Our Trip

Nate and I have been back from our trip out West for several weeks and it’s about time to post an update and some pictures! It was a wonderful trip- practically perfect- and definitely blessed by God. We had a refreshing time of adventure and beauty; basically, everything that we had hoped for and wanted. Here are bullet points of what we did and / or enjoyed:

– Niagara Falls! (yes it does)
– Driving across the country we saw so MUCH farmland. It’s inspiring to know that a lot of agriculture still goes on here
– Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND. Saw lots of wildlife and a whopper of a thunder & lightening storm from atop a mountain.
– 80mph speed limits in Montana 🙂
– Camped, hiked and fished in beautiful Glacier National Forest in MT
– We got off the beaten path (and in some cases, off roads altogether) in search of remote alpine lakes for good fishing. Doing so led us to some lovely places
– Saw the cool ghost town of Burke, ID which used to be a mining community. Because of the narrowness of the valley, the only place for train tracks was right through the lobby of the town’s hotel.
– Camped in the wilderness around the Lochsa River in ID. 80 miles from the nearest town. Beautiful river with amazing fishing.
– I loved the hot springs that are abundant in that area of the US- especially one waterfall that was like nature’s shower, pouring out of the ground at 120-130 degrees. Some of them were hotter than that and had to be accessed in pools where the hot springs and river waters met
– While camping in a national forest land high in the mountains, we heard what sounded like a large herd of animals. Following the sound of bells, I hiked to where 2000 sheep were grazing in mountain meadows. They glowed white in the setting sun and covered the rocky hilltops like snow. They were guarded by two huge black and white dogs and a shepherd in a tent who stays in the mountains with them for 2 months. As I walked away I heard him start to play some woodwind instrument, the sound floating hauntingly around the hills. It was downright magical.
-Hiked the most beautiful hike to the most beautiful lake I’ve ever seen, Alpine Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains. There was a still a huge patch of snow on one side of the mountain around the lake. I hiked to it, made snowballs and slid down it, digging my heels in to keep from tumbling into the lake below
– In some places it didn’t get dark til 10:30. We ate late then would sit around a campfire til midnight or 1AM. By that time the stars were out and bright. Unencumbered by trees, the big sky night view was like nothing I’d seen before. Toward the end of the trip I saw a burning meteor with a long long tail. Probably the beginning of the Persid meteor showers.

Throughout the trip I felt great and had plenty of energy. Thanks to all who prayed for us and for our trip! We are already planning the next one 😉

Treatment update: Chemo continues between TACE procedures. I had the first TACE procedure last week. It was around 2 hours long. I was sedated and mostly slept through it. The doctor was able to access a vein in my wrist so the insertion site is less than .25″, which I find amazing. Unfortunately, the after effects were rough. Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and liver pain that lasted for 4 days.

While I was going through it, same as with chemotherapy, I question whether the trade of quality of life for quantity is worth it and often answer “No.” But when the experience is in the rear-view and I’m feeling back to normal, I don’t think about the nastiness. Instead, I am experiencing the pleasure of NOW. Just this moment, and being content with that. This moment and the enjoyment of it are both gifts from our good Father.

Enjoy these pictures of His masterpieces (as well as some of Daisy, Nate and me 🙂

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0041.
Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0005.
Niagara Falls
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0004.
Niagara Falls

Painted Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt National Park

IMG_1404
Enter a caption

Middle Fork Clark River, Glacier National ParkIMG_1432

IMG_1462
Hiking in Glacier Nat’l Forest

 

IMG_1473
Kootanai River, MT
IMG_1485
Near Kanisku National Forest, ID
IMG_1565
Jocko Lake, Flathead Indian lands, MT
IMG_1605
Jerry Johnson hot springs. near Lochsa River, ID
IMG_1767
Sawtooth mountains
IMG_1724
Stanley, ID

 

Sawtooth mountainsIMG_1782

 

IMG_1790
Alpine Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, ID

 

Alpine Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, IDIMG_1805

 

Alpine Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, IDIMG_1809

IMG_1901
Indian Tunnel cave, Craters of the Moon National Monument

Indian Tunnel cave, Craters of the Moon National Monument, IDIMG_1897Indian Tunnel cave, Craters of the Moon National MonumentIMG_1892Indian Tunnel cave, Craters of the Moon National MonumentIMG_1891IMG_1824

