Friday, June 25, 2010

Ancient Words

Last night was the last day of Vacation Bible School for Mackenzie and Kendall. It was an amazing four days of fun and learning about God. There is something magical about is life changing not only for the kids but us parents too. What an experience it is to walk into the sanctuary with hundreds of kids jumping up and down and singing their hearts out to God as they sing the songs they have learned over the past four days. At registration, there is an opportunity to purchase the CD that contains the music the kids learn at VBS. The girls love listening to the CD's and it warms my heart to listen to them sing their hearts out again in the back of our car while at the same time doing the hand motions nearly hitting one another. One of the songs from VBS this year is called Ancient Words and it is about the Bible's words of life and the words of hope that give us strength and give us hope in our lives. As I listened to this song for the first time, I started welling up with tears. I realized how much the Ancient Words have helped me throughout this past year. I am so thankful for the words of hope and the words of life God has given me through reading the Bible. This past year, there were times when I was physically and mentally at my worst...I would just lay in my bed and cling to my Bible. Or when I received bad or discouraging news, I would rush home and immediately open my Bible and start reading. There was no where else to turn for a source of hope and truth but the Bible. I am so thankful for the Ancient Words.

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world,
They resound with God's own heart
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e'er we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.

Ancient words ever true
Changing me, and changing you.
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age.
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world.
They resound with God's own heart
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Ancient Words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the Ancient Words impart.

I will continue to search for answers, hope and strength by reading my Bible. Especially in the next week or so as I am faced with making decisions on how to battle the issues with my skin. I am growing weary of dealing with the condition of my face and the way I look. I am tired of the stares and the questions of "Oh my, what happened to your face." I hate how my kids have to explain to their friends why their mom has a big bandage on her face. I am ready for this to be over.

Thank you for all of your prayers! Please keep them coming.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Refined like silver

Malachi 3:3 "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled a group in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character of God. One of them offered to find out the process of refining silver and to get back to the group at their next Bible study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver." She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eye on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."

Isn't this story awesome? My Aunt sent it to me and I loved learning more about how God uses the trials in life like refining silver. He holds us in a fire (trial) until the impurities are gone and he sees his image in us. And he sits there with us the entire time. Like, silver, I feel like I have been held in a fire. It is quite obvious that God does not intend to take me out of the fire until his plan is finished. I know my life has changed for the better over this past year, and I have a lot more to work on. Specifically letting go of control and completely trusting God with my life. There are times I feel like he has held me in the flames too long to the point of feeling defeated and destroyed but somehow I find the strength to go on.

Today I had the first surgery of 3 to fix the holes in my face. The surgeon made two incisions in my face and then stitched them up again. Little did I ever think this would be a blessing, but because I have very little feeling left in my face I felt no pain when he injected numbing medicine and made the incisions. So the procedure was VERY easy. My face is a little red and swollen, but I feel no pain. Now we have to sit and wait. This end result of this procedure is not going to be pretty so we further discussed the other option of replacing all of the skin with the skin on my forearm. The advantages to this procedure is that my face would look less deformed, my cheekbone could possibly be fixed at the same time and I would no longer have to worry about holes forming again in my face. What I wouldn't give to no longer have to worry about holes. I am seriously considering doing this surgery. We decided to meet again with my Surgical Oncologist who would perform this surgery. We will meet with him on Monday. Should we decide to do this procedure, the incisions that were made today would just be taken off with the other skin that would be removed so there was no harm done with what we did today. It would be a difficult surgery and the recovery will be longer. But in the long run I might be happier.

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers today. Please pray for our meeting on Monday and for wisdom to make the right decision. Pray that the hole in my face does not get any bigger. Another hole started to form under it so pray no other holes form. I also have an eye appointment on Monday. The vision in my right eye is starting to deteriorate so I am getting a little concerned. Having it checked out. Pray it is a minor fix.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Deja Vu

Jason and I were sitting at the hospital late at night...we had been there for months already and it didn't seem like we were going to leave anytime soon. That night, while we were asleep, we got another phone call that her stomach was distended again and discolored. I knew in my gut her bowel had perforated once again. The fragile tissue that has been operated on and stitched up so many times could not repair itself. How many times was this? It was too many to count. We rushed to the hospital and soon I was holding my sweet tiny baby in my arms desperately sobbing. We were filled with disappointment and all hope was gone. Mackenzie had already had so many surgeries to repair the many holes in her intestines. One of the many side effects of being born at 23 weeks. I was begging God for mercy on this sweet child. Had she not been through enough already? Had we not been through enough already? The surgeon entered the room and I quickly contained my emotions so I could hear what he had to say...another surgery. This was our story over and over again. There were many times we thought she would not survive and that there would not be an end to all of the suffering. But there was. After a year of over 20 surgeries, IV nutrition and feeding tubes Mackenzie survived and God got us through it all.

