Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Elizabeth's Gift

A friend of mine dropped by today. She called and said she had something for me. Never in a million years could I have guessed what it was. I met Elizabeth at the door and she held out her gift. It was in a little red bag. I carefully picked up the contents and felt a glass jar. I pulled it out of the wrapping paper and there was a pint jar of those red candied apple slices that I wrote about on the blog last month at Thanksgiving. Elizabeth was recently offered some by her Aunt Betty, only her Aunt Betty called them her homemade candied pickles. When Elizabeth tasted them she was sure they were what I had written about on the blog. So she brought a jar to me today. That gesture on Elizabeth's part meant so much to me.

Paul was here and opened the jar for me. I dipped my fingers into the ruby red pickles and popped a slice into my mouth. My whole being was swept back into my childhood as taste and fragrance were powerful transporters. We talked and laughed while I ate a few more slices. Although I have not been able to "connect" with many friends over the past three years, Elizabeth's gift reminded me that friends are there, reading the blog, praying, and loving as they always have. And I loved spending time with my friend today. My closing thought for this post comes from the song of David, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good." Thank you, Elizabeth.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Celebrating Thirty-Six Years Together

It seems like just a few short years ago that Paul and I said "I do" on a snowy Saturday in Michigan. I can't believe how fast those years have flown by. We plan to celebrate tomorrow with brunch and a trip to an art museum in North Carolina. Paul had just one request when planning our day together; no kids along for this trip! I'm in full agreement that there are times a couple needs some time away from parenting. We can use the break and plan to enjoy a quiet day together without those "little ears around." Those little ears can be very humbling. Such was the case last week when we were taking Qavah to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for the first time.

We found that Cincinnati road signs were a bit confusing, so naturally while we were looking for certain buildings in Cincinnati there were some frustrating moments. As we neared an intersection I quickly said to Paul, “Turn right here!” "I can't turn right here; I am in the wrong lane," he stated hotly. I retorted, "No I meant this is where you turn! I meant turn left right here!" “Then say left!” Paul exclaimed. Defending myself as only a woman can do, I said, “Listen to what I mean, not what I say!”

Suddenly from the back seat a little voice said these penetrating words, “All right guys, can we use our happy voices please?” We were busted by our six year old. Using a line I have repeated to her many times as she plays with others, Qavah rightly stated a fact. When a situation arises that causes tensions to flare, the right thing to do is to use our “happy voices.” Left to ourselves we probably would have let the whole thing blow over, but Qavah caught us being naughty. Paul and I took turns apologizing to her for our temper flare up. Tomorrow we are planning to use our "happy voices" while we celebrate a happy marriage, and we are leaving our backseat driver at home.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Thistle's Story


The Thistle's Story by Dawn Campbell
Growing along the wind blown path,
A thistle danced in the sun.
Little thistle, all of creation speaks of its Maker,
What story have you to tell?

"My downy bloom of purple hue
speaks of royalty so true.
For it was the King of Creation
born one quiet night in Bethlehem.

My green leaves and stem draw life from Him
There is no life cut off by sin.
It is His life that flows through me,
Weathering storms so valiantly.

My fierce stinging thorns speak of a crown
Worn at Calvary.
When a sacrifice was made for man
By the Lord of Eternity."

Little thistle, how beautifully you portray your Creator
With royal purple, green and thorn.
My heart will ponder all these things
Come this Christmas morn.
Merry Christmas to all the readers of The Campbell Family Journal. We pray for our blog readers regularly, sincerely hoping that you will find in these writings that Jesus is our Immanuel; God with us.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Back Home

We sat in our hotel room in Cincinnati Saturday morning listening to The Weather Channel. We decided that since most of the snow had already fallen in our hometown we should try to drive home. We figured that road crews would work all day to clear I-81 and by the time we would be driving in that area, the roads would be passable. By taking the southern route to Knoxville and getting on I-81 from the south, we were able to get home in ten hours and missed most of the snow. We needed to be home. We are all very weary. We've tried to clear snow today between naps. Qavah slept most of the day away.

