Monday, December 31, 2007

New Site, New Name, New Year!

NEW SITE: Katy has been working on a new website to replace Katysblog. The new site will actually include more information about Qavah, and how she is growing and developing. The design of the new site is completely her own. It is one of the ways she has gotten through sleepless nights after a blast of steroids. I have been giving her a dose of medication at four in the morning and many times have been surprised to see her working on her computer instead of sleeping. You can visit the new website by typing: You will also want to visit Katy's new website at the following address:

NEW NAME: Since July of 2006, Katy has been referred to as “Kathryn” at the hospital, doctors’ offices, and college. Most telephone callers ask for Kathryn. About two weeks ago, Katy said, “I’m wanting to use the name Kathryn for the rest of my life. I have always loved it and so many people call me that now.” We are going to try to remember to call her Kathryn, but after so many years, I am having the hardest time doing that consistently. The funny thing is that Qavah always remembers. From the day they were introduced and I said, “This is your sister Katy,” Qavah has called her “sister Katy.” With the name change as of two weeks ago Qavah has said, “sister Kathryn,” which makes us all laugh because it sounds like a good name for a nun. “Katy” is now and forever Kathryn Elizabeth-Aan Campbell. When we adopted her through Welcome House Agency, we were told that she must have some part of her name reflect her Indian heritage. We chose the name Aan because it was so similar to the American name, Ann.

NEW YEAR: A new year holds the promise of better things to come. As one of my friends reminds me, “It’s ALL good,” whether it looks like it circumstantially or not. I hope and pray that this will be a year of many new discoveries in medicine, in academia, and in our personal lives. We wish you all the joy your heart can hold, and that nothing will stop you from achieving your God-given goals.

“Even when it is not well with our circumstances, it can be well with our souls.” - Jennifer Rothschild

About Kathryn

August 9, 2006

Kathryn Campbell was born in Ahmedabad, India somewhere around September 4th, 1984 and placed nearby an orphanage. It is likely that she was given up because she had an obvious condition called albinism (no skin color and partial blindness). Her family may have suspected that her condition was inauspicious (unlucky). We have only recently discovered that her albinism is only one symptom of a larger scale syndrome called the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome, or HPS.

In 1988, when Kathryn was about three years old, my parents (Paul & Dawn) saw her picture in a pictorial registry of children available for adoption from India. Without speaking to each other, they both had a sense that she was the right one to adopt when they saw her picture. Thirteen months later after many days of emotional ups and downs, Kathryn was put on a plane with a social worker and arrived in Dulles Int’l Airport on May 2nd, 1989. My parents went to pick her up. Imagine the emotions of meeting for the first time! This was a little girl for whom we had prayed almost daily and hoped she would be ours! To this day, Kathryn considers that day to be her more important “birth” day.

My brother (Paul Burton) and I found it entertaining to have a very small girl (26 lbs at 4 yrs old!!) in the house who could only mimic you or speak a foreign language. Unfortunately, Kathryn showed evidence of severe malnutrition and also came down with Malaria within days of arriving in the US. There were many things for her and us to overcome, which should be told some day in more detail for God’s glory. He was at work as well, and we have watched Him literally transform her life more than any other I’ve ever seen. Kathryn officially became a US Citizen on September 11, 1991.

When she was about eight years old, God opened her heart to realize her need for Him. She gave her life over to Jesus Christ, asking Him to be her Lord and Savior. Her body was rescued from death at age 4; her soul was rescued from death at age eight, and God planned it all that way before the day she was born in India. Psalm 139:13,16 says For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb… Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

Kathryn went to several public schools early on that could specifically help her learn with her vision impairments. She home-schooled for some of that time as well, and then enrolled in Virginia Western Community College after she took the GED. Kathryn received her Associates in Applied Science degree from Virginia Western Community College in 2004 in Early Childhood Development, and graduated with a Political Science degree from Mary Baldwin College in April 2008.

In the last weekend of July 2006, Kathryn began experiencing intense abdominal pain. After one day of that my parents took her to the hospital. By that time she could barely stand from the pain. After a blur of events in the hospital, they decided to do a laparoscopy to see if they could find the source of the problem. Everything looked normal except for some yellowish substance in her abdominal cavity. That was thought to be leftover from a burst cyst but there was no evidence of that either. Her appendix was removed as a safety so they wouldn’t have to go in again if it was Appendicitis. After a few days of recovery, Kathryn was back home doing well.

After about a week, however, she was back in the hospital with the same pains. This time, the pain was intense and on-going. It was during this week that we did most of our internet research and realized that all of Kathryn’s symptoms perfectly matched the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome. She had crossed eyes (which were corrected with laser surgery when she came to the US), her eyes constantly shift slightly left and right, she bruises very easily, is very sensitive to sunlight and sunburn, is albino, and now has abdominal pain, which typically occurs between 18 and 30 years of age in people with this syndrome. HPS also causes the body to generate a waxy substance inside the body cavity called ceroid (SEE-Royd). The last symptom on the list is pulmonary fibrosis, which we are now aware of and can try to slow it down in the years ahead. According to statistics, HPS sufferers usually die in their 40s due to pulmonary fibrosis. From what we understand, treatments for this are somewhat limited at the moment, but research is frequently yielding new ways to help fight it. The National Institute of Health has a team working regularly with HPS patients.

We as her family are full of hope and thanksgiving for all the ways God has powerfully redeemed her life. She is a testimony of God’s power to redeem anyone in any circumstance. This blog chronicles the ups and downs of Kathryn’s life experiences.

~ Colin Campbell

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sabbath Rain

The sky was heavy with rainclouds, therefore today’s Sunday afternoon nap was perfect. There was a steady rain on the roof lulling us to sleep, and even the dog settled in quietly. The darkness is closing in fast this afternoon, and we are all beginning to stir and wake from one of those satisfying, long winter’s naps. The lamps are lit early, and the rain continues, but now we are getting ready to have a Christmas celebration with Dan and Julie and their family tonight. The homemade rolls are sending the scent of fresh baked bread to the rooms of the stragglers. I imagine everyone will end up in the kitchen soon.

We were able to attend church together this morning, which is something we have not been able to do for a long time. It was great to experience the day together. The problems of yesterday and for the past year seemed far behind us, and we worshiped the One Who hears all of our prayers. After lunch I got a call from one of Katy’s doctors; a faithful blog reader. He read yesterday’s account of the pain medication withdrawal, and discussed a tapering plan with me. The plan will take several weeks to accomplish, but it is a conservative taper that her system should adjust to without shocking it. I am grateful for that information, and for her doctor who makes house calls. He, like all of us, longs to see her living her dreams.

One of the hymns sung in church this morning particularly touched my heart as I looked down the row and saw Katy singing. My tears are good on these occasions. They express my joy when words fail. I’ll close with the words to the hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.”

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller, be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I can not close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain, that morn shall tearless be.

  1. Laura Griffith Says:

    We wish you a Happy New Year…that all of 2008 can be the same as your Christmas season or better. I hate that we missed you at church today. We are still praying for your family. Your family pic is fabulous (just how long did it take to get everyone to smile at once?) May the Lord bless you richly this coming year!

  2. Jennifer Blugerman Says:

    How awesome it was to see you ALL at church today!! Katy looked radiant and beautiful! I too pray that 2008 will bring new joys, new insights, new blessings from our Father, and boat-loads of “normal” days!

    In Christ,

  3. Sandy Says:

    So glad you could all make it to worship together this morning! That is wonderful news. And thanks be to God for a doctor who is so attentive. I hope the new year greats you with wonderful surprises and adventures!

