Hello dear family and friends!  Our family has been lost in our own little world the last little while.  The kids escape to school and I escape to work for 5 hours day but other than that we are here together at home.  Awareness of world events, sporting events, or extra school activities is very low.  This morning I was making fresh peach pancakes with Bekah and she asked if I remembered when we used to jam out to our favorite music while cooking breakfast and cleaning house Saturday mornings before Amber got sick.  We used to dance around, sing the songs at the top of our lungs, and happily accomplish just barely more than zero between breakfast and lunch even though we were supposedly doing chores.  She went on mixing ingredients.  She is so cute in the kitchen she is predictably careful and exact.  If you know Bekah, you know what I mean.  She left me marveling at how infrequently I find myself thinking about how things used to be before cancer (BC). 

I consider it one of the Lord's tender mercies that I am not missing the sweet parts about NOW by being a slave to what once was.  Many people focus on what cancer has taken away from them and others.  I believe that the Lord has helped me to focus on now which naturally allows me to focus more on His blessings and having gratitude for what he has given me now.

It's amazing that in the laboratory of life experience the Lord chooses clinical experiences for us that are bitter and some that are sweet so that we will learn to desire the sweet.  Neal A. Maxwell explained, “The sharp, side-by-side contrast of the sweet and the bitter is essential until the very end of this brief, mortal experience.”  If you and I walk in wisdom's paths we will learn what methods and processes in life lead us to experience lasting peace, joy, and happiness no matter what is going on in our lives.  The more experience the truly wise have with that side-by-side contrast of bitter and sweet, the less likely we are to take short cuts that lead to that which is fleeting and not fulfilling. 

On Monday, September 21st Amber passed her 5 month anniversary since her last chemo treatment.  When she went on hospice I remember her saying, "now I am really in the Lord's hands".  When she put herself in the Lord's hands if you had asked her if she would expect to be alive in 5 months I think she would have been no more than cautiously optimistic but not really hopeful.  Amber is sleeping a lot now and she gets a little frustrated because she does not like to, as she puts it, "sleep her life away".  She has days where she is not able to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time even sitting up in her recliner.  Other days she is able to stay awake for eight hours strait in her recliner with only a little dozing.  She had an especially tough week the week of her 31st birthday (September 14-19th).  She was fighting some sort of infection and was fevered and feeling really yucky.  Its a good thing we had the huge, wonderful party 10 days before.  The fever has gone away and so did the infection.  Amber is declining slowly as each week  passes.  She is getting weaker, sleeps more, and eats less,  I don't know how much longer she will be here.  I have left that firmly in the Lord's hands.  The hospice team takes such good care of Amber and all of us that we could not ask for more.  We love and appreciate Carol and Sean from hospice for the loving care they give.  Amber's days are filled with comfortable rest interrupted by an occasional fist fight between kids.  If she has pain day or night or even on the weekends that her pump is not covering Carol or one of the on call nurses are quick to come help.  All I hope for at this time in Amber's life is that she have her pain managed, be able to rest comfortably, and feel the Lord's peace. 

I want to express with all my heart how grateful I am for the loving kindness of everyone.  I want to thank our angel mothers for their consistent presence in our lives and the great care.  I want to thank the army of ladies from church who bring wonderful meals to my family.  What a burden you lift!  Also our dear friend Dan Peck for the days and days that he has spent in our yard pulling weeds and trimming things.  It would be a beautiful mess instead of just beautiful without him.  I want to thank everyone for the loving cards given to Amber at her party and sent pretty much every day since.  She is so appreciative of your love and thoughtfulness.  I also want to thank Amber's friends from the breast cancer community.  None of you know Amber in a traditional sense but you show love and concern for her in very real ways.  The beautiful floral arrangement and cards from many of you for her birthday was especially appreciated.  I thank the Lord for his mercy and grace in our lives each day!  I truly stand all amazed.  . 

I had the best surprise in a long time last Saturday when nearly 200 friends and family members gathered to celebrate my 31st birthday (10 days early.)   I had no idea that this was in the works.  Dan put this together for me, and I just love him so much.  I know a lot of other people put a lot of time and effort into making the party so wonderful.  Thank you to all who helped with food, decorations, invitations, entertainment.  Thanks to the Petersons for hosting it.  I just love that family!  Their yard was beautiful.  

 I am humbled that so many would go to so much trouble for me.  I feel so loved!  I can't believe how many people came!  It was so great to see friends I haven't seen in years, and all of the friends I've made throughout my life.  All of the hugs and love filled me with so much gratitude and strength.  To see all of you gathered together was amazing.  I have also received many cards from those who were not able to make it, so thank you to all who have sent cards. We were graced with the musical talents of Jenny Jordan Frogley, one of my very favorite Gospel/ contemporary  singers.  She sang some of my favorite songs, and her performance was awesome.    I am so grateful that she would take time out of her busy life to entertain at my party. She was simply wonderful.    

