Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"CHRISTIAN"


Driving the tractor at Butterfield
Ok so only one blog post got out in the new format and I am already changing things. But I have been feeling like I needed to write something about where my heart is. I want people to know what it feels like to live with a child with ‘incurable cancer’ and to be lead by Christ at the same time. I was praying before I wrote this post and looking for some direction and I came across this while reading a daily bible verse on my phone.
“Do you recognize the Holy Spirit’s influence and work in your life to create and shape you for God’s glory? Cry out to God and seek His face! Surrender your own agenda daily and open your heart to be led by the Spirit of God.”
I went last week to see my Chiropractor who was trying to help me with my back. After the appointment she looked at me and said with her gentle smile, “how are you doing?” I immediately burst into tears as I begin to relay our story and the shift that has occurred in our lives. Immediately she reminded me that my purpose and promise to God was that I would continue to talk about and glorify God through Christian’s miracle. Not just so I can encourage others but as a reminder to me what God has done for our family, for Christian. REMEMBER. That I will not live another day in fear for the future; but thanksgiving for today and with joy in my heart I will accept what God has placed in my home. He is making us better; He is leading our family in ways I could never have imagined. Even though I don’t often share the intimate details of my spiritual journey with God I have to share an image or vision I had while laying in bed contemplating my life with fear. I pictured Jesus hanging on the cross, He was very close to death and His head was hanging low on his chest taking his last few breaths. And from out of nowhere I hear him whisper, “Christian”. The most amazing and powerful spiritual moment I have ever experienced, God was saying to me, “I love your son, I love you and your family so much that I am going to die on this cross today for you”. He was thinking of each and everyone of us while He hung waiting to die. So there is nothing that He could put in front of me that wouldn’t be good. Because there is no way that He would endure that suffering to let us down or forget about us. It immediately encouraged me to trust that God is in control of everything and I don’t need to worry – as Loralie tells me often, “He’s got this”. I just need to continue to seek out the good in each situation I find myself in. Great is thy faithfulness and great is God’s plan for us if we will only allow Him to guide us.

Who's cheeky????
I need to be lead. Each day I falter to the umpteenth degree. I lose my patience, our marriage is in constant construction, I feel weak and unmotivated. I don’t call my friends back, I am not the best wife, sister or mother but I want to be. I want to be a great and inspiring leader for my children. I want them to be honest, loyal, protective, sympathetic, compassionate and loving. And I know they only way they will learn this is if I show them. Oh help me please!!!!!

Christian, when you read this in 10 or 15 years time I want you to know the God that saved you. I want you to know that this time in our lives was a gift that God gave to us. To teach us to be faithful, trusting and secure in His love for us. That all we can do in return is offer our lives to Him. You constantly amaze me with your desire to seek God. Twice this past week you asked me when we were going to church so you could sing and listen to the music. You raise your hands and it seems as thought God is touching your hands and telling you secrets with your eyes closed. I want to know what He says to you but it will remain your secret. You are cheeky, smiley, loving, compassionate and full of life. This past week we have done so many great things I am so thankful for this opportunity to spend time with you. To sit and marvel at Ryan, Evelyn and yourself. To see you interact and love each other. This morning at breakfast you and Evelyn where hugging and giving each other kisses. Wow.

Yesterday we spent a glorious day at Silvertip golf resort where you totally rocked the course and amazed those around you with your patience, understanding and wit. We had pizza in the park, played in the mountains, walked along the river, and sat in the hot springs under the stars. It was a day almost too good to be true. Can we really be this blessed? Today we all when to Butterfield acres with Miss Klein and baby Hudson. Ryan was so excited to see a cow, and it didn’t disappoint!  Lots of animal poop, dust, farm animals, tractor rides, pony rides, smiles and pictures later we made our way home. I looked in the rearview mirror and everybody’s cheeks glowed, the wind and sun exhausted us all but it was such a gift.
Four weeks post - op....amazing!
Other bucket list events of the week included hanging out with Aunty Vivian (yes, store upstairs!) going to see Toopy and Binoo live (compliments of the Starlight Foundation) and lots of time at home playing. Lots of cuddles in bed, lots of skinny legs draped over mine while I slept. Lots of kisses and telling me we are going to have to have our ‘bursdays’ (birthdays) together because he wasn’t letting go of me. I love that you want to watch Christmas movies already; I love your intense spirit and stubbornness. I love you so much.
one little fence can't stop me!!!
Christian, we had a great week. I thank God for you and your fight. I thank God that He is following us, holding us, guiding us, and showing us the way.