    Hugs and prayers from

  4. Karen Tillman Says:

    I am so thankful for docs out there who really care about their patients. I hope this taper works well, and as always Katy is forever in my prayers. Take care and I pray the New Year to be much better for us all.
    Karen Tillman

  5. Jes Says:

    Hey Katy!
    I echo Karen’s comment - I’m so thankful for your doctor - who really cares for you! I am so sad that I missed you in church yesterday. Noah and Lydia are recovering from a virus and we thought it best to keep them home one more day. I’m sorry that the pain has returned - but so glad that God has provided you with a thoughtful mom - who is able to analyze symptoms, remember details and clearly articulate what is going on! There aren’t many women like her - she’s worth more than rubies! :) We continue to pray for you, my friend, that 2008 willl bring new mercies and “oceanliner loads” of normal days….boat loads didn’t seem like quite enough! :)

    Love ya!

  6. Anne Poler Says:

    I have always loved the hymn, “O love that will not let me go”–but you just don’t hear it in church that often. The vastness of God’s love and power come through clearly. I’m planning to use it for a prelude in church this Sunday. Thank you for the reminder!


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Night

Christmas being in the middle of the week has me really confused as to what day it is. I was also up caring for Katy most of the night. That makes it harder to think straight. Katy was having problems with a severe headache, nausea, shaking, and joint pain. Her face was flushed and she could hardly keep awake. I had to stop and consider every symptom because we have been down this road so many times before. I thought of calling the doctor but figured I’d be told to go to the ER. After taking her blood pressure, which was very low, I recalled that her symptoms were similar to last year when we were trying to wean her from the Fentanyl patch. I suddenly remembered that since Chistmas Eve, Katy has taken very little pain medication. For three months she has had to have Dilaudid for pain and when the pain stopped, she didn’t take it. The withdrawal from narcotics I believe has sent her adrenal system in a tailspin, so we are back to balancing electrolytes, prednisone, and pain medication until I can talk to someone about lowering her gradually. It is hard to take a huge step backwards after four wonderful days, but the last four days were a glimpse of what we believe is possible.

Paul and I had planned to celebrate our anniversary all day. However, Paul needed to spend the day fixing his car before the bad weather starts, Katy and Qavah were needy, and every attempt to sit down together was interrupted. It is good to know that being happy about being married is enough after thirty-four years. We’ll save the celebration for another day.

  1. Doris Harriff Says:

    Katy, so sorry you’re not feeling well again. But if it helps to find a further resolution to your problems, it’s not all bad.

    And Paul & Dawn, I hope you get some special time together to celebrate your anniversary.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Continues

During the night I checked on Katy and she was restless. I asked her if she needed pain medication and she said, “No I can make it until tomorrow and then I’ll have the next dose of Methotrexate.” Today’s dose put Katy right back on track and she was able to join us as we visited with some friends who have known her since she first arrived in America. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude as I looked over at her laughing and sharing in our day today. I read her last post and cried for all the times she was unable to join us and had to “imagine” the fun we were having. On those occasions I would promise her that after the guests left I would spend the night in her room and tell her every last detail. I described the conversations, food, decorations, and what people were wearing. She would lie there and for a time could leave her room and join us in her imagination. We had many such nights over the past year. I have thanked God many times for the way He made me to take in details and then communicate them to her. It is a gift to Katy.

Not only has Katy had near pain free days and nights for four days, we have had three full nights of sleep. The sweet rest is a welcome relief. I think before all this with Katy started, I had taken a good night of sleep for granted. I feel refreshed physically and mentally and have truly enjoyed everything we did this Christmas season. I had so much help from church friends that I don’t want to neglect thanking them. One baked us a beautiful display of cookies. One made a meal. A couple of others made soups for us to share with visiting family and friends. If not for those kindnesses I would have been overcome with fatigue by now.

Katy arranged for some friends visiting England last month to seek out and find me a true English tea cup for my collection. They wowed me with a cup from the early 1800s and I thought that was marvelous. But as they commented on the blog a few days ago, seeing Katy able to dress, be on her feet, and relaxed without pain medication, was my Christmas gift. I serve a living God Who decided to lavish His blessing on Katy this Christmas, and the joy spills over onto all of us who have prayed so long and so hard for days like this.


  1. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    Wonderful! This hymn was, and is - singing in my heart as I finished devotions this morning. I think it fits your spirits, too.

    “Praise to the Lord
    All that has life and breath come now in worship before Him.
    Let the ‘AMEN’ sound from His people again.
    Gladly for aye we adore Him!”

    With gladness and love, Aunt Lil

  2. Tiffany Allen Says:


    I’m happy to hear that you have been feeling so well lately! I pray that this good feeling continues. It must have been wonderful to share in the holiday festivities with family and friends.

    Prayers always,


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mom may do another medical post later, but click on Katy’s Musings for an update. In the meantime, Merry Christmas from the Campbell Family:

Paul, Paul Burton, and Colin
Dawn, Qavah, Katy, Jenn, Annelise, and ??

  1. David and Lizi Says:

    What an awsome report! So thankful that you have had a wonderful Christmas. We have had a blessed Christmas with our 4 children. They were all here and we had a great time with them.
    Katy, I hope your Mom liked her Christmas gift, but I have a strange feeling the greatest gift was to see you feeling better.
    We love you and are praying that 2008 will be a healthy happy year for you and your family.
    Love David and Lizi

  2. Karen Tillman Says:

    Merry Christmas everyone!!!
    Karen Tillman

  3. Jillcha/Sidu Says:

    Dear Katy,
    Every time I read yours or your mom’s blog, all I want to do is worship the Lord. There you are with pain, but your words bring peace and comfort to the reader. Blessed be the Lord who gives grace to His children.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Katy was unable to get out of bed all day. Her back pain is grueling. After a hot shower tonight she was able to sit at her computer a few minutes. We prayed tonight for her strength and health to improve for our family celebration Sunday night. We are very thankful that she was able to be up and dressed this past week to receive friends and give out her gifts. We even had a young gentleman come and play his new half-size violin for her this week and he ended his concert with a Christmas carol. The Lord has been very good to us.

  1. Sandy Says:

    Sending lots of thoughts and prayers your way. I hope today is a better day.

  2. Jennifer Blugerman Says:

    How we had hoped to see the whole Campbell clan at worship today. I am so sorry that the ups and downs seem to be swinging so quickly lately. Our prayers are always with you!


  3. Jennifer Wellington Says:

    I will continue to pray. God sends blessings in so many ways to your house. I praise Him for that!

  4. lburk Says:

    Dawn I have on the white sweatshirt you made for me sooo many years ago..remember the one with the red and green ribbon….it has some holly and gold trim…still love it………..somehow you glued it on and used puffy paint..not always amazed me with your various talents…….anyone who knows your family knows the many talents of all the members…..Merry Christmas to all…….love, Linda

  5. Karen Tillman Says:

    Merry Christmas Katy!!! Hope you have a pain free Christmas Day.
    Love and prayers
    Karen Tillman

  6. Candice and Crystal Says:

    Merry Christmas to you all.

    Katy!! We pray your day was a good one and that you were able to get out and enjoy time with your family and friends. Take Care, Love, Candice & Crystal

  7. Julie Says:

    Merry Christmas from High Point! We had such a sweet day with family today. I hope you had a great celebration today, and that Katy’s strength held out. We love you! I’ll call you later in the week when we get home.