As we think about the past week of testing in Cincinnati, we are committing it all to the Lord. If there is something to be seen at this time, I know He will reveal it. We are praying that nothing will be missed and that those who interpret the tests will see what needs to be seen. Paul and I saw many little children at the Bone Marrow Transplant clinic who needed our prayers. As we sat in the waiting area and saw the sick children we were able to pray for them, and our hearts were moved by the look of suffering on their faces. We were all swept up into the world of unknowns together. But the motto on the clinic wall stated, "Changing The Outcome." I pray it will be so.

After our last doctor visit on Friday we planned a surprise for Qavah. We took her to the IMAX cinema to see the Princess and the Frog. She sat riveted (no pun intended) to her seat with her bag of popcorn on her lap. Paul and I sat there watching her. The movie was delightful. Qavah would laugh with deep belly laughs at all the funny parts and it seemed like all the tension of the week was put far behind her. We were glad to have the chance to do something fun with her.

We have felt the very real Presence of the Lord guiding us and placing His peace over our home. Kathryn did very well on her own last week, and had the help of friends nearby. The Lord has supplied our needs in every way and then brought us home safely for Sabbath rest. We could not be in better Hands. He is the Prince of Peace, and it is evident in our home as we wait on Him to bring healing to Qavah.


Qavah and Maddie enjoying themselves

Leaving Cincinnati Children's Hospital on Friday - headed to the movies!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Surprises in Virginia

While Mom, Dad, and Qavah are probably sound asleep in Ohio, Paul Burton and I are enjoying the biggest snowstorm to hit Roanoke, Virginia in more than a decade. Who cares that it's three o'clock on Saturday morning? Yes, we really do have 10 inches of snow on the ground, and it's still falling from the sky. The wind has also picked up, so the snow is drifting and blowing at times.

Earlier tonight after dinner, I used the computer camera and Skype to talk with Colin and his family. I actually saw Annelise, Nehemiah, and Eva sitting on their parents' laps in their own home office! While I was "visiting," Mom called on the telephone. So, I put her on the speaker phone and held it close to the computer camera. She was able to hear Colin, Jennifer, and the children talk. Even Qavah and Annelise said "hello" to each other.

Just about the time we were ending our conversation, Colin suggested that we play a game over the internet once the children were put to bed. By this time, Paul Burton had also entered the library where I was with my computer. He had his laptop with him, so he too joined us in playing Settlers of Catan. After playing two virtual games, Colin and Jennifer said it was time for bed. That is when Paul Burton and I decided to venture outside for some more fun.

After a long week, the Lord knew my soul needed the good surprises I experienced this evening. I'm now praying that Mom, Dad, and Qavah will have "showers of blessings" of their own before returning to Virginia on Sunday. Until then, I must get some sleep so my body stays healthy and happy for their home-coming. There is a book on our library shelf titled, The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Birthday. Well, I don't want my next blog post title to say, "Kathryn and Too Much Weekend Fun," so I better head to bed right now.

The expression "Winter Wonderland" has never been more real to me then it is tonight:



Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Afternoon 4pm

I just spoke with Mom; she was understandbly tired, but sounded happily relieved. Unless something happens, the week of tests, questions, and appointments at Cincinnati Children's Hospital is over.

This morning's appointment with the pediatric gastroenterologist went well. Over all, the doctor was very pleased with the treatment Qavah is receiving from the GI doctor here in Roanoke. He was also surprised at how much the Ursodiol is helping Qavah digest her food. His main concern, though, was in regard to weight. Qavah's height is increasing at a good pace, but it's hard for her body to maintain the few pounds she does gain in between transfusions and infections. So, they discussed at-length several different methods of how to "put weight" on Qavah.

