Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year And A New Resolution

I have never looked forward to the turning of a new year as much as I am now. I realize there is no magic at the stroke of midnight between December 31st and January 1st… but for some reason it seems like in that moment, when we go from 2011 to 2012 a fresh start will be laid in my lap. I know that 2012 already has a long list of trails and tests to get through… but I am so looking forward to saying good-bye to 2011!

As the New Year approaches, so do resolutions… I think they are fun. For the past 3 years, my resolution has been to eat onion dip and Ruffles chips at least once a month for the full year. Sadly, another year has passed where I only ate it a handful of months… I feel like such a failure. Therefore, once again I resolve that I will enjoy this delicious snack at least once a month for the year. Fourth times a charm… right? (I went to Sam's Club and bought the 12 pack of onion dip mix... no excuses!)

My serious resolution comes from something that has been stirring in me for the past several weeks. We received a Christmas card and family letter from our friends who walked with us through Madison’s death and were in the support group with us. This year their family experienced another heartbreaking loss of a mother/grandma. In the letter they wrote, “We try to remind ourselves to instill in our children that each day is a gift and it shouldn’t be wasted fighting, being angry, being lazy or being bored.” Understanding in agreement that each day truly is a gift, I have recently found myself becoming aware of the daily/hourly/momentary choice to be either positive or negative in my thoughts and actions. It is from this line of thinking that I resolve to choose to eliminate negativity whenever possible.

As I have thought about this resolution, I realize that this will actually require a significant life change. I will need to be conscious of my mental state as I fight this nasty disease and battle thru chemo by choosing joy. It means being aware and turning off negativity on television and movies. Being aware of negative relationships and taking action to change them or remove myself. I need to be aware of my tone of voice and words that I speak and take intentional action to speak in kindness and to be uplifting. And of course there is the need to be aware of my parenting, disciplining, and the example I set for my children.

I was reading Parenting magazine last week and saw that “the average preschooler argues with his parents 20 to 25 times per hour.” (Dec/Jan 2012 issue, pg. 44) Being a parent of a preschool aged child, I admit that arguing is an issue that we deal with daily. While once every two minutes is more extreme than what we are experiencing, it does seem like we are constantly pointing out to Nathan that he is arguing and that we will not be tolerating that kind of attitude. The past two weeks (since I have felt better having this 2 week break from chemo and have been able to be with the kids all day) we have had to have a few ‘smack down days’ regarding this topic. In parenting and guiding Nathan to be aware of when he is arguing or being negative minded, it has also made me realize when I too am of an argumentative spirit and exhibiting negativity.

This has been quite a revelation into my inner self and my outside interactions with others. How much more pleasant and enjoyable being a parent, friend, wife and human in general could be if I were to choose to focus on the positive in all situations rather than being drawn into the negative realm.

The scripture Philippians 4:8 reads, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

I have realized that this is not some new age, touchy feely way of thinking. This is a mindset desired by God. In tuning my mind to be aware of what is positive, true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy… I hope that I will not only be more at peace in this earthly life, but that I will also be closer to God and have a better understanding of His plan for my life.

Hopefully I am more successful this year with the resolution of eliminating negativity than I have been in the past with my goal of enjoying onion dip and chips. But then again, enjoying one of the worlds most perfect snacks is a pretty great resolution to have to try over and over again!

Recently saw this story and thought it was perfect to share:


One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. 

"One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. 

"The other is Good - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” 

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?” 

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas To All, And To All A Good Night

"Look up on a starry night,
and you will see
the majesty and power
of an infinite Creator."
- Billy Graham

The magic of Christmas is in the air... just looking in the eyes of my 4 year old brings the excitement of Christmas to life. I love the above quote. As you look into the sky tonight, in search of Santa and his sleigh,  allow yourself to be distracted by the majesty and power of our Creator.

May you celebrate Christmas in high style; toasting one another throughout the day in full celebration of love, family, health and goodness... and a little baby that changed history.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours,
Kelly, Eric, Nathan and Leah

Elf Code of Conduct:
Rule #1 = Treat Everyday like it's Christmas!

