Thursday, October 23, 2014

Speechless


Sometimes I struggle with what to say to someone who is going through a tough time, especially when it's something I've never handled myself.

When I have no advice or words of wisdom. When I know in my heart I'm meant for more than the usual, "I'll be praying for you."

I heard this on the radio the other day, and it both spoke directly to my heart as well as challenged me big time:

"Being present and being gentle. That's how Jesus helped."

I think the hardest is the "being present" part.

Showing up for a situation when you don't know how you'll be received is tough, but being a follower of Jesus is definitely not the easy way out.

Like one of my very favorite songs right now says, "It takes a soldier who knows his orders to walk the walk I'm supposed to walk," and those orders are not to shy away, but to lend your heart and a helping hand.

Lord, help me be more like you in this way.

In Jesus's name I pray, AMEN!


1 Peter 2:21 

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Monday, September 15, 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

The night before I was to be induced to have Hudson Xavier, I was scared. 

How was this going to work...mother of two? How was Cohen going to take dividing attention? How was our family going to look? 

Then there he was. 

And those fears from the night before seemed like the silliest thoughts to have ever crossed my mind. 

Absolute. Pure. Miracle. 

Because according to Steve and Andrea's plan, it wouldn't have been you. According to our plan, it would have been two little babies born five months earlier, but God knew we needed you, Hudson. 

His plan, while shocking in so many ways this past two years, has been the way all along because He is the way. 

Of course He is. 

Or else we wouldn't be celebrating this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy or 4:16 p.m., the minute they placed our hero in my arms. 



The strongest memory I recalled, as I rolled around in the floor this afternoon on our wonderfully normal after school play time with you giggling that adorable laugh of yours, was the overwhelming feeling of completeness I felt as soon as I brought you through the door and into our life. 

Hudson Xavier Marshall. 

The boy God had in mind all along. To teach us family, hope, faith, pain, fight, and overwhelming gratitude. 

The boy God made for the three of us. 

You.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TO OUR MIRACLE! 

THANK YOU, GOD FOR OUR MIRACLE! 

"For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you; plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE."
Jeremiah 29:11 

PRAISE THE LORD! All the GLORY goes to the One who created Hudson! Thank YOU!!!!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When I Just Wasn't Enough

When I found myself leaden with the burden of Hudson's diagnosis, overwhelmed by the words with the breath sucked right out of me, I knew then I couldn't do it.

I was a heap of mother crumpled in an awkward shape of need wrapped in disbelief, and I was so certain this thing, this cancer, this awful diagnosis, wasn't for me.

It was then, in a darkened ultrasound room with only light from the hall highlighting the disbelief on faces that I closed my eyes and began to see what I knew was the next step.

There He was, crowned in His glory, waiting.

"My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

In my arms I held the heaviest issue with which I'd ever been faced, and I laid it gently at His sandled feet.

"My child..."

I opened my eyes, baby boy still wrapped in my arms, and looked through tears at my infant child.

The problem didn't go away. The pain didn't disappear. The months of frustration still lay before me, but only one thing mattered:

It wasn't for me anymore. I'd given it away.

With this, I lifted my head, steeled my body for what was to come with armor made stronger than steel, and headed into battle.

Know His promises are true. Believe them in your heart of hearts, and when you don't believe, cry out to Him to make you believe.

He is always there. Listening. Taking on our burdens making them light.

The only variable is you.

For it is only you that can make the decision to either fight alone in despair, or join forces with the Almighty who is sovereign and good and whose burden and yoke are light.

It was too much for me, but it never was for Him. Not even for a second.

Glory be to God! Holy is the One who lives in me, the One who overcame death!

Hallelujah!



Monday, August 11, 2014

Right Between the Eyes


Nursing Hudson before nap, I had a realization.

I was just thinking about how fast this first year has gone by and how I can't believe that in just about a month, he'll already be one. ONE!


I was thinking about how I need to soak up every minute of these last few days when I am with him all day because I'll miss so much once I head back to school.

But wait.

While I DID have to teach last year, when I look at the timing of his birth and the timing of his cancer, I realize...I got the majority of his whole first year at home with him. Sure, we were battling cancer for some of it, but we were TOGETHER.

