Saturday, February 26, 2011


Do yourself a favor, and read Philippians 4:10-13. Really, do it. The rest of this won't be very good in comparison. After you read it, listen to "The Secret of Contentment". Even if you have no interest at all in this "stuff", take a chance.

Here's a summary of 90% of my conversations:

"How's Sarah doing?"
Me: "She's doing fine/good/great/well?"
"Good, good, how are you?"
Me: "I'm doing fine/good/great/well."
"Good to see you. You're in our prayers/thoughts."

I like these conversations. It's good to know that people are thinking about Sarah, and lifting her up in prayer.

But, this exchange, very rarely, goes much deeper. I walk away with a multitude of thoughts: "He thinks my head is in the clouds." "She doesn't believe that I am feeling okay." "Am I really okay, or am I just numb?" "I wonder if this is a denial phase, and all my thoughts will change in an hour, a day, a week."

I have a friend, and co-worker, who doesn't allow surface conversations. He always digs deeper. We had some meaningful dialogue one day, each of the last two weeks.

I also have three brothers who are absolutely incredible, and have each influenced my life, whether intentionally or accidently. A few years ago, a brother and I had a lengthy conversation about life, in general. At the end of the phone conversation, he encouraged me not to let another year pass whereby I did not pursue that which makes me happy. He said that I could figure it out now, or wait until I was much older... better sooner rather than later.

The next day, I started reading about contentedness. I've spent more time reading about contentedness than any other aspect of faith over the last four or five years.

I hope you took time to read and listen to what I recommended above. It's a life changing perspective.

Reflecting on this passage, and talking with my buddy at work last week, I realized that, at times, I may be confusing contentedness with stoicism. Being stoic is not liberating at all. It doesn't bring joy in the midst of trial, and it doesn't allow to you to love, care, and sympathize for someone who is suffering. I know because I slip into that mode very easily.

True, biblical, contentedness does bring freedom. It does bring joy. It's comforting to those who are suffering.

Sarah's diagnosis has detached us more from this world than any other time in our lives, and caused us to focus more on the things of heaven. That breads happiness.

Chalk one up for "Good Things coming out of Unfortunate Circumstances". Let's chalk up a couple more.

Please continue to lift Sarah up. Her surgery is at 7:30 on Wednesday morning.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sarah and "O"

We have a date. Sarah will have surgery on Wednesday, March 2nd. We have to be in Houston a couple of days early for testing.

We did learn a couple of things while at MD Anderson today. Dr. Weinberg showed us the MRI images. While Sarah's tumor is on the right frontal lobe, it is a little further back on the lobe than we first thought. Better said, there is brain tissue between Sarah's skull and the tumor. We also learned that they would not be able to remove 100% of the tumor because blood vessels have infiltrated the backside of the mass. Any damage to those blood vessels could result in a stroke, which could lead to paralysis, etc. If the mass is as slow growing as they believe it is, trying to get it all out is not worth the risk.

I am not sure what this means, or how/if it changes Sarah's prognosis, but we will know quite a bit more after post-surgery pathology is available. Depending on the biopsy results, additional treatment could follow. We pray that such treatment will not be required.

Sarah will have a pretty sweet scar that will span from one ear, across the top of her head, to the other ear (about an inch inside her hairline).

Typical of a mother, Sarah might be just as concerned about missing Owen's 2nd birthday as she is about anything we learned today.

(Insert "my son is the best" prose here). It's crazy to think that Owen is two years old. It's definitely been a happy two years. I could go on, but if you know "O", you know exactly what I'm talking about. He is, hands down, the best (no bias; if he looked like a baby ostrich and screamed like a peacock, I'd say so).

We can't wait to see him and Lynlee! Hopefully, we'll make it home tomorrow. Those kids, and their mama need some lovin'!

