Sunday, December 28, 2008

We've moved!

This is our new salon with our "frosh" that goes around the room. What a bonus that the colors match the beautiful tilework!

Going up the stairs, it opens up to the roof. I have met my two neighbors up here, as they were also checking on their clothes on their roofs (separated by a wall). I love the sunlight that this brings. This is the third floor. So--first floor is the garage and squatty potty, second floor is 3 small bedrooms, bathroom, and the salon pictured before, and the third floor opens up to this roof, has a open salon, a bathroom (that the landlord promised to put in soon), and the kitchen. The kids have enjoyed playing hide and seek throughout the floors.
This is the open salon on the third floor and our eating room. More importantly, this was H's 4th birthday on December 4. I can't believe that she's that old already. But I'm reminded almost daily that she is a "big girl."

JP is happy that all the stuffed animals made it.

Patrick and E stuffing the pillows (see next pic) into the covers.

A unique thing about this move compared to our many stateside moves is that we had over 20 big pillows to pack, due to our "frosh." It's super comfy and versatile, but the pillows sure are bulky!

The boys new room

A view of our moving truck from our old apartment. We had lots of kind helpers at 7 am!

We are so thankful to be here--grateful for all of the help and the prayers. Patrick is now working to find a location for the physical therapy center and we are learning to find our way around our new town. My health has really improved for which I'm so thankful. I still feel a bit of fatigue (but could be due to this move, etc.) but am happy that I haven't coughed up blood for about a month. This is a direct answer to prayers.

God is good all the time, all the time God is good.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dad--the pillar

We all love dad! We are all clinging to him during our transition time!

Carrying on...

We are getting back into a routine. School is now underway and I have noticed a real ownership of what the kids are working on, so that makes it nice for a mom/teacher. I'm back to cooking and just started to add some language listening in this week.

Patrick is up in our new city trying to find housing for us. One lead turned out to be a dump on the inside "requiring 8 months of work" according to Patrick. We have another one in mind but it has been hard to find the landlord to talk price, etc. Patrick has been patiently plodding along by looking for housing, interviewing the ladies that will work at the physical therapy center, and working with the Mor. association to be able to potentially open the center in January. I have been really proud of him--his energy and courage.

I wish that I had a glowing report to share about my health. I feel a little discouraged that I'm still not better, realizing that I almost expected that my trip back to America would cure me. My heart is wrestling now with how you carry on when you just don't feel that well. I know that a lot of people suffer from chronic things on a daily basis and now that I'm amongst their ranks, I want to learn how they do it. My main things now are fatigue, back pain (which began 4 weeks ago with the new meds), and hormonal changes. I'm still coughing up a bit of blood several times a week so I know that I still need to heal. I am hopeful that I will feel much better in a few months. Please pray that I will indeed rest up but that I will carry on and be joyful when my cup is at 50% and that I will think of others more than dwelling on my health. I do take great courage that because of the Lord, my cup truly does overflow. We have seen His hand in many things, from special verses in His Word to people we've met in our new city. I just need to remind myself of this over and over!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes--in a third world country

JP, our 6 year old was working on a question in his spelling book-- "What is a good rule to have when riding a bus?"

While he thought and thought, I looked over some of the words they suggested like "sit." I was going to comment about "sitting" when he said in all honesty, "Do not steal."

I couldn't argue with that one!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Good News!!

My sister and her husband have a new little baby girl! Paige Elizabeth was born on Saturday weighing in at 8 lbs. 12 oz. and 20". We have loved the pictures they sent--H even tried to kiss her little chubby cheek on the computer screen. She's darling. We rejoice in this great news!

Unexpected side effects

I began a new line of anti-fungal medicine last week--fluconazole. The doctor took me off of my original one because she didn't have a way of monitoring it overseas to make sure that I was actually absorbing it. Apparently, she wrote today in an email, my blood work said that I wasn't absorbing it very well. It's ironic though that I was feeling so much better.