I saw his first smile, laugh, rolling over, scooting, crawling. I heard his first words. I saw his personality grow from blobby little snuggle bug to ornery critter cracking up when he blows raspberries on my arm. I saw him and his brother create a bond that is so beautiful it could only be God-given.

So.

I'll close my mouth now, being grateful to God that my sweet baby boy is HEALTHY, has been in my arms most every day since he's been alive, and praise Him that I have a job that is full of people I love, kids I adore, and insurance that let us financially keep going like normal while racking up well over a hundred thousand dollars in medical care, and counting.

It's funny how, right when everything we've ever wanted is sitting in our arms, we still want more.

I'll be working this school year to be, not only a better teacher than I was last year, but a more grateful teacher and mother for the amazing gifts that I have. Yes, I still believe I was meant to be a stay-at-home mother, and possibly that's because my momma was for us and I want to be just like her; and yes my heart will still hurt, I will still fight back tears or even shed a few ( a lot) when I walk out the door, but look around...I have so much.

Praise. GOD.


Raise your hand if you got your SECOND CLEAN SCAN!



O give thanks to the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endures




                 Psalms 136:1 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Thankful thankful thankful!


We set out on our journey fighting Hudson's Stage 4 Neuroblastoma with only one thing in mind: heal our baby. Completely. 

What has come from Hudson's strength and courage has blown us away. Love, kindness, compassion, new friendships and old pouring out what I can only describe as the Lord's love at its finest.  

Even though we have endured much and have been loved by many, it still floors me to see these words in my inbox: I know someone who wants to bless your family. Call me. 

I never would have imagined a teacher from another building in my district, of whom I have never met, reaching out in this way. Speaking with her on the phone and hearing her excitement for what she can do for Hudson and for other families, I couldn't wait to write this post. 

Lindsay Meek, who lost her sister 17 years ago to cancer, holds a golf scramble every year, and the donations (of over $75,000 through the last 17 years!) goes directly back out into the community to heal little pieces of scarred hearts. 

This year we were one of those families chosen. 

We are beyond honored to receive money toward Hudson's college fund in memory of a woman who, when remembered by her sister today, sounded like such a beautiful and loving girl that could warm your heart with a good laugh no matter what you were going through despite all she was taking on herself. 

We keep finding this in our journey. From pain comes joy. We shouldn't be surprised because He tells us to seek joy, yet here it is in front of us yet again. Such kindness. Such grace. Such joy. 

Lindsay still needs teams for this golf outing! Scroll down for more info. 


Hudson's 9 month pictures by Tiny Imprints Photography.Check out all that hair!!




WHATAnnual Golf outing to raise money for the cancer kids and the scholarship fund

WHEN: Saturday, July 26

TIME: 1:30 Shotgun

COST: $100/person

WHERE: Pipestone Golf Course

Click here to learn more about Laurie and this event. Click here to register your team online!


The Marshall family along with the others who are blessed by this event will be at the dinner following to meet those donating to this wonderful cause!



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let the Redeemed Say So

For my Bible study, we wrote our personal testimonies.

I wrote mine in my journal, but then realized that with all of the people who have looked at our blog and have supported and loved on us through Hudson's cancer, I should share this part, too because really, this is what is getting me through.

The study gave me the title and starting phrases like, "Before He redeemed me," and "Since He delivered me from slavery to sin," but the rest of it is me.

My hopes in sharing this is to show how God lead me to this place of being able to help Hudson fight, but I have moreso been lead to write this because I hope to share what God has done and can do for you. What if sharing this testimony can lead someone to the single most wonderful thing they've ever known? My relationship with God comes from testimony sharing, so it's only right to share mine, too.

Before He redeemed me, I lived life for me. 

I lived to better myself, and while I deeply loved, it was only those who loved me first, how I wanted. I did whatever I wanted, talked how I felt, led by anger and bitterness most of the time.

I'd felt wronged for all the ways I had to struggle and was enveloped in my very small world. I wanted to do more, be more, get more. Things made me happy. I was self-reliant and even more angry when I let myself down. 

I pushed people away and decided I only needed those who cared about me. I was sick of doing for others with nothing in return. 

I was sick in my heart as it had turned to stone, yet I wore a shining smile on my face. 

At my lowest, I achieved some of my highest accolades, which pitched me further in despair convinced I was the only one on whom I could rely. I was so quietly, secretly hurt unable to let go of the past while jabbing holes in my present. 