Mom and Dad have decided to spend Saturday night in Cincinnati, because of the snowstorm that is hitting Virginia and the surrounding States. Actually, when I called them, they were on their way to Kroger for groceries - such an ordinary trip for Qavah, but thankfully, one that doesn't require poking, prodding, or "sticks" (blood draws)! For Mom and Dad, staying another night means getting some extra rest before driving home.

Friday Morning Update

I just got off the phone with Mom (Dawn), who was enjoying a leisure breakfast at a Cincinnati restaurant. Aimee and Maddie were dropped off at the airport earlier this morning. As of right now, Mom and Dad are planning to get home Saturday evening. Of course, that could change if Virginia gets the "big snow storm" that is predicted to begin late this afternoon.

Last night, my father rigged up a "tent" over Qavah's bed so that the humidifier they brought from home would be working right where Qavah was sleeping. Combined with the dose of Rocephin Qavah had yesterday afternoon, she is already feeling better. Amazingly, even when Qavah was so physically sick, she was still smiling and joyful. That is definitely the mercy and power of the Lord!

On the agenda for today is one final medical appointment. They will visit with the pediatric gastroenterologist at noon (12pm EST). Please pray specifically for this consultation as it is one of the most important appointments Qavah was scheduled to have this week. Mom said she'll try to call me this afternoon after the doctor visit. So once I speak with her, I'll try to update this blog right away.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday Night 7pm

An update from my father's sister, Judy, who lives about two hours away from Cincinnati, Ohio:

I was able to go down to Cincinnati today to visit Paul, Dawn, and Qavah. The labs showed that Qavah has a blood infection. She is on a wide spectrum antibiotic until they can determine exactly what is causing the infection when they will most likely switch her to a more specific antibiotic. In spite of her fever she is perky and happy - she was eating a pizza when I got there and later had some ice cream. She does have some congestion with a cough.

I was happy to meet Maddie and her mommy Aimee and to help out a little bit. Please pray for them all as their strength is being stretched to the limit. But we know that God is able to do abundantly above and beyond what we can imagine!

Thursday Night 7pm

An update from my father's sister, Judy, who lives about two hours away from Cincinnati, Ohio:

I was able to go down to Cincinnati today to visit Paul, Dawn, and Qavah. The labs showed that Qavah has a blood infection. She is on a wide spectrum antibiotic until they can determine exactly what is causing the infection when they will most likely switch her to a more specific antibiotic. In spite of her fever she is perky and happy - she was eating a pizza when I got there and later had some ice cream. She does have some congestion with a cough.

I was happy to meet Maddie and her mommy Aimee and to help out a little bit. Please pray for them all as their strength is being stretched to the limit. But we know that God is able to do abundantly above and beyond what we can imagine!

Thursday Morning 7am

Qavah's condition worsened last night. There will be no biopsy today. We have labs this morning at 8:30 and they will check for infection and white cell count. Paul drove Aimee and Maddie to the hospital at 6am for Maddie's procedure. We are resting in the knowledge that we are being obedient to what God has called us to do, even though we thought we were here for a bone marrow biopsy. The verse God gave us this morning is this: "Man makes his plans but the Lord determines his steps." We are at peace. Please pray for Qavah's lung congestion to clear. Her fever is 102, but she is still smiling and happy. I hope to post an update later today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Next!

Our appointments today centered around the Immunologist. There is no pediatric immunologist in Roanoke, but Qavah's symptoms suggest an autoimmune disease so this appointment was an important one. When we arrived the nurse took down the information we gave about Qavah, and our observations. All her vital signs were normal. We told her how we have seen Qavah become quite ill within hours. We have seen a sudden fever come upon her and wipe out her red cells, creating the need for a transfusion. When the nurse left, the residents came in to gather information. As they were firing out the questions, scrutinizing everything we said, I looked at Qavah and saw that she was not doing well. She slid toward me on the exam table and said, "Mommy, hold me." I took her in my arms and she was burning with fever! The very thing I had just described happened right there in front of the doctors. Several vials of blood were drawn immediately. They will run tests trying to determine what Qavah's immune system is doing to her body. Given the way in which this health issue today showed up, I am giving glory to God in advance for the things He will reveal.

