Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thank You Letter

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you.  I noticed what you did this week.  Well, to be honest, I've noticed every week.  It touches my heart.  You are a wonderful example of Acts 20:35:  "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

You are a Matthew 6:21 person, "for where your heart is, there your treasure is also."  I don't know how deep your pocketbook is, but I know where your heart is.

God knows too.  "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."  You have given not reluctantly nor under compulsion.  You have given your time, talent, and treasure.  

You have not made yourself known.  I sometimes wish you would, so I could thank you properly.  However, I know that's not your style.  You aren't letting your left hand see what your right hand is doing.  In fact, sometimes you do it under the cloak of darkness. 

I pray blessings for you, my friend, whomever you are.  

A Very Grateful Soul

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Joe: The Bedwetter

Joe has a childhood friend who is notorious for practical jokes.  Seriously, it's amazing this guy hasn't been arrested or beat up.  His imagination knows no bounds.  Those of you who knew Joe growing up know exactly who I am talking about right now.  You're probably muttering his name between gritted teeth because chances are, he's gotten you too.  I for one, will never forget how he handcuffed Joe, stripped him down to his chonies, streaked hair off his legs with Nair, wrote messages to me in Sharpie on Joe's naked body, and made him go outside the hotel.  the.  night.  before.  our.  wedding.  When the cops drove by.  David!

Anyways.  He just can't resist a good joke.  So, while he was taking care of Joe on his last week at the Transplant House, he just had to do something.  He also had an accomplice (Michael!).  Here's how it went down:

Joe was outside, chatting on the phone.  When he came back inside, he found a package near his bedroom door.  It had his name on it, so he opened it.  It was a huge diaper pad that you put on your bed, to protect against bedwetting.

Joe asked everyone in the house where this package came from.  They claimed it came from the office.  Someone delivered it and said it was for Joe.  Joe protested that he didn't have that kind of problem.  He wondered why the office thought he did.  He tried to shrug it off, but it kept eating him up.  Finally, he decided to go down to the office and tell them he doesn't have that kind of problem.

Of course, Michael and David wanted to tag along so they could see their expression in the office.  They made lame excuses like getting their mail or seeing the community center.  Joe didn't want them hanging around when he had this private conversation.

Joe went to the office and the two friends snuck in behind him.  As you watch this video, this is just when Joe is whispering to Sky that he "doesn't have that kind of problem."  Sky is not in on the joke and is trying to be professional, all the while not knowing why in the world Joe is telling him that he doesn't wet his bed.

Turn your volume up to hear Joe whispering.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

You're My Beloved

The groom has returned.  I can honestly say that we have been through good times and bad. In sickness and health.  Richer and poorer.  

"The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete." John 3:29  I have an overwhelming sense of peace and joy with the reunion to my groom.  As I sit next to him and hold his hand, I can't help but think of the other Groom, coming to be reunited with His bride.  

"Love of my life,
Look deep in My eyes,
There you will find what you need.
I'm the Giver of Life.
I'll clothe you in white.
My immaculate bride you will be.
Oh come running home to Me.

You're My beloved.
Lover, I'm yours.
Death shall not part us.
It's you I died for.
For better or worse,
Forever we'll be.
Our love it unites us
It binds you to Me."


Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Wonderful Turn of Events

As of this morning, Joe was going to have to stay in Phoenix for an additional 2 weeks.  He went to the appointment today as planned.  His kidneys (all three of them) are operating at above 60%.  His white blood cells are still low, but they are lowering his anti-rejection meds to help bring that up.  The doctor told him that he wanted to see Joe tomorrow for more testing on the white blood cells.  Joe walked out of the office, dejected.  

Instead of leaving right way, Joe sat in the lobby and talked with his friend about not being able to go home and what should be their next plan of attack.  

And then his phone rang.  It was from Mayo.  They told him that they had just had a private meeting with his doctors and decided that it was safe for him to go home.  He could just do his bloodwork from Pinetop!  

Meanwhile, the boys and I had a full day at school.  After I put my kids on the bus and got back to my room, I noticed I had a voicemail.  Watch the boys reaction when I played the voicemail on my overhead speakers:  

I honestly thought Jack was going to cry.

