Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Today will be a good day.

Today is La Petite Belle's 15th birthday. 

Today, Beau and I will do everything we can to celebrate our sweet daughter.

Today, we will eat cinnamon rolls with sprinkles for breakfast.

Today, we will sing "Happy Birthday."

Today, La Petite Belle will blow out candles.

Today, we will play games.

Today, we will make homemade pizzas.

Today, we will open presents.

Today, we will eat ice cream.

Today, we will watch movies.

Today, we will cover our girl with hugs and kisses.

Today will be a good day.

This is not the way any of us ever intended to celebrate our daughter's 15th birthday or any birthday, We would've loved to throw a party with her friends or go to dinner or take her on a shopping spree. But, we are sure that this will be one of the most memorable birthdays she will ever have.

So, today will be good.

We will not think about tomorrow. Nor worry about what is ahead.

With that said, please be in prayer for us as we will be at the hospital bright and early for an unexpected 5th bone marrow biopsy. We are praying, believing, and expecting a good report from the biopsy. Once we have all the details, I will post more information. God still has a plan and we trust our good and loving Father.

This girl has been a true gift to us since the day she was born. She has brought so much love, joy, and laughter to our family and our home. We can't imagine life without her! She is truly a blessing from God and teaches us so much about our faith. 

Baby girl ... Daddy and I love you SO MUCH!
Happy Birthday! You are one AMAZING girl!

If you would like to financially support Katie's (aka La Petite Belle) journey to healing, you can find more information here: www.gofundme.com/Katieg.  All funds go to cover medical bills and expenses.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We may be getting a little too familiar with each other.

So ... you know Beau, La Petite Belle, and I are in tight quarters. Tight quarters for extended periods of time, mind you. With living situations this way, typically people will need to go to their rooms for some alone time or they may get irritated when people click their keyboard keys a little too loudly. Some people. Not us, of course.

We're actually getting along pretty well. There's the occasional annoyances, but nothing major.

Along with the tiny disturbances to our peaceful environment, there are a thousand more good, actually great moments. Moments where we've cried together. Moments where we've laughed so hard  we've cried. Moments of heavy-duty game competitions. Moments of talking about God and what He's up to. And, lots of moments of prayer.

There are even moments of straight talk.

And, when I say "straight talk", I mean this family does not hold any punches and just states the truth. That's how we all are. But, with that comes a lot of uncomfortable conversation, mostly always involving La Petite Belle.

If you've read my blog long enough, you know this girl is a unique kid. Always has been. Never afraid to speak her mind.

Remember that time we devastated her by our talk about alcohol? That's just the tip of the iceberg these days. Thank God I think she's finally got a good understanding of that subject and she's not horrified over people drinking and them burning in hell. It took us years to change her legalistic thinking that she acquired over the years. 

Then, there was that time she asked if her Daddy and I ever smoked. To which Beau replied, "Well, we've each had cigarettes before, but didn't really smoke per se." Her response after the whole discussion was, "Great. I live with a bunch of smokers."

This girl is a black-and-white-type girl. There is no gray with her.
It's always one extreme to the other.
Example ...  Mom's not going to cook something I want to eat, then I won't eat. My friend and I can't go to the mall then I'm just going to tell her not to come. I can't watch a movie I want to watch, then I'll just go to bed.
That's the way she thinks.

She's also EXTREMELY inquisitive and tends to ask lots of questions ALL THE TIME.
Lots, y'all. Lots.
It's a great quality to have, but kinda exhausting when it's one question after the other. And, there are questions we just don't know the answer to. 

With that said, a couple of nights ago she began to grill us on our lives before Beau and I met each other. You know ... Did we date other people? How old were we when we could date? How many people did we date before we met each other? Did we have boyfriends and girlfriends before each other? For how long?

Then this ... and I quote,
"Were y'all virgins when you got married?"


Who asks their parents if they were virgins before they got married? Like really ... who does that? Would you ever have thought to ask that question to your parents? I wouldn't have. Gross. What happened to the good ol' days when you dared not speak of these things in front of your parents? They are long gone, my friend. Parents of young children ... prepare yourself.
This child is a little TOO comfortable with us, obviously. K Belle would never ask a question like this.

But, it did open another dialogue about dating and waiting for God's best for your life and why we don't want our daughters to date (as in relationships with boys) until they're 18, or outta high school. I know ... horrible, right?! But, just makes sense. We have one who made it through and she didn't die. Only one more to go! And, I'm pretty sure she'll be fine too.