 

photo
Grain field in Wyoming

IMG_1921

 

Hip hip hooray, we’re on our way

One of my favorite kids books was “The Berenstein Bears Take a Vacation.” In it, the family shouts as they’re leaving “Hip hip hooray, we’re on our way! The Bears’ vacation starts today!” That became our family ditty when we were leaving for the beach or for Maine. Now it’s tradition that I say it nearly every time Nate and I head for the hills. We got up early this morning to avoid traffic around Boston and succeeded, but we’re pretty groggy starting out. Now the caffeine has kicked in and we’re merrily on our way to Idaho! (with some planned stops along the way at Niagara, Montana and S. Dakota)

To make my oncologist a little happier, we decided to delay the trip by a few days so that I could have a chemo treatment before leaving. That was yesterday, and despite not having my usual, wonderful onco nurse Kelly, the infusion went fine and I ended up with minimal effects. Apparently, mitigating chemotherapy effects with drugs has come a long way. The irinotecan infusion causes sweating, clammy skin, nausea, diarrhea and stomach cramping- all pretty nasty, BUT a little injection of a wonder drug called atropine makes it nearly all go away! Wonderful.

It was a long day, as we went to Boston early for an appointment at the wound clinic. It was blazing hot in the city and poor Nate got a migraine brought on by the heat. Despite it, he drove like a boss My wound is healing up pretty well except for one small, deep spot. Healing will probably slow down more now that I’m getting Avastin, which works against cancer growths by blocking blood vessels to rapidly dividing tissue.

A few weeks ago I met with an interventional radiologist at Tufts to discuss more treatment options. In August he’s going to do a procedure on me called intraarterial chemoablation. It involves inserting a tiny tube through a big artery to inject tiny beads & chemo into the veins around my liver. The beads are meant to block blood flow to the tumors, hopefully killing / reducing them. Sounds hopeful! It’s considered minor surgery and I was told that most people don’t experience bad side effects following the procedure. The radiologist said that he’d like to do the procedure three times- one for each lobe of the liver, and if I tolerate it well, a third for good measure.

In other news, my hair seems to be growing back…. slowly. At least it has stopped thinning, and right after I went and had it buzzed 🙂 Nate keeps calling me Annie Lennox.

I’ll try to post some pics on here of beautiful places we visit.

The road to Damascus

……..As we battled our way through traffic leaving the city, I found myself fully distracted by the events of the day. Wednesdays chemo treatment was more than expected. The day was long, filled with doctors, nurses, counselors and discussions. I kept finding myself drifting further back though, to the few weeks before, and this is where i start.

The scheduled chemo treatment before this one was so much better. Mainly because Amy couldn’t have the treatment due to her blood levels. We were able to return home without the addition of the poison, and it made Amy feel better physically for not undergoing the treatment. She carried herself into the weekend and her friends wedding with energy, joy and happiness. As I watched her stand near the altar it reminded me of before this time, before we knew what was going on inside her. As I rode off on my bike that evening from the wedding, I had forgotten what’s become our routine now for the 2 hour ride home.

The Monday after the wedding, Ames and I packed up our truck, and headed for the wilderness. We watched the traffic of Memorial Day build up as people returned from vacation, and I laughed as we were just starting ours. The best time to go away is at the end of a major holiday, because you know you’ll have the place all to yourself. We did, for the week. Amy and I fished, we hiked, we read, we target practiced, and we just sat still below sunny skies and warm temps. This fishing trip was as perfect as they can get, and we both felt refreshed by the time we packed up and headed home. Ames’ spirit, although seldom low through all the treatments, looked lifted higher than I have seen in a long long time. It seems to me she has been able to lift her spirits slowly since we put the girls to rest in the new garden. A little higher every day, as we watch the garden grow and the trees take root. As she gives it all gentle care, making the garden as beautiful as only she can do. I see her smile more and more, I see her seizing the day a little harder each time

. By last Monday, she couldn’t have been any happier, and prepared for Wednesdays treatment. Wednesday was our news day, the reports after the scans. For days both of us had forgotten about it. Mainly because we had somehow convinced ourselves there had to be nothing more than the best of news, given how Amy felt. How much she was able to do, how much we have in the works for the weeks ahead. It was only tuesday evening that I got a little itch inside my head. There was a small tug to my conscience. That said tomorrow was the day of the news, and what if it wasn’t good? I guess tuesday evening I felt my mind slip back into reality, back into prep mode, ready for tomorrow. I guess I carry anxiety every time we head for treatment. Not because of the treatment. Funny enough, I believe it’s because of the commute. To be honest, I can handle a lot of tough things, just ask some of the people who know me. What puts me on my knees begging for a bullet though is grid lock. Thank The Lord Amy drove into the city that morning.