My new ornament for 2011.
Pink boxing gloves - fight on!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Too Much Going On At Once

Last night I watched an Italian movie on Netflix called ‘Bread and Tulips’ (2000). In the story, a housewife is forgotten in a highway cafĂ© (Autogrill) during a bus trip, and she decides to start a new life on her own in Venice. The movie was fine, but oh, how I loved seeing the streets of Venice, hearing the sounds of Italy and honestly, I could smell the food they ate. This little film took me away to a far away land.

Of course, it reminded me of my year abroad, which is now approaching 12 years ago. How can that even be possible? What an amazing year of discovering about the world, cultures, and the innermost parts of myself. It was a year of freedom and floating. I had earned all my money waiting tables the previous year, so the only real responsibilities I had were to go to school and make sure I did not overspend my budget. Otherwise, the year was about discovery and breathing in life.

I was studying Art History and in Florence, Italy. I still needed to graduate and those classes counted toward my GPA, so yes, school was a priority. We had Italian language classes, which I barely survived, and then I carried a full additional 15 units of art history and culture related classes. Truthfully, my Italian professors were much harder than the teachers I had at Sac State so school actually took quit a bit of dedication. Listening to lectures through the profssors thick accents was an additional challenge which I had to tackle. The courses were amazing as everything we studied we got to go see. Field trips were included with the tuition… it was incredible.

But something happens when you are living in a coffered ceiling 11th century apartment, in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, which is deemed the “Birthplace of the Renaissance” and is home to some of the finest art museums in the world. I know it sounds snotty, but by month 6 of 10 I began to take it for granted. I was smacked with the reality of my own spoiledness while looking up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I remember craning my neck at Michelangelo’s masterpiece and thinking “uh… it’s okay I suppose.” Somehow after you see 100 original pieces of Michelangelo’s work you feel like you have seen then all. (I know my friends who traveled with me are nodding their head in agreement – the rest of you think I’m a brat.)
 Slave, St. Matthew
Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence

In Florence, at the Accademia Gallery you will find Michelangelo’s 17-foot marble statue of a naked David holding a slingshot. I’m sure your familiar with the image, which I will resist posting to avoid being blamed for causing anyone’s eyes from being corrupted. David, additionally lifted about 10 feet into the air upon a marble pedestal, towers over all others works of art in the gallery and dwarfs tourist to the size of ants. What I found most interesting about the Accademia Gallery was that when you enter the hall leading to David, you walk past what have been argued as Michelangelo’s most fascinating of works, the four famous "unfinished" Slaves, or Prisoners. The Slaves are basically huge blocks of marble that Michelangelo started carving but never finished. The characters are trapped for eternity in the cold marble… alive but frozen in time. These pieces show the skillful technique of sculpture and how Michelangelo was able to bring a cold block of rock to life. Art historians’ debate whether he intended the statues to look the way they do now (unfinished) or if in fact he just did not get the chance to complete them. They are stunning. You can contrast the jagged texture of the raw marble against the sculpted and polished finished parts of the work – just beautiful.

So, what’s the point? My point is, that the towering David steals the show, and unless you know what to look for you will walk right past the Slaves and miss the opportunity of a lifetime to see sculpture in its rawest form created by the hands of one of the greatest artist of all time.

Relating this to cancer…

This past weekend I had to go to the hospital emergency again. That is twice in a month. I had a temperature of 103 and anytime I have a temp of 101 (or more)  I have to go immediately to the ER. They broke my fever and discovered that I have pneumonia. This week is being spent in bed trying to fight this beast, otherwise they will switch me to an I-V drip of antibiotics that we will have to administer at home. That would mean having an I-V in my arm for 10 days… no thank you. So here I sit getting fatter and lazier by the day.

Additionally, I had not shared this yet, but earlier this month, as an effect of the first chemotherapy mix I was taking I have started medical induced menopause. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t be sharing this part of my life, but many people have found it interesting… so there you go, another side effect. Due to the particular chemo I was on there was an 80% chance this would happen, and I am lucky to have won yet another lame jackpot. Occasionally, chemotherapy-induced menopause is only temporary… so I guess I just get to wait and see what happens. Anyways, hot flashes have become a part of my day/night and I’m gonna take this chance to blame any irritability or moodiness on this “life change.”

Currently I wish I could just yell out to God, “Hey, knock it off! Could we focus on one thing at a time? Let me enjoy all the glory of cancer now, maybe next winter I could experience a spat with pneumonia and why don’t we visit the exciting world of menopause in 10 to 15 years.”

