Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas From the Waltons!

 Merry Christmas dear family and friends! This has been quite a year for us. We have seen the Lord more clearly than we ever have in our lives before. We want to say THANK YOU to all of you who have walked this valley with us. Never before have we walked such a dark valley. While walking in this valley, you have walked with us. With you by our sides, the terrifying shadows do not seem quite so terrifying and the sweet grass and still waters seem even sweeter. 
We have seen the body of Christ utilize their gifts in a supernatural way and have blessed beyond measure.  We pray that the Lord will greatly bless all of you in this upcoming New Year! We love you all so very much!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

IN THE VALLEY...part 3

October 11, 2011

When Dr. Turner told us Josh needed to be transported to BSA in Amarillo, Josh tried to talk him out of it. He had gotten to know and adore the staff at Coon Memorial Hospital and felt comfortable there. Dr Turner explained that they did not have the technology available to them to monitor Josh’s condition to the degree that he needed to be monitored.

At first we thought he was going to be transported by ambulance. Then we found out that he was in critical enough condition to warrant air transportation. Again, Josh seemed daunted by the situation. By this time, Josh had begun hallucinating and was often disoriented. He had begun hearing voices of people who were not in the room. He would doze for a few minutes and then wake up startled, and ask where everyone had gone. He was sure the room had been filled with people. He would rattle off a list of names of people he was sure had just been in the room. None of them had been there. This frustrated and confused him.

We were unsure as to whether they would allow Brian or I to fly with him, so Brian ran home, grabbed some things for a few nights stay and got on the road towards Amarillo. We did not want Josh to arrive at the hospital without one of us there. One of the nurses, Logan who had become a great friend to Josh, was off that day but had come by to see him. He assured Josh that the helicopter was the best way to go. Logan talked Josh through the whole process. By the time the helicopter arrived, Josh had warmed up to the idea of a helicopter ride.

As it turned out, they did allow me to ride in the helicopter with him. As they prepared Josh for travel, the pilot brought me outside to orientate me for the flight. As we waited outside for Josh to arrive, we sat facing the emergency room doors that he would be wheeled out of. We had been waiting for a while when all of a sudden the doors opened and a pack of people swarmed out, with Josh in the middle of the pack on his stretcher. Hospital staff, as well as dear friends, that had come to see him off, surrounded him. It warmed my heart.

Even though we were there due to rough circumstances, the ride was amazing. As we flew over the rooftops of Dalhart, it was breathtaking to see things from an aerial view. As I took in the view, I could see the skyline of Dalhart, Dumas and Amarillo all at the same time. I could see hills and valleys that I never knew were out there. It dawned on me that this is how different the Lord’s view must be from our own. He gets to see the whole picture of our lives. That thought, oddly enough, brought me great comfort.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


The Sunday prior to Josh being hospitalized, we had a guest worship leader, at our church, by the name of Matthew Duhon. The atmosphere seemed electric and alive. As we participated in worship, I missed Josh being with us at church, and wished he had been there to hear Matthew. He would have loved his vibrant, youthful energy, just as the other youth did, but I particularly wanted him to see Matthew. Matthew was, well…bald. Earlier in Josh’s treatment, his hair-loss was an extremely low spot in his journey. I wanted him to see Mathew sporting his baldness, boldly. Matthew was young and trendy appeared to have chosen his lack of hair as part of his cool look. (We learned otherwise earlierJ)

We sang many amazing songs that morning, some newer worship songs and some tastefully updated hymns. Among them was an updated version of, “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”.  In the following days, when Josh’s was hospitalized, I awoke with that same song running through my thoughts. As the days went by, and Josh’s condition worsened, the song became louder in my head.

Your blood speaks a better word. Than all the empty claims I’ve heard upon this earth, speaks righteousness for me. And stands in my defense, Jesus it’s Your blood

What can wash away our sins? What can make us whole again? Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can wash us pure as snow? Welcomed as the friends of God. Nothing but Your blood Nothing but Your blood King Jesus
Your cross testifies in grace. Tells of the Father’s heart to make a way for us. 
Now boldly we approach. Not by earthly confidence. It’s only Your blood.
We thank You for the blood. We thank You for the blood
We praise You for the blood. We praise You for the blood
Nothing but Your blood, nothing but Your blood King Jesus

In our family, we fully believe that nothing happens by, “accident”, even the songs that run through our head. At one point, in a passing thought, I asked the Lord why that particular song ran through my head…He stopped me in my tracks…I heard His voice clearly head and in my heart…”It is Josh’s blood that is damaged”….