The nurse practitioner met us with the news her tumors haven’t changed in size this time. They weren’t smaller, as all of us had not only anticipated, but had convinced ourselves over the last 8 weeks. She proceeded to tell is that this isn’t bad news, this just shows the doctors the chemo is maintaining my wife. But, the truth for my wife was it was bad news. You see, when you place a ladder into a deep pit, and you force yourself to climb the rungs slowly over the course of putting our babies to rest. Receiving what they have said is one of the heaviest chemo regimens a person can handle every other week, even neutral news is bad news. You hope for all your efforts and torments the news is only pushing towards the goal we all pray for every day. Wednesday it didn’t. I watched my wife tear up and swallow any further pulls towards a complete breakdown of sobbing. So, I had to ask all those questions you’re supposed to ask. I turned to the n.p, and asked what if my wife was to stop her treatments. She told her sympathetically she could stop at any time, it’s her choice where this goes. But, the reality is, she needs chemo for the remainder of her life. Those words are extremely hard to swallow. At 9:30 in the morning that Wednesday, both my wife and I were thinking, “wow, chemo for the next 10,20,30 years or so?” Well, those thoughts must go through a lot of the readers heads as well, and understood. Because all of us know Amy and how strong she is, how incredible she is. Why would we expect anything else? We shouldn’t.

As the day rolled on, the infusion took place, Ames’ wonderful nurse told her we were going to go meet with the doctor at the end of the day. Throughout the next few hours, we both felt let down. Amy looked at me and said, “it’s fine, I can take the treatment, but if this cancer spreads to the lungs, or elsewhere, I am done with it”. And rightly so for her to say these things. After the treatment, we met in the office and the doctor sat us down with the nurse, the practitioner, and began to speak:

“ I heard you asked about the outcome if you were to stop receiving treatment. I want to tell you what I think. The diagnosis you have of stage 4 colon cancer has a statistical life expectancy of 30 months for the patient. This is what research and experience has given us for a number. With the cancer in your liver, it makes it more difficult. Amy, your liver has a mass that encompasses 50% of it. Half of your liver is rotten, and the chemo is keeping it in check at this point. If today was your last treatment, it is my belief you would survive a matter of months. I know you both are very smart people, and I only speak this way with the smarter patients. I told you in the beginning that I am not God, I don’t know how long a person has. It’s up to Him, not me, not you. You could die by a freak accident during this treatment as well, and it would be His choice. I can only give you numbers, and also give you the facts, the fact is, your treatment worked very well the first time. This time, it wasn’t bad news, it was fair news for us, knowing the treatment has kept it from growing. Amy, your case is personal. I take it home with me and think about it all the time. My wife asks how the woman who lost her babies is doing. We are making progress. The definition of chemo in reality is to prolong your life as best and as long as we can. This is what we are charged with as oncologists. Right? Cancer doesn’t get cured most of the time, if not all. And this is what we are doing. The best that can be done for you, and God determines the rest.” “ if you guys stop now, and go on the trip you planned, it is fine. A few weeks is a good idea, between treatments, a little break. But a month is too long. Chemo vacations are common for many of my patients. With stage 4 colon cancer though, it is not recommended. I can see a stretch to 3 weeks, but if chemo doesn’t get infused for that 4th week, it could take time off of your life.” “Sitting in the car for long periods of time is bad as well. You stand a very high risk to blood clots, and it can kill you.” The list goes on and on. In hindsight I am grateful for all he said. It shows we have a doctor taking care of Amy that is 100% concerned for her and thought of every scenario he could that afternoon.

