Recapturing childhood: Keeping children from becoming casualties of your calling

We had been living overseas for close to two years … and we were stressed. out. We were exhausted. But we didn’t know how to pause to really care for ourselves and fix what felt broken. And then the cancer diagnosis blindsided us last spring and it forced us to pause. And when I look back on these summer months stateside for my husband and I’s three surgeries, I am unbelievably thankful for the ways our children’s childhoods have been reclaimed, restored, and re-prioritized.

 

Over those first two years, I knew something wasn’t working in how I allowed other people’s expectations to weigh on me and my own unrealistic expectations of how much I could handle with two little ones in tow, but I didn’t know how to make it any different. I didn’t know how to stand up for our family’s needs and say ‘no,’ that’s not good for our children’s needs. And let me tell you a little something about working in ANY profession…. no one else will tell you to slow down (at least when it’s most important). No one else will advocate for you to set better boundaries. {In all fairness, some do and might – and if so, hold on to that job!!!}  Of course others in the non-profit sector are low on resources in money, people, and time so they will take as much as you are willing to give… which is okay if you know how much is okay to give away. Looking back, I realize that I was not feeling as empowered as I needed to be as the mother of my little ones to speak up for what was going to make our family healthy… and we paid the consequences in multiple ways. Our son has suffered from the last three years of being consumed by the stress of preparing to move overseas and then living overseas. He is the sweetest, most embodied and impassioned, most tender-hearted yet strong-willed child… but he has so much anxiety right now and it breaks this mama’s heart. Oh, how I wish I would have chosen him and his needs over anything else… and felt empowered to say ‘no’ more often for the sake of our family’s health.

 

But I didn’t… and that’s on me. {and then there’s grace that covers me. There’s forgiveness and freedom in knowing that our sweet and patient God is in the business of making all things new.}

 

We now have to unpile his entire lifetime of stress, transitions, and lack of security that spills out in questions like: “Which house are we going to now?” when we are driving ‘home’ from the grocery store. There’s the white house. The brick house. The brown house. Nana and Papa’s house, etc… from this summer alone! We can’t go back and do things differently. We can’t turn back time and decide to wait to move overseas until Sam was at the right age… Did you know that 2-2 1/2 years old is the the development age that is most sensitive to loss, changes, insecurity, etc…  If someone had said, ‘hey, your child is right at that age where he needs you to be consistent and offer stability in your family and home life’ then we may have really thought through the timing of our move overseas where we changed EVERYthing. But we forgot those nuggets of wisdom from our college courses in development psychology and plowed ahead towards this ‘urgent’ goal.

 

As I look back at this summer that Cancer gifted us with… Well, Cancer didn’t gift it to us but it made us pause and then God redeemed the hard of Cancer and gave me the gift of this summer with my family. I am so thankful. By being extracted from a very stressful, demanding environment and placed back in our easier, more simple one – we were able to re-align our priorities. Yes, Tony still worked while stateside and yes, there were many stressful moments  {including one week where both Tony and I were on crutches and shepherding our kids to the car with crutches}. For me, I was finally able to set aside all of these externally and internally given, or imposed, goals and expectations of language learning success, being ‘productive,’ making it worth everyone’s while, etc… and simply get myself healthy and focus on my children’s oh-so-obvious needs.

 

All of a sudden I’m looking at fighting and living with an incurable cancer and I realize, all the more, that I want to pour all my love that God has given me for these two precious little ones and let them know that they are so deeply loved and safe in their Creator. They are uniquely made… and where they are anxious, I have more time and energy to scoop them up and say over and over to them: “you are safe. you are safe. you are safe” as my merciful God is speaking over me these days. And because they are seeing a less stressed out Mama and Baba, they can feel secure in knowing that their parents will offer them the stability they need to experience in order to flourish. 

 

So as I reflect on these past few months of hardship in our three surgeries, difficult recoveries, and an uncertain future – I can see the silver lining. I can see how God redeems all things for His purposes… even an unexpected cancer diagnosis.  My kids got to know their aunt and uncles and their three awesome cousins… They were able to get so much extra attention from both sets of grandparents. They were able to enjoy a Michigan summer!! Just yesterday, I found myself saying to myself: “Yep, they’ve needed the love of their grandparents right now as we have been healing and allowing God to restore our bodies, hearts, and minds. We could not have loved them through this season on our own… it took an entire village.” 