Just like that year in Italy there are just too many “Michelangelo” sized trials going on at one time. When there is too much going on at once, you don’t even know what you are looking at and you miss the chance to appreciate things for what they are… let it be classic works of art or a less than thrilling sickness.

Here's to wishing I could space all this excitement out. (Insert sound of crystal wine glasses clinking here.) A girl can wish right?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Emotional Side of Staying Strong

I have a cousin who drove from Chico TWICE to bring us a total of 7 meals. That is a nearly 2 hour drive each way… wow.

One of the students from Auburn had her orthodontist put “Kelly Green” and “Breast Cancer Awareness Pink” power bands on her braces… for me.

A student that we worked with about 8 years ago has blessed us generously and has been sending me notes packed with the most encouraging of quotes. Humbling.

There is a pile of cards 4 inches thick in our “blessings” box. Each note is full of encouragement and promises of prayers and good wishes.

Meals have been brought several times a week allowing our family to have healthy dinners and relieving the stress of grocery shopping and having to cook.

I have a basket full of knitted beanies and scarfs… gifts made and given with love and compassion for my bald head.

A gang of women from our old church walked with my name on their shirts in the “Making Strides” walk in September and a friend from high school walked for me in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk For A Cure. That’s a lot of walking.

Our family has been blessed by the generous kindness of so many friends and the worry of how to pay these medical bills has been lifted.

An army of people prayed my lump in half. Seriously, I went into surgery thinking it was Stage 3 and came out Stage 1. I believe that is the power of prayer.

These are the things I must hold onto.

Because right now, I am tired.
I love this pic of Leah at 1 week old.
This is how tired I feel!

The new chemotherapy drug, Taxol, is different from the evil junk I was taking before. I have now gone through 3 of the 12 weekly treatments of Taxol. In only 9 more weeks I’ll be done with treatment – yahoo! Unlike the first mix, nausea (and feeling crazy sick) is not one of the side effects of Taxol. The side effects of this poison are: fatigue, numbness in the fingers and toes, aching muscles and hair loss (no problem there). So far, I am mostly experiencing fatigue… which I am finding is very different than being tired. I feel groggy, foggy, slow and delayed. I have read and heard of “chemo brain” and I think I am now a victim of this impairment. (Here’s more on chemo brain if you are interested:

Besides being fatigued, I feel emotionally tired and drained. I subscribe to a blog for mothers with cancer and have enjoyed reading the posts from other women with cancer who have children. There has been hope in reading how they have coped, fought and beat this disease. Last week it was shared that one of the main contributors had lost her 7 year battle with breast cancer leaving behind a 10 year old son. This story has really hit me. She was on the winning team, my team. My mind has been determined that I can’t loose and that remission equaled victory. But the truth is, my mind willing/thinking health and victory does not necessarily mean I will win. This may seem like a simple truth that shouldn’t be hard to accept, however until reading this woman’s story I have resisted entertaining the idea that my story could end with cancer being the villain.

I try not to think about the 60% 5-year survival rate associated with the “triple-negative” element of the DNA of my cells. I try to focus on being here for Nathan’s 10th birthday and to take Leah to kindergarten. I try real hard not to think negative, but in being so tired (physically and emotionally and spiritually) it can be difficult to see the sun everyday.

I really don’t want to write a negative blog post. But this is it, where I am today. This fight is exhausting and to exclude you from the mental/emotional side of this fight would be to pretend that just thinking good thoughts and warm fuzzies is all it takes to make it through the day.

So, as I said in the intro, there is a long list of incredible positives that I find myself holding onto. And I thank you all, friends and family, for being the strength and love I need to fight and stay strong.

*** By the way, if you are wondering if Spunky from the chemo lab gets to go to Hawaii I am happy to share that we saw her last Monday and YES she will be making the trip. She said she will take her oxygen on the plane to avoid recycled air and then plans on having a great time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Field Trip To The Chemotherapy Treatment Room

Well, it has been a while since I wrote. I have been trying to think of something positive to share or some new exciting adventure in the Joppa house, but truth is the past week has been pretty lame. I feel like I am becoming boring. Nothing new to talk about except perhaps how Khloe Kardashian may be the only “K” sister with an actual heartbeat/pulse/brain. Oy vey!