Anyway this new fluconazole at 400mg. a day brings something new to my table--side effects. It seems dehydrating (lips and eyes are dry), causes dizzyness, brain fog, fatigue, and possibly extensive hair loss. I've experienced them all but the hair loss (and I'm scared of that one!). I'm thankful because my doctor is very quick at responding to emails. Pray that I wouldn't surcome to fear (I can't imagine being on these meds for the 8 months scheduled), that my side effects would be minimized or that the Lord in His mercy would heal me to be med-free. May He give me the energy and grace to see His hand in all of this that I might praise Him.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Return flight

We are back!  Our 3 airplane rides were all at night (2 the first night, then an all day wait in Frankfurt, and then our last flight at 10 pm followed by a 4 hr. car ride--putting us in at 5:30 am!) H said, "Why are we going to bed when the sun is coming out?" But sleep we all did from 6-noon! Now, 3 days later, we are back to normalcy (in the sleep dept. at least) and thankful to be back.

We are so grateful for your prayers.  More later...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wrapping things up

We returned to Cleveland late on Tuesday night.  My doctor's appointment was yesterday and I was greeted with, "Wow, you look great!"  The other doctor said, "You've really filled in!"  Normally I might wince at that comment, but now it means I'm returning to health.  I've gained 5 pounds (was this due to Grandpa's yummy griddle cooking last week?) with some returned energy.  In some ways it's still the beginning--I have possibly a year of medication ahead of me.  But I am going full of courage in the Lord as he has given much direction and answered prayers.

We plan to return to Mor. on Sept. 23.  The Spanish school has very clearly said that the kids could not enter this year due to not being there for the first week of classes and not passing the tests.  So I scrambled to put together some homeschool material, thankful that we have homeschooled for the last years as the kids (and mom) are used to the routine.  Also, our wonderful insurance company agreed to give us several months of pills in advance, for which we are thankful.  So things are coming together.  Now, if only Auntie Sara would have her baby before we leave! 

Some points for prayer:
--The doctor just changed my medication due to the fact that she can't monitor me overseas to see if my body is absorbing it well.  Please pray that this new one wouldn't bring any yucky side effects and that my lung would continue to heal--even filling in the cavity.
--Upon our return Patrick will need to apply for a new visa under our medical association and also we will need to find an apartment in our new city.  Both of these can be slow processes so we ask for the Lord's grace and favor in the midst of them.
--Pray that our children would transition well.  They have had a blast in the states and are slowly gearing up to our return.  Pray that our new city would feel like home to them, that they would love people in our new neighborhood. 

Thank you so much for your prayers.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Going to the pond with Grandpa. E has loved shooting his BB gun!

A day on the lake

Whew! Mom got whip lash from this one! I know that it looks docile, but it was only the beginning.

Always a crazy one in every family!!

(Though I must say that it was John that did a terrific back flip off the tube.)

A good fishing day (Pat actually caught the big one, but is letting everyone pose with it.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On the road

We spent the weekend in the Kenosha, Wisconsin and Chicago area. The joy of seeing friends and the encouragement received has far surpassed any fatigue I feel. We were so grateful to be at our church, Grace Community Bible Church, and have been so blessed. It was a quick stop but some of these conversations will encourage me for the next year! We plan to travel today to Oklahoma to visit with Patrick's parents and sister.

In answer to my last post, the doctor called the morning of the appt. and canceled. She said that I can do my tests when we return from OK (sometime next week). We thank the Lord that she submitted a good medical request to the airlines which moved our date of departure to Sept. 23. I am trusting that this will give ample time to make sure my body is receiving the meds well and to rest up before our return. Thank you for all of our prayers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Doctors appointment tomorrow

Tomorrow is another appointment with the Infectious Disease doctor. We will need to talk about a lot of things--medicine, what tests I need and will need throughout the rest of the year, side effects of meds (it seems to be giving me headaches), any further test results from the biopsy, etc. I will need to go back to our country with a good documentation of what the diagnosis truly was, so that I won't be questioned by the state health officials as to why I didn't finish my TB meds. I could hear the conversation we want to avoid it! She is also going to petition our airlines to stay a few weeks more, so we will see if she did that. Please pray that all of this falls into place--the airline tickets, the car rental so that we can see our friends in Chicago and then see Patrick's parents, our return date, and rest. I am feeling much better but I still exhaust easy.

Please also pray for my sister Sara as the doctor put her on bed rest for a bit as she was having bad back pains and she still has a few more weeks of pregnancy. She's been a big servant, but now needs a big break!

