Monday, October 24, 2011

We seem to give her back to Thee,
Dear God, Who gavest her to us.
Yet as Thou didst not lose her in giving,
so we have not lost her by her return.
Not as the world giveth, givest Thou, O Lover of Souls.
What Thou givest Thou takest not away.

For what is Thine is ours always, if we are Thine.
And life is eternal; and love is immortal;
and death is only a horizon;
and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.

Lift us up strong Son of God, that we may see farther;
Cleanse our eyes that we may know ourselves nearer to our beloved who are with Thee.
And while Thou dost prepare a place for us,
Prepare us for that happy place.

That where she is, and Thou art, we too may be.

Adapted from Bishop Brent

Friday, August 19, 2011

Finally Home

Amy crossed the river very gently at 6:55 AM MDT. Praise God for His grace to her and to us.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Most of you probably thought I had posted my last update, and I thought I had too. Last week there were days when I was sure I wouldn't live 'til the end of the day, although I can't describe what's going on as physical pain. My body is beginning to shut down. We were able to find a couple of simple ways to relieve the toxic buildup in my body, and although I can still feel that I am quickly coming to the end of my life here on earth, my eyes and skin are no longer yellow, I can think very clearly, the swelling I was beginning to have has gone away, my nausea is somewhat decreased, and I can eat and drink a little. My oncologist said that as long as we can keep the toxins drained, and keep a little food in me, this process will be eased considerably. One thing that has helped has been ionic foot baths. I've seen those things advertised and thought they were a bunch of baloney, but I immediately felt relief when I had one. So if you also thought they were baloney, think again.

I began having a marked decline at the end of May. After about a week of increasing symptoms, the discomfort settled down, and I was able to function better. I thought maybe I had just ingested too much of some kind of vitamin and needed a break from the greens. But then I began having trouble with regular nausea and could not chew my raw food without getting sick. The oncologist couldn't see why I would be having these problems since my blood work was showing normal results, and my liver ultrasound didn't show anything new. She scheduled a PET scan. Just last week she called me to say that my labs were not as good as she had thought. A portion of them had been signed by another doctor on the team, and she had not seen that part. But my tumor markers had quadrupled in May and my liver enzymes were messed up. I felt relieved in a way to know that what I was experiencing had an explanation - even though it was the cancer. The PET scan was cancelled at my request. (Lest any of you feel defensive on my behalf, this "mistake" would not have changed anything - it would just have given me longer to know what was happening. Once this process starts, only God could stop or reverse it, and He doesn't usually choose to do so.)

I realized right away that we had entered the final phase of my life, and I am very, very ready for it. I've wished, as I've faced the surprising battles of the last few weeks, that someone could tell me what to expect, what I might struggle with, what to be prepared for. I'm so accustomed to researching and preparing for what is ahead. But people don't come back from the dead to guide us, and Jesus Christ is the only one who has done it perfectly anyway. So I'm glad to say, I have that Someone I need and He is daily making Himself more dear to me. I truly cannot wait to see Him.

All that said, I do want to share some of my experience in this valley of the shadow of death before it's too late. I want to acknowledge the struggles and let you know that God has overcome them. I want to tell all of you that He is doing and will do the same for you. Whether or not you see it is between you and God, but I want to shout from the rooftops that if you will just believe Him, even though you can't understand now, even though some things hurt now, He will never truly hurt you. The pain we feel is a reminder that He is making it more than better - He's redeeming things so perfectly, that the pleasure He's preparing for me is beyond my comprehension; and so, even the pain is a grand evidence of His grace.

I have been blind-sided by some of my battles since the end of May. I went througha few days of being terrified that what I had placed my faith in was not real, that I had missed the truth somehow. God took my heart, my eyes, and my mind, and made me see how everything I have learned about Him, everything that has become dear and a comfort to me, is reinforced in every single area of our lives. He is constantly showing us His truth through what He gives us - the earth, people, and especially His Word. And suddenly, all those seeming contradictions we struggle with, all the whys, the unlikely reconciling of the effects of evil with the omniscient good, all those questions about ultimate truth, popped into focus. This is not the end. God has been preparing me for what comes next. And if trouble is part of the preparation, than I can view it as painful training, but not as ultimately powerful evil.

Another difficulty was the weight of my regrets. Everyone who knows me would say that I've lived a good life. And I have. I have been faithful to my husband, I haven't abandoned myself to drugs, I've tried to do what's good for others, I've gone to church regularly, I've prayed and read my Bible, I've invested in my children, I've striven to honor my parents, I've apologized when I was wrong. But it's not enough. It's not enough. My regrets were overwhelming me. Why did I yell at the kids? Why did I rip at my husband? Why didn't I invest more in that lady? Why did I say those cutting things? Why didn't I just resolve that bitterness I've been carrying? As well as I lived my life, it wasn't anywhere near good enough. And the weight is heavy because now there isn't time to re-do or fix. Jesus Christ took my memory and reminded me of the Scripture that my mother and others have poured into it. "Truly, I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes on Him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life." John 5:25 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1) These Scripture reminders washed over me and reminded me that Jesus has taken care of all my regrets for me.

But then I thought of the people who have regrets that we all recognize for what they are - big, ugly, havoc-wreaking, self-centered, world-altering mistakes. How do you deal with your regrets when you get where I am? Because you will be here. The most healthy diet in the world will not help you avoid this moment. Look at God's word and be comforted even more deeply than I have been. You also can have no condemnation in Christ Jesus. He doesn't care how bad you or others think your mistakes are. Any mistake of any size is enough to separate you from God in your death, but no mistake of any size is enough to keep Christ from rescuing you just as He has done for me.