The doctor proceeded to tell us over and over to reconsider the vacation. We listened of course. We heard all the facts. The doctor also did say he was going to think of some way to give her a treatment she could take while we are away. Something to make it so we can do all we want, take the vacation, etc… And so he needed to think on it. This was all the news we received this Wednesday. We were directed to a counselor, which both if us didn’t really want to see. We wanted to go home. We drove through gridlock traffic quietly that day. The bumper to bumper didn’t seem to bother me too much that afternoon. Amy was tired, as the chemo was still pumping through her, but she gardened and carried on for the next few days. She rests and recovers still, although manages to help me with things, and even get the corn planted with us Friday. It makes me so proud when I see her able to do these little things. It squeezes just a little more love into my soul.

Over the last few days, I have thought long and hard on these things. My mind is a waterfall, a rush of turbulent thoughts dumping itself over the cliff and down, pounding the rocks below into new shapes, sizes, forms and changes. It takes some time to pull it back together, like watching the river settle after the spring thaw. I had a dream the night we came home from the chemo. I shouldn’t share this, but it woke me violently. I dreamt our dog had gotten old, or sick or something, and we needed to put her to rest. In the dream, some of my family was helping to administer the shot, as I held her and kept her calm. The dream in my head had flashed so suddenly, and I found myself not with my dog in my arms, but it had become Amy. In my dream I jerked suddenly up, letting go as if startled by a snake or bee hive in the grass. I reached for her in bed, but she had left sometime during the night. It scared me, it really did. I got up and went outside for a few minutes to breathe. Amy had went to lay down on the couch, as she was restless and couldn’t sleep that night.

I daydreamed yesterday that someone came to me and told me to take my wife to the road that leads to Damascus. If we walked the road, we may see a figure coming towards us in the distance. We would meet him along our path, and He would grab hold of her, and kiss her face. He would look at me and smile. There would be no talking, no explanations. There wouldn’t be any educated statistical research. There wouldn’t be any scans or checkups. We wouldn’t have to know if her blood levels were high enough to get treatment. We would just know it was all over, and we could go on and on through our life like we had before this happened. The daydream was really nice, and it made me smile. Oh how I wish He still walked in human form on this earth. I feel him in Spirit every day, but the thought that it could be different, that it was different for our ancestors. It’s overwhelming to think of the power, you know. I would bring her there in a heartbeat and wait till the end of time to meet the man in the road to Damascus.

The reason I stray from the update and begin to tell of these things? It’s only because I began to feel that I couldn’t be selfish about all this. There are so many people praying about all this stuff. My words to you are to pray harder. The doctor is going to fight the hardest he can, the best he knows how. His outcome and outlook are bleak in a relative tense though, as you can tell. But he is just a man. He is not above what most of us know, and he believes as well. Have you ever thought you could pray harder than you do now? I don’t believe I pray as hard as I should, and now make it an effort from this Sunday going forward to take the time to pray more.

The one thing Amy and I know for certain is we will be leaving in a little over 2 weeks for our trip. She isn’t sidled with the news, or the worry about the trip from the doctors perspective. She told me: if it takes months off my life to miss a treatment based on the life expectancy of these statistics, then so be it. She, and I, are excited to go. It is going to be fine as well. She won’t have any trouble. The doctor said one more thing which lifts me up, and is true. Amy is the healthiest looking, strongest person that comes to the infusion center for treatment. The truth is, she is. I see all the others receiving treatment when we are there. All of us have heard of the cases where a doctor says, “you have so and so disease,and an expectancy of 3 months to live.” Or something along those lines. And the person lives 5 years. Or more. It’s just like the doctor said. He is not God, none of us know how long, or when He chooses to call us.

Not Great News

The results of the latest MRI aren’t great news. Not the worst thing that we could have heard, but disappointing nonetheless. I wasn’t able to have the PET scan because the insurance wouldn’t cover it. I’ll have a chest CAT scan tomorrow- apparently my oncologist is keeping an eye on my lungs to make sure that nothing is going on there.

Nate and I are still thinking about and processing what we heard yesterday. In a little while he’ll write a more detailed update on here.

Our hope is in the Great Physician. Nothing medical-no test results, studies, drugs, diagnoses- matters much compared to His timeline and plan.

On the happy side, the chemo treatment that I had yesterday hasn’t affected me too much. Just some sickness immediately following and through the night. But today I’ve been weeding and planting as usual, running some errands and generally enjoying the sun, warmth, the breeze and most of the growing things (other than weeds).