On a fun note, a dear college friend got all of our kids "Webkins." I had never heard of them, but now all the kids' animals are registered online with lots of games to play. We all are vying for internet time now! We had 3 public computers checked out at the library today as well as a laptop, making use of their wireless--kids laughing and pointing while mom enjoyed checking emails. I'm taking photographs in my mind, these are such cute memories.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Today is our 14th anniversary. I can't imagine life without Patrick. We have a fun evening planned while Auntie Sara and Uncle Brian are taking the kids to see Kung Fu Panda. I'm thankful too that my mouth is no longer numb after the dental work done this morning. Nothing like drooling at your anniversary dinner!

I think that my health is improving a bit because I haven't needed a nap for the past few days. I am taking anti-fungal pills currently along with some Wild Oregano Oil which a friend said will really help. Little by little...


This is the first time J has been on a bike and he's doing great!! Hopefully he'll learn how to brake soon...

Uncle Brian invited us to go on a bike outing with his middle school youth group. We had a really enjoyable time.

Ready to be pulled by Patrick the great.

We have been blessed by many families from Brian and Sara's church who have lent us bikes and also a mini-van to drive this month. Wow. Thank you!

Friday, August 8, 2008

A clear lab finding--Hooray!

The Lord has answered our prayers by giving clear lab results. Only one thing has tested positive thus far--the Coccidiodes Fungus (Valley Fever from Arizona). We are so thankful that it’s treatable, it’s not contagious, and it didn’t take many, many testings to find it. The doctor will continue to research the other cultures but gave me a prescription for an anti-fungal (itraconazole), believing that the fungus caused my lung cavity and nodules.

We are so thankful to have answers and for the quick and thorough care at the Clinic. A big high five too to Lesli K. for first mentioning Valley Fever months ago and to Dave F. and others who wrote with great “survival” stories.

Who would have thought that I had carried this for several years since our Arizona days. I had mentioned this fungus to our overseas doctor who said that they didn’t test for it because they didn’t have it there. He was 90% sure that it was TB, an infectious disease, so there were no options but to take the TB meds. What an interesting journey filled with face masks, daily shots, seclusion, and waiting. Yet, the Lord was near.

There are, of course, some lingering questions and continued items for prayer. How will we manage to get this expensive medicine to our home overseas for one year? And how necessary really is our doctor’s advice to remain in the states for another 2 weeks into September? And what can “rebalance” my emotions and body after these months of antibiotics, etc.?

But, those answers will come, for now we are rejoicing in the good news of a correct diagnosis!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


We have been waiting for results. My next scheduled appointment is this Thursday at noon with an Infectious Disease doctor.

Meanwhile I am enjoying the time here but struggling with some symptoms that I didn’t have before I took the TB medication in May. It’s hard for me to know then if it’s from my illness or lingering side effects. They include emotional things like mild anxiety attacks, feeling overwhelmed easily, and fatigue. It seems like something is out of balance. May the Lord shed light on what’s going on and may He grant strength, joy and boldness for each new day.

An olive lover

“I’m hungry,” said H, at that belly-rumble-before-dinner time.
“Here are some nectarines or bananas,” I replied.

Our little girlie wasn’t craving those things. She grabbed for the olives!! She took a whole handful and was satisfied. Our Mor. friends would have laughed and nodded. She is one of them!!

Another cute thing she did yesterday was to hold open the automatic door while I steered my cart out of Giant Eagle. She then watched, surprised as it closed and opened by itself! There’s a lot to be amazed of in these here parts!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

She's a Grand Ole Flag

"America! America! America!" the kids shouted from the back seat for each flag we passed on the road. The street was lined with flags, like the 4th of July, so the car remained noisy.

"Is the president coming?" B asked sincerely. "Dad, is the president coming down this street?"

Nope, that is in our other country. When a city puts up flags it means that the king is coming. We've even waved to him once or twice.

We love flags. E said today that he wants 3 flag stickers on his water bottle--USA, Spain, and our couscous country. Flags. They truly are emblems of the lands we love!

Friday, August 1, 2008


I am sitting in the public library, using their free internet, while B is adding to her pile of books by the minute, H is hugging a little doll she found in the play area and Patrick left to buy coffee due to the early wakeup time today! I'm groggy with rubbery legs but my heart overflows with thankfulness. Grateful for the quick bronchoscopy this morning, grateful for the freedom I had to return to this country, and grateful for you--our family and friends.