  8. Linda Kochendarfer Says:

    Merry Christmas from our house to yours! You continue in our prayers and we trust God to care for you as we wait the new year.
    Mr. and Mrs. K

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Anniversary Blessing

You may laugh when you read that for our anniversary we went home to mom and dad’s, but it is what we wanted to do. I called mom yesterday afternoon and told her that we really needed rest and she said, “When I read on the blog that you were planning a get-a-way I hoped you would just come here!” That is what we did. Even at our ages, we needed to go home to mommy and daddy and let them pamper us. They had our room ready, fixed a pot of tea, let us stay up late and have a quiet time together, and then fixed us a delicious breakfast of eggs, ham, hashbrowns, toast made from mom’s homemade bread, and coffee. We are very thankful for them, and they really refreshed us by allowing us to relax. Thank you Mom and Dad! As Katy has told me many times, “Nobody pampers like a Mom!” We left their house smiling and drove home.

We hoped Colin and Jenn had an uneventful night while staying here. This morning we heard the good news that Katy’s dose of methotrexate had begun to settle things down last night and she slept eleven hours without pain medication. She and Jenn were fixing lunch for the little ones when we talked. The doctor called Katy today to tell her the MRI revealed her spine has hairline fractures and disc compression in the lower part of her back. We have decided to cancel the second part of her MRI tomorrow and focus on that particular health issue after the holidays.

It was good to see her smiling today as she told me about the friends who visited last night. One of my friends put a little group together to come caroling which took Katy by complete surprise. Another friend brought her a gift of a devotional for next year and she exclaimed, “Mom it’s one with large print so I’ll be able to see it better!” I got all teary-eyed and said, “Katy, God has blessed us with some of the best friends in the world.” I want to say thank you right now to so many of you who have brought Christmas to our home because we have been unable to get out. We are rich in friendships and thank you for the ways you think to bless us. We couldn’t have put together a better prayer team or support system than the one we have. We know you are all a gift from a loving God. Our prayer is that when you give or when you pray for us, you will feel God’s pleasure and our gratitude! Thank you one and all!

  1. Adam Says:

    Grandmas are pretty good at pampering, too. :-D Glad y’all got the chance for an escape. I’ll be praying for Kathryn’s back.

  2. Oma Collmus Says:

    So happy that you were able to celebrate your anniversary in a restful way and the children at home were well cared for.
    My Jesse Tree is getting pretty full but I guess there will be room for three more ornaments! Jackie has made two sets of ornaments for me–the first were so tiny that she made another set and pasted them on colored cardboard. She not only made sets for all her Campbell relatives but also, all the Collmus family. Then when she stopped by here a week or so ago after she had picked up JP at the Academy she told me that when she was in Mexico she had made two more sets–one for Heather and the other for the family with whom Heather was staying. I just can’t imagine thinking to take all the necessary materials to Mexico to do that. She is surely one very special lady–so talented and beautiful in EVERY way. I am indeed blessed to have her in the family–another daughter!
    Have you seen JP in his Navy uniform? Well, when Jackie brought him here he still had it on because he has to wear it when he leaves the Academy. As soon as they arrived I said that we were going out to lunch to meet Aunt Betsy and I could show him off–my wonderfull Navy boy!!!! Now I’m looking forward to the arrival of all the John Collmus family in time for supper tomorrow. Danny is also arriving from Africa at 6 a.m.; Maggie Maples Tilden is planning to meet him at Dulles. However, she and her family are still trying to get here from Michigan; planes are being delayed because of the weather. The last I heard from her she might get here around 1 a.m. tomorrow morning. I sure hope they can sleep on the plane. Well, this isn’t excatly what you want in these comments, but it will be somewhat diverting! I hope that you all will have another good night’s sleep and I pray for many many more good nights of sleep and lots less pain for Katy.
    Much love,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A year

When I think back to our daily lives before HPS symptoms appeared it seems too long ago that Katy was able to sit down to a family meal and really enjoy it. But in other ways it seems that the whole year has flown by. Annelise was a newborn last Christmas; now she’s a toddler. Qavah was not even a thought in our heads, and tonight she is sound asleep in her own room upstairs. Before long we will have another little one running around. Colin and Jenn announced their new baby is due in June so we are happily looking forward to having another little Campbell around next Christmas. As a family we are so grateful for all God’s goodness to us.

We have more good news about Katy’s labs tonight. Her lipase level has dropped and liver function level is also dropping in the right direction. The drug, Urso, is beginning to work so I have been able to cut Katy’s doses of pain medication by half. Her labs indicate that the Methotrexate is doing the right thing in her body and she is adjusting to the drug beautifully. The dose will go up a little bit this week. After that she will maintain with a once a week dose, have blood labs drawn every two weeks, and liver function tests every fourth week. If it offers her a near-normal life for a while we will be so grateful. Her food intake is still less than two hundred calories a day but it seems to be just enough to keep her going. Yesterday she tried Beachnut Baby Food’s ginger chicken with vegetables. She liked it so well she suggested that I consider serving it over rice at a family meal. Perhaps if some of you would try a jar sometime, you can give her your review. She’d like to hear from you about that.

Colin and Jenn volunteered to take care of the girls Thursday while Paul and I get away overnight to celebrate our anniversary. We both need sleep so badly that we are thinking about finding a quiet place to rest and sleep as late as we want. That is our idea of a good time these days. We must be feeling our ages!

  1. Patricia Hagsten Says:

    Happy “almost a third of a century” to you two!!

    Christmas cards … whenever did you squeeze in time??? I just began my US ones today here in Annapolis at Ellen’s home.

    So glad you have a glimpse of better days for Katy today!!

  2. Doris Harriff Says:

    So glad to hear the evidence that Katy’s medications are doing the job they should! I pray that they will continue, so that Katy can function normally once more.

    And the coming little one? Another one to add to my prayer list! I have a category on my prayer list just for “the little ones.” The oldest on the list is Lois’s great-granddaughter, Emmah, and the youngest - at this point - is my great-granddaughter, Keely.

    I expect Qavah will seem more like a sister than an aunt to Colin & Jenn’s children!

  3. lburk Says:

    yeah.. an opportunity to get away and sleep..a true gift,………enjoy your anniversary..a wonderful example for your family..hugs to all, Linda

  4. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    I’m putting Beachnut Baby Food’s ginger chicken with veggies on my shopping list, Katy! Sounds delicious! And Paul and Dawn, you know I’ve been praying for you to be able to get away …and now its anniversary time! Wonderful. Let’s all pray they find a truly QUIET place to rest and relax and be together again. Praise God and Hallelujah that Katy’s meds are working! May it bring in a lllooonnnnngggg time of improvement!

    Love, Aunt Lil

  5. Karen Tillman Says:

    Dawn, I want to wish you and Paul a very Happy Anniverssary!!! I am also glad that Katy seems to be improving. I just pray this continues, and finally some peace and normalcy for Katy once again. If I don’t write before…I hope that you all have a very mery ad blessed Christmas!!
    Love and prayers
    Karen Tillman

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas around the corner

Katy had a much better day and true to form, we don’t know why. We haven’t changed anything we are doing but she was able to eat a little baby food today and I cut back on her pain medication so she could think more clearly. We had a good afternoon and always have a short list so if we have to stop our activities it isn’t so much of a let-down. We weighed her this morning and she is still in a very healthy range considering she hasn’t eaten normally for over two months. I keep thanking God for the slowness of her metabolism at this time. Her GI doctor called today and they discussed more care options. She is going to take information from that conversation to the hematologist tomorrow. In this little corner of southwest Virginia, there are medical professionals willing to help improve Katy’s life, and today we could sense how hard some of them are working to figure things out. Because they have chosen to help her, I hope the Lord blesses their work greatly, and perhaps their knowledge will even help others with HPS in the future.

The Christmas packages we sent out along with sixty greeting cards are making their way across the United States right now. As I think about the many details we were able to accomplish when Katy and Qavah needed so much attention, I wonder how it all got done. Tonight I am focused on a little nativity set that was sent to us by a friend in Michigan to help us teach Qavah the Christmas story. We’ll be starting on that tomorrow night. We’ve improved her hand-washing skills by having her sing happy birthday while rubbing the soap into her hands until the end of the song when it is time to rinse. From anywhere in the house, several times a day she can be heard singing, “Happy birthday, dear Jesus, happy birthday to you!” Isn’t that a great Christmas song? I love having little people around.