I was proud. I was fists balled, words-of-venom-winner. Those closest to me suffered the most as they were a direct hit for wherever my emotions took me. I felt justified every time I tore someone down. I had good reasoning. I convinced myself I was the only one I could trust. 

My plans would happen; if you got in my way, I'd either work around or plow through. I made decisions without prayer; convinced I only needed to consult my own judgement. I hurt or severed friendships, family ties; some to the point of no return. I lived superficially skimming the top.

God always flitted in the back of my mind as I made decisions I knew were not according to His Word. Even as I declared myself a Christian who didn't need church, the Bible , or prayer. I knew those were lies, too.

God gave me a very special set of friends in Matt and Kimberly Brown coincidentally as He gave me the man He had set aside for me all along. With strength and encouragement I've yet to muster in my walk even to this day, they persisted in their efforts to bring me to Christ, to teach me the Gospel, and point me to Him at every chance they got. In college, Matt would sit with me and talk about His faith, about God, and about how I did, in fact, need God in my life. Straight forward, yet uplifting, my first nudges toward redemption. 

After graduation, Matty and Kimber were married, and we spent between one and three days a week for hours at a time with the Browns. God was knitting our hearts together, and I will admit, I was mostly oblivious to the work He was doing in those days! 

On and off in little snippets here and there, they would talk about this great sermon or friends they were meeting at Apex and house church then in Bible study. 

Oh, we didn't have time for that much church! 

Looking back this makes me smile because just a few lines up I talk about how much time they spent with us!

Eventually Steve proposed two years after graduation, and God had put us in front of Matt and Kimber about a million times to see and hear them living a Christ-centered life. When Kimberly told me about a marriage series Rob was doing at Apex, I selfishly wanted to go. I knew our relationship needed major work before marriage and for whatever reason (GOD!) I thought this might help us. My parents were divorcing right as we were marrying and the type of relationship I witnessed growing up scared me deeply. 

Sitting in Apex in March 2008, I was overwhelmed by the understanding that how I was living was not going to cut it. 

If I wanted more, I'd have to BE more. A love soft, yet heavy laid on and all around me. If I was going to do this--walk with Christ--I had to wipe away the old me and be completely open to what would happen next. 

Rob asked a question then that changed me forever.

"If Jesus Himself were sitting next to you, what would you turn to Him and say?"

The only two words that filled every inch of me: I'M SORRY.

Since He delivered me from slavery to sin I have become a different person, except it's really who God had intended me to be all along. It wasn't so scary as much as it was challenging to put on my new self. I shed and am still shedding the old vindictive, angry, fake me and slipping into a person who wants His will for me. 

What's life like as a Christian? It's not for sissies I can tell you that. 

I remember from one of the first Bible studies I took seriously reading the words, "It will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God," and I sat stock still. All my life I had been gathering up wordly riches--oh boy was I in for a change!

It's hard, but it's beautiful. On one hand, the way I fail God every day smacks me hard between the eyes, while on the other hand, His grace and mercy save me every time. I am a constant work in progress. Right when I think I have figured things out, God shows me exactly how much I only need Him. 

Give the glory to Him. 

He who hung on a cross and died for me to then defeat death and reside in me, giving me all the strength, wisdom, and love I could ever need. 

To fail again and again. To cling to Him. To be redeemed.

 Hallelujah! 

REJOICE!


When I lose my way,
And I forget my name,
Remind me who I am.
In the mirror all I see,
Is who I don't wanna be,
Remind me who I am.
In the loneliest places,
When I can't remember what grace is.

Tell me once again who I am to You,
Who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
That I belong to You.
To You.

When my heart is like a stone,
And I'm running far from home,
Remind me who I am.
When I can't receive Your love,
Afraid I'll never be enough,
Remind me who I am.
If I'm Your beloved,
Can You help me believe it.

Tell me once again who I am to You,
Who I am to You, whoa.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You.
That I belong to You.
To You.

I'm the one you love,
I'm the one you love,
That will be enough,
I'm the one you love.

Tell me once again who I am to You.
Who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
That I belong to You, oh.

Friday, May 2, 2014

These Days...


I do sincerely apologize for being over three weeks since our surgery. I'm still so far behind in everything, so I'll tell the story in pictures. 