We set off at 6am this morning, arrived, and was prepped for the bronchoscopy. When I entered the operating room, I saw my vast number of CT scan films up on the wall (some stained by olives that I tried to import in our luggage!! Oops!). Then the anesthetic kicked in and I only remember opening and closing my mouth on command. Everything went smoothly, thanks be to God.

They will know the results early next week. They are testing for numerous things--TB, different fungi, bacteria, autoimmune related illnesses, and cancer, though he did say that cancer was unlikely. He said that many of these things are slow growing so the cultures may take a few weeks. My doctor has been in discussion with 3 other Infectious Disease doctors and I will meet with one after the biopsy results are in. Under his breath he said that the ID doctors like to do A LOT of testing so again we are praying for clarity and that we begin down the right road for treatment.

We are so very grateful for you and your concern and prayers for us. The Lord is near.

Off we go now--to rest and read!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The First Appointment

Such friendly people work at the Cleveland Clinic! We talked at length to several people, giving my medical history, current symptoms, and discussing what comes next. In God's providence, they have a French-speaking doctor there who can read my records, my Pulmonary doctor has already spoken to an Infectious Diseases doctor about my case, and there was an opening this Friday morning for a bronchoscopy. All in all, I feel like I'm in good hands.

Right now there are many different theories as to what it is. Surprisingly, tuberculosis was still discussed as an option (I got a repeat PPD test today.) One theory was that it's a TB lung cavity with a fungus residing (after hearing that one I realized how complex that this might be). I have to be at the Clinic at 6:45am on Friday for a bronchoscopy in which he will take a biopsy of the lesion. Please, please pray for wisdom for these doctors and that the biopsy and blood tests will be clear as to what road to go down.

Thank you so much for standing beside us in prayer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pictures of the last few days

A picture from our travels: Arriving at 6am in Paris, Patrick, our leader, found us some beach chairs! When I woke up I realized how many people passed within feet of this display and smiled at the sleeping children (and parents)! This rest prepared us for our over the ocean flight (which went fine).

Isn't Auntie Sara so cute?! She has been a wonderful hostess.

A fun day at the zoo with Grandpa. The kids especially enjoyed touching a sting ray and a shark! In my childhood, we fed baby goats and petted bunnies. Times are a changin'!

We forgot to read the small French print.

Yesterday I typed up my recent medical history for my new doctor. Sequentially I went through my appointments, drugs taken, xray and CT scan results. I got to the last CT scan. All of my radiologist records are in French so it always takes me time to make my way through it. I realized that we didn't read too much of this CT scan, just saw that the lung lesion wasn't affected by the meds I was taking so we put it down and started to look for airline tickets, knowing that we needed additional help.

Well, I discovered that I have another lesion in the same lung (15mm) that wasn't there 2 months ago. My previous lesion appeared the same size (26mm by 15mm), which I think is good. I guess knowing this info wouldn't have changed our plans any, but it left me feeling a bit discouraged and also thankful that my appointment is tomorrow.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Planes, Train, and a Taxi

We have landed in Ohio! Hooray! Our travels were long but the kids did well (B had tummy cramps during the taxi ride and first flight and E threw up in the Charles De Galle airport...but other than that everyone was happy--especially after watching "Horton Hears a Who" three times on the international flight!) We have had two happy days with very pregnant Auntie Sara and Uncle Brian, we visited the library (Yeah!), and Uncle Brian grilled a delicious pork tenderloin. Today we are visiting my dad and brother. It's been a very special time thus far.

My first appointment is June 30 at 1 pm with a pulmonary doctor. It will be nice to explain everything in English and prayerfully get some answers.

A memorable moment--H and JP chased each other around the big tree in the front of Sara and Brian's home several times. With barefeet and giggles, JP yells, "C'mon mom! Try it! It's so tickly!" Ah, the joy of the midwest and "tickly" green grass!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My hero

This will be the last post this side of the "big pond." We get on a train tomorrow at 5 pm so that we can get to our fly out city in order to board that plane at 1 am!! (We wanted cheap tickets at the last minute so therefore the times aren't the most desireable!) We will arrive Paris at 5 am and then go from there hopefully arriving in Cleveland at 11 pm that same (Thurs.) night. The kids are so excited about the airplane. But I've been trying to tell them that on that first airplane we need to sleep--please! We'll see how it goes, I've been slugging vitamin Bs for energy!