  1. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    Dawn, what an uplifting report! Praise the Lord! I’m so thankful you are better for a bit, Katy! I’m glad you got the little Nativity to teach Qavah about Christmas! Be sure to teach her also how to celebrate Jesus with the Christmas tree and its ornaments. Do you still have the poem I sent you last year? And read to you on our Florida Christmas together? It would be a great devotional for the family to look at the tree and its ornaments and think of how they symbolize Jesus for us, and of Bible verses that illustrate that. My Christmas tree has become a “Jesus Tree”. Last night I was filled with such a deep love for Him, worshiping Him in that way. I’m sure His love, His amazing, undeserved Agape for me,was inspiring it.

    May He bring you all such love and joy in these days before Christmas. Love, Aunt Lil

  2. lburk Says:

    HI..Thank you for the great Campbell Christmas card with famiily picture..congratulations to Collin and Jen #2..this will be a special year for all…..Friday is the last day of school here…we will be busy preparing for a gathering of 20 on Christmas Eve at our home..our children and spouses will spend the night along with Mr. opening in the am Christmas morning. blessings to all, Linda

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Afternoon

I will post early because I am going to try to get out today to take care of some errands. Most of the weekend was a blur. We were up with Katy around the clock trying to help her get through a very painful time. Yesterday I decided to give her the fifth dose of methotrexate a day early and within hours she was feeling stronger and had less pain. So she got out of bed and worked on some Christmas projects and even came down the stairs and helped me straighten the kitchen until three o’clock this morning. Those little times of normalcy do increase her hope that one day she will feel better more often than not. However, this morning when she woke up, all of her symptoms are back and she is very discouraged. I’m letting her sleep and canceled her appointment with the hematologist. We’ll see him on Wednesday instead.

How we wish with all our hearts that we could do something more for Katy. Many of you know we have also tried several natural healing herbs and anti-inflammatory remedies over the past year and nothing we have done has made a huge difference except the Remicade. We have also made so many modifications in her diet that her diet is very restricted. It comes down to the fact that we do all we can to make her comfortable, give her the recommended medications, and put our hope in God who knows all the secrets of the universe and Who is working all things together for good. We are not without hope.

  1. Candice and Crystal Says:

    Hi Katy,

    I’m sorry to hear you are having a lot of pain. It’s hard not to get discouraged, but know that there are a lot of people praying for you. Candice and I are praying for you. Hang in there girl.

    Candice and Crystal

  2. Jennifer Blugerman Says:


    Whenever Matthew and Emma pray, they always remember you… “…and please help Katy to feel better.” You are always on our hearts and minds, even our children’s! How we wish we could take this pain away from you. How we pray for “normal” days for you and your family. God is obviously sustaining you for His glory. We wait with you, longing for insight. But in the end, we simply have to trust Him.

    On Dec. 14, I read on a news website that the best annual meteor shower would be passing overhead. At around 10:00 pm, I put on my coat and ventured out into the cold to see if indeed this supposed fireworks show was happening. After a few minutes, David joined me, and we watched together. We were not disappointed. Over the course of an hour or so, we must have seen a dozen meteors streak across the sky. We marveled at God’s awesome creative power, and how He delights us daily — yet how often we miss it. I wondered how many people knew about this particular meteor shower going on that night, and was glad that I had taken the time to stop everything and see it. How often we fail to just stop and see God for who He is, and let Him show Himself to us!!!

    You are experiencing great termoil from a human perspective, but you see God for who He is, and you never miss an opportunity to praise Him for the smallest mercy! We should all live that way.


  3. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    Dear Katy, In these so difficult days for you, let us all try to look ahead from time to time to what God has promised:
    “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars, forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3 Surely you and your family radiate the wisdom of God as you hope and trust through severe trial, and we believe that many are indeed coming, and will yet come to the righteousness of the Lord Jesus through your bright witness. Thank you for your steadfast spirit, through pain and delay and disappointment and discouragement. We continue to pray that God’s time for your relief will be SOON. Love, Aunt Lil

  4. Tiffany Allen Says:


    Sorry to hear that you are feeling so poorly. Know that I pray for you every day. As you know, everything is in God’s timing so just keep on hanging in there.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sabbath rest

The ice predicted for this area is not falling yet. It may not. There is heavy rain and I can see now that if the temperature was lower we would have a real blizzard. But for now, we are in for the night, listening to the heavy rain on the roof, and glad it is time to quiet our hearts and rest.

This morning Katy went to her MRI with plenty of medication to give her back relief while the test was being given. After an hour and a half, I heard her coming down the hall sniffling. My first thought was that the pain medication had worn off. Her back did hurt, but the nurse had just told her that next Saturday she would be going back for part two of the MRI which is longer and harder. It wasn’t what she was expecting to hear. The grace to do it all again next week will be there.

Your comments after the last post were interesting. Snow and ice and even hurricanes do bring an awareness that we can not be in control of all things at all times. My friend Amy has little frogs all around her house. Some are glass, some are resin, some are made like a little toy critter. I asked her one day what caused her to become interested in collecting frogs and she said they remind her to Fully Rely On God. “FROG!” Fully rely on God; a good way to remember that we are not in charge.

  1. Adam Says:

    That’s funny. We’ve had ice falling up here for several hours now…

  2. Sandy Says:

    Oh boy, I wish I could be there to give Katy a big hug. Those days when you are doing everything you can to hold it together and get through, and then some medical situation throws you for a loop again are so hard. May God’s peace cover you in the week ahead and through another test.

    The FROG story reminds me of my DOG story. Three years ago, I had a list of goals for the year that included getting an apartment and a dog. As I sat in worship on Christmas, I marveled at the year that had gone by and that I met nearly all of those goals…except getting a dog. I then opened a hymnal and a dog fell out!!! Well, not a real dog, but a little card that showed a picture of a dog and said “D.O.G. - Depend on God!” Hooray for DOGs and FROGs to remind us whose we are!

    I am a little snowed in this morning and will probably not venture across town to my own church, but there is a church within walking distance that I attend sometimes if health or weather prevent car travels. So I might join them in worship. It sure is pretty out! We got about 8 inches of snow within another 4 expected through the day.

  3. Doris Harriff Says:

    Mike & I covered the car with a tarp yesterday. We were going out to uncover it this morning, so I could go to church, but it was sleeting, and the snow had a crust on it. I decided not to go. We’ve had some snow since then, and probably some freezing rain, and despite the fact that the snowplow went by a couple of times, our road does not look good.

    Let’s hope that everything turns out well for Katy. It is discouraging to get so little good news about her condition. She is in my prayers daily, and our church is praying for her regularly.

    Aunt Doris

  4. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    My good news is that I FOUND the “Funniest Book I’ve ever read.”! Its called “Bless me, Father”, a partially true story based on the first parish experiences of a young English priest
    assigned to work with an old, experienced and wily Scottish priest, with a housekeeper with whom he was in constant hilarious verbal battle. It will be on the way soon. Wish I had a dozen copies! Katy, that extra MRI is a downer for sure. May God give you an extra MILE of grace when the time comes, so that you’ll fly through with flying colors. We love you! No snow here - clouds and occasional misting rain - Seattle kind - Christmasy weather. Aunt Lil

  5. Anne Poler Says:

    Hi, Campbell Crew!
    A weather note:
    Up here in Pennsylvania, we were expecting a classic Nor’Easter. That’s not quite what happened. Saturday evening, we had lots of sleet (got pretty noisy), then woke up to find 1/4 inch of ice on the cars. The precipitation changed to a steady heavy rain, and then as we were leaving church at 12:30 it was snowing heavily and accumulated about an inch. That was soon followed by a break in the clouds and some (believe it or not) sunshine–even if brief. And now it’s VERY windy. SO: if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute!

