer included, “Father, I believe, but help my unbelief” from the story in the Gospels of another man asking big things of Jesus.  I knew Jesus knew where my phone was.  And I knew He could find it if He wanted to.  I wasn’t sure he cared so much about my phone but I do know He cares about my heart – and, on this day, I didn’t know if He’d want to remind me that things like phones are temporal and distractions or remind me that nothing is too hard for him.  I expected the former.  But, we walked for about :30 and, lo and behold, I looked down as Julie and I discussed the familiarity (or lack thereof) of a big fall tree and there it was! I had my own little Luke 15 celebration* of the phone that “once was lost but now was found.”  Super super fun!  And encouraging to have friends that helped me (totally convicting that if tables were turned I wouldn’t be leading the effort to search for someone else’s because I was sure it was futile!), encouraging to be reminded that God can do anything He pleases and nothing is too hard for Him, and a sweet reminder that He knows all and sees all.  And, on that particular day, He gave me His eyes to see where my phone was.  I am grateful.

So, those are a few of the stories from last week and I’ll include a few pics too.  I’ve included an asterik above of stories that are pictured.  And the last one is just our great little road tripper who logged a zillion miles in the car seat and did great.  I guess if he’s Scott’s son it’s good that he learns early how to roam.

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Now, to this week and looking forward…

We had a good doctor’s appointment yesterday.  When Dr. Osborne looks at my weekly lab reports she says things like “gorgeous” and “beautiful” referring to my red blood count, liver and kidney.  I think that’s a compliment but never cared much about having a gorgeous kidney.  I am glad that my body has responded well to chemo (won’t know for sure until tomorrow but by feeling it, doctors think it has shrunk considerably) without significantly compromising the rest of my vital organs.  That’s a praise.  Today I had an echocardiogram (drugs known to cause heart failure) and then, after tomorrow, Lord willing, what’s left of the tumor in my boob (or is it breast?) and armpit (or shall we say lymph node?) will be gone:)  I check in at 8 for another mammogram and I’m unclear but think there may be some sort of dye injected into my lymph system to identify malignant lymph nodes and then go directly to Baylor’s surgery center for a lumpectomy, ancillary lymph node dissection (removing the lymph nodes), and removal of my port.  Big day!  And, after all that, I get to go home!  Again, I marvel at the advances in medicine and am thankful.  I’ll be sure that Scott or I post a quick update tomorrow night to confirm all went well.  We’d love your prayers toward that end.  And, for Lincoln.  He’ll be with his Aunt B and her boys tomorrow, his Aunt Mandy and Hope on Thursday, and Auntie Cheryl on Friday.

As of this isn’t enough so far (1733 words and counting…) and I haven’t asked for enough prayer, I have another update in my world.  It’s not really my news but it feels like it for me.  For those that have been reading for awhile and most of you know this already, but Gigi (one of my dearest friends and roommate before I got married) had 2 foster boys last year.  They came the day after Linc was born and left in March.  That was a sad day.  But, we also saw the Lord’s timing in it as I headed into intense treatment and Gigi was available to help me and help Linc.  And the boys were reunited with their mom and siblings.  Thankfully, we’ve maintained a relationship with the boys and their family and Gigi and I even went over and took the boys and their older brothers to breakfast and play on Saturday morning.  But, as is the case in many of our lives and especially those that struggle with daily survival, things can change quickly.  And, as of last night, the boys are back in Gigi’s care.  But, not only them but their 2 big brothers as well (4 boys ages 6-9).  This was a hard decision but she knows its best for them to be placed in the same home and they were all thrilled to be together and with Gigi.  My heart is both sad for their family but also overjoyed that we get to love on them again.  On the way home, after we took them to eat, it was getting late and Gigi told them “we’re gonna have to go home, get baths and get straight to bed because you boys need rest after a hard day” and, from the far back, little Angel said, “and read our Bible stories too, right, Gigi?” and that’s all we needed to be reminded of the eternal purpose and joy in loving these boys so that, by His grace, they will know the love of our Savior.  And, more than ever, I’m grateful that I’m only having a lumpectomy and instead of perky boobs at the end of this road because  I’ll have more precious time with these precious boys.  Needless to say, I’d love your prayers for those little hearts who have had hard little lives.  And for Gigi’s strength, wisdom, peace and patience as she leans on Jesus and teaches them to do the same.  And oh how it kills me not to be able to include a picture of these precious faces but out of respect for them and their families (not to mention CPS rules), I can’t include them.  But Jesus knows them by name and face and I’d love your prayers for them as you think of them.

My heart is full.  I am real thankful for the timing, as I wrote last time, that we would finish chemo and get a great vacation because I loved the 2 full weeks with Scott and Linc and friends.  And, now, I look forward to getting another major milestone behind us tomorrow.  So far, I’m not anxious about surgery but that could set in since I’ve never really been under anesthesia to this degree. I would love your prayers that fear and anxiety would stay at bay and for wisdom and precise hands for Dr. Lamont and his team.

We rest in the sovereignty of a good and gracious God.  As the hymnist beautifully said it, tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.  I think the hymnist meant Home as in the presence of Jesus and I trust that too – but, I think it also fits to claim that I trust the Lord’s grace that brought me safe thus far will also lead me home to my bed after surgery tomorrow.

With much love and huge thanks for your prayers,

Jen

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7 thoughts on “Looking back. Looking forward.

  1. The photos are wonderful – such sweet friends and good times – Linc looks ecstatic so be prepared, Mom, for outdoors activities from here on! Love you! Mom

  2. That was a packed blog and sooo good. Definitely praying for surgery and you and anesthesiologist to do his job well under God’s mighty hand. And what timing with Gigi and the boys. God is so good and His sovereign hand can be seen all around us. So glad you had a good transition home. See you REAL soon!

  3. Surgery for me was breezy. I welcomed the drug-induced sleep after many weeks of insomnia! Was back up & around in 2 days!! Praying your lymph system is clear, tumor is easily & cleanly removed & you do miraculously!! The dye injection hurts but only for a minute. You rest. We’ve got ya covered!!

  4. Glad Colorado was so fun and refreshing. Praying for you diligently! Love you and looking forward to the next report. No anxiety. We know how this story ends!

  5. Jennifer-
    Sounds so fun! Love the Neales and the Krauss families! I know that it was refreshing to be in the cool mountains, enjoying God’s majestic mountains, and having lots of good time together. Thankful for those naps, walks, good meals – you didn’t mention any trout dinners – but I assume you had some! Mmmm…..

    Praying for tomorrow. You will do fine, God’s got this! I’ll check in on you and Auntie Cheryl for sure, come Friday.

    Get Gigi to send a list of what she needs. Does she need a Walmart run for school supplies or clothes? So thankful for her ability to extend God’s love to these boys.

    We’ll be praying! Riley got home tonight from the UK so I’ll get him on it as well :-)!
    Love you!

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