Saturday, September 28, 2013

Happy Birthday to a great Christ follower - My Daddy

"The Lord is their strength,
And He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
Save Your people,
And bless Your inheritance;
Shepherd them also,
And bear them up forever."
Psalm 28:7-9

Dad & the original family of seven he's lead and loved for most of his life.
"There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn."
Psalm 46:1-5
Dad & Kristina Dawn saying "see ya later" before surgery in January this year.
The child of a tiger is a tiger.
Haitian proverb
"To her the name of father was another name for love."
Fanny Fern (1811-1872), American journalist & writer

Dad & I's Easter dinner at Md Anderson.
 Happiest birthday to my Daddy, my Dad, my Father, my great example of a Christ follower!
I love you so much and am beyond grateful to God for giving me to you!
Dad heading back to Colorado after 1 year in Arkansas.
What a sacrifice and gift he gave to us staying here so long.
A verse that speaks to me about our last year together.
"My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever....It is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works. ~ Psalm 73:26,28 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Small Things, Big Meaning

It's funny how my perspective has changed through this surgery recovery.  As I've gained strength and independence my mind has opened to the gift of remembering.  It feels more like random flashbacks in all honesty, but with each one it laces my heart in another layer of gratitude. 

Here are just a few things I've been thinking of.

Today, as I effortlessly step over the 4 inch wall into my shower, I remember it taking two men and my sister to help me get into the apartment bathtub, just so that my sister could wash my hair while I gripped the back of a shower chair exhausted from the effort of standing for a couple minutes. Once home, I remember letting go of my walker, clinging my sisters hands to get my foot over the 4 inch wall to my shower chair and then requiring help to dry off and get dressed. The effort causing need for a long nap. Showering independently, without a shower chair or rail, for as long as I want the hot water to beat upon my sore shoulders is a praise....a layer of gratitude.

I am attending a Livestrong/YMCA health program for cancer survivors.  I am 4 weeks into the program and I am doing 25 minutes of cardio, plus 7 different weight machines. My confidence in my body's abilities is returning and my endurance and strength is steadily growing.  I flashback to when the nurses or my caregivers were forcing me to get up and walk with my walker down the hallway just 20 feet following me with my wheelchair in case I couldn't stand a minute longer.  How grateful I am that God created our bodies to recover from such atrophy.

This photo reminds me that I had gotten to weak to shower at all. I could only sit at a 45 degree angle, but MD Anderson has a patient salon.  It took two guys to hold my reclining wheelchair at an angle for the stylist to wash my hair.  That day, in that place, I was grateful I had hair at all.  This summer I began to lose large amounts of hair every time I brushed or showered.  It would be all over my shirt and laying on my pillow every morning.  I began taking a lot of vitamins and being ever so gentle with my hair, but nothing worked. Then one day it just stopped.  I found several articles about a condition called Telogen Effluvium, which explained that this can happen when someone has gone through extreme physical stress. It can also be caused by many other situations I've experienced like, emotional or physical stress, abrupt weight loss, high fever, nutritional deficiencies, surgery and illnesses, medications and hormone changes.

Finally, I reached a point I could go see my hair stylist.  It has been 8 months and I was so ready! Here is a before and after picture!  Its amazing how a good haircut can make you feel so much better. And, I went all alone without any caregivers, no wheelchair, no wig assortment on the wall. Another layer of gratitude for healthy well trimmed hair! Isn't it nice to know God cares about these things too?

"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?   (Matthew 6:25-27)

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's My Birthday!

Today I celebrated my 37th birthday.  Was it flashy? Did it begin or end with a glamorous and well planned celebration?  I would describe it more like significant, memorable, full of laughter, smiles and little surprises.  Today, I wanted to celebrate life and the fact that I am out and living it! Nothing will explain the day better than a few pictures.   If I could add my husband, a football, a couple Facetime calls and a snow cone stand outside my daughters school I would have captured it all!

Began my morning in my favorite way! Very strong black hot tea and a carb!No oatmeal allowed on your birthday!

Faced the day as a Daughter of the Heavenly King ready for my royal birthday!
Thanks you for this awesome necklace Jenny!

Treated to a fun lunch with two of my siblings, Katy & Amy!Thanks Amy! Katy & I both celebrated as our birthdays are just 3 days apart.

Gifted a large unsweet tea with lime!  My favorite!Thank you Katy!

 Came home to these beautiful cupcakes as a surprise from a sweet friend!Thank you Sara!

 A sweaty, post football practice, Isaiah, tooted out Happy Birthday while Alyssa & Billy sang.
Thanks family! One of the most beautiful musical compositions I've heard in a while! :)

Made wishes and blew out the candles with cheers and encouragement!
Alyssa's gift showed full devotion to her mama!

A non-glamour day with all the beauty my heart could stand.