Thanks again for everybody's prayers and well-wishes. Special thanks to all who have helped get us in and out of town, watched our kids, watched our house (get hammered with snow), fed us a meal, watched our dog... the list goes on. Thank you,

Pat & Sarah

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Skinny

We are leaving for Houston tomorrow morning to ensure that we beat Artic Front #2! Sarah's consultation at MD Anderson is scheduled for Thursday morning. We still don't have a surgery date, and we will not have one until that consultation.

There's quite a bit going on around here. Otherwise, I would elaborate a little more. The reality is that we do not know what to expect (in terms of timing) until we are down there.

My apologies for the matter-of-fact-ness of this update.

I'll do better next time.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quick Update

They discharged Sarah from Washington Regional on Wednesday after all the CT scans came back negative. That was good news! Discharge instructions were for Sarah to rest and take life easy until MD Anderson gave us a call to come to Houston.

A MD Anderson scheduler called today. They are just waiting on MRI & CT scan images from Washington Regional, then they will schedule us. We had hoped that these images were already there... but they're not. Bummer.

Those images should arrive at MD Anderson on Monday, and they think that we will know our surgery date Monday night. The surgery date can't come soon enough!

We appreciate everyone's prayers and well wishes.

Sarah is still doing very well. We got out and celebrated a couple of birthdays with friends tonight, and had a great time.

Keep the prayers coming!

Pat & Sarah

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Uncommon

Common: Headaches, migraines, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, moodiness (I might get in trouble for this one), aggressive behavior (and this one), physician appointments, MRI, CT scans, emergency room visits, diagnosis, prognosis, and even tumors.

The Uncommon:

A Divine Appointment. We've been praying for an answer to migraines that Sarah has battled for the last couple of months. After a visit to a neurologist and a little vision trouble, Sarah decided to schedule an appointment with our optometrist. Not an optometrist who we bat our eyes at every six months, snag a box of contacts from, and never see again. An optometrist who God put in our life years ago, even before we ever visited her for an eye exam. Who knew that Dr. R. would be the first to discover abnormal pressure on Sarah's optic nerve. That was Friday.

Answered Prayer. With Dr. R.'s help, we scheduled a MRI on Monday morning at 11:15 to figure out exactly what was going on. We were operating under the old adage that "no news is good news", so we felt pretty good when 5:00 rolled around without any communication back from the neurologist. Five minutes later I learned that Sarah had a "mass" on her right frontal lobe. After weeks of prayer, though, we had an answer.

Crazy Peace. Sarah is a champ. My sister-in-law, Ang, describes Sarah's current state much better than I can. Please read. Granted, we have had our moments (and will have more), Sarah has been incredible. I called her at 5:15 on Monday to let her know about her mass. When I arrived at Lynlee's gymnastics practice at 5:45, I found Sarah giggling with another mom (who we love very much). Truth be told, I heard her before I saw her! Those who know Sarah know how that works. We followed doctors' orders, and headed to the ER.

Amazing Friends. We were greeted at the ER by three great friends (and pastors of Crosschurch Fayetteville). They were there before us... waiting on our arrival... ready to give us hugs, laughs, and smiles... ready to love us. More friends and family arrived. Before we were admitted, we had an entourage.

Diagnosis. After a couple of hours in the E.R. waiting room we got to hear Sarah's (tentative) diagnosis. Chances are, Sarah has a low grade astrocytoma. These are, typically, benign. This could all change, but that's what we know now. Very soon, we will take a trip to MD Anderson to have the "racquetball-size" tumor removed.

Here is what we know the future holds: an ordained day, followed by an ordained day, followed by an ordained day. In the backs of our minds, we definitely have expectations. Like many of you reading this, we have prayers that we lift up throughout the day. It's easy to get wrapped up in all the medical stuff. All the facts. We believe the power of prayer, faith, and trust are just as real.

Lift up the prayers of your heart. We definitely pray for the wisdom of medical staff, peace, comfort, healing... you name it.

If you can't think of anything else to pray, pray that we have MANY more opportunities to experience the uncommon as I have described above. That's when we feel the presence of God. Our prayer is that many of you experience it too.

Pat & Sarah