Many would say, "wow, wasn't that great that the doctors reconsidered and let him go home."  But, I know the truth.  I know that many, many, many of you banded together and prayed for this homecoming.  What a wonderful turn of events.

I Will Rise

"I will rise, out of these ashes, rise."  As you read this, Joe is rising.  He is ascending the mountain, rising out of the ashes of Phoenix.  Phoenix, the mythological bird, which when reduced to ashes is reborn anew to live again.  It is said that the bird's cry is that of a beautiful song.

"Death has been swallowed up in victory" 1 Corinthians 15:54.


She spends her days toiling in the fields.  The work of her hands provide the bread for her family.  She is consumed with her work.  But there are times.  Times when her eyes flit up to the mountain.  The same mountain that she, herself, recently descended.  The mountain on which she helped carry her love.  Yet, her time there was done.  She had seen her burning bush and needed to return to "real life".

In the cool of the evening she watches her children run happily, to and fro.  Sometimes, when she looks in their faces, she sees the face of their daddy.  And her eyes look to the mountain again.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Bride Waits

Girls grow up dreaming about their wedding day.  When they meet their Prince Charming and get engaged, they begin counting the days.  They wait with eager anticipation to see their groom and be united with him.  I am waiting to see my groom.

Our ten year anniversary went largely unnoticed while at the Transplant House.  Yet, we are still newlyweds. Since Joe's condition is genetic, I don't know if I have ever really known a "healthy" Joe.  The boys certainly haven't.

We had the date all set.  Joe was to return home in two days.  We made preparations at home.  Everything climaxed with that date.  Our whole universe hinged on it.  And then we got the call.

Joe's numbers are off and the doctors are keeping him for another two weeks.  I don't understand it all but this is what I am getting from Joe and his lab results.  After a transplant, patients are put on a regimen of three anti-rejection medications.  This is to slow the body's defense system down, so it doesn't attack the new organ.  Joe responded so well in the hospital, that they took him off one of the pills immediately.  Well, now his white blood cells are too low.  This indicates that the remaining pills are working too well and they need to wean him off one of the anti-rejection meds.  In the whole scheme of things, this is good news.  His body is accepting the kidney whole-heartedly.  It's great that he will have one less pill to take.  One less dose of side-effects.

To say that I am disappointed about his being gone another two weeks is the understatement of the century.  My whole countenance plummeted.  The boys are filled with a hundred questions.  Everyday they wake up and tell ME how many days remain!  I must remember my blog yesterday, I have to "ALWAYS give thanks for ALL things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".  I am thankful that his body is accepting this kidney so much that they have to take him off the anti-rejection meds.  I am thankful that he HAS a kidney, and a team of doctors who leave nothing to chance.

So, the bride waits.  The groom has yet another mountain to climb before they can be reunited.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Giving Thanks

Ephesians 5:20 tells us to "ALWAYS give thanks for ALL things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".  It's so nice to give thanks for the sunny skies.  For the cooling rain.  For the beautiful home.  But do we give thanks when we are inconvenienced?

My day started at 12:30 a.m. to the sounds of yelling.  I groggily made my way upstairs where I was greeted with a bed (and child) covered in vomit.  Honestly, "Thank You, God" were not the first words out of my mouth.  But, a few loads of laundry later, I am "singing and making melody with my heart to the Lord".

Thankful that my son woke up and didn't choke to death on his own vomit.  Could you imagine?  I'm so thankful he woke up and called my name.

Thankful that I was near to care for him.  What if I had to work a night shift?  Or what if he called out for someone else.  I'm so grateful he called "mommy".

Thankful that I have running, hot water.  I was able to put him in the shower and wash it all off.  What if we lived like a majority of the world's population, without running, hot water?  How do those mothers clean their children in the middle of the night?  I'm sure they get sick too.  I'm just grateful I was able to clean him without it being too hard.

Thankful that we had another pair of clean pajamas to put on him.  Some children don't have ONE pair, let alone TWO pair of pajamas.  What a luxury!  In fact, I complain sometimes that they have too many clothes.  How selfish of me.

Thankful that I have a working washing machine IN MY OWN HOME.  It wasn't hard at all to strip his bed and throw the bedding into the washer.  What if we didn't have our own washer?  Would we have to traipse to the local laundromat?  Wash by hand?