Once word got around that Qavah was suddenly struck with a fever there was concern over whether her bone marrow aspiration can be done tomorrow. Marrow must be drawn in this hospital in order for research to happen here at Cincinnati Children's. They cannot send us home to have the marrow drawn and shipped here. So our prayer tonight is that God will bring swift healing to Qavah, and that this most important test will not be delayed a single moment. We are to be at the hospital at 6:45 tomorrow morning and it will be determined then whether we proceed. So our next challenge is right in front of us. Paul and I are about to pray and go to sleep.

We have had trouble with our internet connection at our hotel and we have not been able to get online to keep family and friends updated as we had hoped. But we do know that our children back home are praying and fasting. We received greeting cards from Kathryn with a note of encouragement that meant so much. Qavah even had a note to open from her big sister. It is encouraging for us to know that while we feel far from home, your thoughts and prayers are with us.

We were able to get Maddie to her appointments today. We pushed Aimee in a wheel chair and Maddie rode on her lap. Aimee is now struggling with the nausea that comes from taking pain medication, so she is in need of our prayers. She has to be very careful with her back. Paul and I are working together trying to help Aimee as much as we can, and we are glad for her sake that she is not here alone.

Christmas is just around the corner, and we are excited about turning our attention toward such a lovely holiday and leaving all of this medical stuff behind for awhile.

Sunrise

The sun is just rising over Cincinnati and our routine is about to begin. Paul and I have been praying for supernatural strength to meet the challenges of our days. Aimee has had severe back pain since arriving here and has needed a wheel chair as well as assistance getting in and out of the car. Maddie has "taken" to us in a big way and we are thankful for that. With Aimee in pain, we immediately knew we would have to see Maddie through this week. It is merciful that God has put a love in her heart for us and she readily follows our instruction. She is also very joyful so she and Qavah have made fast friends. Each day this week we have had appointments at the hospital and we are able to attend Maddie's appointments as well. We are all praying that the diagnostic tests will begin to paint a clear picture of what is happening in the bodies of our children.

As we have been moving through this week it feels like we are wearing waders and that we are slogging through muck. While it is mentally and physically exhausting, we have our dreams beyond this to keep us moving. We can picture Qavah taking music lessons and enjoying her talents. We visualize the days beyond this illness when she can run and not be weary. We imagine praying her through the teen years when she will wonder where in the world she "fits", and patiently teaching her that she will never "fit" in this world because she is made for heaven. Our time here in Cincinnati is hard because we are working against the enemy. But our dreams for Qavah and Maddie are great, and a great motivator to keep slogging. And in doing so we hope above all that our efforts are pleasing to the Lord.

What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him for ever.
*The first question of the Heidelburg Catechism

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

From where does my help come?

This is from Kathryn - Today has been a very rough day for my parents, Qavah, Aimee, and Maddie. Everyone except my father is battling some kind of health issue. Aimee went to the hospital with significant back pain, Qavah is not feeling well, and my parents are exhausted. Please pray for supernatural strength for them all to get through this week with good news! Thank you for your prayers!

For all these things to be happening at once is so bizarre that we can't help but believe the enemy of our souls is trying to keep good things from happening. It's in moments like these that it is can be so hard to hold on. The Psalmist had to remind himself of what was true in moments like these. Psalm 121 says:

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Arrived Safe And Sound

Dad is trying to connect to the internet, but due to some technical difficulties, he has not been able to do so. Therefore, I'm going to post tonight's update. ~Kathryn

Your prayers for our family are already being answered. I just finished speaking with Mom. They arrived at their hotel a few hours ago. Today's trip went well for them. Qavah slept a little and watched movies during most of the journey while Mom and Dad talked and listened to sermons. Tonight, they spent some time mapping out the hospital and planning for tomorrow's 9:30am appointment. Even though Cincinnati Children's Hospital is just a short distance from the hotel, they are planning to leave almost two hours before the first appointment because of rush hour. Apparently, Cincinnati is a very large city with lots of possibilities of places to visit in between doctor appointments.

