Friday, June 24, 2011

Mountain Bound

You would not believe the support and kind words I have received both in blogland and the "real world". I really needed to share my feelings and concerned and am so thankful for those who validated me!

We are now looking forward to a much needed long stay in the mountains of North Carolina. It's where I've spent almost every summer of my life... Kanuga. And oh, how we are needed this time to renew our spirits and feed our senses with the smells of the mountain pines and the fellowship of my extended family. This year will be even more of a blessing to us as Mike and I have decided that our family will go a week early this year so we can attend the annual Renewal Conference, a week of Biblically (as opposed to theologically) based teaching, worship and fellowship. As I pray for this week, I know that all four of us will be blessed.

We have started packing for our journey...

The car will be crammed with everything but the kitchen sink...

And the excitement will mount with each mile...

Ah... Paradise...


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cancer doesn't leave the room...

Where does it go? The days are flying by, and in a little over a week June will be gone. It's been incredibly busy... and surreal. Never mind the educational workshops I attended for over a week, or VBS where I am working with three-year-olds! A hulking elephant named brain cancer has been lurking everywhere. My 4*th birthday came and went, as did Father's Day.

We celebrated by inviting Mike's parents over for fried chicken and all the fixings. What with the cards and gifts, it would seem to be an ordinary Father's Day. But this year wasn't. Usually my father-in-law is looking around our home for something to do: an air filter to change, help the boys with the lawn mower, check some gadget or another. But this year he didn't. Usually our summertime meals with my in-laws involve him grilling hamburgers and steaks. But this year he didn't. Usually he is asking the boys about what they've been up too. But this year he didn't.

This year he walked in slowly with his cane and sat down carefully. His usual quick smile appeared tired. I don't think he said more than twenty-five words the entire visit due to the expressive aphasia that was caused by the cancerous tumor. I could see how it pains my mother-in-law. She puts up such a brave and strong front, carrying the conversations and going on... because what else can you do? What else can you do when the man you have spent forty-five years of your life with is battling Gioblastoma Multiforme (Stage IV) cancer?

What do you do? What do I do? What do I do when I have researched this brain cancer on numerous websites and they all say the same thing? (And what they say is just heart wrenching.) What do I do when my husband has NOT? What do I do when he is in denial (either by choice of not finding out more - or just by choice in and of itself)? Have he and his mother talked about what could happen in twelve to eighteen months? (They don't talk as much as my family does.)

I try to talk and open the door for conversation with her. And although I feel her strong shell is slowly cracking, I'm not sure she will confide in me. But that's ok. She and Mike's aunts are very close and I know they are there for her. But Mike and I don't talk about it in any depth at all. We just don't. And I guess I just have to honor that. Hello, elephant in the room...

So that's where I am... with a big ol' elephant in the room named brain cancer and he won't go away.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gravatt Bars... YUM!

This week has been rather quiet at Casa Bevy. S was on a mission trip and came home Tuesday afternoon. (Pics to come later!) J is at camp all week. It's the Episcopal Diocesan camp, and guess what? It's only 30 minutes from our house! How's that for convenience?

Of course in this day and age, I have been hooked to the internet all week looking for posted photos on the camps website. What is wrong with us? Why can't we let our kids go for ONE WEEK without the need?

Anyway, you can see he is doing great...

Of course I do miss him. I asked S if he did, and you can guess what he said. Ah, brotherly love. So when J comes home on Sunday, I plan to have a taste of camp waiting for him: Gravatt Bars! Camp Gravatt has been making these ever since I was a camper in the late 70s and a Junior Counselor in the 80s. They are incredibly easy to make and melt in your mouth. I swear!

Here is the recipe. You won't be disappointed!

Gravatt Bars

2 sticks butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Mix first three ingredients.
Fold into a 9 x 13 glass pan.  (If you want them thicker, then go for a 9 x 9!)
Melt chocolate chips and pour over mixture.
Refrigerate for about three hours or until it "sets".
Take out and let it "thaw" for about thirty minutes so that it is easy to cut into squares.

Enjoy! I know J will... Oh who am I kidding?  I definitely will!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What Makes Me Pretty...

Today I must remember...
That beautiful curve says...
And Mike, the love of my life, has always told me...
And you are too!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thankful for Today

Yes, it's still brain cancer. Yes, we are all still tired. Yes, my sweet father-in-law is still in a lot of pain. And yes, there is a long road ahead.

But we know God is so good. Mike's father is recovering amazingly well. He was released from ICU in less than 24 hours. The expressive aphasia that was so prevalent prior to surgery seemed almost nonexistent. He was able to (with assistance from the nurses and PT) stand, sit in a chair, and go to the bathroom. This was yesterday! The day after a four hour brain surgery!

Now we know he will have much to overcome. And so much work ahead. Speech therapy. Physical therapy. Chemotherapy. Radiation. He will have some successes and some set backs.

But I know that this would not have been possible without the prayers of hundreds of people all over the country. A friend on FB posted on my wall: "What a great cloud of witnesses you have around you...." I know that the only reason my FIL is doing so well is because of the immense amount of prayer that has been lifted up for him - and by so many of YOU. I am a true believer! I don't mess around! :)

I probably won't post much more. But I couldn't let today pass without a bit of happy news in this story. You needed to know... because you were part of the story. And I am thankful for today...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Martha has broken...

