~~~standing together as Ansley battles non-hodgkins lymphoma~~~

ways to serve

"...for this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you..."

Monday, January 31, 2011

it's the little things

Today has been a wonderful day.  We got to clinic and Ansley didn't have to have her port accessed!!!  She only had to have a finger prick to get enough blood for a CBC (complete blood count)!  It was a great surprise and it made her day.  Her counts look good.  They said nothing she is experiencing is abnormal.  Her peeling fingers, bright red cheeks, stomach pain, headache, and itchiness are all common.....sounds fun, huh???
So, it made momma feel more at ease to hear it's normal and it made momma want to cry to see Ansley happy!  We got to go to Daddy's office afterward and give him a big hug and kiss.  Rejoice with us that today has been great!!


On our way to school and then hospital on Monday morning.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

streams in the desert

It's been a couple of days since I've had time to write anything.  I think about what I want to write about during the day.  Then, I sit down to type and I can't remember what I was thinking!  Ever had those kind of days?  Of course you have.  We all have.  My mind feels a bit "off" right now.  Not a bad thing. Just a thing. 

But, now that everyone is asleep, I can write and think.  It's been a bit on the peculiar side around our house the last 3 days.  Ansley is finishing up her 5 day med-a-thon.  She has been taking tons of medication beginning on the day she had chemo which I think was Tuesday??  She finishes up tomorrow and then gets a 2 week break from the majority of the medicines.  After those 2 weeks, we start over.  Chemo, 5 days of meds, 2 week break.  This is what the next year will look like.  Yikes!  When I put it that way, I'm a little distraught.  But, tonight is all we need to think on right now. 

 The medicines make Ansley a little difficult to handle.  She has been really emotional, cranky, TALKATIVE, disappointed and sad.  And, then 30 minutes later she is hugging, singing, playing dolls and dancing.  It's hard to put it into words but it makes me think about Forrest Gump when he says, "You never know what you're gonna get."  Well, right now, that's Ansley.  And, I really don't blame her. She's been through so much.  We were told the medicines would make her a little less like herself.  The good news is that we only have tomorrow and then there is a break.  I don't know how soon the side effects from the meds will disappear.  But, no matter what, I am thankful to tuck her into bed every night and still feel her sweet arms hug me tight.  No mood swings will make me forget how precious her little life is to me and Matt.

A dear friend gave me a devotional that I have so enjoyed entitled, "Streams in the Desert."  Isn't that an interesting title?  I know all of us can relate to it.  Life feels dry, empty, thirsty for joy.  I am finding I have to seek out those streams right now.  But, there are so many streams to be found!  They are everywhere if I will just open my eyes and my heart.  I really enjoyed one of last week's devotions.  Here is the main point of it.  

We have to daily choose, believe, abide, and remain steadfast in our walk with God.When we choose to do this, he changes us into His likeness and heals our hurts.  That is what I need.  I desire to have this hurt lessened.  Isn't it a beautiful picture that as we draw near to God, He takes care of everything?   I don't have to do all the work.  I don't have to buck up and deal with the pain.  I have to walk with God and allow Him the space He so deserves in my life. 

So, my request is that you pray for our Ansley to feel emotionally more stable and joyful. Pray that the medicines' side effects will diminish. And for me, pray that I would daily choose, believe, abide and remain steadfast in my walk with the Lord.  It's a constant pressing forward isn't it?  I can't be idle.    

"Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful and righteous."  Psalm 112:4


Tis the season of steroids. One minute she is crying and angry and the next she is happy to play dress-up. we will gladly take happy for a few minutes! labs will be checked on monday morning. no chemo this week


Rough few days around our house--this is a picture of her nightly meds. Not afternoon or morning meds, just her night ones. Just as many in the morning. I'd be cranky too. Please pray for her. She doesn't feel well.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

happy birthday, amy!

while I know amy wouldn't love the idea of me hijacking her blog to bring attention to her, there are some definite advantages to being the keeper of the blog that she has no control over! bruhahahaha

there are so many things I want to say to you today, amy. so many words of encouragement, so many words of praise and admiration and respect.