  6. Dawn Says:

    Blustery winds are howling tonight! Sunday night is trash night. Paul built a cart that holds three trash cans and wheels it down to the road. On a cold wintery night in blustery winds that is a long trek. So in this weather, and yet again, I am thankful for Paul, who faithfully puts the trash out rain, snow sleet, or shine! Katy has an appointment with her hematologist tomorrow. I’m hoping he can help her some more. It has been a rough weekend.

  7. Jes Says:

    Dawn -
    It was so good to talk to you breifly yesterday. I hope you were able to the nap that you were planning and that Qavah enjoyed the children’s choir. We continue to pray for you guys - I hope the appointment goes well this morning. I admire your research and ablilty to clearly communicate with all the medical people involved in Katy’s care.

  8. Mike Theesfield Says:

    The snow picked up here after after finally making up its mind to stay frozen. We’ve got about eight inches now in the morning.

    How’s Katy holding up?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Date Night

Paul and I are headed out to Barnes and Noble for a date. Of course, this time of year, we will be joining about a hundred other people there also. Katy is home tonight with her friends and they are all pitching in to get Christmas cards ready for mailing. Katy had a difficult night and morning, but about mid-day the pain in her back subsided and she has been having a good time organizing her room ever since. She has so much less pain when she doesn’t eat.

We are supposed to have an ice storm here tomorrow. The excitement is building and the grocery stores were crowded. Having been born and raised in Michigan where there is plenty of ice and snow, I wonder why it causes such a stir. But for those who have prepared so well by stocking their cupboards and refrigerator, I hope they aren’t disappointed!

  1. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    I’m so happy you’re having a Barnes and Noble date tonight! Any kind of a date! I just had a great talk with Aunt Lois on the phone. She’s doing so well! I wanted to talk to Aunt Laurie as it her birthday, but couldn’t find my family phone book so called Lois for it…but noone is home now at Laurie’s. Although, its very possible the midwest storm took their phone lines out. At least they have a wood furnace so they won’t be cold there in Arkansas. Katy, so very glad the back pain went away today and that you’re having Christmas Card fun with friends! May it be a very very Merry Eve! I haven’t gotten to that yet… May God bless you one and all! Love, Aunt Lil

  2. Jennifer Blugerman Says:

    When David and I lived in Charlotte, we were constantly amazed at the stir caused by ANY kind of bad-weather warning. Even when Charlotte has its occasional, rare snow or ice, it never stays around long (a day at the most). But this never stopped folks from thronging to the grocery stores and raiding them of every loaf of bread and gallon of milk! I can remember standing in the Express line with a couple of things I needed, and watching in awe the long lines with grocery carts packed to the brim and the panic-stricken consumers looking worried and yet triumphant that they had prepared for the worst! I always wondered if they felt foolish the next day when the weather forcast never quite lived up to expectations.

    We are hoping the ice called for this evening also does not pan out. Emma has a small part in the Nutcracker and the performances are this weekend (Sat. night, and Sun. afternoon)! I would hate for all the hard work the dancers have put in over MONTHS to be for naught! She did get to perform yesterday, however, for the school system. The Civic Center auditorium was packed with over 2000 kids! Matt & I volunteered as ushers and got to watch the show from the tippy top where there were a few open seats. Matt liked watching the guy with the spot light who stood behind us. It was a great show and the kids all looked so cute! Emma makes a great “Little Angel” and she has enjoyed all the excitement of being part of a professional show. David and I (and Matt), however, will be glad when it’s all over! Rehearsals late every night this week have pushed our good will (and our sleep) to the limits. But we enjoy the “joy sprinkles” of watching Emma delight in doing her best and being part of it all.

    Hope your date night was wonderful!


  3. Bob, Amy, Emily, Meredith and Abby Says:

    Well, it will probably be a bad ice storm because we are flying back from TX today. We are coming into Charlotte, NC then planning to drive back home tonight. It looks like the weather may stop that last part of the plan though.

    I had to laugh at you saying that you didn’t know what the big deal was with ice. I was talking to a lady in a shop in San Antonio, TX, and she said that if any ice falls there, everything is closed. She said that people there couldn’t even drive in the rain. So I guess the moral is to at least be happy people in VA can drive in the rain! :0)

    We’ll try to come and see you soon. Love to all!

  4. sophia wilhelm Says:

    I braved the lines at Kroger today because I was out of milk. Really the werong time to run out of anything! But it reminded me of when we were in Hawaii I worked in a pharmacy in a grocery store. While we never had ice or snow, once a year or so we would have a hurricane warning or tsunami warning and people would flock to the grocery store and the only things they would buy were rice and toilet paper. The shelves would be completely void of those items in about 6 hours. Apparently during WWII there were shortages of those in Hawaii and people have not forgotten.
    Hope you all stay cozy and warm during the cold weather.

  5. Lita Long Says:

    It is funny to see the long lines in the grocery store when we have a weather advisory, but I’m thankful for them. I guess I see a different perspective. The year we had the big blizzard, I was unprepared. We didn’t own a SUV, so we were unable to get out of our neighborhood for 7 days! (We don’t live within walking distance of a grocery.) We had small children then, so I quickly ran out of the staples that I should have stocked. The neighbor across the street had a truck and came over to check on us. He brought us what we needed from his kitchen! He did what I should have done- planned ahead. So I think the people who plan are very wise. They are prepared even when the weather isn’t as bad as predicted!

    It’s also fun to stand in the lines and listen to everyone talk about the coming storm! It is common ground for all of us and the stories behind each shopping basket are fun!

    Here’s to plenty of toilet paper!!!
    Miss Lita

  6. Sandy Says:

    I hope your date night was fun! Barnes and Noble is a good place for a date!

    We’re expecting our first big snow tonight (9 to 15 inches) here in Michigan. They are saying we’re going to have “ground level blizzards”, which is a new term to me and I suppose means strong but low winds (?). I didn’t go out today, but my Mom e-mailed me that she waited in a long line at the grocery store, so people are in a bit of a panic even here where we are used to this. I always have a large stock of cereal, peanut butter, and canned fruit, so I don’t worry about it too much. And the forecast for Monday is dry, so hopefully we’ll all be fully operational then.

    God’s peace to you all on the sabbath!


  7. Doris Harriff Says:

    According to the different stations where Mike has watched the weather forecast, we’re in one of the following areas: 1) 4-8″; 2) 8-10″; 3) 6+” .
    It was snowing pretty heavily earlier, but the snow seems to have stopped for the time being. If it is snowing heavily, or if there’s heavy snow on the road, tomorrow morning, I won’t even try to go to church. I have 18+ miles to church, and steep hills and winding roads - and I’m getting old!

    Aunt Doris

  8. Karen Tillman Says:

    Hey Dawn, I was raised here in the south, and I still can’t figuire out why the mad rush!!! Now if I lived out in the sticks like I used to years ago, then I might would understand. Once when I was small I remember a snow and ice storm that kept us in for 2 whole weeks, and being on well water was not funny!!! Thankfully my mom had gathered up enough water ahead of time so that we could flush the toilets. GRIN

    Katy, I am glad to hear that you are doing better today, and hope that will continue to be the trend. I want nothing more than for you to have a Merry Christmas with all the trimings!!! Know that even though I am not writing daily. I am praying for you daily.
    Love and prayers
    Karen Tillman

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Joy Sprinkles

Somewhere along the way in my childhood I was introduced to sugar sprinkles. Those brightly colored festive toppings that turn a mere cookie into an event are the ones I’m talking about. I had a day like that. I woke up knowing that today, after Qavah’s transfusion, she would be feeling a lot better. She couldn’t stand on her little legs this morning, so Paul helped me get her ready and I headed out to the hospital with her. When I arrived I was greeted by the valet service which runs like a well-oiled machine at RMH. I pulled to the curb, got a wheelchair out of the trunk, and was helped by the valet as we got Qavah situated for the ride to the seventh floor. He waved to her and called her a little princess. She was beaming and so was I when I thankfully handed him my key and he took care of parking the car.