Not wanting Pat to be an unsung hero, I wanted to thank the Lord for him here. He has been buying food, going to get our car fixed, saying goodbye to friends, visiting the DHL office to check on our airline tickets, etc. This might not sound like much, but in this country everything takes a looooong time to do. The great part (the Spirit-filled part) is that he comes back out of the dusty heat with a smile and gets started on the next project here (with a wrestle or two with the boys in between). I'm so thankful for him. I couldn't do it without him.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Packing and Goodbyes

So far she has packed 10 books, 2 pairs of socks, and a blankie!

I will dearly miss my sweet friend and househelper. Sniff.

Packing boxes double as mountains where dinosaurs and army men (!) roam

The Lord is near

When my heart is weary I often turn to my "book mentors" Elisabeth Elliot and Amy Carmichael. What sweet fellowship they provide--turning my thoughts from self to God.

Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow,
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea,
What matter beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee?

Hold us quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent, and the wind is shrill:
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it?
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?
--Amy Carmichael

The Lord is near.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Wrapping up

The kids met with 2 nice gals from AZ today to learn some more Spanish. We are still working to get them into the Spanish school in the fall. Their re-interview is Sept. 3. They are not at all at grade level in Spanish, but if the school shows mercy we are trusting they would learn it there. Our return tickets (if all goes smoothly with the doctor) will bring us back here on August 30. Meanwhile, we still need an apartment there because we think school starts on Sept. 8. (Seems a bit stressful to this tired mom!)

So we currently have 2 piles--our America packing and our packing boxes. Pat has done much legwork in trying to wrap things up and have people looking for a place in our Ninevah.

All this to say, will you lift up these burdens to our hearing God? He knows what tomorrow holds and what is best for our kids, us and our new city. In my human mind this is a hard time to get sick with everything pending. But I rest in this..."If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Amen

Friday, July 18, 2008

Hopeful possiblity

Several of our Arizona friends have been emailing and asking if this illness could possibly be Valley Fever. It truly is a possibility. Valley Fever is a fungus, entering the body by inhaling a spore in the AZ dust. I asked my Mor. doctor if he could test me for it but because the people aren't infected with it here, they don't test for it. Valley Fever mimics different illnesses, one of them being TB, and it could also lie dormant in your body until activated by illness, etc. I like this option as it is treatable through medicine, though sometimes hard to diagnose. May the Lord give my Cleveland Clinic doctor much wisdom.

"When I go to America...

...can dad and I go to" muttered J (age 8)

"Do you mean Blockbuster?" said a surprised E (age 10)

That was it! And I thought that he was quoting Green Eggs and Ham!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kids are excited

Our little H, returning "home" but yet leaving "home"

This is the first time we have been back to the states in 2 1/2 years. It's been funny to hear their different comments and the small details they remember--

B (the eldest) "I can't wait to explore Grandpa's basement. There is so much to look at down there! Remember he always has all of that pop down there that is diet--has zero written all over it? I want to drink root beer every night!"

J (age 8)"I want to eat at the place that has the face on it." We hemmed and hawed over this one! Then finally--Wendy's! Sure enough! I could go for a good bacon cheeseburger too! That led us to a whole discussion on Subway, "honey whole wheat bread," Cracker Barrel, etc. These are things that were stored in the recesses of their little brains, not talked about for years!

I noticed that my little JP remained silent. He was only 3 when we came over and doesn't have memories like this. H was excited about the airplane. Ah, the life of a third culture kid--a kid who calls two countries home but yet really doesn't "belong" to either culture.

So, our first time "home" might give our crew some surprises! Will you pray for them?

Tickets are booked

Our tickets are booked to head back to Cleveland OH. We will arrive late the night of July 24. Our bags are at least out of the closet, getting ready to be packed. I'm attaching a picture of a ct scan so that you can see what my lung lesion looks like. We are praying that the Lord will give the doctors wisdom to diagnose this correctly and quickly. Thankfully, I am not bed ridden, just fatigued with a bit of chest pain.

I have been off of the TB meds for 2 days now and it feels great! I ended the shots a bit early due to having some problems with my ears (a side effect of Streptomycin). I'm happy to report though that after 6 days, I woke up with my ears feeling normal. All of life is a walk of faith, is it not?

I also noticed several pinpricks of "dried" blood in my sputum this morning (sorry for the details), so I feel thankful that will be able to get to the heart of this soon(Lord-willing).

We are so thankful for your prayers.