 

Moving forward, I am committed to reclaiming childhood for my littles… both here and over the seas. I am determined to limit my ‘commitments’ and ‘yes’s’ so that I can give my kids the chance to play, explore, feel safe and loved, and simply enjoy the gift of each day. I know that this is a season where this is absolutely necessary because of what we’ve been through… there will be a season in the near future where I will have enough energy and strength and ability to juggle this dance of motherhood with the other gifts and passions that He has given me that are not limited to my role as a mother. I don’t take it for granted that I have been entrusted with these little hearts with twinkling eyes and passionate spirits who are looking at me and asking: “Mama, are you okay?” More than anything, I want to be okay so that they can feel peace in those sponge-hearts that absorb every little thing from the world around them. While children at the ages of 2 and 4 may not be able to articulate the ways that your pain becomes their pain, you can see it in their tantrums, tears, fears, and rhythms.

 

Here’s to living a healed, restored, and whole season of life that offers my children the chance to grow into who God has created them to be. Here’s to making a renewed promise that my children will not be the casualties of our calling. There will be many, many costs as we are called to persevere through trials of many kinds — but I truly believe that our children’s health are not meant to be one of them. Here’s to living in the grace of God that the choices I’ve made that have hurt my children’s health are not the final word… there is hope, there is healing, there is freedom on the other side of our family’s brokenness. And it’s good. very good.

 

And our children are worth fighting for… both the children God has given us through adoption and pregnancy as well as the children God has entrusted to us who are fleeing for their lives and needing just as much stability and security as these little wavy-haired, wide-eyed children that God has placed in my heart and life.

 

 

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The foolishness of Christ

This morning, I had a rare opportunity to sneak out of the house before the sun rose up and before my children stirred out of their beds. With God’s Word and my journal, I found myself sitting with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians, chapter 2:

“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message, and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom but on God’s power. We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 

I’ve been sitting with this passage and this idea that the ways of God may seem foolish to those who don’t know Him. Sometimes, I think the temptation is to do everything we can to make sense of our lives and to have ‘wise plans’ that make sense to the world around us, make sense to even ourselves in our most quiet, honest moments… but I’m reminded by Paul’s words that in his going to God’s people, even in weakness, fear and trembling, others were able to see the demonstration of God’s power instead of the power of men and women. Paul’s only focus was on God glorified through Christ crucified. Christ crucified was his only strength. It wasn’t his success, wisdom,  eloquence or  amazing abilities.

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As I’ve been really laying out our future plans and my deepest desires before God and discussing them with my husband, I have to quiet voices that would call our plans to go back overseas completely foolish. I have to quiet my own voice that says the same thing.  It makes no sense to the world. I have cancer. Our children are little. That part of the world is in the middle of a major upheaval. It’s not necessarily safe or predictable. There are many, many days where I just want to have plans that make more sense. I wrestle with the limits of my own strength in contrast with God’s desire and commitment to take care of His people.  God is sovereign over the chaos of our hearts and the brokenness of our communities. His promise is to restore and redeem all things for His glory. I’m just a little blip in this massive story of God’s compelling love. How amazing that I get to be even a blip in it?

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Cancer puts me at the crossroads. Do I trust the “foolishness” of God’s wisdom and purposes and “take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me“? Or do I allow the unknown of Cancer draw me back into what seems more safe and reasonable?

 “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus…”

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be, like his glorious body.”      –Philippians 3:12-14, 17-21

 

What if we all started living a little more foolishly??? What foolishness is God calling you to? Where have you stifled God’s wisdom for the wisdom of men and women? When you speak and listen to others pursuing a ‘foolish’ endeavor, do you allow God’s wisdom to speak through you or do you add to the voices that rely on our own human understanding?