Qavah’s port was accessed but it was not working properly for the blood transfusion so she had to have an IV line placed. She was so patient and cheerful; it melts my heart. Her joy sprinkles walked into the room during her transfusion. Santa arrived along with Miss Virginia 2007, Hannah Kiefer. Qavah lit up with joy as she turned her attention toward Hannah and I heard her whisper, “a real princess,” as she eyed Miss Virginia’s crown. Hannah is an amazing girl. I had met her while taking a class at a local church two years ago. She is a Hollins University student. She has put her faith in action by starting a campus Bible Study, and has devoted her time as Miss Virginia to helping children make wise choices about health and moral purity. She reminded me to pray for her as this January is the Miss America pageant. She would be a wonderful representative of our Nation, and I wish her well. Qavah’s joyful expressions sprinkled cheer into my life as well.

Katy’s day was sprinkled with joy when her Dad helped her wrap Christmas gifts for friends today. He drove to the post office and mailed some of them off. She is happiest when she is doing things for others; aren’t we all? Tonight she was experiencing some strong spasms in her back and as I was trying to comfort her with moist heat Paul arrived home with a copy of Victoria magazine. The joys continue as she turns the pages and exclaims over all the lovely Victorian dresses and Christmas decorations. It was just what was needed and I’m so thankful that even in hardship there are sprinkles of joy to be found in the simplest of things! Thank you for continuing to pray for us. May your days be filled with joy sprinkles, then write to us and tell us about them.

  1. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    WoW! Jesus really planned some powerful “Joy Sprinkles” for Qavah today, didn’t He! Santa AND a Princess! And I’m sure Qavah returned quite a few to them. We know the Prince of Peace was watching over all. And Katy got a Victoria Magazine to distract the pain of back spasms. A really good Christmas magazine is alway a joy. I bought the December issue of Sunset, and am going to make the Pork Crown Roast recipe for a Christmas luncheon with daughter Amanda and spouse, and Valeria and Lee, Tony’s Brazilian niece and husband. I pray that many unexpected joys will come in the next two weeks to help the time of pain to pass by quickly.

    Love you. Aunt Lil

  2. Aleah Yunger Says:

    I can still remember meeting Miss Virginia as a young girl myself — that is a moment Qavah will hold onto tight! My joy sprinkles for the day: I prepared really well for my exam and I think I did great! That’s a joy and a relief. Also, a close friend of mine mended a relationship in her life that had been causing her much pain… it was truly a blessing to watch God work His plan out as both of them sought to mend the hurt. What a beautiful gift before Christmas comes! Praying for you this night. Excited to come see you all over Christmas break :) Love always, Aleah

  3. Patricia Hagsten Says:

    What a precious time for Qavah in the midst of her challenges!! Another “God thing (i.e. a divine appointment)!”
    We pray Katy will soon experience more problem-free moments … and then, days, followed by HEALTHY times.
    Greetings from Nashville!
    Ib & Patricia

  4. Barbara Walker Says:

    Aren’t those days wonderful when you can feel God’s pleasure all through the day?! What a wonderful picture! You have a budding Miss Virginia there yourself with Qavah. I’ve never seen such a beautiful smile.

    Love to Katy and all.


  5. Heather Kirkwood Says:

    I love that magazine!!!! I recently got a copy and was so happy to see that they were back in business.

  6. lburk Says:

    HI..what a fun day.. meeting Santa and Miss Va..she is sooo pretty…Joy was watching my students singing Feliz Navida today..and dancing around the room…they made holiday cards for the soldiers over seas yesterday..I was proud of them..tomorrow the students take home the snowman ornament they made for their families..they are soo excited..children and the holidays just go together..hope your whole family is feeling well enough tomorrow to enjoy the preparations and festivities of this holiday season…hugs to all, Linda

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Can Do It!

Qavah has a sweet expression that sounds like a little song when she says it. “I can do it,” is her cheerful reply when we show her how to do something and she wants to take over the task. This morning when she woke up I thought she seemed extra quiet and thoughtful, though she still got up smiling. After breakfast I took her to the hematology lab for a blood test. She came home and made her way out to the swing set. She had a high ol’ time swinging with all her might. Then the phone rang with the news that her blood count was 6.3. When the nurse from hematology said, “you might just want to cuddle up on the couch and watch cartoons and we’ll transfuse her in the morning,” I looked out across the lawn at this sweet little wisp of a girl singing and swinging, and thought, “I can do it,” is a very good attitude to live with.

Katy’s labs came back today with elevated liver and pancreas enzymes. She told me two weeks ago that she knew her pancreas wasn’t functioning right and the pain in her left ribs right through to her back was a telltale sign. At that time, she had labs that indicated “normal” function and we just laughed. It is so often the case. After two weeks of excruciating pain the labs drawn yesterday told the story. The nurse called to tell us not to feed Katy anything but water and maybe Slim Fast. Her GI doctor is going to try to get her liver and pancreas to settle down with a drug called Urso. Katy knew two weeks ago that something was up, but in order to be treated she had to wait until the blood work proved it. She is taking the “no food” directive with a grin because she stopped eating last week. At the rate the methotrexate is working, and the two weeks it will take for the Urso to begin to work, we know we have a rough road ahead for the next few weeks, but as Qavah says, “I can do it!”

Lord, you made these two very dear girls, and their struggles are precious in your sight. Their strength for each day comes from you, the sustainer of life. When the road they must travel is the roughest, give them the grace to say, “I can do it!” I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13.

  1. Linda W. Says:

    Two little “blue engines” will be saying “I thought I could” in the near future is my prayer! Hang in there, Precious Ones!

  2. Trisha Ferris Says:

    The Campbell girls are my heroes!!

  3. Doris Harriff Says:

    Thank God that Katy’s problems have been explained, and will be treated. I keep praying for both of your girls, and for you and Paul as their caretakers. By the way, what is the word on Qavah’s port? Will it have to be replaced? Or is it working properly now?

    Love you all!
    Aunt Doris

  4. Lael Moreland Says:

    I just want to let you know how much of an encouragement and blessing your last two posts have been.
    Yesterday you spoke of fighting our giants…of our fears, doubts, and insecurities. I have finals this week at school, and yesterday I had an entire day of doubts, disappointments and basically looking at myself and saying, “you messed up again. You can’t do anything. Everything your working for is pointless because you just can’t do it. You’ll never make it.” I had been considering God’s truth, and trying to make myself believe and apply it to my life when I read your post. It summed up everything God had been trying to show me- and due to my disappointment in myself I had been unable to comprehend. It is very true that I can’t do anything, that I don’t have what it takes, and that I am a royal mess up. But the truth I must remember is His GRACE and acceptance of me in this state. I forget that I do have a redeemer! I cried when I read your post, It was God’s word speaking to my heart when I needed it most.
    And then today, you have a wonderful follow up. Now I know that the Lord redeems me from this horrible state I am in, but now I don’t know what to do because I obviously can’t DO anything. There is a balance in knowing you can’t do anything, but still doing good as unto the Lord. Well how in the world can I do good when I haven’t the ability?? And that’s just it, I don’t have the ability so I must rely on Him to work through me. I can do it- in Christ alone! Though I can’t do it alone- it is Christ who strengthens me to do it.
    So, thank you for the truth, the encouragement. And keep it up Katy and Qavah!!
    Much Love and many hugs.

