fostering a grateful spirit

"If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely." -Roald Dahl


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learning

It has been nearly 3 weeks since I finished my year of (nearly) daily blogging, and I think I can safely say that this year of learning to be grateful, even in the midst of some difficult circumstances, was preparation for the past two weeks, which have been the most difficult and painful that I’ve ever experienced. There have been days that, honestly, all I feel thankful for is that the day is over and I get to crawl, totally exhausted, into the biscuit with mojo and my sweet hubs. Some days are just that tough. But we have also had people reach out to us, pray for us, laugh and cry with us, and send encouraging words at the right moment without even knowing how desperately we needed them. I’m grateful for verses of the day that are what my heart needs, for friends who point me towards Jesus even when I feel hurt, and for those who aren’t afraid to walk into the mess to come beside us instead of offering platitudes from a safe distance. We are blessed to be so well loved. I am also extremely grateful for this weekend, which was restful and completely lacking in busy-ness. I am thankful for moments with my dear husband that felt like we were back to our normal, goofy selves, even if the moments were fleeting.

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I am also so grateful for Harlow’s big milestone today-her first day of Kindergarten!

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In March, when Harlow was diagnosed again, this day seemed only a vague possibility, as we knew Harlow would likely still be in treatment. While that is still true (she’s about halfway done with both her chemo and her 5 weeks of daily radiation), she is well enough to start school with the rest of her class and attend school for half days (at least). She is so strong. Happy first day of Kindergarten, sweet girl!


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great news! {day 343}

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My mom posted the above photo with the caption “warrior at rest.” I love it. Harlow is such a fighter. I am honored and blessed to know a girl so strong.
As many of you know, today was Harlow’s big surgery. If you haven’t already, you may want to read this post to better understand what they were doing today.
Harlow was out of surgery much more quickly than expected, and (in my opinion) surgery went as well as they possibly could have. They had to remove Harlow’s uterus and Fallopian tubes (which they pretty much knew going in), which contained the tumor. The other tissues and organs surrounding the tumor appear to be healthy and completely cancer free. While I can’t imagine how difficult of a conversation Ben and Jamie will have on their hands, in the future, explaining to Harlow what the repercussions are of having your uterus removed, they are fairly certain (and the surgeon confirmed the likelihood today) that the chemo she had as an infant would have made it very unlikely that she would be able to birth her own children. So with that in mind, that is why I say surgery went as well as it possibly could.
Harlow’s fight isn’t over yet, but today was a huge step towards a healthy and cancer free life for my precious friend Harlow. She has had some pain since waking up, but they have been able to control much of it with meds. She is unable to speak because they had to put a tube in her nose, but she did give Jamie a smile when Jamie told her that they took the cancer out.
I am so grateful for the good news today, for a team of doctors who know and love Harlow and are fighting alongside her, and for all the people who have been following her story, donating towards her medical expenses, and lifting our little fighter and her amazing parents up in prayer.


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sweet Harlow surgery info

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Today my sweet friend Harlow is having surgery to remove her tumor. The great news is that Harlow’s tumor has become small enough that they believe they can remove it. The hard thing is that they do not know what they are going to find when they get her opened up. They are pretty much positive that they will have to remove Harlow’s uterus and at least one ovary. They are trying to protect her other ovary, but they aren’t sure whether that will be possible. There is a chance, depending on what the tumor is attached to, that they may need to remove part of her colon (which could possibly lead to a colostomy bag). They believe that there are probably cancer cells in the tissue around some of these organs, but because they are just individual cells and not masses, they are not going to be able to remove those. We have to pray that the remaining chemo and radiation will kill those off so that the cancer does not start growing again. There are a lot of complications that are possible (as is always true), so please join me in praying for those involved today.I am praying for the doctors, that they would be wise, that they would find everything that they need to take out, that they would aggressively remove the affected areas while protecting her healthy organs and tissues so Harlow’s life can be as close to normal as possible but with as little chance as possible of recurrence. I am praying for Harlow, that she’d be strong and that they’d be able to explain what she needs to know in a way that her five-year-old brain would be able to process. And I am praying for Jamie and Ben, that they would have peace (even though it makes way more sense to be terrified), that they would have a strong support system to help them deal with whatever complications come after this surgery (although we are certainly hoping that they are minimal), and that they would have unnatural strength to help Harlow deal with the physical and emotional complications of the surgery.