 What can make (Josh) whole again? Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

To be continued…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

IN THE VALLEY...part 1

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

I must apologize for my lack of current blogging. My wonderful husband has the uncanny ability to accurately communicate through the written word in times of crisis. I, on the other hand, go into “shut-down mode”. It is sometimes even difficult to eek out a text, and when I do, it is only a scant, often non-descriptive cry for prayer.

Josh is currently sleeping calmly in his hospital bed here at BSA. We are on round four of five. We are simply waiting for days of chemo to go by. Josh usually sleeps through these days, waking only in the afternoons. During those brief hours of him being awake, his room is buzzing with nurses, doctors, visitors and laughter. This time of him receiving chemo is, for the most, the easy part. The scary times come in the days that follow.

So now, once again, as I sit in a quite PICU hospital room, I will attempt to piece together the events that transpired over the last few months. Please forgive me if I ramble and jump around a bit. I will be processing some of this information for the first time. Even now, as I begin to write a lump grows in my throat, the air in the room seems to be getting thicker and the feeling of nausea is overwhelming.

I write this for two reasons, one, for all of you who have faithfully walked this journey with us. You have prayed with and for us, cried with us, fed us, laughed with us and carried us when we could no longer walk on our own. We could not have walked this road without you. Two, because I never, ever want to forget God’s unending Mercy and Grace he has showered over us.


September 28, 2011
When Josh received chemo last time, it was his third of five rounds and he was treated at MD Anderson in Houston. It was a pretty normal treatment. He did sleep more than he usually does but we knew the third round was a stronger dose so we were not really surprised when he slept so much.

October 1, 2011
He slept most of the way home, and then more when we were home. The only concern we had with him sleeping so much was that he was not getting much fluid. Even the few moments he was awake he was not really hungry or thirsty. We encouraged him to eat but more importantly to drink as much fluid as possible. Nothing really sounded good to him but he would drink a few swallows.

October 6, 2011
He had his blood drawn in the hospital on Thursday and all seemed good. By Sunday he seemed to be running a low-grade fever but nothing that alarmed us. He seemed a little more pale than usual as well.

October 10, 2011
Monday morning we had Home-health come out and take blood for his labs. Just a little over an hour later, Brian called to say that we needed to get Josh over to the hospital right away for a transfusion. His blood counts had plummeted over the weekend. Brian came home right away and we attempted to get Josh into the car. He had become so week that he could barely walk. Brian had to carry him out to the car.

We got right into a room at Coon Memorial Hospital. The lab technician is a good friend of ours, and said he ran the results right over to our doctor as soon he saw how low the numbers were. I could see look of concern in his eyes as well as in the faces of the nurses.

I naively thought that they could just transfuse him and all would be good. Oh, if could have just been that easy. His fever had also gone up. Not too dramatically but enough that they were pretty sure he would need to be officially admitted.

Latter that day, he was officially admitted and given a steady flow of blood, platelets and other fluids. His fever continued to climb. More fluids were given. His critical condition warranted one-to-one nursing care. We had amazing nurses camped out in his room throughout the day. His awesome doctor also came by throughout the day to monitor his condition. A steady stream of dear friends from our church family and community came by to pray with us, wish him well, and bring us wonderful things to eat and drink.

Even with all of the great care, Josh still was not getting better. His fever began to spike to new dangerous levels. His breathing became shallow. He was given antibiotics to fight the cause of the fever, still he grew worse. His breathing became fast and even shallower and he began to hallucinate. He heard voices of people that were not in the room. He also began to have terrifying dreams.

As I look back, my memories are only dream-like. Some things seemed to have happened in slow motion while other things seemed to take place in a flurry of activity. Some events and conversations I do not recall at all. My precious, comical daughter seems to think my impaired memory is because of my age. I believe it is because Our Papa Father knows just how much our minds and hearts can take and mercifully blocks out the rest.

I can remember crying often. I tried keeping my fears from Josh. Many times I would escape to the bathroom down hall when I simply could no longer hide my fear and pain. After releasing a torrent of emotions and tears, I would attempt to re-compose before returning to his bedside. Often silent tears would streak down my face as I sat beside him while he fitfully slept. No matter how much I willed them to stop, they would not comply.

October 11, 2011
On Wednesday morning, Brian had gone to the office, in an attempt to get through some of his backlogged work. Josh seemed stable that morning but then, as the morning went on, he seemed to grow worse. They had hooked him up to oxygen but he just could not seem to breath normally. He was also having some pain in his left side.

Shortly before noon, I stepped out of the room with a visitor. Just as I was closing the door behind me, I heard him make a weird sound and start violently coughing. I ran back in. His heart rate spiked to well over 200. (His normal heart rate is around 50-70). He said that something funny happened with his heart that made him start coughing.