Isaiah 46:3-4“I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (NLT)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Summer of Growth

As summer kicked off I was full of anxiety, though I would never want to show it.  I began waking and before I had breakfast feelings of no purpose sat themselves on my heart and mind eating away at the joy of progress I was making.  I had found boredom, but also sweet security knowing  people were rotating so that one person could care for me and another could care for my children. This spoiled lifestyle was coming to an end and I alone would be responsible for myself and the kids while Billy was at work. See, my caregivers were graduating me to independence. I knew it was time, and even looked forward to it a little bit.

My kids were excited to have their mom to themselves.  I was scared that I wouldn't be able to keep up with them.  That their summer would feel boring and they would just fight with each other all day. I had 3 weeks of antibiotics and anti-nausea meds left and the nerve pain in my feet was at an all time high.  My strength and endurance was minimal, though making fast progress through physical therapy. I repeat some of this just to set the stage for my expectations of summer. I should have prepared myself for something different entirely.

God blessed me this summer with quality time enjoying family, friends and especially my children.  No, we couldn't go on bike rides, river raft, hike Colorado mountains, or spend a day at Silver Dollar City yet, but we made fun memories and had plenty of laughs. 

I traveled to Oklahoma to see the Wright family there and share in the celebration of Aunt Gail's life and her entering Heaven's gates.

Alyssa & her cousin Ashton

Isaiah & his Wright cousins: Ashton, Taylor & Ian

Isaiah & I - July 4th
My first trip was to Branson with my mom and dad. I was nervous to be away from home where I was comfortable taking care of ostomies and sleeping with multiple pillows. I had a scare that I forgot my ostomy supplies, but I found them! I had a recovery day at home after this trip, but the awesome news is that I did it! I even did a cave tour!

I hosted, which I LOVE to do! We celebrated Isaiah's Independence day birthday (just a tiny bit more toned down than usual), plus had an overnight visit from Mindy & Greg Linderink.

Mindy Mannel Linderink & some of my family

Alyssa & Charlotte at Camp

I had a break - I drove them to their camps and during day camp they stayed with their Aunt Amy's family! Such a special two weeks!
Harry, Isaiah and Luke at Summer Camp
Breck, Isaiah & Luke at Basketball Camp

 I babysat! I decided I could keep up with my 3 year old nephew and had him over for a picnic and sleepover!  Even got to babysit my sweet 1 year old nephew, Caden.  What a gift after months of not even being able to hold him because he was over 10 pounds and I was too weak.


I Played! I took the kids to the creek to wade and fish. We saw several kid movies, went to the Aquatic Center, had sleepovers and playdates, ice cream outings and a backyard campout. Went to two festivals, where Alyssa even got pulled up on stage with the lead singer to "dance a little"!

By the end of summer I DATED my husband and left the kids behind without any guilt!  It was our 16th wedding anniversary and I planned a surprise historical & tasting tour in Kansas City, requiring 2 miles of walking!  I even did it in heels! Won't do a tour in heals again, even in a great year, but I looked cute for our date!

Lost Valley Trail - Buffalo River
 Labor Day week-end I HIKED! I love the outdoors and especially enjoy hiking through the woods with my family. I admit I was tired and still required some recuperating the next day, but I hiked a 2.3 mile trail to this cave, which I also climbed up into with my husband's help! My heart was happy and feeling blessed! To think we were celebrating that I could walk down my driveway and to the neighbors driveway at the beginning of summer! I was anxious wondering if I could keep up with the kids needs for food and laundry, etc at home! Now I'm biking!  If God brings you to it, He WILL get you through it!

Ponca, AR

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10, NIV

" I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2, ESV

Relay for LIFE 2013

With a great amount of pain in her feet and atrophy in her legs, Kristi walked the Survivor and Caregiver laps again this year with fellow survivors and friends from her Caner Posse, Hope in Him Christian cancer ministry, plus her dedicated family. Although we weren't celebrating a miracle as we did when her surgery was canceled in 2012, we are celebrating a miracle that she is already joining into life just 4 1/2 months after surgery. To attend and walk this was one of Kristi's physical therapy goals and she did it! Thank you Chris for helping her reach this goal and so many more! It is amazing to think she was in a reclining wheelchair, using a walker, and being helped in and out of bed not long ago!

Kristina Wright, right, and Ingrid Plumlee, second from right, cancer survivors, receive their Survivor Medals on Friday from Ashley Russ, left, at the Benton County Fairgrounds during Relay for Life near Bentonville. The event hosted 37 cancer survivors and about 200 participants for the overnight walka-thon. Relay for Life benefits the American Cancer Society.
Posted: June 8, 2013
Caregiver Lap
Some of Kriti's Family: Kacey, Dad, Alyssa, Kristi, Joshua, Caden, Amy, Jeff, Jackson, and Katy.

Survivor Lap
Fellow cancer survivors: Terrie, Marnie, Kathryn, Ingrid and Kristi.
Caregiver Lap
Kristi and Alyssa