Today I am thankful for:
1.Evenlyn asking me who my prince charming was after reading her a princess book. When I told her it was daddy, she looked shocked and asked me, “How did you know?”
2. My prince charming
3.Cinderella and her little mice - Gus
TOOPY AND BINOO!!!!
Fall fun at Canmore parks


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

BUCKET LIST

Bonfire night at the Crowells!

Dear Friends
I am trying something new with the blog for the next little while. I seem to have a hard time trying to portray the feelings of my heart. My life seem so out of control, yet I feel so full of peace. How am I supposed to explain this? Jesus Christ is our answer. One minute I am in tears and devastated at the thought of losing Christian, then moments later I have this amazing feeling of levity and clarity that the blood of Jesus has cleared the path for us and I can rest easy and enjoy my time with my WHOLE family. I got a very thought provoking comment on my blog a few weeks back when I spoke of our ‘bucket list’. She said, “Continue to do those bucket lists activities, not because you have to but because you can”. Until this point I was feeling uneasy about using the word ‘bucket list’. It seemed to me that if I referred to this particular activity I was not being faithful to God and his miracles, or I had somehow given up on Christian. But it was such a great reminder to me that life is short – for everybody! None of us is guaranteed another day, so we will take this gift of time together as a family to enjoy. We started a short list of things that I thought Christians would like to do, things that would be fun for our family to do together. And we will slowly pluck away at them, the good ones we will do often: like sit around in our jammies and drink coffee (or apple juice) and watch the kids play, make waffles, go park hoping to see what cool parks we can find in our local area.
I digress, I started to say I was going to change things up a little bit and I got carried away there! So instead I write a few words each day about what we did and how Christian was feeling. It's starting slow but I am hoping we will quickly gather some steam.
Christian's surgeon - Dr. Mary Brindle - our miracle maker
September 13, 2012
Today was a day that we were blessed by God through a friend, Kelly Klein. Even though I had grand plans for this ‘list’ I created I had yet to move to far forward in implementing a daily strategy. At 10am I get a text asking who wants to go to the zoo.  Being that Ryan and I were the only people awake in our house it wasn’t looking good. Long story short, one hour later we were all frantically ramming ourselves into our mini van with Kelly and baby Hudson for our first ‘adventure’ we called it.  The zoo was great – even though the animals could have cared less! The kids jumped around on the rocks and played in the play park. We had snacks, lots of sun and many smiles. As we drop Kelly off to her house at the end of a great day Christian asks me, “well, what is our next adventure?” Kelly?????
Ryan's idea of fun going down the slide!

September 14, 2012
Friday was a day of errands. We wanted to get Evan and Christian out of the house and enjoying the sunshine. So of course we head to the play park at the McDonalds (isn’t that on my bucket list?) It wasn’t open (much to their chagrin) so we ate our snack and headed to Lowes where we bought two toilets instead and absurdly enough Christian and Evy loved it! They played around the displays and pretended they lived at Lowes. Cool. The evening was closed off with a fresh bonfire courtesy of the dead tree in our yard – don’t worry we cut it down first! We sat around the fire eating non-roasted, cold marshmallows. Life is good.

September 15, 2012
Was a quiet day spent watching the kids enjoy each other. So blessed that they love each other. Family dinner with the Christian’s cousins and a crazy outing to the Coopers park celebration (who stands in line for 30 minutes for one ride down the slide?????)

September 16, 2012
It was a difficult day for Chris and I as we attended the Celebration of Ty Sparks life. I cannot recapitulate the details of the event as it was so in-depth and intense but it is safe to say that Ty and his family have fully rested their faith in Jesus and they have peace knowing Ty is finally at rest, he has won the race.
We spent the evening having supper with good family friends and it was so refreshing and light to remember what it felt like to be with friends and a ‘normal’ environment. To be free to speak the feelings of my heart and my faith, to be in a room with other people who look to the lighter side of life and trying to make each day better not by possession but by trust in God.
Christian and Evelyn off on a bike ride together

September 17, 2012
Today we went to the hospital to meet with Christian’s surgeon, Mary Brindle, God’s marionette! She was so happy to see Christian doing well and healing so quickly. She had been in Paris since the morning after his surgery and quietly admitted she had been checking in on Christian while she was across the pond. What a woman! Before the hospital we make a quick pit stop to IKEA (a family favorite) as Christian tells me they make the best hot dogs (then proceeds to eat only the bun!) The kids love to play together in the pretend kids rooms and run around and jump on the boxes – I am sure the employees ‘love’ our family. I love watching Evelyn and Christian grow into an amazing duo, having so much fun together, sitting on the landing of the stairs with a giant book over both of their laps taking in each page. So thankful for siblings.