We had a rush of activity in his room. His nurse attempted to get his heart rate down. His doctor was called in. I frantically tried to get a hold of Brian. I had poor phone reception while in Josh’s hospital room and could not get a call out. I texted Brian to please come immediately. I attempted several times to get my text to send. It must have gone out eventually because Brian and Pastor Rodney arrived right after Dr. Turner.

Dr Turner is known for his ability to de-escalate a crisis situation. This time was no exception. He came in, amidst the chaos and seemed to calm things down. My fears lessened as I watched him calmly assess the situation. He had a pretty logical explanation for Josh’s heart rate elevation. The panic that could be felt in the room earlier seemed to dissipate.

Shortly after that, Dr Turner explained that Josh needed to be transferred to the PICU at BSA in Amarillo.  A little alarm went off in the back of my head but I ignored it, wanting to blissfully believe all was still OK.

To be continued….

Sunday, October 2, 2011


On July 20, we were given Josh's official diagnoses of AML. We had already suspected the diagnosis was not good. Dr. Sharp confirmed our worst fears. He did, however, assure us that Josh's prognosis was good as long as we sought treatment right away. One of the things he repeated, several times, was that his treatment would not be quick and easy. He said treating this disease is a "marathon, not a sprint". Our minds spun. We could never have gotten a grasp, back then, of what that meant. The funny thing is, that was just two and a half months ago, though it seems like a life-time.

So many things have changed; what we never even considered three months ago, has become routine to us. We pack up our family and basically live somewhere else for several weeks out of each month. We have learned all new routines and a whole new set of people. We have negotiated with doctors, cried with other parents, depended on dear family and friends and clung to our God with a fervor we never thought possible.

Sometimes we see a weariness in Josh's eyes that scares us. While this is hard on all of us, it is, of course, hardest on him. We worry about how much more of this his body can take. He has many bad days, but then, he has great days that make the bad days a little less painful. We have seen him grow tremendously through this journey. He has matured before our eyes. He is seeing the Lord in a new and powerful way. He is looking at life... and death, in a whole new way. 

We cling to the words sweet Miss Betty McCallister says often, "We know not what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future!" As we run this marathon, we know we still have a long way to go. We struggle some days to keep our eyes on the Author and Finisher; other days we can almost feel His physical presence. We know He is refining us all. We know, now more than ever, of His goodness and power.

Lord, please help us to finish this marathon well by keeping our eyes on you. Help us to get back up when we stumble. Thank you for those who run along side us, they make our load lighter. We could not survive without them. Thank you for giving us a hope for the future.

After a grueling drive to Houston, the Lord provided us with great tickets an Astro's game.  Some amazing people donated them to the Ronald Mc Donald House.

Sarah, enjoying the view from our awesome seating area at the Astro game.

Josh is VERY entertaining to the surgical staff just before he gets another bone marrow biopsy. The man with the bow tie is Dr. Reiting who will do the procedure.

This is Ian, he is a resident artist at MDA. He works with the kids on different art projects. He and Josh are standing in front of his latest creation. He had kids from the Pediatrics floor make leaves and other decorations and then he put it all together. He is a great guy. He is helping Josh hone his drawing skills.

Notice the nice shoes Josh and I are wearing. We clearly have given up style for comfort:)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Losing A Sweet Friend

Since our new journey  has begun, we have made some sweet new friends. We are not alone as we walk this cancer road. Many other parents have walked this road much longer than we have. Parents with little ones in varied stages in this fight against cancer.

In one of my earlier post, Universal Language, I wrote about a family we met at the Ronald Mc Donald house. Their son David was battling cancer. When we first met them, they were trying to make arrangements to fulfill Little David's dream of taking a Disney Cruise. They had only a small window of time to take the cruise because of David's condition. The amazing people of the the Make A Wish Foundation, and Disney Special Events were able to make his wish come true. They pulled off a small miracle for David and his family.

Make-A-Wish Foundation : National Home Page

Little David just recently went home to be with the Lord. His memorial service is today. Please pray for his sweet family who fought valiantly along side David in his battle against cancer.

My heart breaks for his whole family. For his gentle momma, who struggled to be strong while with him, to smile for him even though her heart was breaking more and more as the days slipped by. His brave dad who seemed at a loss because no matter what they tried, no one seemed to be able to heal their son.  His little sister who, at a very young age, seemed to know there was something terrible about to happen, but just not sure what it was. For his aunts and uncles who would have done anything for him.

Throughout their struggle, they remained kind to all those around them. They gave gentle responses to those who asked for updates. They showed compassion to us all, knowing we were struggling with our own battles. Their love for our Lord never seemed to waiver. They blessed our lives immensely. We are so grateful to have had them in our lives even if it was for a small window of time. We will miss them all at the Ronald Mc Donald house and MD Anderson.