your life has become very public, with eyes watching you and your family in a way they didn't just seven weeks ago. and as usual, you have handled it with grace and strength. the realness you share as you walk this path makes me admire you all the more. i love your heart, your faith, your longing to trust despite walking through something you don't understand. i love how you have brought your questions to God, our loving Father, and left them at His feet, knowing they don't scare Him or worry Him or shake Him. you challenge me to trust Him more, to cry out to Him more.

in these last few weeks, there has been one particular passage from the Bible that has made me think of you and Matt. It is from Exodus, after God's people escape from the Egyptians, after the Lord provides water and manna and meat, after water comes from the rock. Then Amalek came to fight against God's people, so a battle ensued. As Joshua and the men he chose fight against Amalek, Moses, Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
"So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Write this in a book as a memorial, and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.' And Moses built an altar, and named it The Lord is My Banner." Exodus 17: 12-15

~~happy birthday, sweet friend. His banner over you is love.~~

***so many of you, friends and family and readers from afar, have become like Aaron and Hur, supporting Matt and Amy on all sides so they can be steady during this battle. i thought our kind words and birthday wishes today could be like the stone they put under Moses, like the supporting of his hands, to steady them in the midst of this battle, to show them in an OVERWHELMING fashion that they are not alone!

would you leave some love today in the form of a comment for our dear friend and birthday girl, amy? thank you so much!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

His love endures forever

Today has been a good day.  We were excited to have Ansley's counts high enough for chemo, she did better with accessing her port, and we got to see the love and protection of a big brother in a beautiful way. It's funny what constitutes a "good" day now.  It is really different than it was 6 weeks ago. Six weeks ago a good day was when all the kids got up in great moods and the day was fairly easy and predictable. Well, predictable is no longer part of our vocab.  At least not right now.  But, I think it is good for me to realize that ease and comfort are not the things that are "good".  Great moods  and ease don't seem all that important right now in the grand scheme of things.  What seems to really make my heart overflow with thankfulness is seeing our little girl finish her 8th round of chemo and be doing okay.  To think about not having access to these treatments would also mean that our Ansley would be dead.  That thought makes a momma's heart sigh a deep sigh of gratitude.  Watching Gavin today want to protect and watch after his little sis is really one of the most beautiful pictures my mind will ever capture.  And, although this is the most painful season of life I have ever experienced, I think it is also the richest.  There are so many daily lessons and wake-up calls along the way.  It is definitely a new kind of "good" but I am thankful for it. Rejoice with us that today was good.  Thanks for all your prayers on our behalf.  

So, this starts us on the next phase of chemo. Induction is over and for the next year, we will continue on the next phase.  In the midst of heavy hearts, we are excited to be moving toward a precious daughter who is cancer free! Pray we will not grow weary in this battle.  

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever."  1 Chronicles 16:34 

going well

Ansley is done with spinal tap and is on her 3rd chemo med right now. Gav has been a great help and has brought a big smile to his sister. Ansley continues to be a trooper through all of this. Port access was better today.


Counts are high enough. Chemo today.

gavin's day

Today Gavin is with Ansley for chemo. Please pray that counts are high enough and there is no fear with port.

Monday, January 24, 2011

grab our button!

<center><a href="http://www.prayingforansley.blogspot.com"><img src="http://i1099.photobucket.com/albums/g391/vaughajf/ansleysbutton-2.jpg" /></a></center>

here's a button for you to grab for your own blog! thanks for spreading the word about our precious Ansley!
UPDATE:**if you tried and it didn't work, try this *updated* link. leave a comment if it works (or if it doesn't!). thanks!

Friday, January 21, 2011

an ever present help in trouble

Yesterday things did not go as planned. We got to clinic and did all the normal things. Ansley was weighed, measured, had her vital signs checked, port accessed, and an EKG was done. And then, her labs came back. The "important" number with chemo patients is the ANC. It has to be at least 500 to be able to move forward with chemo. Her ANC was 410. So, we packed up and headed home.

This was the first time we were not able to stay on schedule with the chemo treatments. I am realizing the "firsts" are always so hard. The first time I saw her hair falling out, the first time she cried because she wanted to go back to school and see Ms. Laura, Ms. Sherri and Ms. Amy, the first time she panicked with accessing her port all have been so miserable. And then, it sinks in and I realize that this is just the way things are going to be for a while. Hard, yes, but not impossible. Would I choose it? No way. But, we are in it and we have to press on.