The day after Thanksgiving this headache that I had been fighting returned and it kept me down for the day… and the following 2 days. Last Monday I had my first treatment of Taxol. I had been rather anxious about that treatment because they told me to plan to be there about 4 hours to be observed and that I would be laying on “the bed.” Well, I have seen people lying on “the bed” and they tend to look like they are dying (or at least wish they were dying). Anyways, the treatment actually went well and as an added bonus there was Benadryl in the drip so I actually got myself a pretty nice nap and it kicked the headache. Monday night my headache was back and it continued to get worse. I hid out for two days lying under the covers hiding from the world, as the narcotics were not working. On Thursday night, I spiked a fever, so off to the hospital we went. In case you are wondering, chemo patients get 1st class treatment in the ER! We were ushered into a quarantine office and given a room within minutes. Totally got bumped in front of a Sheriff and guy in handcuffs… that felt cool. They ran a CT scan that revealed a completely clogged sinus cavity. The doctor admitted me to the hospital and given private quarantined room. They hooked me up to a drip of antibiotics for the infection, an assortment of other drugs and saline to help get me hydrated. Apparently, a common sinus infection can send my entire body into a septic state that could result in serious issues with organ shut down, etc. My oncologist wanted me out of the germy hospital as soon as I was feeling better so we got home Friday night. I had a couple days to recover and to start feeling better and now,  (like right now… I’m blogging in real time) I’m back in the chemo infusion room getting treatment 6 of 16.

So… join me as I take you on a field trip in the chemotherapy treatment room as I try to sum up what it’s like in here.

When you walk into the chemotherapy room there are 8 comfy recliners, accompanied by 8 not so comfy straight back chairs for support people, circled up in a sort of beauty shop round. Every station has a drip system by the chair, there are various other medical supplies, and machines scattered throughout the room.

Without question I am close to 40 years younger than any of the other patients in here today. I am wearing a knit cap that was given to me by a friend and covered with a beautiful pink flowery quilt that was donated to the Bunko fundraiser and my friend who won it gave it to me as a special treatment blanket. I came earlier this morning to get my blood drawn (all blood cells looking great) and line placed in the port and the nurse started my saline drip just a few minutes ago. Eric is sitting here next to me doing some work on the computer while I write.

Across from me is a friendly old gal (at least 70 yrs old) that I have seen every time I have been here. She is wearing a fabulous snowman Christmas sweater that I am sure she has worn proudly since 1985. She just made a joke about needing to see a nurse because the medicine they gave her tasted like she is eating a balloon. A few weeks ago, Eric sat with her and taught her how to use the iPad that her daughter had bought her. She was excited to see Eric and greeted us when we walked in… clearly she was happy to see her personal tech geek. It has been interesting to see her transformation over the past months from spunky to tired and putting on a happy face. She is now on oxygen.

Next to her, a woman (I guess abut 70) is sleeping while getting her chemo while her daughter is eating soup. She is wearing one fabulous faux fur hat.

Round the circle is an older gentleman (maybe 80) who is watching something on his iPad while his daughter plays on her iPhone. They just finished eating KFC. He is actually getting a blood transfusion… which makes me want to gag when I see the jam-like thick redness so I won’t be looking at him today.

There is 1 last man in the room that is also sleeping and looks like he is trying to escape life. He was here earlier when I did the blood draw so he’s going on over 4 hours.

The rest of the chairs are empty but they will all fill up at 1pm once the lunch break is over. The comfy chairs are being prepped for their new visitors.

It’s pretty quiet in here today, just the sound of the clicking drip machines. I think all of us have been getting treatments for a while so the novelty has worn off. There is usually at least 1 naive happy patient spreading cheer unaware of the approaching effects of their treatment. I like those people; they give a good vibe… maybe next week. The nurse just started my Taxol (and Benadryl) drip and I am already getting drowsy.

My nails are starting to turn grey/black. I noticed the grey color in my toenails the other day and as I type, I see that both of my thumbs are changing color too. It’s strange to know ahead of time what an expected side effects will be and then to actually see the expected effect appear.