Aimee and Maddie fly into Cincinnati tomorrow, so please continue to pray for their safe travel. Meanwhile, I've had a very spiritually refreshing day due to the kindnesses of family friends. As we go to bed tonight, our entire family senses God's goodness and nearness. Thank you again for supporting us along this journey.

Ready!

We are about to leave our driveway. The packing went smoothly. The cure for keeping our minds from getting mushy in our old age is having a six year old. There is so much to remember that we rely heavily on our lists. Medications, toys, movies, and Cocoa Puffs, are all in the van along with a mommy and daddy that have a lot of hope in our hearts. And of course, a little girl who is brave enough to meet this challenge.

We'll post from Cincinnati as we are able. We've made it this far by God's grace, and prayer. Kathryn and I prayed early this morning that God would bless our prayer partners. We're so thankful for you.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Ready for Miracles

Paul and I were just watching a series of true stories from a reporter who went to Israel to check out the stories of miracles still occurring for the Chosen People as in days of old. We watched a re-enactment of a group of Israeli soldiers exploring the grounds just outside Jerusalem in 1973 where the enemies of the Jews had previously laid land mines by the hundreds. They were exploring the ground by night, being careful not to be seen by the enemy, when suddenly one of the men shouted, "Stop!" At his feet was the tip of a land mine that had mercifully caught his attention. As all the men slowly dropped to their knees a command was given. The soldiers were told to take out their knives, dig at the dirt in front of them, locate a mine, and disable it. They all began to whisper prayers as they dug, each one knowing that a simple slip of a knife could set off a mine and kill them all.

Suddenly the wind picked up and began to blow with such great power they were forced to stop and cover their heads with their jackets. The wind howled and the sand blew fiercely. Within a few minutes the wind had blown the clouds away to reveal a full moon and the soldiers stood up. Unbelievably the sand had been blown off all the land mines and the shimmering moon revealed hundreds of mines around them as far as they could see. They would never have been able to conquer the task of uncovering them on their own. They were able to walk through all of the potential danger in complete confidence because of what the Lord did for them, and what they were shown by the light.

Like hidden land mines, there are many traps set before us in this life. Because of the fall of Adam, we are surrounded by decay and brokenness every day. But our hope as Christians is that God in His great mercy will help us navigate the tough times. He can be trusted with our brokenness and He has shown a Light in the darkness to help us on our way.

As we near our trip to Cincinnati there have been several unusual things come against us. I have been praying that the Lord will continue to hide us in the shelter of His wing, and then light the way when it is time to venture forth.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely He will save you from the fowlers snare and from the deadly pestilence. Psalm 91: 1-3

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Praise Report!

I just spoke with Mom! She sounded wonderful. The CT Scan showed a benign cyst on her liver and absolutely no evidence of cancer in her body. The pain is most likely coming from a gallbladder that is functioning slowly. At Mom's request, the hospital gave her only one drug, which was an anti-nausea medication. She said it worked so much better than all of the other medications she has recently tried. The GI doctor did not see an immediate reason to remove the gallbladder, though. Instead, Mom was released from the hospital with a prescription, instructions on how to manage the pain after eating, and orders to call the GI office on Monday to schedule a gallbladder function test.

Please continue to diligently pray for Mom, Qavah, little Maddie, and Aimee (Maddie's mother) over the next two weeks. Like Mom, Aimee is also encountering some very unusual and serious health-related issues. We believe that these recent attacks are from Satan, who is trying to discourage and distract our families from the job of preparing the girls for their upcoming trip to Ohio. We believe the Lord is going to work mightily through the doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Satan despises anything that is good and what else could be better than calming the physical war that rages in Qavah's and Maddie's bodies? We are not without hope, though, because the Lord is the ruler of our lives and stronger than any attack Satan brings our way!