Nine years later...I find myself going through a similar situation. The tissue in my face so fragile from the radiation. It keeps breaking open and so far the surgeries have not been successful. I have that desperate feeling again wondering whether or not this is ever going to end. The other night I was laying in bed having a serious conversation with God. Psalm 77 once again came to my mind as it frequently did since the beginning of this journey. However, this time I read it in my new Bible "The Message" in a different translation. This translation could not better put into words exactly how I had been feeling and what I needed to hear.

Psalm 77:1-12 "I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs (I have done a lot of this lately). He listens. I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord; my life was an open wound that wouldn't heal. When friends said, "Everything will turn out all right," I didn't believe a word they said. I remember God - and shake my head. I bow my head - then wring my hands. I'm awake all night - not a wink of sleep; I can't even say what's bothering me. I go over the days one by one, I ponder the years gone by. I strum my lute all through the night, wondering how to get my life together. Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good? Will he never smile again? Is his love worn threadbare? Has his salvation promise burned out? Has God forgotten his manners? Has he angrily stalked off and left us? "Just my luck," I said. "The High God goes out of business just the moment I need him." Once again I'll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts. "

The last couple of verses once again reminded me of the miracle of Mackenzie and all that God did to pull her through. But this time, it reminded me of how similar our situations are and the disappointment I felt then and now. It also reminded me that there still is hope...if Mackenzie can survive I can survive.

I finally made my decision. Today, I had another appointment with my Plastic Surgeon. Up until this morning, I had no answers. I had no idea what I was going to do. I had been praying for God to give me the wisdom to make the right choice. I was prepared to tell my doctor that I had no idea what to do and that I needed more time. However, after he further explained the option of using skin from my cheek to repair the hole it became clear to me that this was the best option. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and it would cause the least amount of damage. We also did the test on the existing flap on my face to determine if there was adequate blood flow. The test was a success. This gave me the hope I needed to go on. The best part is that this procedure can be done in his office and I will not need to be given anesthesia. The procedure will take place in two steps. First he will make two incisions and sew them up again. This trains the blood vessels to change direction and begin feeding the portion of the skin that will be used to repair the hole. In another week he will remove the stitches and give the vessels time to continue redirecting the blood flow. The best part of this is that I will be able to go up north for the Fourth of July and be with my family and participate in all of the Fourth of July fun. I was so happy to hear this. After the Fourth, the next step of the procedure will take place opening the incisions again and moving the skin up to repair the hole. There is no guarantee this will be a success, but it is definitely worth a try. THIS NEEDS TO WORK!!!

So please keep me in your prayers over the next month. Pray for healing and that this procedure is a success. Pray the hole will not get any bigger. If it does, it may cause problems with this procedure. My next MRI is at the end of July so pray for peace as that date approaches. And most of all, pray the cancer stays away.

Thank you all!
Love, Sue

Monday, June 14, 2010


I am feeling so let down. I have prayed fervently. I have tried to remain optimistic. I have tried to be positive. I don't know what else to do...nothing seems to be helping. I am beginning to wonder when this will all end...when God will finally show me and my family mercy. So much for a fun summer. Not only has it been taken away from me again, but has been taken away from my kids, from my family. I can't do all of the fun things I wanted to do with Mackenzie and Kendall this summer. The stress from it all has finally gotten to Jason. He has been very quiet lately and I know it is because he is having hard time. We have no hope to cling to right now. Our options offer very little of it.

We have some hard decisions to make. There is definitely another hole. There are three options: 1) See if the hole will close on its own. More than likely it won't. 2) Have it surgically repaired with another flap of skin from my cheek. This means more scars, more disfigurement. I will have to live with two flaps on my face for quite sometime. And there is no guarantee this will work. There is a possibility of more holes forming. 3) Surgically removing all of the skin below my eye down to the bottom of my cheekbone and replace it with skin from my forearm. This is a very difficult surgery and recovery will be long and difficult. And again, there is no guarantee it will work. Either option does not seem like a good one.

I am going to take some time over the next couple of days to try and decide what to do. I could really use your prayers right now for wisdom, strength and most of all healing. Please pray for my family...this has been so hard of them. We all need to have a our lives back. Lives without stress, worry or health problems. We need a life of normalcy.

God where are you in all of this? We are feeling so abandoned. You are the almighty healer and have the power to fix this. I am asking you to have mercy on me, heal me and let this all be done. Please show us your love and peace over the next couple of weeks and give us some encouragement and hope. Lord, this is in your hands and I am trusting you to take care of me and my family.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Slow down and enjoy the moments

At the cabin again enjoying listening to the kids playing outside and riding with Grandma on her golf cart. Their favorite thing to do is to cut wildflowers as they ride along. I also sent them on a mission to find some milkweed with hopes of finding a monarch caterpillar. No luck yet, but we are determined to find one. Experiencing its transformation into a butterfly is a miracle to watch. Yesterday was a beautiful day and we spent a lot of time fishing and boating. Mackenzie caught her first rock bass with a piece of hotdog as bait. It was a nice size and she was so excited. Jason and I just finished playing hand and foot with my parents. A favorite card game we like to play while at the cabin. My mom and I were partners this time and we got creamed by my Dad and Jason. That game makes me so mad, but I keep playing it anyways. The girls, my mom and I went to a city wide garage sale in Battle Lake this morning. Found some treasures including a decoration for the Fourth of July boat parade. It is a humungous inflatable Shrek. He must be at least 7 feet tall. Put a couple of flags in his hands and we are bound to win the decorating competition this year. Summer has officially started!