Biggest messages: 

PRAISING GOD FOR GETTING IT ALL!
PRAISING GOD FOR NO DAILY HORMONE THERAPY!
PRAISING GOD FOR QUICK HEALING!
PRAISING GOD FOR HOLDING US UP AND CARRYING US THROUGH!!!!!!!!!

Before surgery, Mr. Hudson was all smiles. We got some video of him laughing and, of course a few of him with his new friend here. ;)  His little surgery gown was too stinkin' cute! Looking at him in this picture, I see those rosy cheeks and I am so thankful for how different he looks now. How healthy. However, I will admit this is a really adorable picture that I will treasure forever. :) 

Our parents sat with us through the whole surgery. We hung out in the cafeteria. We laughed. We enjoyed each other. My heart dropped every time my phone rang with updates of Hudson's surgery, but we made it through. A little over three hours from open to close, and we were thankful for every minute we were not siting in the waiting room. Instead we had our biggest support system right there with us helping us cope, and more than anything put our total trust in the Lord. No need to worry--we laid this at HIS feet! 

Hardest day of my entire life--yes, harder than diagnosis day. This was horrible. I saw him and I fell apart. Then our family came in and we all took our turns crying and crying. Hudson moaned and cried for about five hours until he got some relief. After that, he slept an hour, but was back at the crying and moaning on and off the rest of the night.The NG tube in his nose was the hardest part. I couldn't nurse him for five days. He had a tough time finding comfort in me because his comfort is nursing many times. Looking at this picture three weeks and two days later, I have mixed emotions. Happy it's out of him and upset with the fact he ever had to look like this at any point in his life.  This was just a really trying day. He lost one adrenal gland and part of another.
My baby.
 We were finally able to find a comfortable spot for him to be held. 
Grandpa and Hudson
 Somebody turned three our second day in the hospital!
Our picture with the birthday boy at exactly 8:04 p.m. April 10. Happy third birthday, Cohen John! I can't believe three years has gone by already!
Great Grandma Helena and Grandma Marshall came by to visit. Four generations :)
Sleep was basically non-existent. With monitors beeping constantly, lights on, nurses in to check on him, and just not being comfortable, we got two to three hours of sleep most nights.One night he was having such a hard time I held him from 10:30 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning. The time seemed to fly by, oddly enough, but it had to be done. It was so important for him to get rest, and being hooked up to the machine was not the way he was going to rest and heal. God gave me strength in those moments...I promise you that!
As soon as she saw Hudson after recovery, she looked right at me and mouthed, "I'm not going anywhere," and right there she stayed. By my side. Night after night after night until the tube was out, I could give my baby comfort, and handle it on my own. 
Momma, you are a blessing beyond measure.
The best part about being in Grammy's arms was that she offered comfort when he couldn't get it from me. It was almost like it upset him more at times to be with me. Something about Grammy's snuggle got him to sleep every time, and bonus for me-- I could catch much needed naps here and there.
The NG tube in his nose was the hardest part. Everyone keeps telling me I won't like breaking him of this thumb sucking habit, but for this moment in time it was so wonderful. 
Jeffy soothing Hudson before running home and taking care of my sister's kids while we had another family emergency. Jeff was also the first one to the hospital the day Hudson was diagnosed holding me upright. A true blessing to our family. Could not be more thankful for him as he watched over my baby, tears rolling down his face. We love you, Jeffy! 

Our new friends, the Young family, has a little boy named Aiden. He is two-years-old, and he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma as well. Their family sent us this sweet lion and their prayer bracelet. I have put it on and will not take it off until Aiden is cancer free. Sweet Aiden has a journey ahead of him, but it's nothing our God can't do! We ask that you please join us in daily prayer over this amazing little man.CLICK HERE for the link to support their family through a Monte Carlo night in June!
 Once that NG tube came out of his nose, we were back in business! His demeanor dramatically changed back to our happy Huddy Buddy! It was such a sigh of relief. Though tough to slowly ease back into nursing when he really wanted to gorge himself, we did it (after being puked on three times)!
 Back to chewing on Sophie girl :)

As much as we ADORE our nurses, and as much as we LOVE our oncologist, by day six we were R-E-A-D-Y to GO HOME! After an hour of education from the Endocrinologist nurse on how to administer stress dosing of hydrocortisone if Hudson is under mild stress (fever, broken bone, vomiting) and how to administer a shot (vial, needle and all) in case of a more serious stress, we were OUTTA THERE!
THIS is the face of a CHAMPION on his way HOME!