The lady with the snowman sweater is now on the phone with her daughter talking about a trip that apparently they have planned for spending Christmas in Hawaii. She is telling her daughter that this is her last treatment and she will have 3 weeks to get strong enough to go. Clearly, her daughter does not think she should make the trip. Now they are talking about cancellation fees. Sweater lady says she will rest at the condo and nobody will need to worry… that she will be fine. Can I vote on this? Let grandma go to Hawaii – this trip is her motivation and hope. Or maybe they could ALL cancel the trip and stay home with grandma for Christmas. I have never seen Spunky here with a daughter or any children. I wonder if this woman was here watching her mom get injected with poison and gag down her meds if she would be a little more apt to play the wishful thinking game and give her hope and something to live for. Worst-case scenario would it be that bad if she died watching a Hawaiian sunset… she’s an old gal with a Christmas wish.  I do not think I would like her daughter.

Sorry took a little rest. Three new patients have entered the room. My drip is nearly finished. Once the machine starts beeping, we will be out of here. All they have to do is remove the line from my port and I’ll be free.
Got home and at took a short nap. The kids were making playful sounds downstairs so I went down to hang out. Eric took Nathan out on a daddy/son date to get my Christmas gift and I was able to spend the night with my sweet Leah. She just oozes with joy and gentleness. So far, I am feeling fine and ate a decent dinner. The boys got home and after he wound down, I tucked Nathan into bed. All is quiet and my tea taste great.

And that my friends is what today looked like. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Top 11 List

Happy Thanksgiving From Our Home To Yours!
Top 11 Things I Am Thankful For This Year

1. A God who loves me and has a plan for my future. He has provided for our every need. I am not alone in this fight.

2. My dog Zeke. He has walked and laid next to me in the worst of moments. His faithfulness is an example of how to be a great friend.

3. My husband. Eric has worked hard to provide for us. He chose to love me the day we got married and he chooses love daily. We get each other... which is very special.

4. For my children.
Nathan, at 4 1/2 yrs is one of the most interesting and funny people I know. He has worn a collared button-up shirt, dress pants, and fancy church shoes daily for the past 2 months... he's my little 'Alex P. Keaton' and I love his quirky ways.

Leah is a light and ponytail bouncing bundle of joy. I'll love her forever, I'll want her for always, as long as I'm living my baby she'll be.

5. I am thankful for my church. Eric loves his job and it appears he is exactly where he is supposed to be... which we know is a rare blessing. The diversity of people at BOSS is freeing and I am seeing God in a fresh new way. 

6. Our home. Just a few months ago I had no idea where we would live and we were technically "homeless". We found the real estate diamond in the rough. I love my house.

7. I am thankful for my freedoms as an American. So many around the globe live under an oppression that I cannot fathom. We are a blessed people.

8. Friends and family. We have the most incredible support system and the kindest friends we could ask for.   I have been truly humbled by the outpouring of love we have received.

9. That I found my lump. If I had waited till I was 40 to have a mammogram I would be dead. 

10. Very thankful that I have not lost my appetite yet. Looking forward to enjoying our thanksgiving spread!

11. I haven't had to shave in over a month! NIENER, NIENER, NIENER!!!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Wish

Tis the week to give thanks and recognize the blessings in our lives. It is my hope that this Thanksgiving will be an especially extraordinary time where you see the good in your life and you can celebrate with joy the blessings that abound!

Well, last Monday I finished my 4th and final treatment of Adriamycin & Cytoxan… the fancy double-dose cocktail of poison they have been injecting me with. On the 28th I’ll begin the 12 weekly injections of Taxol. It has been a somewhat crazy week as far as feeling sick has gone.