As I've become more and more unable to handle what have been my responsibilities, I have struggled viciously with giving up control. I am ashamed to say how many times in the last few days I have lost control of my temper as my duties were handled by someone else or not handled at all. I've felt panicked that I won't be able to prepare my family for what's coming, to live life without me. I have dragged my family on this emotional roller coaster of trying-to-control. But God is getting a hold of my fears, and helping me to trust Him - that whatever He allows during this time is part of my preparation and the preparation of those around me to enjoy Him. My house and family do not have to be handled my way in order to accomplish God's goals.

I've thought so often of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. That man must have lived in the valley of the shadow for a long time in order to be able to describe it so well. His description of Christian's soul-scraping struggles and fears, and then victory, is the most accurate picture of what's been raging inside me that I can think of. I'm so thankful that ultimate victory is waiting.

I am aware that many people from different perspectives read my blog. I have atheist, agnostic, Hindu, Jain, Wiccan, Mormon, Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, and wildly-searching friends and aquaintances. I don't know the spiritual persuasions of many of you. But I know this. You will all face what I am facing now. I want for everyone of you to be blessed with the peace and confidence that Christ has given me. I wish that everyone could see during their whole lives what I am seeing so clearly now. God loves us all so completely. His plan has never been to destroy us, but to redeem us and all of His creation perfectly. There is another someone who hates us completely because we are the creation of his Enemy, and he never stops trying to deceive and destroy us as long as we are on this earth. Christ has offered the solution, but we have such a hard time trusting that He truly is the way. We are afraid that if He even is who He claims to be, He is just waiting to slap us into judgement, or at best to take us to a place where we will sit around and sing for eternity. (Sorry, but singing has never been one of my great pleasures, although I do love the words to songs. So I had a hard time getting excited about that view of Heaven.) He tells us so clearly what He wants for us, yet for some reason, we usually don't see it. But it's there, and you will see it too. I hope you will embrace it when you do, that you will search for it when you don't, that you will plead with God to prepare you for eternity with Him. Eternity is real, and you don't want to live it without God and His redemption of all your mistakes. You don't want to miss what is waiting for those who choose to trust God's love.

For God so loved the world,

that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whosoever believes in Him should not perish

but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Update from the "other" Amy

Thank you all for your prayers. Amy's tumor markers have jumped, and her health is rapidly declining. Hospice has been called in, and Amy is anticipating her journey Home.

During this time, we would ask that you pray:

1) That God would be merciful to Amy
2) That He would give strength, comfort and peace to Jon, Amy and the children
3) That He would be honored and glorified in the dark days ahead. That His light would be clearly seen by all who come into contact with the family. That people would be compelled to ask the "reason of the hope that lies within us."

Mrs Caldwell, Amy's mother, is traveling to Denver today.

Mom and Dad Bixby will be heading out on the 4th.

While Jon and Amy have not been able to respond to all of the many expressions of love, encouragement and prayer, they are GREATLY appreciated.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I haven't been feeling as well lately. Most days I have periods of nausea, and I've been losing weight again. (I had been steadily gaining since the end of my fast in Phoenix.) I have my monthly appointment with the oncologist next week, so maybe we'll find out what's going on then. The herbal treatment I'm receiving has some significant side effects like lowering blood pressure and blood sugar. Mine tend to be on the low side of normal anyway, so I've been wondering if I'm feeling bad because of having blood sugar and pressure that's too low. We're going to try to monitor those levels routinely.

Meanwhile, while we hope for healing, I realize that's probably not what's happening. As I've watched this year's beautiful spring time I've enjoyed imagining what this would look like if it were all truly perfect. And I have such an anticipations about what God has prepared for His children. I feel like I've been given the most incredible travel package, but my family won't be able to join me yet. I feel a little bad for not being more hesitant to begin my eternity.

I have broadened my diet somewhat. When I began to have a harder time eating, I started eating what appealed to me if I was hungry - which I wasn't a lot. The green juice began making me nauseated, so I've taken a break from that.

Although this summer has not been the smooth sailing I would have asked for, we have been having a good time. I sat down last week with the summer's schedule and the master calendar. Cancer doesn't stop swimming, soccer, art or piano lessons, dentists, orthodontists, pediatricians, employers, youth groups, or libraries. And the kids are involved in it all. I'm glad their lives are rolling along - it's a pleasure to watch them grow. In July, we may be able to enjoy a special week in the mountains, and I'm really looking forward to that possibility.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Liver Ultrasound

Yesterday we got the results of the liver ultrasound. Doctor Cook explained that it is difficult to compare an ultrasound image with a PET scan image, but from what they could tell, nothing in my liver has changed significantly. She said that what I'm feeling is certainly my liver since nothing else would have caused that kind of discomfort. Her best guess was that an existing lesion in my liver has grown just enough to cause trouble without being obviously bigger.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thanks for all the birthday wishes yesterday. I had a very nice 37th birthday with several nice little surprises. Jon and I ended the day by going out to a vegetarian restaurant, and the meal was delicious.

We've been without online access for a little while, and before that I was spending a good bit of time each day feeling sick from the new treatment I'm doing. I'm currently taking an herbal therapy that has some significant side effects, but in the last week, I've felt like I'm adjusting more completely to this treatment. Anyway, I'm offering my excuses for not keeping you all more informed.

Although I've felt better with my current therapy in the last week, I've also begun to have steadily increasing discomfort in my liver area over the last week. An ultrasound has been scheduled for tomorrow morning, and we'll have the results on Friday when I return to the hospital for my regularly scheduled Zomeda treatment.