The grass is always greener: Thoughts on longings and contentment

 

While she finished cutting my hair, the hairstylist said to me: “I’ve always dreamed of moving to Denver… but I’m scared that if I moved, didn’t like it, and then came back here, I couldn’t get my clients back.” It’s a familiar motivation in decision making...  fear. And I found myself wanting to cheer her on: “Don’t be afraid!! Just go for it! Even if you move out there and hate it, you will still grow through the process and you can always come back.” Perhaps it comes from growing up and living in five different cities before I graduated high school and moving a lot since then. Deep down, I realized that this fear could potentially keep her right where she was for the rest of her life unless she allowed the love of God and trust in Him to drive out that fear and step out in faith. And yet, I’m fully aware that while God may call you to go, He may also call you to stay. The point in the following post is NOT to elevate one choice (‘going’ or ‘staying’) as better than another, but simply to share where God has brought me.

 

Before children, my heart longed for adventure… a life that wouldn’t settle for anything less than God’s risky, outside the box kind of daily living. I was ready to get on a plane to go anywhere, do anything, risk everything. I made a commitment to go wherever, whenever, and however God would lead me.

 

And then I found a dream job situation just a couple years out of college. I loved it. It was the next best thing to living out this overseas adventure… as it involved equipping others to step into new ways of living, serving and loving others – both locally and globally. And then, my new husband and I felt this prompting for him to pursue counseling. So we prayed, we discussed and ultimately, we packed up our lives and traveled ‘out west’ to see what this adventure would hold. I grieved this dream job I left behind and the community of people who were a part of it.

 

I remember thinking: “I could NEVER live in LA” and yet, a few years in: I loved our community, our winters, our 1950’s apartment complex, our simple lifestyle, our work, our ability to take road trips to places along the ocean that would help us forget any stress that we experienced throughout the week.

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And after three and a half years of living in LA, we sensed that God may be leading us to eventually and finally, move overseas to do life there. So, we did what any couple would do and we quit our jobs, sub-leased our over-priced, non-earthquake safe apartment, and moved overseas for three months… oh, and we did this during my second trimester of pregnancy. Nothing screams ‘responsibility’ like stepping into the big unknown.

 

And after three months of surviving the humidity and heat of Central Asia, we moved back to California, so we could pack up and move back to Michigan, now 7 months pregnant, and we moved in with some very hospitable and gracious friends for a couple months while we figured out what was next for us. And that’s when the longing for roots began…

 

I remember our two months in the basement of our amazing friends home with great joy and thankfulness. But I also remember desiring a place that could be ‘our’ permanent home while we were quickly approaching our son’s due date. I set up a make-shift ‘nursery’ in their basement. Even though we would be moving just two weeks before my due date, I remember sitting in a rocking chair and surrounding myself with folded clothes, soft blankets, and cuddly stuffed animals… And I would just rock for a while and imagine what it would be like to hold my son and create a home for him.

 

Two weeks before he was born, we moved into a friend’s home where we would house-sit for 5 months. It was a great situation, but again, not permanent. My husband was building his private counseling practice from the ground up and I was using our friend’s nursery and home to be ‘ours’ for a brief amount of time.

 

We had Central Asia on our hearts, but we also had this tiny little boy who would look up at us with his sweet smile and bright blue eyes. The economy was down. It was a great time to buy… and we looked with longing at these homes in a place and community we loved and my heart ached for a sense of rootedness. The grass looked so green and it was {except for the 6 months of winter} … We were so close to making this decision to buy a home, build our dreams, raise our family, and live out our calling in a place that felt known. But just like the stirring to leave a dream job and great community when we moved to LA, we also felt this unsettledness in the idea of settling down. It wasn’t that we saw anything wrong with it, but for us and the way we were wired, we knew that if we didn’t make a move towards this adventure now, we might never have the courage to uproot, again, and do it.

 

And then we moved, after 5 months of housesitting, into a rental situation that I would call my ‘dream home.’ Built in the late 1800’s on a lane that fills with tulips every May, we moved into a neighborhood that was community-centric and full. of. life. and possibility. Tony’s private practice grew. We were finally feeling re-connected in the community after a year of adjusting back from our LA life. And we could see how we could be fulfilled right in our ‘own back yard.’ While we were renting, we knew that we could potentially buy this home someday — and as my son’s laughter filled that house and friends filled our living room and front porch on summer nights, I didn’t want to leave. I felt like we were home.