  5. kim rose Says:

    You remain an inspiration to this family and you remain in our prayers….

    I appreciated driving by today and seeing the wash on the line… I thought about the freshness that come with hanging out the wash… and the smoke signals it sends to those around you…

    then I approached my house and thought… wow I love those awesome folks and I wish I could do more to help them… how I often drive by your home and remember to seek the Lord in prayer and to give thanks and to just spend a min talking with him…. interesting how we send smoke signals when we dont even realize it….

    then as I approached our home I bursted out with laughter thinking of the smoke signals we must send to our neighbors… looking at the cluttered porch, the building permits and the contractors vans in the driveway… the trashcans piled high and the half hung christmas decorations still sitting in boxes because there just hasnt been time…. so much going on…. and then I chuckled even harder as I saw these three giant inflatable snowmen flattened on the ground…. and I thought… yep that just about sums it up… all the air sucked right of me today…. so many trials this week…. I felt like one of those snowmen on the ground… flattened and lifeless….

    I am emotionally drained and physically drained…. Nathanael facing a hospital stay and us trying to keep him home if at all possible… the Oxygen tanks were delivered tonight and the IV fluids will be started by the nurse in the morning…. and I thought of all you guys go through and how dare I whine because of the things I am dealing with this week…

    I come here daily and read to see how Katy and the entire family are doing…. and what I find here is the inspiration to trust God for all things… to set aside worldly ideas and to dismiss those pesky negotiations that are ripping my heart out… and just trust God….

    I thank you for the inspiration you are… and for smoke signals and for perseverance… for Faith… for Grace…. for obedience… for so many things I see in your family that inspire me to strive for the same…

    we flipped a switch on the snowmen tonight and an amazing thing happened…. suddenly they stood up and began to sing…. with just a little fan to blow air into them they stood and they sang…. and then I smiled because I remembered that Jesus in me will make me stand and sing as well…. faith , perseverance, obedience…. yes I do need to work on those….

    I pray you have a wonderful day tomorow… forgive my ramblings… just wanted to say thank you for being such an inspiration…

    God Bless

  6. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    What wonderful comments on the blog today! I thought it was the RIGHT side Katy was having pain on, rather than the left. The pancreas again, AND liver. I’m not sure I would want to be treated with URSO, however. That word means BEAR in Portuguese!!! Well, if Katy is going to eat bear, I hope it makes her as strong as a bear! Is it an acronym? I love your word pictures of Qavah! I can imagine her singing and swinging on the swing - with a HgB of 6.3! When my was down to 11.5 I kind of wimped around and had to lie down mid morning for awhile. Surely you and your family are “Strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!” We’ll be with you in prayer, Katy, praying t hat the Lord will hurry up the effectiveness of these meds.

    In the meantime, I still want to send some spa supplies. What do you like! Love, Aunt Lil

  7. Jennifer Blugerman Says:

    A little humor from my son for you….

    A few days ago, the kids and I were driving home from Emma’s piano lesson. Her teacher always lets students select a small piece of candy from a dish after each lesson. Emma decided to eat her piece on our drive home, a hershey’s kiss. Emma said something to the effect that she liked hershey’s kisses, but that Skittles are her favorite, to which Matt replied very plainly, “CANDY is MY favorite candy.” Emma and I thought this was hysterical. Then, today I ran to the bank and went through the drive-up teller window. After completing my transaction, the teller placed two lollypops in the automatic drawer for the kids. Delighted, they opened them, and Matthew exclaimed, “Oooh! It’s my favorite flavor!” I said, “Which flavor, Matt?” and heard in reply, “I have no idea.” Ah, true to form.

    Hope you’re all having a great day!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Jesse Tree

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” ~ Isaiah 11:1 Jesse was the father of King David. David’s kingdom fell apart after the reign of his son Solomon, but the Messiah came as a shoot from the stump of David’s dynasty, just as the prophet Isaiah foretold.

Tucked into our Christmas storage boxes is a small evergreen tree, a little book of twenty-five devotions called The Advent Jesse Tree, and twenty-five little numbered boxes, each containing an ornament inside. After our Thanksgiving celebration, the Christmas box comes out, and our Jesse Tree is placed on the table so that we will be ready to prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate the event that changed the way God spoke to His people, that joyful day when The Word became flesh.

Beginning on December first, the stage is set to tell the gospel story. Our first ornament for the Jesse tree is a little symbol of the earth. There is a short devotional to remind us that God created this world and everything in it. The devotion ends with a prayer and the hymn, This is my Father’s world. The devotions for each night expose the plan God had from the foundation of the world to redeem us and make us His very own. The little devotional book we use has an adult reading and Bible passage on the left page. On the opposite page is a shorter, simpler version for the very young.

Year after year we sat after dinner and opened the boxes one by one to tell the complete story, from the fall of man, to the prophecies of a coming King, to the birth of our Savior. A few years ago we had all been apart with the boys in college and everyone scattered. When we were all at home together, just for fun, we opened all the Jesse tree ornaments at once and held them up like flashcards. The kids could tell the stories by the symbols without even reading the passages. One by one they could recount even the story of Ruth and Boaz, and how that fit with the story of our redemption. Deuteronomy chapter six instructs us to teach these stories of our faith to our children so that they will know them. Year after year, although it doesn’t even seem like they are listening, they are learning that our faith is something that ties us to all those marvelous Old Testament stories and we are a part of something huge. We are also God’s chosen people. Our children need to know that even in this day and age they will have wildernesses of their own to navigate. They will fight the giants, not from Gath, but fears, doubts, and insecurities. They will need the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day to lead them. They will need to use their Bibles to keep them on the right path.

Tradition is a part of celebration. With Katy so sick, we cannot keep with tradition and sit around the table to eat this year, but our Jesse Tree is still in the center of the table. The symbols are hung, although she cannot use the stairs to come and see it. I looked at the symbol for tonight, which is a cluster of grapes, and the story tonight speaks of the promised land where blessings overflow. The Way to that promised land was born in a manger. The Christmas season is so full of dazzling events. But the real celebration of Christmas includes knowing that our children know and understand the gospel story from the manger to the cross. Although they have struggles in this life, and trials come, they have a Redeemer, to Whom they have given their hearts. One day in that promised land we will see the celebration of the King of Kings as it is meant to be.

  1. Doris Harriff Says:

    Thank you for that post! What a wonderful tradition! I had never before heard of the Jesse tree, either.

    God bless you all, and hang in there! I’m praying for you all every day.

    Aunt Doris

  2. Dawn Says:

    The tradition of the Jesse Tree started for us when our sister Jackie Collmus, made all the Campbells a set of Jesse tree ornaments for Christmas when we only had the boys and they were quite young. There were six sets and twenty-five ornaments (and Jackie had four busy little ones herself!) I have followed her example and made several sets for other families for Christmas. The devotional book I use can be ordered on Amazon. It is “The Advent Jesse Tree” by Dean Meador Lambert, and is published by Abington Press Nashville. Thank you, Aunt Jackie!