  • By about 2pm on Monday I was in bed feeling yucky.
  • Tuesday I felt tired most of the day and was in bed trying to sleep away the nastiness of chemo blur.
  • Wednesday was actually a good day and once the pain from the morning shot had worn off, I spent time with my sister watching ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ while the kids napped. (Amazing how much we both remembered the lines from that movie.)
  • Thursday I was kinda okay but kinda yicky.
  • And then Friday came… worst day ever. The neupogen shot went straight to my head and I could feel it working the marrow in my neck and shoulders. After getting dressed, I somehow found myself lying on the floor trying to escape life itself. It felt like a truck had parked itself on top of my body and was gently rocking back and forth, just enough to squeeze my brain under the tire. When I finally got up, I ran to the bathroom and well… tossed my cookies. The nausea medicine wasn’t working and it was just me and the chemo. As I wiped my mouth I thought to myself, ‘wow… this is the old fashioned way of doing chemo.’ I am so thankful for the medicine that I take and that in 2 months I had only 1 really bad day. I know that not that long ago patients did not have these amazing nausea pills to make it go away. I suppose this is what my Grandpa went thru. It was a no good very bad day.
  • Saturday we decided that we would do the shot at night so as try to save the day. It worked. I was able to attend a small gathering with friends and while I had to sneak away for a rest and to calm my head, it was otherwise a perfect day.
  • This brings me to today, Sunday. My mom kept the kids overnight so I was able to rest most of the day. I was saving all my energy for the Bunko fundraiser that several of our friends were throwing for us. It was a lovely, fun event. I found myself overwhelmed by all of the love and support that so many people have shared with us. Tears flowed several times throughout the night… I am blessed by the friends and family we have in our lives. Seeing the good in this cancer junk is made possible when I think of the amazing people we have surrounding us.
So in recognition of Thanksgiving, and my grateful heart to some special friends, I would like to share the little speech I was able to deliver tonight.

“Thank you to each and every person that has come out tonight to support, help and love on our family. Knowing that we are not alone in this fight, that we have an army of people praying for us, that there are hundreds of people lifting us up, is invaluable. The encouragement and hope that each of you offer is huge and I am not sure how I would make it through each day without it. Sometimes your encouragement is like a dare, spurring my competitive nature to be strong and fight for health and healing. Sometimes the hope offered bring peace in knowing we are not alone. And sometimes you all serve as God’s arms, literally reaching out and wrapping us in His care.

For this love, we are forever changed as a family and will be eternally grateful.

So many people have reached out and supported us in these past few months with meals, acts of service and gifts, but tonight I would like to recognize a few very special women that have stepped up to help us with watching and loving on our children.

The day I sat in the doctors office and he explained what our future looked life with cancer and chemotherapy I barely heard a word. All I could think of was about my kids and how would they do through this time. They wake up at 6am whether I am sick or not. Nathan is crazy busy and Leah is just a baby. People with cancer aren’t supposed to have babies. How could this be possible?

God has provided for this need and taken away my fears through the loving sacrifice of several incredible women. Each of these ladies has selflessly volunteered to be with our kids one day a week throughout this exhausting time. Thank you, each of you, for your kindness and sacrifice for our family. Surrounding our children with love and structure during this time is without doubt been the most incredible blessing of love.
(As I say your name could each of you please come forward):

Mrs. Monday = Monica Scruggs
Mrs. Tuesday Morning = Claire Bone
Mrs. Tuesday Day = Rebekah Bruns
Mrs. Wednesday = Katie Davis
Mrs. Thursday = Holly Kennedy
Mrs. Friday & Funday = Kris Randall

Also, we would like to thank a few people for putting together this fundraiser for us:
Megan Marcroft
Claire Bone
Joel Archer

This event is another huge blessing for us and we thank everyone who has attended. Financially, tonight will allow cancer to be a bump in the road as opposed to a pothole of despair.

Thank you everyone for coming out to play and loving on our family!”


Dear friends… may you find much to be thankful for this week and always. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Psalm 69:30
I will praise the name of God with song,
And magnify Him with thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

(Another message from our friends hosting the Bunko Tournament.)

Hey everyone,
I just wanted to let everyone know that there is still plenty of room for you and your friends to sign up for the Bunko Tournament coming up on Sunday, November 20th at 6:30pm. It will be at Arcade Church in the Gym. Men are more than welcome to play too! There will be fabulous raffle prizes and snacks and great fellowship all for a great cause. 

We need to have your name by Saturday night so that we can have your spot reserved.  If you have already RSVP'd - thank you. If you have not, please do so and invite a friend along - Email me at . 
(Saying yes on the Facebook event page does not reserve your spot. You have to send me your name. Sorry for the extra step.)

If you are interested in bringing something snacky to share, please let me know. It would be greatly appreciated!

Megan Marcroft
Joppa Family Secretary



Sunday, November 20th
Dice roll promptly at 7:00!