Lord, thank you for the opportunity to know this dear family. Please, please cover them with your grace and mercy. Please give his mom and dad rest and mend their broken hearts. Please let his little sister remember sweet memories of her brave big brother for the rest of her life.
Goodbye David, we will never forget your brave smile and sweet spirit.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tears Again....Really!?!

Growing up, I fancied myself a pretty tough cookie. I was not much of a crier. I had friends that would cry over a movie or a commercial or a song. Not me. Oh, I had my moments, but for the most part, I tried to hold back tears, even if it meant getting a head ache from the strain of not showing my emotions. I as I have gotten older, I have certainly become much more sappy...er I mean sentimental. As I left my teen years behind and life became more complicated, I became more prone to tears. Still I felt I maintained some symbalance of control over my tears.

That control is now completely gone. Our life has taken such a dramatic turn, it feels like any control over anything is now gone. My tears are no exception.

We are back home again. It is so wonderful to be back. I took one of our dogs for a walk this morning. Brian and I have walked our same neighborhood for almost four years now. This morning for the first time I noticed how beautiful the trees are that line our streets. I smiled as I fell back into the delicious routine of returning friendly waves of the people who drove by me on the street. This is a luxury many people in lager cities do not enjoy. These simple pleasures in life brought...you guessed, it tears. Not tears of saddness or loss but of awarness I guess.

I am working on not being embarraessed by my tears that come unexpectantly. I read somewhere that our Lord collects our tears. That thought alone brings a smile. Good thing heaven is a big place because somewhere there must be a whole store room with my name on it.

I know that we are not the only parents who have shed many tears for our children. We have dear friends that lost their teen daughter in a quad accident. We have other friends who lost her new born daughter. We have others friends that have walked their little ones through devastating illnesses.

A re-occurring thought, that runs through my mind, is that walking this journey day by day, not knowing from one day to the next what that day will hold, is hard enough. I am not sure we could have survived this far if we had actually known, in advance what each day held.

Ok, here's a really big thing for me to swallow. Our heavenly Father knows, in advance, what each day holds for all of His children. How many tears must he have shed for us? How many does he continue to shed for us? I don't believe He loves us any less than we love our children, in fact, I believe, with my whole heart, He loves us more. Trying to comprehend all of that is almost too much for me.

Dear Papa Father, thank you for loving us daily. May our tears for our children, remind us of your tears for us. Thank you for an everlasting love.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Support System

On July 20th, as we sat in BSA, listening to Dr. Sharp confirm our worst fears, our son had Leukemia, my head swam. It was as if the world around me had suddenly become fuzzy. As I tried to focus and assimilate all that the doctor was saying, it felt as though I had lost all ability to comprehend the spoken word. I could see his mouth moving and hear sounds but I could not seem to process most of the words he was saying. A few of his sentences did get through the fuzz in my brain. One of those was that our son, Joshua, had Leukemia. Another statement he made stood out with some clarity. It was something to the effect of, "You will need to depend on your support system to survive this". I can vaguely remember thinking, "Well, we have a good support system".

Dr Sharp's statement has rung through my head time and time again. In hindsight, it seemed to be a bit of an understatement. The truth of the matter is, I am unsure of how we could have survived without our support system.

From the very first day that we took Josh to see Dr. Turner to ascertain the source of his fatigue, until today, we have been show almost incomprehensible kindness from our dear friends and family. We have had amazing support on every front.

We have had many visit from family and friends. We know our home and animals are being watched over and cared for by wonderful dedicated friends and neighbors.

We have had amazing meals provided both here in Houston and at home. The cards, letters, packages, pictures, texts, emails, comments and calls all have been a source of constant encouragement.

We have had financial support that has helped ease the pressure of the staggering cost of living away from home.

Most of all, we have had an army of prayer warriors marching beside us in this battle against a terrifying illness.

On some of Josh's worst days, I was unable to get a text out, yet we knew we were being covered in prayer. On other days, when things were going badly, I would, somehow be able to get a few bites of information communicated. On some of  those days, we could, almost physically feel our prayer warriors go to their knees. Sometimes within 20 to 30 minutes of our texts going out, we could see a dramatic change in Josh's situation. Sometimes, a horrible day would take a turn so quickly it would be hard to comprehend and almost unbelievable had we not experienced it ourselves.

I know the Lord, our amazing Papa Father, is teaching us many, many things through this situation we find ourselves in at this junction in our lives. Among those lessons, is truly how vital our support system is.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for blessing us with the family and friends you have given us. We know that we still have a long road ahead of us in this journey. Thank you for providing us with amazing warriors to walk along side of us. We are blessed more than we deserve.