 

But we set out a fleece and said, “okay God, if you want us to move overseas — here is what would need to happen.” And every single one of those things on our list was answered. We had no excuse outside of simply not wanting to go. And honestly, on a lot of days, I didn’t want to. Maybe later.. but not now. We were finally feeling stable after a long time in transition. But sometimes, delaying a calling doesn’t feel like a good option — and again, there is the reality that if you say ‘no’ once, it becomes easier and easier to turn away from something that God means for you to walk in — whether it’s a new job, a new neighborhood, a new way of relating to those around you.

 

We left, again. We grieved, again. We started over, again. And this time, it was with an almost 2 year old and while 5 months pregnant with our daughter. I can still remember what people would say to us, “Wow, you guys are really brave” to which I would say with a smile, “or REALLY stupid.” I have come to believe that there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity, courage and recklessness. At the end of the day though, I knew that Tony and I’s marriage was stronger when we were completely trusting our Creator and stepping out in faith.

 

We moved overseas and found a place to live for 9 months. We loved it but it was temporary. The furniture wasn’t ‘ours’, we couldn’t change the decor, we would eventually have to leave. It became home – however temporary – and yet, at the end of that stretch of time, we were so ready to find a place to make ‘our own.’ After nearly 6 years of 7 moves, two children joining our lives, two countries, and three cities — we were ready to stay in the same place for a while.

 

Our move to our ‘own’ apartment in a fast-growing city of over two million was much needed. And we unpacked quicker than our friends could believe. We added extra touches of ‘home-ness’ that would help us feel more settled, however temporary or uncertain it would be, in a place that we desired to stay for a while. After three years of being a mom, I was finally able to ‘nest’ and dream about how to make a kid-friendly space and add colors to walls that would make my heart happy. It’s still a work in progress, but we made and now love our home… over the seas. And then… this unexpected medical diagnosis came to our attention – and we were overwhelmed by waves of uncertainty and another time of living somewhere else temporarily so we could figure out what was happening to my body

 

And here we live, and wait, and trust God with the stress of another ‘temporary’ situation — and yet, we are grateful for the ability to re-enter life lived and enjoyed in a community where there is so. much. love. We are excited to go back overseas in a short while, once we have more clarity as to how our medical needs may need to shape our work and life as a family. At the same time, I drive by houses for sale, now much more expensive than 4 years ago, and have the same ache for the same stability I desired several years ago. I long for simplicity. I long to buy a home not to be lived in now — but a place to come back to whenever we need it. After my diagnosis, I panicked and exhaustedly searched for creative ways to ‘secure’ a future of uncertainty and ever-so-gently, my husband reminds me, again, that we don’t need to cling to those things because God will provide all that we need in Him.

 

But I do often go back to what it is about a sense of home and belonging that makes my heart long for the predictability of a bit more quiet and consistent life. I don’t think these longings are bad, at all… nor the fulfillment of them. {Now more than ever I see the need to provide a sense of rootedness and stability for our children} But perhaps God’s answer is “not now, not yet,” or maybe, “yes, overseas”…  or possibly, not ever – on this side of eternity.” I think I romanticize the green grass that I can’t always feel under my toes as I walk on the hot, blistering concrete of our beautiful city surrounded by mountains. When I need perspective and a reminder to be grateful always, I walk 10 minutes, away from the sea of apartments, to the cliffs of the Mediterranean.

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I look to the mountains to thank God that even in unfulfilled longings, there are many that ARE fulfilled… beyond measure. There are rich friendships within a beautiful country. There are places of green to escape to that remind me of Michigan.  There’s the SEA!! There are many, MANY blessings of this crazy adventure of life overseas and I wouldn’t trade the ways that God has broken me and restored me for anything in the world. I wouldn’t trade the ways that He has humbled us in our marriage and parenting for all the confidence in the world of having it all together.

 

And as we’ve worked hard to make a warm and welcoming home out of our apartment in a city full of concrete (and beautiful people!) where we are learning a difficult language and seeking to honor the unspoken rules of everyday life, there is great joy in knowing that we are right we are meant to be… and if/when we ever are lead to return to life in the States, in the near or distant future, the grass will still be green — and it will be waiting for us. It’s not going anywhere. *And yet I know enough to know that even where the grass is green, there can still be discontentment and an ache for something more or different no matter who you are or where you are. I’m slowly re-learning that contentment and peace are not circumstantial, but completely dependent on where your heart is at with God.