  3. Trisha Ferris Says:

    HOw blessed Qavah is to join your family. May she grow up to love the Lord & to pass on the Faith to another generation.
    Continuing to pray,

  4. Karen Tillman Says:

    All that I can say here is a heartfelt AMEN!!
    Love and prayers
    Karen T

  5. Heather Kirkwood Says:

    Hey Katy, I saw your comment on my blog….thanks! And yes, she did make it from a kit. When you feel up to it, we’d love to have anything you’d care to contribute. I personally find doing artwork very theraputic. It gets my mind off things and helps me think better.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Night

The doctor Katy saw today agreed that a MRI would tell us whether Katy’s pain is coming from a fracture in her back or something else. He has to set that up for next week. She has had such tremendous pain that she has not been able to recover from her trip to the doctor yet. I hope she will feel well enough tonight to sit at her computer. I’m so glad we were able to move her office into her room this past summer, since it is hard for her to walk very far. Paul also set up a little Christmas tree in her room today, and it is all lit up tonight.

We continue to ask for prayer, because we know God hears us. It is building our faith to have to wait on Him. Katy has especially struggled with the realities of HPS this week. One of the wounds on her foot opened up again and it took us a long time to get it to stop bleeding today. We are encouraged that she doesn’t suffer from those terrible muscle spasms anymore, and we do try to count our blessings, but eating is so painful that she has not had anything to eat since Wednesday evening. We were together just a few minutes ago and I heard her stomach growling for food. I asked if I could fix her some broth and she said the pain wasn’t worth it. So, I am fixing up the bathroom with candles and a space heater to make it look and feel like a spa. I have some lavender oil for soaking her feet. There is more than one way to give the soul a feast. Unless something changes in Katy’s condition overnight, I will not post tomorrow.

Paul wants to take Qavah to the little town of Buchanan on the James River for their Christmas parade tomorrow. It has been a long time since he has had a little person to ride on his shoulders. Qavah does a lot of squealing and clapping to make the effort worthwhile. Enjoy your holiday festivities this weekend, then write to tell us about them!

  1. Jes Says:

    Hey guys!
    Dawn - thank you for your honesty. It always makes it easier to know how to pray.

    We have been enjoying our Jesse tree so much this year. Yesterday, the devotion was on Moses going up to get the 10 commandments and the Mountain of fire…so we took the fire idea and ran with it. You know how kids are facinated with anything fire related….. I have a large candle that has three wicks in it. I got that out and set it on the coffee table. Then I got out 5 little tea lights and set them around the large candle. Next, I got our little jesse tree and the appropriate ornament. I lit the large candle, got a couple chocolate covered pretzels and called everyone into the family room. Josh read the devotion while the little ones munched on their pretzels. Then we talked about how God is really - God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit - three in one - just like our candle. Then we talked about how we were like the tea lights - God was the light but we were all darkness in our sin. As we lit each light - we talked about how knowing Jesus puts a light in us. It was such a great family time! I don’t know how much they will remember - but things like this are great for even Josh and I to review! (And as much as I hate to admit it - they seemed to think the best part was blowing the candles out at the end!! *grin*)

    We love ya’ll and hope that tomorrow provides some relief!

  2. Paul McKenzie Says:


    I have been praying for you for some time, and have been a regular reader here, but have not posted before…

    First, THANK YOU to you and your family for sharing this struggle with all of us. Your focus day-by-day on “what really matters” helps all of us. I am inspired by it all, and look forward to reading new entries!

    Second, I missed the earlier invite to post Christmas stories, so I’ll do it here. Soon after we got married, we also picked up two kittens. As kiitens do, they invented a game of chasing each other around the house. (Some chases got pretty intense!) Well, one Chrstmas we had gotten the tree up, and were enjoying it. Suddenly, ‘the chase’ came tearing around the corner and went up into the Christmas tree! It was so funny to see the cats in the tree, and then to see them realize WHAT DID I JUST DO? They finally worked themselves out, but not before batting a few balls down.

    We will continue to pray for you and your family. May the simple joys of this season shine through the troubles we have.

    Merry Christmas!
    — Paul

  3. Doris Harriff Says:

    My heart aches for Katy and her caretakers! You are always in my prayers!
    I see a bright spot in Paul’s trip with Qavah. She must really be a day-brightener and a joy to you all!

    Love, Aunt Doris

  4. Sandy Says:

    Prayers continue from here. These are surely difficult days. I hope you are covered with a peace that passes all understanding this weekend. Take good care.

  5. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    I’ll write a story later, but what is a “Jesse” tree? Aunt Lil

  6. Heather Kirkwood Says:

    Katy, I hope the MRI finds something. Not that I want anything to be wrong, but on the other hand I’d like them to be able to find something they can fix. I also hope that you and your doctors are able to work out something regarding your nutrition. You need fuel to fight the battle.

  7. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    My last three years in Africa I taught full-time at the Medical Assistant’s School (sort of combination Physician’s Assistant and Nurse Practitioner). I taught Bible Study classes to students who were interested, and at Christmas time every year planned a Christmas Candle Light Celebration that all were happy to attend. I did it very simply: I found all the verses in the Old and New Testaments that I could find relating to Jesus - beginning perhaps with “A Light to the Gentiles…” “Arise and Shine for Your Light has Come”, and going to the Christmas Story and the Light of the World, and so on. I wrote each verse and its reference on a piece of paper, numbered in sequence. Then I handed a simple white candle and a verse to each student as they came in.

    On a long bench at the front, I put a 2 foot high and about 3 ” wide candle (the Catholics had them for prayer candles) in the middle and trimmed it with mountain cedar (which grew there) and red canna lilies, as they would be blooming at Christmas. I had the carpenter shop drill candle size holes in boards or branches, then trimmed them with evergreen as well and lined them up on either side of the of the tall candle, along the bench. At the beginning I lighted just the tall candle and and explained the symbolism of the red and green colors at Christmas, red for the blood He shed, green for everylasting life, and the light for the Light “that shines on everyone coming into the world”. I think we sang a couple of carols. Then we turned off all the electric lights left the one large candle shining. The students began coming up one up by one, lighting their candles at the big candle, reading their verse, and then placing their candle in one of the drilled holes, expanding slowly each way until all were placed and the front of the room was filled with candle light, the Christ-candle in the middle. A great reverence always seemed to descend on the large room as the little celebration progressed. The last year I was there I gave a little devotional talk about Jesus being our light, and gave an invitation for anyone who wanted to make a commitment or a re-commitment to the Light of the World Who is Jesus. The first one to quickly leap to his feet and come forward was Medard, one of the seven Seniors that I called my “Seven Princes”. A gentle, soft-spoken, intelligent young man, earnestly coming to offer himself to Jesus. I never forgot that, and when I came to learn what happened to Medard at the great Rwandan Genocide, I was so glad I remembered. His colleague and room-mate after they graduated was Louis, and about 4 years ago, Louis got my e-mail address and I asked about all my dear students. Louis said, when we heard about the killings in other places, I tried to get Medard to flee with me to Burundi. But he said, “I can’t imagine that anyone would want to murder someone like me.” He stayed. Later Louis heard about him from an eye-witness to his death. A group of the other tribe - (WARNING! this is very graphic, so don’t read it to little children )- had trapped him and a bunch of others. They had a pit and began mutilating them and throwing them in the pit alive. When they had thrown Medard in, he cried out “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing!”
    When I get to heaven, I know I am going to see Medard there. He has been celebrating Christmas with Jesus a good many years now. I hope this is inspirational rather than too saddening. My eyes still fill with tears when I remembered how Medard responded to such hatred with forgiveness. What a wonderful reward he must be having in heaven now!

    “Be faithful to death, and I will give you a Crown of Life!”

    Love, Aunt Lil

  8. Lillian Oliveira Says:

    I meant to say relating to Jesus as Light… Aunt LIl

  9. Phyllis Calhoun Says:

    Dear Campbells, I stay updated with your blog. Just went through every picture you have posted. What beautiful children! Qavah gives me so much to think about as our family ministers to the fatherless in our new church. Dawn, thanks so much for living the life in front of me. I love you and you are all in daily prayers.