Arcade Church Gym
3927 Marconi Ave
Sacramento, CA 95821

Cost: $20.00
Includes: Bunko buy-in, 1 raffle ticket, snacks,
and a fun night out supporting the Joppa family while
Kelly fights cancer!

We will have multiple games of Bunko going on at one time, so if you have a group (or couple, etc.) that would like to play together, you can make a request to put up to 12 people in a game. 

To reserved your seat please email Megan at 

Your reservation confirms your seat. Should you need to cancel, please make a donation honoring your spot at the table.

If you have any questions or would like to help with refreshments please contact Megan at 

All funds raised and donations will assist with the cost of Doctor visit co-pays, weekly medications and necessary daycare costs.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

(Our friends hosting the Bunko Tournament asked me to post this.)

Dear Friends and Loved Ones of the Joppa Family,
So many people have expressed the desire to help the Joppa family during these times that a few of us have gotten together and are attempting to put on a fundraiser on Sunday, November 20th. We are hosting a Bunko Tournament as a way to come together to help the Joppas with the costs involved in paying the medical bills for Kelly’s chemotherapy and breast cancer fight. I have never played Bunko, but should be fun and Kelly likes to play!!
A common question is, ‘What is the need?’ Well, thankfully they have insurance, however there is a $50 co-pay every time Kelly goes to the doctor. Additionally, the medications come to about $100 a week. This means that monthly this fight of cancer along with the pain of cancer costs $400-$600 extra month. Bills are mounting up quickly. It is our hope that this small fundraiser can at least help a little with these costs and show our support and love to Kelly, Eric and the kids. This is a very small way to love Kelly and the family and relieve some of the burden. None of us can understand truly what they are going through but we can help be there in this time.
Please get your friends together, help create a team of 12 people or come play yourself.  There are many spots available and this event can only be successful with help from friends and loved ones. The Joppas need your help so let’s love them and have some fun.
Joel Archer
Family Friend and Nathan’s “Uncle Joel”



Sunday, November 20th
Dice roll promptly at 7:00!

Arcade Church Gym
3927 Marconi Ave
Sacramento, CA 95821

Cost: $20.00
Includes: Bunko buy-in, 1 raffle ticket, snacks,
and a fun night out supporting the Joppa family while
Kelly fights cancer!

We will have multiple games of Bunko going on at one time, so if you have a group (or couple, etc.) that would like to play together, you can make a request to put up to 12 people in a game. 

To reserved your seat please email Megan at 

Your reservation confirms your seat. Should you need to cancel, please make a donation honoring your spot at the table.

If you have any questions or would like to help with refreshments please contact Megan at 

All funds raised and donations will assist with the cost of Doctor visit co-pays, weekly medications and necessary daycare costs.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Part 2 - It Wasn't Always Like This: The Transformation

(Part 2 of 2 - Part 1 is listed under October)

Well, I have been waiting to bounce back from this last treatment to write Part 2 of ‘It Wasn’t Always This Way’, but I’m going on day 8 and I’m not bouncing. This last treatment has hit me pretty hard and feeling sickly and nauseous have been a part of every hour/day this past week. I’m thinking maybe I’m just supposed to write while feeling yucky… so as to not hide the truth of this journey.

I’ve received several special notes in response to “The Angry Years”. It seems that several friends have shared similar journeys with Anger. The loss of a spouse, the loss of a child, the loss of a job. Anger has a way of replacing our losses and filling the void.

Upon learning of my cancer, many people have asked me if I am angry. Well, I’m angry about 2 things. One, I am angry that I do not get to be involved with the youth ministry at our current church this year. I was really looking forward to volunteering with the youth ministry again and being the kind of youth pastors wife that I grew up with as my example. In jr. high and high school my youth pastors family was such a fun outlet and example of family to me. I was finally ready to be that kind of wife and was excited to be at a new church where the opportunities to love on kids is enormous. The second thing that I am angry about is that I will not be able to go visit and help my cousin next February when her baby arrives. There are two parts to this disappointment. First, I was excited to be able to help my cousin experience motherhood and the joy and trials of having a brand new baby. Second, she lives like two blocks from the beach in Santa Monica (most beautiful place on earth)… so perhaps there were slightly selfish ‘vacation’ plans attached to helping with 3am feedings. But that’s it. So far, those are the only things that I am angry about. (I imagine the chances are high I will be angry about other stuff… but for now I’m good.) I believe the journey of the past few years has allowed me to view this trial with a different perspective.