 

If we don’t ever leave our home over the seas, I will trust that on the other side of eternity, I will have a sense of being home in Christ that nothing in this world could ever offer me and ultimately, only God can satisfy the longings of my heart for a sense of home because it is only in Him that I am secure.   And it is in this constant state of uncertainty that I find the certainty of my God. He is good. He is enough. He is steadfast. He is trustworthy.

 

“Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
“From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Psalm 61:1-5

 

 

 

 

When your life becomes a Seinfeld episode…

I’m not sure if it was a week after my thyroid surgery when my husband was keeled over in pain from a 3 month long kidney stone issue or if it was after his foot surgery when I was pushing him around the cancer clinic to get to my appointments with my specialist…. or if it was last night when I was about to get my daughter out of her carseat when I collapsed because my knee cracked, snapped and popped without any warning causing me to fall to the ground with my kids looking at me with concern and curiosity.

Our life is starting to feel like a really bad Seinfeld episode. Last night, I laughed and cried when Tony had to carry our daughter up a steep flight of stairs on his knees because he can’t have any weight on it for another two weeks and got her to sleep while I iced and elevated my knee. Our friend Lisa came to the rescue with an ice pack, a few pillows, another set of crutches for me, and a vacuum to help us clean up Ada’s goldfish fiasco while I sat by and became mesmerized by the efficiency of her fancy vacuum cleaning up my kids’ mess in our temporary home.

Humility and brokenness are a funny thing. They aren’t wanted… at least not through the ways in which they usually come. I don’t think anyone wakes up one morning and says: “I want to be completely broken today and be dependent on everyone else for everything.” Or says, “I know, how about my husband and I both are on crutches with two young kids?!” I’ll be honest, I’m kind of tired of us. So I wouldn’t be surprised if others are too. But hey, there’s nothing to do at this point then look to our Creator and King for His amazing and sustaining grace. There’s nothing to do but look to God to solidify that our identities do not come in our independence, our strength, or our successes but they come from His love that breathed life into our bones and placed His spirit in our hearts. We truly don’t want pity or anyone feeling sorry for us — we are so richly blessed with a beautiful family, a deep sense of calling and fulfillment from our work and the opportunity to pursue that calling, a community who loves us and carries us through these kinds of seasons, and a marriage that is committed to persevering through the hard of parenting littles. So please please please, don’t read this and feel bad for us. We are good. I promise. I’m mostly laughing, not crying.

“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them..” -Nehemiah 8:9-12.

As I type, a God-loving, beautiful 12 year old Kaylyn, with a servant heart, is engaging our kids in a fun morning of imaginative play so that I can elevate and ice my knee and my husband can hobble around on crutches getting stuff done. Our friend is dropping off some delicious soup for tonight. We have had some unexpected, unbelievable, sometimes anonymous, support from people to help with our growing pile of medical bills. We have a place to stay for this season while we recover from the past three surgeries and 5 months of medical shenanigans.

This morning, I received a text from my dear friend Kathy that said: “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24.

And I am so glad in this day. It is truly a gift… brokenness, crutches, and all. Where have you felt broken lately? Where have you seen God pour out rich blessings in your life even when everything seems to be falling apart? I’m hoping God will continue to give me a sense of humor and deep joy in this season because it’s in the comforting hugs from my children, the amazing and patient support of our family and friends, the truth of God’s word, the care of my husband, and the sun shining that I can rejoice and be glad in this day. May you purposely look for reasons to rejoice today and you may be surprised, like I am, in all the beauty that’s waiting to be discovered.

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2 comments
  • Bill - Wonderful. Mind if I refer to this or read it at the Art As Therapy session in St Louis?

    I wrote my way through a divorce, a job firing, and a cancer diagnosis. You can be our poster child!ReplyCancel

    • admin - That’d be great Bill! Thank you for your ongoing encouragement to continue writing and processing this experience through words and art. I’m praying that my writing will encourage others in their own battles.ReplyCancel

So what’s new with our family?