 

 

 

 

No. 8

Today was chemo treatment number eight. It feels like a turning point-based on having very good test results after chemo treatment four. Of course, I hope that today’s was the last one. The effects were worse this time than with some of the other other infusions. More belly cramping and now I’m feeling drained and fatigued. Hopefully those will go away in a few days. There’s a silver lining- my oncologist permanently removed oxaliplatin from the infusions. It’s the drug that causes cold sensitivity, muscle spasms and suppresses production of platelets. Last week I wasn’t able to have chemo because my platelets were too low so I got the week off (a “chemo vacation”). That worked out really well, as I was able to enjoy and participate in my friend Lindsay’s wedding over the weekend and not feel awful.

I have two tests coming up- a PET scan on Friday and an MRI on Sunday- to see what is left of the tumors/ cancer cells and all of that. Nate and I are planning on going camping in Maine for a good part of next week which should help keep my mind off the results. I don’t feel as nervous about the results of the tests this time as I was the last time. But there’s a niggling feeling of not wanting to expect too much, either. “Prepare for the worst” says the naysayer in me.

Nate and I are having fun planning a long road trip to Idaho in July. We have been in wait-and-see mode for nearly 6 months now, and our lives feel stuck. We are tied to Boston, tied to this schedule, tied to dripping chemicals, tests, and a cycle of planned physical lows. My intention is not to complain. I am very grateful for the wonderful care that is available to me. But I’m ready for a good, long change. Looking forward to the road trip gives me joy and an anticipated, much-needed taste of freedom.

Tufts held a memorial service today for children who were treated there and passed away. It’s special that they did that. Most of the people there appeared to be medical professionals from Tufts. There were only a few families, though a lot of names of children were read. A number of doctors or others healthcare workers provided songs and readings, and for each child, placed a beautiful long-stemmed red rose in a big vase. I appreciate that the medical professionals care and take time to remember and honor the little lives that passed- some of them so quickly. A memorial service acknowledges their significance and says “They mattered”. I am finding that truth, and others’ acknowledgement of it, to be healing. Since holding our small memorial service here, planting some trees and the babies’ ashes, I’ve had more peace than before.

How I Am

At my friend Lindsay’s bridal shower this past weekend I saw quite a few friends who I haven’t seen in a long time. A number of them asked how I am feeling. I answered how I’m feeling physically: “Great!”. It’s true- for the last 7 days, or since the effects of the chemo wore off, I’ve felt completely normal. The only indication that anything is wrong is my thinning hair (ugh) and the bumps of the port beneath my skin. Both of those are related to chemotherapy. Apart from the treatment and it’s effects, I have no sign of the disease except what can be seen in imaging tests. So it’s somewhat unreal that I have stage IV cancer, which sounds so serious out loud. I don’t think about it often and prefer to joke about cancer, if I talk about it at all. Gallows humor- it’s a relief to laugh about something that’s potentially life-threatening.

If I answered my friends’ question based on how I’m doing emotionally, the answer wouldn’t be so succinct. It’s hard to honestly give words to how I’m doing inside at any moment. It’s been a difficult couple of weeks since passing my would-be due date. Since then, the absence of our little ones has been acute. The empty room, our empty arms are as present in my mind as a dark, gaping hole in the floor. I know the reasons why I am going to be OK. I know that this isn’t going to break me. But I’m not OK yet. We are not OK yet. Nate throws himself into work with amazing vigor, but is tired no matter how much sleep he gets. It’s a weariness that’s emotional as much as physical.

In these past difficult weeks I’ve found a dichotomy in my mind. In one hand I hold God’s word that declares His sovereignty, His promises, the reasons for praising Him and much more. At the same time my other hand makes a fist and shakes it at God, saying “YOU! You did this to us”.

At church a few weeks ago my pastor taught about Jesus having the power over life and death- “I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25 He spoke those words just before going into the tomb of his friend Lazarus and causing him to live again. It is beautiful to read of how sad Jesus was over the death of his friend. He cried and was “deeply moved.” I wonder if he was also angry with death and what it does to us- cheating us of a life that we expected to have, forever closing the door of that relationship. As Pastor Dana pointed out, this feels wrong to us because death was never meant to be.