Thankful that I have sick leave so I can stay home with my baby.  What if I didn't have any sick time on the books?  I know that some moms have to debate back and forth whether to go to work to feed the family or to stay home with their sickie.  I've been there.  It's a no win situation.

Thankful that Jack got sick while Joe was still away.  If Joe had been home already, he would have had to leave for the day since he can't be around sickness.  

Thankful that God has surrounded me with hands-down the most amazing friends a woman could ever ask for.  I have a frig full of chicken noodle soup, crackers, PowerAid, and dinners for 4 days.

I know that "Thank You, God" doesn't come naturally.  If it did, God wouldn't have to tell us to do it in the Bible.  But I want to encourage you to take a moment to "ALWAYS give thanks for ALL things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".  I know I am going to look back on this experience as a reminder.  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Support Our Supporters: Integrated Bodywork

Support Our Supporters

Support Our Supporters is a series designed to highlight the local businesses who contributed to our fundraising efforts.

Some people just have a natural talent.  They have healing hands.  Melissa Graves, owner of Integrated Bodywork: Therapeutic Massage and Yoga is one of them.  

Although she had a successful career in "Officeland", Melissa knew she wanted to help people directly.  She left her job and started her own business and she has never looked back.  Her business is blooming in the White Mountains.  In fact, Melissa is so good at healing with her hands, she is recommended by Summit Hospital.  That is how we met; sort of.

I have worked with Melissa's husband, Jeff, for a number of years.  I met his lovely wife a few years back at church, but I never knew what she did for a living.  They had been following our story, were praying for us, and offered to help in any way they could; meals, snow-shoveling, the like.  I sort of just tucked it in the back of my mind.  Well, when Joe went in to the hospital in January, his sister wanted to get a massage for him.  She asked the hospital for any recommendations.  They gave her the number to Integrated Bodywork.  She called, set up the appointment, and Joe went.  As Melissa was working on Joe, they were talking about his condition and the surgery.  Finally, she put it all together.  This was the man she had been praying for!

I have been to Melissa twice since.  Once right after all the fundraising (whew, that is a lot of work) and once right before the transplant.  I can't stress enough how healing her hands are.

I have been to other masseuses in the past.  I have always felt uncomfortable.  Fake.  Not so with Melissa.  I was immediately impressed with how comfortable she made me feel.  When her hands touched me, I honestly felt like water.  Sometimes, she was a big wave, rushing down my legs.  Other times, she was a sprinkling rain, trickling down my back.  I almost fell asleep, and yes, I did drool (so embarrassing).

If you are looking for a good masseuse or for a wonderful gift for a loved one, please call Melissa at 928-242-4967.  She heals massages in her home (or yours).  I can't think of a better gift.  

Thank you Melissa for listening to God's calling in your life and using it to heal others.  Blessings to you!

Friday, August 10, 2012


There we were.  The three of us.  Wrapped up in our busy lives.  Engulfed in the business of BUSYness.  And then it hit us.  We're incomplete without him.

The boys and I are trying to return to a normal life.  Not sure exactly what that is.  Been so long since we've had it.  Or did we ever really have it?

They started school, which means I also started school.  Single working mom chores engulf most of my day:
Get myself ready for work
Get the boys ready for school
Work (for waaaaaaaaaaay too long)
Make dinner
Clean up dinner (seriously?  It took me HOW LONG to make it yet only 10 minutes to eat it?)
Sorting laundry

And that's when it hit.  That's when I found it.  I actually smelled it well before I saw it and pulled it out and recognized it for what it was.

To anyone else, it would just appear to be a shirt.  But to us, it was Daddy.  It still smelled like him.

I immediately brushed it up against my cheek and took a long draw.

The boys knew something was up, as I was in mid-sentence when the world stopped I found the shirt.  They rushed over and asked, "Is that Daddy's?"

As I lay here in bed, dirty shirt tucked in next to me, I realize just how incomplete we are without him.  Come home soon, Baby.  We're running out of laundry.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Daddy's Home!

If you have been following our journey, you know that Joe was given a clean bill of health and allowed to come home for the weekend, way before the estimates.  Even though he left Phoenix at 4:30 a.m., he was still going to get home after we had left for school. 