Today has been one of the brightest days for me in a while. I have struggled the last few weeks with trusting God in the midst of so many unknowns. Today, I had a thought. God is not scared of me or my questions. He is not surprised by my sad heart. He is not disappointed with me that I find it hard to see my baby girl hurt. What He wants from me is to draw near to Him. He wants to love our family while going through this season of life. God is an ever-present help in trouble. I have to allow Him some space in my heart and mind. I need to not shake my fist but ask Him to hold us. I need to trust that He is also sad to see Ansley hurting. He is for us, not against us.

So, when things don't go as planned, which will be our story for a while, I am left with a choice. Will I believe that God is for our family? Will I believe that God is for Ansley? I want to say I will always choose to trust that but I won't. I will have moments of weakness where I fail to trust. I already have. But, when the fog is lifted, I know He is near. Pray that Tuesday her counts will be high enough for next chemo treatment.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear......"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

change of plan

Counts too low to do chemo. Got port accessed, had *EKG and now we have to go home and come back on Tuesday.

is it just me, or does this picture make you want to cry?

Editor's note: I don't know why this is hitting me so hard this morning, but this picture brings a lump to my throat. Garrett, I am so proud of you for being such an amazing brother to Ansley! You rock!

Ansley and Garrett in the playroom at clinic Thursday morning.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

swinging away

Ansley enjoying our new rope swing. She is still crazy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

in the midst of it

If I am honest, it is a defeating day. It is so hard to discipline a child that has been through what Ansley has been through the last 5 weeks. She has had a rough day on the behavior side. Of course, she's been getting lots of attention and she's getting very used to it. But, how do you punish a 4-year old that has had her life turned upside down in the last month?? Boy, it's hard. Life is just hard right now. I got an e-mail that another family in our neighborhood has just lost their wife and mom to cancer. 4 kids, 1 husband, and cancer took her life. A precious family at our church has a daughter that is fighting this dreadful disease. It is hard to come to the realization that this is our story and it will be for a long time.

The scans looked good, but the truth is, cancer is still in our baby's little body. It is so defeating to think about all the "what ifs" but they don't ever leave my mind. Please pray that I would live in victory and not defeat. Pray for the family that lost their mom and wife. Pray that Thursday's chemo treatments go well and that Ansley does okay having her port accessed. Ansley asked Garrett to go with her and hold her hand through it. I started crying just at the thought of watching Garrett, age 5, be strong for his little sis while she has her chemo. What a precious sight in my mind! Still can't believe it is our story, but trying to trust God in the midst of it. Praying that He will make something beautiful out of it.
Much love to you all,

Saturday, January 15, 2011

more good news!

We talked to Ansley's oncologist today and she is thrilled with the results of the scans!!  So, this means that we will begin the next phase of chemo starting Thursday.  Ansley will start having 3-week cycles on Thursday.  This means she will have chemo and take steroids one week and then have 2 weeks off to let her body rest.  She will do this for 15 cycles.  After that, she will be scanned again to see how things look.  Rejoice with us today.  It will be a long year and yet today is such a great day!!  We are thrilled beyond words at the results!  All that I can say today is no matter what you are going through right now, do not lose faith.  Nothing is too big for God. Remember that today is a gift and that tomorrow is only for God to know.  We will do tomorrow when tomorrow arrives.  
With full and grateful hearts,
The Entire Crew

Friday, January 14, 2011

good news!

 We wanted to give everyone a quick update.  

The scans looked so promising today!  

We were able to look at the initial PET scan from Dec.9 and then today's scan and there is huge improvement!

We don't know the details really because we didn't talk with her oncologist today.  But, we were super encouraged and so we press on!  

When we find out more, we will let you know.  Next date for chemo is Thursday.  

Thanks for fighting on our behalf!  We love you all.  

Also, thank you to everyone who has dropped off food, mailed gift cards, sent cards in the mail, brought presents for Ansley, prayed, and helped with kiddos.  We feel loved by so many people.  Thank you for your unselfishness, faithfulness, love and protection of our family.  We have been blessed by all of you. Our God is greater!!