September 18, 2012
Today was a huge day in the Crowell family. A visit to our oncologist to determine the next course of action in Christian’s treatment – nothing. We decided to put our faith in Jesus that Christian’s healing is complete. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. The hospital was not offering us a cure for Christian, only chemotherapy to ‘extend’ his life. However I believe he is already healed and there is no need to put him through more pain, more hospital, hair loss and sickness. There is no quality of life in that and we are all about celebrating the best that our life has to offer. We took out his PIC line (from his arm) which means tubs and swimming are much easier. Our bucket list today was Peter’s drive inn with Uncle Brent. What a great afternoon to celebrate our departure from mainstream medicine. God watch over us and help us to make the right choices for Christian. 
As a small side note I also had to mention that Christian had his first post chemo hair cut! Ok ok it was more for a trim for the crazy hair around his ears but we are officially ready for some family photos!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mouthsores and the mundane


Dear Friends
I have been starring at a blank computer screen for a long time now. My brain looks the same – blank. I am in a world of confusion right now. My body has decided to go on strike (as it has been known to do in the past!) and I am seriously hurting. It seems as though I move at a million miles an hour – and the only way to stop me is to physically put me on my “you know what”. I am so frustrated by my lack of energy, enthusiasm and desire. I wanted this to be an amazing time for doing great things with Christian and I can barely get out of bed. So instead Christian and I are sitting here in bed together watching Home Alone. I love him so much I don’t even have the words to put it down. “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways;” I love that he just turned to me and says, “I can’t believe I am watching a Christmas move!” I love that he tells me he loves me all the way to Tatoine and back. I love that he hugs me and says he is never letting go, “we will just have to turn 6 together!” I love that he softly rubs my forehead when he knows I have a headache. And after I have a nap in the middle of the afternoon he asks me, “Mommy – do you feel better now?”

Horse ride at Church picnic - yahoooo
I look at all of my children and wonder how I got so lucky. Evelyn has such an amazing imagination, she meows at me when she is happy and tells me that we are best friends. Ryan is such a cheeky little guy; he runs around with wild blond hair and has the best giggle when you tickle his armpits, “more mommy more”. Today my mom decided to tell him she was going to China so now whenever somebody is missing from the house he tells us they have gone to China! Tonight Evelyn and Christian played hospital together; checking each other’s blood pressure, giving needles and listening with the stethoscope. We cranked the tunes this afternoon and danced to some Christmas music, my heart near exploded when I saw them grab each other’s hands and danced around in a circle. Christian attempted to ‘dip’ her at the end of the dance but somehow I have a feeling that Evelyn will be the one doing the ‘dipping’ in life!
Deb from Avenue Baker and Christian's AMAZING cake!!!! God bless you
So our days at home have been painful (for me!) and great for the kids. Once again they are having so much fun playing together, I love to listen to them come up with random games to play and endless things to dream about. The birthday party on Sunday was something I will remember for the rest of my life. So many people came to celebrate with us (it was a little crazy to say the least!) but it felt so good to see all the people who I know wanted to come and celebrate with Christian. We were so blessed by the Avenue Bakery here in Airdrie who graciously donated an amazing birthday cake for Christian (and owner, Deb, just so happened to show up with one for Chris as well!) There are so many people who have gone above and beyond for our family and it has made our lives so much nicer. The birthday was nuts from the get go (with Barb, Louise and Tracey coming early to help me decorate) and then people just arrived in throngs. Darth Vader piƱata’s, inflatable light sabers, amazing food, out of this world cake, and friends and family made this an amazing memory for our family.
Christian and Jayden getting ready to blow out the candles!
So what is really going on in my mind? Where is my heart? How have things really been since we have been home? There is no point in lying, God knows by heart so it is much easier if I just talk about it. I am scared, we fight the fear every time Christian says, ‘my tummy hurts”. I have to constantly remind myself of the amazing miracle we have been given; I have to remind myself that God is in control, regardless of what I think could be happening in his abdomen. Multiple times a day I have to keep giving my fear over to God. It comes at me from all over and it is all I can do to keep from throwing up. Little messages of doubt seem to creep under the door and tap me on the shoulder. “hello – I am still here……” I constantly repeat – satan get away from me, get out of this house. I know that God is working magic in our lives and he will continue to bless us. But each morning I ask for help from Him, to guide us as we look at different treatment options, to help quash my fears, to show me the greatness in my everyday dull life. We have had such amazing support from our church and Doug and Loralie. I am so thankful God put us together for this journey.