“You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it’s not that simple.” -Richard Adams, Watership Down.

Christen and I were in Houston, TX at MD Anderson the 5th-7th this month and were able to meet with a few key people – specialists who research Christen’s specific cancer which is more rare. The most exciting result for me is the reassurance we received from the endocrine oncologist  that the surgery Christen had at UofM was excellent and exactly what she needed; some people had been suggesting to Christen that she should have had a different, more aggressive surgery. We also saw excellent results from her blood draws saying that her thyroid levels are normal, that her calcium is normal, her CEA level (a cancer marker) was almost zero, and that her calcitonin level (specific marker to this cancer) was back to a normal, non-cancerous level at only 6 weeks post-surgery. Yay! This means that, from here on out, we just continue monitoring at regular intervals via ultrasound, CT scans and blood draws. Because the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes prior to surgery, the reoccurrence rate is usually around 40%. Overall, Christen feels a normal energy level returning when she gets adequate sleep and time to take care of herself. She has quite a bit of tingling in her face and extremities but since her calcium blood work shows a normal level, we suspect this may be due to nerve damage that occurred during surgery or something else.

We also began the genetic testing process in Houston. This was a fascinating meeting where Christen detailed all she knew about the medical history of her family. Christen’s uncle actually was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 7 years ago although we aren’t sure what kind of thyroid cancer it was. This is necessary because there is a less than 10% chance that Christen’s cancer is genetic, inferring Samuel and Ada would each have a 50% chance of inheriting the gene. We should have results back in four weeks or so to let us know if our kids and Christen’s family will also need to be tested. Finally, Christen had a post-surgery ultrasound which showed no further signs of cancer in her neck. Yeah!!!!
On the way back from Houston.

On the way back from Houston.

I have 3 more weeks of being in a huge walking boot that I cannot walk on and also cannot drive with. The first splint / cast they put on created a pressure ulcer in my heel, but I caught that early and so hopefully we warded it off before turning infectious. It just hurts when I move around a lot. In 3 weeks I will be able to drive and begin walking again, though I will need to continue using the boot for a few weeks while I do physical therapy. My foot doesn’t hurt much, it is just annoying. It is frustrating to see how much more Christen has to do because I can’t help as much around the house. I can’t wait to be able to pick up Ada again and chase Sam around the house. While it’s frustrating now, I know it will be well worth the result – allowing me to run and play soccer again without my foot hurting every day.

My – Tony – family has had a rough summer. My brother had surgery two weeks ago and was hospitalized  for 3 days due to complications. I was thankful to be able to be there with him and my dad for two of those days. My mother had a 6hr surgery last week at Mayo Clinic for a lesion on her pancreas – doctors were suspecting it could be pancreatic cancer. We were excited to learn that it wasn’t cancerous and although she will have a long recovery, she has been progressing very well. She will be back at home by the end of this week.

As Christen and I have talked with many friends and family, they have all heard us say that this has been a very stressful 5 months. While things are looking up medically, we still feel overwhelmed and are having a tough time getting back to normal not that it’s normal to have three surgeries in 6 weeks time. So we decided that before we head back to Turkey that we are going to a counseling and renewal retreat up in Michigan at the beginning of October. Our plan at this point is to head back overseas after that retreat. In the meantime, we are trying to get back to a healthy place in all areas as a family, maintain work commitments, and help our kids enjoy the summer.
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We are staying in Indiana currently and will be making our way back up to West Michigan this weekend. We are so thankful that a friend has offered his furnished rental to us and it is available as of this weekend.

One of the highlights for me {Christen} was a long weekend away that we had with my family up near Detroit. We stayed at the home of our family friends while they were on vacation. Their hospitality allowed us to have a place to enjoy meals together, excursions to a small beach, a cute downtown to explore, and deck where we could stay up late talking about anything and everything. Unfortunately, this was right after Tony’s foot surgery so his experience of the weekend was a bit different than everyone else’s. Sam and Ada loved all the extra cousin and family time!
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Another highlight for us, as a family, has been the amazing support we’ve received from our family and friends in the area of help with the kids, prepared meals, and a lot of encouraging notes and phone calls. Thank you for walking with us through this crazy time.
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