When we left for school that morning, we put a banner on the garage door.

Before the surgery, even on bad days, Joe liked to play around with the boys.  He would hide behind doors and jump out at them.  The boys have adopted this game as their own and do this to me.  Endlessly. 

It was no surprise then, that when we walked into the house later that day, we didn't see Joe.  Where's Daddy?

The video ends with Joshua asking, "Where's our present?" and Jack saying, "Daddy is our present!".

Support Our Supporters: Pizzeria Venti

Support Our Supporters

Support Our Supporters is a series designed to highlight the local businesses who contributed to our fundraising efforts. 

More than a job; it's a passion.

By the age of 16, Michael Brown was already manager of a restaurant.  By 19, he was completely running the show and even setting up new restaurants.  His business is his passion. 

He dreamed of going to Italy, to study under the chefs there.  And that's exactly what he did.  Michael studied and perfected the craft of Italian cooking in Italy.  It was only fitting that he and his wife, Amy, opened an Italian restaurant.

Michael and Amy Brown have owned and operated Pizzeria Venti in Lakeside for five years.  That says a lot in the White Mountains, where many businesses struggle through the winters.  In fact, so many locals and visitors have turned to Pizzeria Venti time and again, that they have recently opened another restaurant in Mesa.  La Cucina di Venti is a full-service restaurant. 

I have probably tried everything on the menu.  My favorites?  The bocce balls are fun.  The apple walnut salad is my absolute favorite.  And I have to always save room for the gelato dessert. 

Stop in today.  Tell them thanks for supporting Joe and Susan.  Stay for a full meal or just a dessert and cappucino.  I'm sure it will become a favorite of yours as well.

Friday, August 3, 2012

T+24: Too Amazing for Words

"My incision is bleeding."

I bolt upright in bed, clutching the cell phone.

"I woke up and there's blood all over the sheets.  My incision is bleeding."

My heart sunk.  Is he getting an infection?  Is his body rejecting the kidney?  This can't be.  All the test results have come back so positive.

As you know, Joe has a HUGE, ugly hematoma under his incision, where they placed the new kidney.  The doctors at Mayo have been very thorough with the hematoma.  They ordered an ultrasound immediately.  They check it multiple times per week.  They have called in the transplant experts to look at it.  They all said that it is large, but it has zero signs of infection and opening the wonderful, perfect incision would actually lead to more chance of infection.  They said it will be uncomfortable but his body will reabsorb it within a few weeks.  He would have to wait it out.

He was already scheduled for a routine visit, so Joe showed the doctor the bandages that he had bled through.  The doctor examined it and gave us the best possible news.

His body was draining the excess blood from the hematoma.  Best case scenario.  His body is doing what it should be doing.  All without any of us interfering.  In fact, all of Joe's test results have come back so good that the doc gave him a clean bill of health discharge.  As in, "you-can-go-home" discharge.

Too Amazing For Words.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Flash Update

Since returning home, I have been BUSY!  Saturday, we had the amazing reunion at the Itty Bitty Olympics.  Sunday, I was on the radio, sharing our exciting journey.  And Monday, I started back to work, hence the quick, short flash update.

Joe is just recovering remarkably well!  I mentioned before that he is craving chocolate, just like his donor does.  ha ha.  Well, now he doesn't care for meat (donor is a vegetarian).  I also told you how his anti-rejection meds keep getting reduced.  Well, they just got reduced again!  One medication was 4 pills in the am and 4 at night.  They just took it down to 2 in the am and 2 at night.  His body is just accepting that kidney as it's own!

If you have been following us, you know that my school district changed insurance carriers a week before the transplant.  That wasn't stressful, said no one.  ever.  The last insurance didn't pay lodging while we were there for testing and whatnot.  We are happy to be in the transplant house, but it will cost us about $1000 for the 6 weeks Joe will be there.  That's on top of our rent payment at home!  So, Joe called the new insurance today and guess what.  They will reimburse us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Hallelujah!

He has an appointment tomorrow and the stent will be removed.  If all goes well, they will give him permission to go a distance of up to 2 hours away for the weekend.  We are planning to rendezvous in Payson.  The boys can't wait to see their daddy.  The daddy they have never known.  I am so excited for them.

where Glory meets my suffering