big day!

On our way to hospital for friday morning procedures. We are listening to the sound of music songs. Please pray. We will update later today

Monday, January 10, 2011

don't lose sight of what is important

I have started this blog entry probably 50 times in my head. Why is this the hardest I've written? Well, I think it is hard because my feelings are so mixed.

Ansley had chemo on Thursday of last week. LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE, things went well. Her lab results were good, she was able to get the chemo, and it is one more treatment marked off the chart. So, you might be wondering why it was such a mix of emotions? Well, it was the second time we had to actually hold her down and restrain her while they were accessing her port. It took 4 of us to hold her while the nurse accessed it. I don't know if I have ever felt that kind of frustration before. Here you have a precious child who is already scared and a little confused having to be held down by the people who say they love her more than anyone in this world. And while we are holding her down she is screaming and crying and saying, "Why do I have to have cancer?" Honestly, I was done. I wanted to fall on the floor and just weep. You know how it is, you know what's best for your kids but sometimes it just hurts. I know Ansley has to have her port accessed. I know what is best for her. But, man, I have NEVER known this kind of hurt. And, although chemo won't be every single week for the year, she will have to have her port accessed every week for a year for labs.

I guess the reason this was so hard to write is because part of me is rejoicing that we are marking off treatments. The other part of me is so sad for my little girl that she has to have who knows how many more treatments. And, that means being fearful every week for the next year about having her port accessed. Sometimes, I just can't make sense of it all if I am honest. It's just plain hard.

Please, please pray that she would not be in fear of her port. Please pray that this Friday she does not have to be held down.

This Friday is a big day. She will have her first set of scans since the initial diagnosis in December. It will be a long day of waiting so pray for all of our family.

I went to Lamentations today because if I am honest, i feel like we are mourning a loss. Not the loss of a nation like Jerusalem, but the loss of what life was like one month ago and what our next year will look like.
Funny though, instead of it feeding my sadness and fear and anger, I was encouraged. In chapter 3, the loss that is felt helps turn their hope to God. They see their need for His steadfast love.

"The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER CEASES, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion," says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him."
"The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him."

So the BIG PICTURE answer is what I am finding I have to think about. I can't let the SMALL PICTURE issues bring me down. I can't lose sight of what we need to do for Ansley to get this cancer out of her body. If I am only thinking about accessing the port, I am defeated. But, if I remember that this is for the good of her health and life, then it is all worth it. Pray that we can fight hard for the next year. Thanks warriors.

Weary but continuing,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

make something beautiful

here is an mp3 of our dear and very gifted friend, Jenny Pruitt, singing Make Something Beautiful, written by Laura Story.

penny's port

Penny the horse getting her port accessed like Ansley.

ansley and penny at the hospital

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Make Something Beautiful

Tomorrow is the 7th chemo treatment. It is hard to believe that Ansley has undergone so much in such a short amount of time. If I am honest, it still aches me to think that this is our reality. It's not that I don't trust God. I have realized that their can be pain and trust at the same time. It hurts, but I still trust Him. It can seem never-ending, but I can still trust. This is where my heart lives today.

One of my best friends in the world has the most amazing voice you have ever heard. She is also an incredible mom of 4 and an awesome wife. But, if I didn't love her so much, I could be crazy jealous of her voice. But, in the last couple of weeks, her voice has become more precious to me than ever. I hear her sing to me all day long in my mind. It's like she is right next to me all day long singing in my ear. I think Jesus has given me this as a gift. Yes, Jesus is enough, but how precious that a faithful friend can remind me of truth all day long and yet live hours away.

This friend of mine sang a song last January at a retreat. The title is, "Make Something Beautiful" by Laura Story. If you have a chance, you should YouTube it. The words have been so precious to me lately. It really speaks what I want from this whole story God has written for our family.

"Take ALL of my life, ALL of my life, and make something beautiful. Open my hands, trusting YOUR plan. Make something beautiful."

precious ones

picture of our precious ones the night before Thursday's chemo treatment

quite a wig, huh?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This horse was given to Ansley by a precious friend who is a cancer survivor. This person was diagnosed at the age of 3 and had a horse of his own that went through chemo with him.