It was what we expected, but wouldn't admit. It was what we knew secretly in our hearts, but wouldn't listen to. Brain cancer.

(And please pardon the poor writing style. I'm still exhausted and in the "just the facts, ma'am" mode.)

Yesterday was probably the most emotionally draining day I have ever had. Mike and I didn't get home until after 11:00. We had been at the hospital for twelve hours. His father went in for surgery at 3:30 and came out about four hours later. The waiting was exhausting. My sweet mother-in-law couldn't eat. She had her hand on her cell phone waiting for the updates that would come every hour.

His wonderful neurosurgeon finally came out with the news that we cognitively were expecting. But you are never prepared. They took out 2/3 of a malignant tumor. They couldn't take out any more as it was too close to the "motor strip" of the brain. The cancer has spread down the temporal lobe. The good news is that it is primary to the brain and will not metastasize to other parts of the body. They are very optimistic that that can treat it with chemotherapy and radiation. We will know more in the next 48 hours and then more in a few weeks. He is now in ICU and will be for the next 24-48 hours.

Last night while we were waiting in the IVU waiting room, I finally cried. I finally broke. I hadn't since we found out about the tumor on Wednesday. I don't cry. Especially during crisis. That's because I am a "Martha". No, not Martha Stewart. Martha from the Bible. If you remember when Jesus visited the home of sisters, Mary and Martha, it was Martha who was constantly doing. She was the one taking care and making sure things were done - all the time. That was me this week: asking the doctor questions, writing down and clarifying everything he said, emailing reports to family and friends, Facebooking to request prayers - and organizing where S And J would be during all of this. And finally, being there for Mike. But that's how I cope - and that was the role I was needed to play.

We have received Facebook posts, emails and phone calls telling us how prayers have been lifted on our behalf and asking how/if we need anything. We have been overwhelmed with this outpouring. Of course we still do not understand why this is happening.

My 12 year old's observation makes me realize that, even in these times, we must keep a childlike faith: when I tried to explain the seriousness of the situation to him the night before last, he responded, "Yes, it is bad. There are always going to be horrible things that happen in our lives. BUT GOD ALWAYS MAKES SOMETHING GOOD HAPPEN FROM IT, AND HE WILL THIS TIME TOO."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Please, I Need You, Sweet Friends...

This is not the post I was planning on writing. Thursday was the boy's last day of school; mine was Friday. I had found all these cute photos from pinterest and tumbler. I was going to write about the excitement of SUMMERTIME. However, this is how we are feeling right now.
We are reaching and pleading for your prayers.

Yesterday, a mass was found on my father-in-law's brain. It's on the left frontal lobe. For the past few weeks, he has had a continuous headache, some days pretty unbearable. However, he never complained. We didn't know. We all - even the boys - began noticing that he was not himself: very quiet, a bit depressed, slow to tasks, etc. But again, we had no idea of the pain. On Tuesday, my mother-in-law took him to the doctor where the ugly truth began to reveal itself. And as the location of the tumor affects the personality and all the other symptoms we noticed, it all started to make sense.

He was admitted to the hospital on Thursday. The surgery is on Monday. Only then will we know if the tumor is benign or cancerous.

Please pray... We know God is completely in control, but we still covet your prayers. My sweet friend, Aundrea, sent me this:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Thank you, sweet friends...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Run Like the Wind

Today was J's Awards Day celebration. I love this day. Not just for him, but for my own fourth grade class as well. Remember "Charles" from Kindness and Thankfulness? Well, he earned the Academic Spirit Award. It goes to the student who made the most gains for the year. Of course I took his picture just like a proud teacher!

J also was called a few times :) He was on the Principal's Honor Roll (all As for the year) and won the Social Studies (South Carolina History) Award for his class. Being a history nerd myself, I was very excited and proud of my future historian!

But J was most impressed with his other award. He's shown here with our administrative secretary, Mrs. Sides, who handed out the awards and certificates. In his hand is the one for most laps run for our elementary school's track team. Our principal called him up as he ran farther than any third, fourth, or fifth grader. (Remember he is in third grade!)

For the past few months, over two hundred students convened on our school's track twice a week and ran "cross country" for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Every time they completed a lap, they received a rubber band around their wrist to keep track of the number they ran. Some would sprint a few minutes and then pant a few, then sprint, then pant. Others were obviously doing it because their mom wanted them to. Some little girls used the time to leisurely jog or walk with their friends and chat about Justin Beiber - or whatever elementary girls talk about!

Others, like J, took it VERY seriously. He wanted me to volunteer at his station. At every lap, he would jog/run up to me for his water bottle, take a little sip, grab a rubber band and take off again. His legs are so long and his stride was perfect. Not being athletic at all, except for tennis, I honestly don't know where he gets it. Even when he complained of the heat, he wouldn't stop. He kept his pace and ran an average of ten laps (two miles) every day. Oh how I wish I had that stamina - or even desire to run like that!

At every five mile increment, the PE coach gave the students a rubber band with the mile printed on it. Five Mile... mosts kids got this one. Ten Mile... A few more got this one. Fifteen Mile... Most of the fifth grade athletes got this one. And the one he is most proud of, Twenty Mile!

So proud as only three students in the whole school made it to twenty!

And yes, he wants me to start running with him. Ugh...