The stitch is holding. However, this morning I woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed some changes at the stitch site. I am a little nervous my skin is breaking open again. I need to watch it closely and hope that it will be OK. Please God let it be OK. Keep the prayers coming!

The other day, a friend sent me this poem written by a teenager with terminal cancer. I hope that I will never lose the feelings I too have experienced like this girl going through cancer. Sometimes I catch myself losing sight of what is important now that things have calmed down a little. I have to remind myself to slow down and never take for granted the little things in life.

Slow Dance

Have you ever watched your kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?
Ever follow a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask how are you? Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done do you lie in your bed?
With the next hundred chores running through your head?

You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your chlld, we'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die?
Cause you never had time to call and say, "Hi"?

You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift...thrown away.

Life is not a race. Do take it slower.
Hear the music before the song is over.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I spoke too soon.

I spoke too soon...just when I thought we were over the hump I am facing yet another hurdle. Last night I had to rush to the ER because I found another hole in my face with my bone exposed. It was such a blow to both me and Jason and extremely frustrating. My surgeon met me at the hospital and after an hour of discussing the best possible way to fix the hole and lots of tears and anger he stitched it up. The concern is that the new stitch will cause a bigger hole. Now we have to sit and wait and PRAY. If this stitch does not work, then I am facing another surgery. There are many options one of which includes cutting away all of the skin on my cheek and replacing it with skin from my forearm. I get sick to my stomach when I think about this, but I am trying hard to remain hopeful that the stitch will work. I just can't imagine more damage done to my face.

So I am reaching out to you for more prayers. Please pray that this stitch will work and that the hole will heal. Pray no more holes will form. Pray for strength. I am so down in the dumps right now. I was hoping for a Summer of no worries and that doesn't seem to be happening. I am wondering what God is trying to accomplish through this next hurdle. I am doing my best to let go and let God.

I will continue to keep you updated.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It Was A Beautiful Day at the Cabin

We finally made it back to the cabin. It was so great being back and I appreciated being there more than ever. The girls were also so excited to be back. And for the first time in a long time I saw Mackenzie carefree and happy. This year has been hard on her and being back and the cabin was just what she needed. We spent our time fishing, boating, swimming, tubing and cruising around in my Mom's new golf cart. The weekend could not have been more perfect. When we got back home I immediately looked at the calendar to find the next open weekend we could go back. None of us wanted to leave.

Kendall enjoying the water

It was small, but it was a fish.

The Karrmann house is very busy. We are in the midst of finishing our basement. We are so excited to soon have the extra space and it has given me a much needed project to occupy my time. We are also in the midst of the countdown to the end of school. I am looking forward to a break from homework and the hustle and bustle of getting the girls ready in the morning for school. I am really looking forward to this Summer. It isn't going to be quite the Summer I was hoping for, but at least I will not be sick in bed like I was last year.

I had a doctor appointment this morning with my Plastic Surgeon. He removed the rest of the stitches from the flap. Yes, the flap is still there. I have two more weeks until he will test whether or not the part of the flap covering the holes on my face has adequate blood supply. He is anticipating that it probably will take some more time to heal and that the test may not work. We are possibly looking at July until my face can be fixed. I was extremely sad and disappointed to hear this news. I am so tired of looking deformed and wearing a huge bandage on my face. The stares from other people are getting old. I was hoping that this would all be fixed early so that I could enjoy a carefree Summer. It doesn't look like it is going to happen.

The Relay for Life was an amazing experience. The survivor's lap was very emotional. As we walked, the hundreds of participants stood around the track clapping and cheering us on. It was their way of acknowledging the fight we fought and everything we accomplished as survivors. I was so honored to do it with my Dad. I am so blessed to have a group of friends that took the time to walk 24 hours to fight cancer. They walked about 12 miles throughout the night and were exhausted by the morning.

The Clover Ridge Crusaders

Me and my Dad

If you could keep me in your prayers over the next few weeks that would be wonderful. Pray that the flap heals and that the blood supply is adequate. Pray that once the flap is fixed that it heals without any complications. And pray that I will have the patience to live with my face until it can be fixed.

Sorry it has been a long time since I have updated my blog. But look at it as a good thing...Everything is going well!

With much love,