I find it ironic that as I read back over my blogs I notice how incessant my desire was to travel and be different places with my kids, to go to beautiful beaches and experience things together as a family. And now here we are in September doing things so differently than what I thought we were going to be doing and all I want is normal. Chris was meant to go back to work, Christian was going to start kindergarten and Evelyn was going to try preschool. And once again September has brought maddening circumstances where cancer has crept back into our lives….I guess it is more like slapped us right across the face. And I feel so much sadness at listening to other people talk about the mundane and getting back to normal, back to routine. Routine sounds so good to me right now. I long to feel “normal” and have the worries of normal life. I remember feeling this way a few short months into Christian’s treatment. I guess its just watching everybody else around us post pictures of first days at school, excited at new beginnings. I am praying that this is our new beginning. The God has created a situation where life will start a new without cancer.
My prayer is that I can learn to live each day, just for today. I am still going to plan for the future but all that we are really given is today. So what can I do today to help Christian, Evelyn and Ryan have a great day? What can I teach them today that will make them better human beings tomorrow? Well my brain is discombobulated and I think my words are coming out in the same way.
 So I will sign off tonight with a sad note. Yesterday we had to say goodbye to another member of our oncology family. Ty Sparks was an amazing 17 year old who fought harder than any person I know. His battle with cancer and its after affects lasted almost 4 years. I am so thankful for his mother Anne, who took Chris and I under her wing and taught us the ways of the oncology world. Who always had a smile and encouraging word for Christian. I am thankful for she has faith and was able to lean on God for strength and courage. I am so thankful that Ty is resting in heaven, completely healed and in no more pain. I am grateful he finally gets to feel the soft, strong arms of the Father around him as he watches over his earthy family. God bless you Ty. Rest peacefully and watch over the rest of your ‘family’ who are still fighting. 
Christian and Daddy with their 'gifted' cakes from Avenue Bakery

Today I am thankful for:
1.Pain medication for my mouth….thank you morphine and xylocane
2.Having the whole afternoon to sleep when you feel horrible
3.Random birthday gifts for Christian that show up on our door step!
4.Ty Sparks finally knowing it all
Getting ready to smack the pinata!
I LOVE MY CAKE!



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY CHRISTIAN!


HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY TO OUR LITTLE HERO.
REMEMBER what God has done

Our first night in a hopsital bed together
Christian, mommy is so proud of you. It has been one of the most difficult periods of my life, and most likely will have been the hardest year of your little life. And each day I look at you, and I am reminded of the gift God has given us. I will remember that God has something special in store for you. That you will have the ability to reach out to people and to show God’s love in a way that many other people couldn’t. Your birthday gift this year was life, and I am overjoyed that God has given us this day to celebrate together. May God continue to bless you for all the days of your life.

Love
Mommy
Home at last!

We are very grateful to have been officially discharged from the hospital today. He is continuing to heal well and his spirits are great. Please continue to pray that God will light our path and show Chris and I what (if any) steps we take next in his treatment. 
Christian at 3 months

A few people have asked for our address to send Christian a birthday card, or for those of you who want to come and celebrate Christian's birthday on Sunday. 
772 coopers drive
Airdrie, AB T4B 2W3
Learning to rock climb!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"REMEMBER"


Dear Friends,
We are still reeling from the events of this past week. I am missing the words to express my emotions and thoughts. I try to explain to people the awesomeness of the event, which was of course precipitated by a day of gut wrenching horror, and I just can’t seem to properly express the feelings in my heart and soul. I incessantly recount each moment of that day. I have to admit that fear has begun to creep back into our lives and into our hearts. Living in the hospital 24/7 where science and God don’t seem to mix that well usually leads to long dark nights of questions that don’t have nice answers. I am so thankful for friends that are able to pray with us and encourage us to stay focused on the miracle. We need to REMEMBER what God has done for us and not lose sight of his amazing gifts.
Game time in the sunshine room with my cousin!!!
We are now a little more than 8 days post op and Christian is doing so well. We are slowly losing the tubes and drains. The pain medication is all but gone and his spirits are constantly on the rise. Today he sat up in bed all by himself and even stood for a few moments. Hopefully within the next few days he will start to eat some solid food and lose the last few tubes draining his abdomen. With his birthday only 5 short days away I am eager to get him home. We are planning one fantastic Star Wars themed birthday party for him on Sunday (which he must share with his daddy who is turning 33!) I am so thankful for this opportunity to celebrate another year of his life – a gift that is so fragile and never to be taken casually. If you live in the surrounding area and want to come and say Happy Birthday please feel free to drop in. Look for the balloons on Coopers drive.

A very dear friend shared this bible verse with me today and this is what I am going to stand on and put my faith in until Christian in completely healed.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. “  Psalm 40: 1-2

Today I am thankful for:
1.A playlist during worship that God made just for Chris and I
2.Awsome old school movies to make you smile (When harry met sally, Father of the bride)
3.Pure unexplainable Joy
Visit from the uncles, Aunty and cousin noah