Although I know it makes no sense because they are one and the same, I mentally shake my fist at God and at the same time am captivated by Jesus’s beautiful humanity. He came here as one of us and experienced the full range of humanity, including the pain of losing a loved one, in order to win our hearts. He knew that we have a difficult time relating to God the Father, with his omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience, his existence outside of time. So Jesus came to us humbly and gently and shared our sorrow. If not for this, I would probably end up shaking my fist at God forever.

 
Written word, especially poetry, is my favorite form of expression.

 
Restless Angels

Gone are our restless angels, drifting like
gulls or smoke through the trees.

Our empty arms hold burning memories- ashes
to ashes, love is a poor security.

We are all temporary- sparks
and smoke rising through far-off trees.

If I could I would steal the keys
to life and Death, Heaven and Hades.

Restless angels, come back to me.

He Was Wounded

Over the last two weeks I’ve become acquainted with yet another section of the excellent Tufts Medical Center. Our list includes Labor and Delivery, Maternal Special Care, Hematology/Oncology, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Cancer Infusion Center, and now Wound Clinic.

Wound- as in, gross, raw, gaping hole in the body. Mine was caused by Lovenox (blood thinner) necrosis from a shot in late January. It started as a huge bruise that degenerated to something like a blood blister, then to dead skin in a large area around the injection site. Normally the body might be able to take care of a wound like this without special attention. However, chemo attacks the most rapidly growing cells in the body, which include those forming to heal wounds. So, this nasty thing has been hanging around on me since February without much improvement. The only reason I am sharing this is because the darn thing became a huge challenge to me this week, both emotionally and spiritually.

I was getting concerned about the wound area and decided a few weeks ago to mention it to my oncology nurse at my next appointment. We met with my oncologist first and Nate brought it up. I actually didn’t want to mention it to him because I’m a chicken about gross things like this and would rather not have to deal with it. However, the doctor said the wound didn’t look right and I got an appointment at the wound clinic pretty quickly.

I’ll spare the details of what followed at the clinic. By the time I got home, the wound was bleeding profusely, although I didn’t realize it right away. After waking up from a long nap, I was shocked to see how much it was bleeding. Again, the details are disgusting. It’s enough to say that I borrowed some diapers from my sister in law because nothing else I had was absorbent enough. The bleeding continued through the night and the next morning, when I got so concerned that Nate took me back to the clinic.

As all this was happening, I became increasingly angry and despondent. Maybe it’s because I hate dealing with gross bodily stuff like this, but whatever the reason, I felt like it put me over the edge. It seemed like insult and injury at once. My attitude was “Really, God? Really?! After all that Nate and I have been through–THIS?!” It seems like a small thing, I know, but it was just the final straw. I was ANGRY. Angry with life, angry that I had to deal with this, angry that this stupid unnecessary thing had happened to me (the injection site was an error, and Lovenox necrosis is unusual). To call it what it is- I was angry with God. And despondent on top of it. I felt like giving up and wanted to just lay in bed– forever. I had nothing to say as Nate and I drove to Boston and waited to see a doctor. I just looked at him and shook my head. We usually cheer each other up pretty well, but at the wound clinic I lay on the gurney bed with no words. Mad and depressed.

The wonderful doctors and nurses at the clinic patched me up well. They stopped the bleeding and gave me some hemostatic material to use at home should it happen again. My mood improved a little. I texted my friend Lindsay, telling her my woes and she prayed for me (which gave me the insight that whoever you call or text when you’re at your lowest is a good friend indeed).

Later that night I was thinking about all of this and the Holy Spirit reminded me of a truth that completely changed my attitude: “He was wounded for our transgressions”. It hit me that Jesus’ wounds were huge, terribly painful, and they took His life. There was no stopping the bleeding. And He did it for me. For my joy, Jesus chose suffering. He knowingly and willingly went to the nails, the pain, the bleeding, the raw, gaping, bodily gore that I hate to deal with. It’s not just that my little wound is nothing in comparison, but what really changed my thinking was getting my eyes on Jesus rather than myself.

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

 

 
Side note- Nate and I are in the process of sending out thank you letters to friends who have given us gifts. I am holding up the process due to procrastination- I hope to have them all sent before 2017 🙂