I have to share the thoughts that I had when I arrived the night of the party, and realized that it was a surprise party for me.  (I thought we were just stopping by to visit the Peterson's before Dan and I headed out to dinner)  I saw tons of balloons, and really hoped we were crashing somebody else's party.  I had a unique feeling when I walked into the beautiful backyard, and saw all of the loving, smiling faces of everyone waiting there.  There was a hushed, almost reverent feeling.  Tears welled in my eyes, as I saw all of the friends and loved ones gathered, I couldn't help but wonder if soon another gathering will be taking place.  I wonder if once I leave this life, and I enter heaven, I might see another gathering of previously deceased friends and family, waiting to greet me and celebrate my life.  I imagine it will be so similar to the sight that greeted me the night of my party.   It gives me great comfort to have this little insight to what arriving in heaven may be like!  What a party it will be!
I am throwing a surprise party for Amber and anyone who knows and/or loves Amber is invited!  I know this is a tremendous risk posting this on her own blog but since she doesn't spend very much time on her computer any more I thought it was an acceptable risk. I apologize in advance for scheduling this party when some will be out of town for Labor Day but Amber's hospice nurse told me she would be better able to handle the rigors of such a thing now rather than later.

The purpose of the party is three-fold.  First, its Amber's birthday soon and I have always told her I would throw her a nice big party with all of her friends when she turned 30.  Last year she turned 30 and she was so sick and down from her brain tumor and going back on chemo she told me if I was planning to do what I had always said to wait until she was done with chemo.  She is certainly done with chemo now so I am doing it.  Second reason, I want Amber to feel the love of so many people around her.  Imagine what seeing a couple of hundred people who love and care for her would do to her heart.  My hope is that it will carry her through until her time to leave this life.  Third, I want to have a chance to express my love and appreciation to YOU for your special love and tender care during the last couple of years.  So I am going to feed you a nice dinner. 

Party Details

Invited: All adults young and old who know and/or love Amber.

When: Saturday, September 5th 6:30-8:30pm

Where: The Ted&Claudia Petersen and Chris&Melissa Marx yards. 
2285 S. Linda Way  Perry UT

Food: Dinner will be served my treat except we do ask that you bring a dessert or salad to share.

Entertainment: Acclaimed LDS Singer
Jenny Jordan Frogley

No Gifts or Children.  Amber does love cards and adorable newer babies though. 

I cannot believe how long it has been since we have posted anything.  Our days are filled with love and caring for one another.  That is not to say that life is idyllic.  Our wonderful children, try as they may, still have melt downs and little dust ups over toys and who is right about a certain subject.  We are striving to make our home a contention free zone where there Spirit of the Lord resides more of the time so that we can feel His peace.  We are certainly not perfect at it but it is a worthy pursuit that is very appropriate during this time in our lives.  Actually, it is a worthy goal for all times of life its just that the value of it now seems greater than gold and does not fluctuate like the stock market. 

Amber has been having more and more difficulty getting out of the house.  Her level of energy is really low and she only controls her pain well when she is in bed or in her recliner.  On August 22nd she had a great desire to go to the temple.  For those who do not know, the temple is a place where we go to worship, learn, make covenants with the Lord, and feel close to heaven.  When you go you are usually there a couple of hours.  Based on the week she had I was unsure if she would be able to go.  She insisted on going no matter what and we went and were strengthened spiritually.  

On Sunday the 23rd they dedicated a new Temple and had a sweet service that she really wanted to attend.  Again I doubted whether she could make it based on pain and fatigue.  Yet again she taught me a sermon on faith, dedication, and courage by going against all odds.  We were able to attend with our children Blake, Bekah, and Abby.  Caleb and Ammon could not go because you had to be at least 8 years old.  We all felt the spirit of the Lord very strong and appreciated the opportunity to consider heavenly things together as a family.  How grateful we are that we have been able to learn together as a family God’s plan for our happiness and eternal progress.  It brings great peace to us all to know where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going when this life ends.  I know that the things we have learned are true and the promises of God are sure.  He knows where we are going and the path we must follow and why.  We can trust Him!

When Amber went on hospice at the beginning of May she wanted more than anything to be able to do things with our children while they were out of school.  We wondered because her oncologist thought she only had 3 months to live, if she would be able to accomplish this.  Many prayers have been offered by us and our children to allow Amber to participate in all of our family activities this summer.  The children started school August 31st.  Because of the grace, mercy, and love of the Lord Amber has made it.  We are so grateful to the Lord for granting us this great blessing.  The summer was truly wonderful and lifelong memories were made.  When we plead with the Lord to remove our burdens from us he always has the power to do so but some times it is not His will.  He is always mindful of us and our suffering and always stands ready to strengthen us, help us, and ease our burdens.  He always stands ready to heal our broken hearts.  All that is required is that we answer his constant call, “Come unto Me”.  I am grateful for His tender mercy of allowing Amber this season to be with her children.  Things like this help me to know that He knows our thoughts and He knows our hearts.  The Savior of us all does not leave us comfortless or alone.  

Now we just have Ammon home all day with grandma.  He misses the kids a little but is enjoying the individual attention and not having to compete for toys with Caleb.  Amber has still been sleeping a lot.  A week ago our wonderful hospice nurse Carol helped Amber with the decision to get a pain pump.  This allows her to have a constant stream of pain medication even if she is asleep.  She can hit a button for an extra amount if she needs it.  This allows her to stay on top of her pain management and be more comfortable.  We are grateful for the tender care given by Carol and also the social worker Sean who helps us all a great deal.  

I have decided as of this week to only work 5 hours per day so that I can spend more time with Amber and be more involved in her care.  This also allows me to be around my children more so they feel secure and have more access to a parent.  I feel good about my decision and enjoyed being home more yesterday.  I appreciate my co-worker’s willingness to pitch in on my workload and members of the management team in the office for allowing me this time.  

Thank you for all of your prayers, love and support.