It Wasn’t Always Like This…
Part 2
The Transformation

So I had declared before myself and others that my New Years resolution would be “This year, I want to get right with God and deal with Him regarding losing our baby.” But how the heck do you do that?

Honestly, I did not know where to start in making this enormous life and heart change. I had found during the Angry Years that sitting down for a forced strict outlined approach at a formal quiet time was not the way God and I were going to connect. For those of you that are not practicing Christians, let me share some of our inside vocabulary with you. We do this thing called a ‘quiet time’… the really good Christians do it every morning, (even on holidays) before they start their day. The rebellious ones do it at night… strategically coordinating their closing prayer with their head hitting the pillow and falling into deep sleep. During this ‘quiet time’ one typically reads a scheduled passage from The Bible, might read a chapter from Proverbs (which aligns with the day of the month) and then will read from some sort of daily devotional or sweet little book with a positive message for the day. If you are a Super Christian, you use colored pencils to highlight words and phrases throughout your reading, and you check everything against both the Greek and Hebrew languages to verify that the translation isn’t lying. Okay, I am being a little sarcastic about what we ‘do’, but I joke to point out that we have created this box around what a ‘real’ relationship with God/Jesus looks like. But if these tools aren’t working… then what do you do?

So, I started talking with Him. Believing that a ‘personal relationship’ is what separates my God from all other gods… why not attempt to have a real relationship with Him. And this is where the Spirit of God takes over… cause otherwise your just talking to yourself.

I started talking to Him about things that made me angry. Started asking Him directly to explain the answers to the hard questions I had been asking. I started thanking Him for my amazing son and the joy he brought us. I wrestled with Him over the past and talked to Him about my future. These conversations went on for about a year. Occasionally I would reference my Bible or devotional… but I have to admit that I was not disciplined  in my quiet times the way I had been growing up. I continued going to Bible study, practicing prayer and attending church. But it was different. Some days God and I were good… others I was still Angry and Bitter. However, things looked different… more like a side-by-side walk with a friend. You could say things had gotten better.

Then, on a day I least expected it, our relationship changed. I went to this free seminar at Arco Arena called “Get Motivated Seminar” by Tamara Lowe. It was an incredible event with the speakers being Colin Powell (amazing), Rudy Giuliani, Steve Forbes, Zig Ziggler and this lady named Tamara Lowe. The common themes through all of the speakers was that success comes through loving your family first, serving others through BOTH your time and money and a faith in a God bigger than yourself. When the gal Tamara got up to speak she did a rap about how God changed her life. It was close to lunch and many people got up and left during her speech, as she was clearly the “religion” part of the event. I was kinda listening… and then really listened. As she finished her message she invited the audience to join her in prayer and repeat this simple sentence in our mind and heart, “God, I ask you to use me and allow me to be the person you desire me to be.”

I cannot explain it, but that was my moment. That was the instant when things changed and I believed again. Suddenly I trusted that God had a real plan and screwing up my life wasn’t his main objective for the universe.  More importantly, in that split-second, Anger, the haunting companion that had been dragging me down, was gone. I felt set free.

Yes, in a crowd of 15,000 people on some random February afternoon, this “pastor’s wife,” who has been in church every Sunday for the past 30+ years and has volunteered 10+ years in youth ministry… finally got it.

Since that day, even though things have been tough for us from time to time, I have felt ‘carried’. This is not because everything has been peachy and perfect. I suppose there has just been a new sense of Peace in my life.

Psalm 119:105 reads; “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” The lamp that would have been used in Bible times would have only been bright enough to shine maybe 3 feet out… enough to not trip, but not quite bright enough to see all the way down the road. I am learning to trust the small glow of a lamp at my feet despite my human desire to use a million candlepower MagLight to see into the future. Sometimes all we can see, maybe all we should see, is what is right in front of us.

At least for now, I know getting through today is all I can handle. 

*** For information regarding the Bunko Night Fundraiser, scheduled for Sunday, November 20th, please see the blog post "Bunko Night Fundraiser" or contact Megan at . 
Thank you!