Our first days home looked a lot like this plus Cohen hanging on to me and Hudson, determined to never let us go again. 
I'd say Hudson speaks for both of us in this picture...we didn't want to be let go of, either. Having our family under one roof after being told Hudson could possibly have a very good chance of being healed...nothing like it in the whole world. 
 Then, it warmed up! I don't think I've ever scrambled so fast to get shoes and jackets on. We were going OUTSIDE!!
Hudson had his first swing experience. Little pushes and he really enjoyed it. :)
Best friends, even the little ones, find their hearts connected are much more cozy snuggled up together. It's before bedtime...can you tell with Hudson's thumb!? :)


 Some other Marshall happenings since being home these last three (busy) weeks:

Daddo making one of Momma's Pinterest dreams come true :)


 Hudson Xavier Marshall turned SEVEN months old!! PRAISE GOD FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL GIFT OF LIFE!
 Cohen got to play with other kids and learned that he did, indeed need a nap regardless of what his three-year-old self told me over and over again :) 

"Babyproofing" in this house means renting an auger and putting up a much awaited fence! Cohen is getting a little too daring for this momma's liking, so fence it is! Beyond thankful for our friend, Matt (and Kimber for letting us borrow her hubby!) to get this done!

Our fence inspector, Sir Cohen John. Also note the shirt bought specifically to support one of our favorite superheroes, AIDEN YOUNG!! :) 
The neighbor kids are so kind to our kids (and dog!) and this night was no exception. Here's Cohen playing with them on their see-saw. :) He's getting SO big!
We got to meet up with a dear high school friend of Steve's at Bill's doughnuts. So glad Sarah finally got to meet Hudson! He and Cohen were both very snuggly with her immediately! :)
 Hudson had some work to get done...
...so did Cohen ;) 

We got specially made tee shirts from two of our best friends living in Turkey for the boys. LOVE YOU Danny and Meggy!
Mommy didn't quite get the slowly easing in to two kids out in the world thing, so managing this trip to Hobby Lobby was a new, interesting task full of pee in Cohen's pants and a sleepy Hudson, who wanted held. For a minute, though...I TOTALLY had it all under control! ;)

Took the boys to their first baseball game!



 EASTER HAPPENED!
Since diagnosis in December, I kept telling myself that if  we could just make it to Spring and get to Easter, we'd be past the hard part, and I really think and pray we are. 
Easter is such a special time for our family. The LORD really puts Himself front and center at this time of the year. We got engaged on Easter, we lost our first baby (were held up by the Lord and overwhelmed by him GIVING UP HIS SON for us...wow!!!) around this time, gave birth to Cohen two weeks before Easter, and now this. It has always been my favorite holiday, and having our whole family home, together, and HEALTHY...PRAISE GOD!!!!!!


Easter egg hunt at Grammy and Jeffy's! SO much fun! Next year Hudson will be right in there with Cohen, Landen, Aiden, and Isabella grabbing up all the eggs he can!
 Church at Apex then brunch with some of our very best friends in the world. Love the Browns and loved sharing our favorite holiday with them. They have been such a source of love, support, encouragement, and even a little babysitting, so it was so fitting to celebrate this first big event out with them! THANK YOU, LORD for such wonderful friendships!
 Easter egg hunting champion!
 After running into this (my sister and myself):
I had to create this: 
 Tie dye Easter eggs! We got so much coloring on our hands we looked like the Hulk (thank you Emily Dew for that description!!) for a day. Totally worth it! :)

 An Easter craft at Matty and Kimbers with besties!! :) Cohen isn't exactly quite the crafter I'd like him to be, so he did this for about five minutes and spent the next hour out back tugging the hose around their yard hooking it up and running it up the slide. That's our Cohen :) 


 And last, but definitely not least...one of my favorite pictures of all time. The three older boys were so hungry after church, but we aren't rookie mommas any more, so we knew we had a very small window in which to get the desired picture. What did it take? Three graham crackers of bribery and one very bossy seven-month-old. Hudson...you ROCKED your Easter picture, bud! :) 




Psalms 35:28 And my tongue shall speak of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long!!!!!!!!!!!!