Thank you for joining me in loving and praying for this family that I love so much.


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generous {day 340} (late)

I would like to just reiterate how grateful I am for the amazing people who donated to, volunteered at, and attended Hugs for Harlow. I am sore and exhausted, but can’t help feeling like my heart is so full. I can’t even begin to thank every person and company that it took to make the night possible. Ben of Dance Flow Control donated his whole afternoon and night and kept the party hopping all night, and even made sure to play some of Harlow’s favorites. Jim and his wife Ashley also donated their time and took amazing photographs of the evening. My sweet hubby and dad spent all evening and night grilling hundreds of burgers, hot dogs and chicken wings to keep the masses full and happy (even though it was HOT). My mom collected tons of auction and raffle prizes, brought bracelets to help raise money, and was a busy bee all night helping out wherever we needed. And none of this would have been possible without Harlow’s dance teacher Miss Mickey and friends Dora and Chris who dreamed this whole event up and worked really hard to get it all together. There were tons more volunteers, more generous donors, and sweet friends who love and pray for Harlow, Jamie and Ben. I am amazed by the generous spirits of so many. 


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hugs for Harlow {day 339}

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Last night was our big Hugs for Harlow fundraiser. I am thankful for the amazing people who donated money, raffle and auction prizes, time, and love to make this night possible and to show Harlow and her family how loved and supported they are. AND we raised $10,597 for the Pages! I am amazed and so grateful at the generosity of so many people.
All that said, Harlow’s tumor has shrunk enough that they are going to do surgery. To attempt to get all of the tumor so that this does not recur, they will have to remove her uterus and at least one ovary. They may also have to remove part of her colon, and then we will pray like crazy that the remaining chemo and radiation will kill off any other cancer cells nearby. Please keep Harlow, her family, and the doctors in your prayers–that surgery would be smooth and successful, that the doctors would have wisdom and strength to do what is best, that Ben and Jamie would have some peace even though they’ve just had to hear and try to come to grips with all the worst case scenarios. Harlow still has a long road ahead of her, but if you’ve met her you know she still has tons of fight in her.


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precious {day 328} (late)

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I am so thankful for my sweet, snuggly Riley who has such a gentle and kind spirit. I couldn’t help but tear up when I read this. my mom has informed me that she transcribed this exactly word for word. “I want a wedding with you later.” Holy crap. cutest kid ever. He asks about Harlow often. I love that he remembers that she’s sick, cares to ask about her, and writes her the cutest love letters the world has ever seen.

What has made you smile lately?


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so much {286} (late)

I am grateful for a death toll that decreased instead of increasing in tornado ravaged OK. I am thankful for the hundreds of people who dug through the rubble, after having just lost everything themselves, to rescue those trapped in schools and homes, and even to reunite people with their beloved pets. In the face of every tragedy there are people who are selfless and helpful. Thank you, Jesus, for those who remind us that all is not lost, even when much is.

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I am SO grateful for good news about Harlow’s tumor after a scary few days. Fridays scan showed the tumor virtually unchanged. Monday the doctors said that they were afraid that the tumor was drug resistant. Yesterday they did a more accurate scan and found that the tumor has shrunk by about 35%. Yes!!

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After a whirlwind (no pun intended) trip to Bradford to visit my sweet friend, I am especially grateful for safety, for laughter, for crazy answers to prayers, and that God shows up when it feels like He isn’t listening.