In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-40

-Kathryn

Hospital

After a very difficult night of nausea, pain, and vomiting, Mom telephoned the hospital's GI doctor early this morning. He wanted to order specific tests to determine if her gallbladder was diseased. However, since it's the weekend, the only way the tests could be administered was through the emergency room. So our good friend Linda drove Mom to the hospital around 9:30am. Dad has some business-related deadlines, so he stayed home to work. I'm also here babysitting Qavah.

While no one likes to visit the hospital, we know the Lord is ordaining our lives within His perfect will. He is working out the details in a "wonderful" way. Yesterday, Mom and I spent the day shopping for next week's trip to Ohio. We also did our weekly grocery shopping. The G.I. doctor Mom spoke with this morning is the specialist I use and the same one she visited Thursday morning. So, he was already familiar with Mom's recent health issues. Linda's plans for today were canceled due to the light snow we had this morning. And amazingly, the emergency room was not crowded when Mom and Linda got there!

Currently, we are still unsure if Mom will stay at the hospital or if she'll have surgery. She just drank some dye for her ct scan, but it'll be an hour or more before the results are available. Linda is calling me with updates, so once I have some news, I'll post it. Thank you for your prayers. We can feel them. Our home is filled with peace and Mom is doing well, considering the circumstances.

-Kathryn

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Paper?

I had more testing and another appointment this morning. Tomorrow I will sit down with another doctor to go over the results of yesterday's testing. My best friend said, "You've been to the doctor more in three weeks than in all the years I've known you." She's right. It has been so long since I have been to the doctor that I did not know those flimsy little backless gowns have been replaced by something even more degrading. The nurse said, "put this on and the doctor will be right in." I picked up the little packet and found what looked like a large paper towel.

I sat there wrapped in paper feeling pretty uncomfortable; like sitting in a wet bathing suit on a chilly day. I started to laugh and talk to the Great Physician. I mentioned that He obviously thought I could use a little humbling. So I'm sitting here tonight with about half of all my labs and tests complete and feeling truly humbled. Thank you for praying for our whole family. I believe great things are going to come out of all this.

I have been making a packing list for Cincinnati and spending time with Qavah on the computer. I am teaching her how to play simple computer games that will help her with her letters, numbers, and puzzles. I was in the kitchen cleaning while she was pretending. She was in the middle of introducing herself to her invisible friend and said, "My name is Qavah, that's spelled Q-a-v-a-h.com!"

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"Man makes his plans"

"But the Lord determines his steps." There is a river Jordan in my life. I am being asked by the Lord to step into the waters and trust Him and I am wondering where this journey will lead. Having visited the doctor three times with gallbladder attack symptoms, I had an ultrasound yesterday. I did not have gallstones, but rather a lesion or growth on my liver, restricting blood flow. I will be seeing a specialist on Thursday and expect to have more testing. I have periods each day of extreme nausea, vomiting, and pain. But today I used four hours of the better moments to plan our trip to Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

Through a remarkable set of circumstances, I found out today that our trip to Ohio will be paid for including the hotel. The state of Virginia has a special arrangement with Extended Stay America just five miles from Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Qavah qualifies to stay there with her mommy and daddy. Currently there are four other families from Virginia staying there. I hope we will have a chance to meet some of them. And little Maddie will be there with her mommy having the same procedures along with Qavah. The hospitality staff at Cincinnati Children's Hospital will be providing us with complimentary tickets to the zoo, science museum, and other attractions. They encouraged us to take Qavah out for some fun each day because she has a lot of serious grown-up stuff happening during our four days there. Her biopsies will take place on Thursday, the last day of our trip.

While I have made my plans, the Lord will decide whether I take those steps with Paul and Qavah. I pray that He will give me the good health to go, but I trust His reasons if He does not. I have learned bravery from my two dear daughters. They have blessed my life with their joy and courage and I hope to do the same for them.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21