I asked La Petite Belle, "Are there no questions that are off-limits for you to ask your parents?"
Her answer was yes, there are some that she's uncomfortable asking. Huh? Really??
To which I said, "We did cover the sex thing right? You do know how it all works? Do I need to go draw some pictures for you to make sure you understand?"
Thankfully, she said she didn't need that discussion again. But, I told her to ask me anyway. I guess she was done with questions for the night.

This girl is definitely entertaining.

And, she most certainly has our heart. Always has. Always will.

Monday, September 28, 2015


It's a gloomy, rainy day in Houston as I write this.
Today, I am extremely homesick ... like crying homesick, tummy-ache homesick.
(Actually this is being written on Sunday, so I may be ok today. Maybe.)

Don't get me wrong. Houston is an amazing city and will always hold a special place in our heart. It's the place where my daughter got her new cells and some amazing health care. It's the place where God has met us in so many special ways in really dark, lonely times. Houston's been good to us.

But, today, my heart aches. Today feels lonely yet again.

I thought that having Beau here more would ease that feeling of loneliness and it definitely has allowed us to lean on each other. But, yet, here I am today ... homesick. What the what?! Why now? Where is this even coming from and how can I fix it?

Answer is it can't be fixed because Houston is not home. Even thought I've said before it feels like home sometimes, it will never be where all our loved ones are and where our family is living under one roof, even if only for a couple of months.

Tonight, I will cross out the number 45 on our calendar and realize how many more days are to come. It's 55. Yes ... 55 more days until 100 days. Good days. Better days. But, days where we're so disconnected and separated from home. Hard to believe I've been here since July 23rd and it's October this week.

You never realize how much you love home until you aren't there. You never realize how important some of the relationships you had at home were. You never realize how peaceful home is and how good it is to just be home. I hope you never have to experience something like this or take being home for granted. Soak in it, people!

The most important thing about home is relationships. It's not an actual house or city. It's people. It's loved ones, friends and family. That's what home actually is.

Cherish it. 
I know you've heard that before and it sounds so cliche', but truly cherish home and the relationships you have wherever your home is.

The days here are very long as we wait for the next day to come so that we can just be one day close to being home again. My girl wants to be home even more than we do. She cries about it. She's so "done with this" and "ready to go home." If only Lafayette could have this type of hospital and care, how different our situation would look. To have the support of your friends and family in physical form on a regular basis would be incredible. It would still be hard, but loved ones that are near make such a HUGE difference.

Unfortunately, that is not our case. We have to be this far away because it's the best thing for our child. 

So, we try to stay strong. But, we all know how that goes. It doesn't work so we rely on God and His strength. How people get through tough times without Him is beyond me!

La Petite Belle got a precious care package from a class at a local (Lafayette-local) Christian school. It was filled with goodies and sweet, precious cards that the children wrote to her. She truly took her time, read through each card, treasuring the words that were written. 

It was such a gesture of kindness and compassion. We didn't even know how this class knew La Petite Belle. It took us a while to figure it out. Knowing these children didn't even know my girl and were consistently lifting her up in prayer did my heart well. And probably helped in my overwhelming feeling of homesickness.

Today, we will be at our clinic visit most of the day. 
We are praying for even better counts today and a good report all around. Actually, a GREAT report!

A great report reminds me that we're closer and closer to being home.

If you would like to financially support Katie's (aka La Petite Belle) journey to healing, you can find more information here: www.gofundme.com/Katieg.  All funds go to cover medical bills and expenses.

Friday, September 25, 2015

We always knew she was a rock star.

I mean ... even from an early age, this girl had swag.

There's many more where that came from, but you get the idea.

"Rock Star" ... yep, that's what La Petite Belle's nurse practitioner called her at our clinic visit yesterday.

Don't misunderstand me. We still have a road ahead of us. But, my girl is doing well.

Today is Day +43.

We are officially down to two clinic visits a week, instead of our regular three. That came pretty quickly. La Petite Belle is happy about this because the clinic visits are exhausting.

She's still pretty weak and we're hoping she will start to gain some strength back soon. We are waiting on our first in-home physical therapy appointment, which should happen any day now. 

We were just reminiscing yesterday about La Petite Belle's sports days ... soccer, volleyball, and pretty much anything else she set her mind to. She was always so strong, so it's hard for her, as now, she gets winded just walking up the stairs. She's kind of bummed and thinks that her sports days are over after sitting out a whole year, but Mom and Dad keep telling her that she can get her strength back and be just as good as she was before.

Our week has been pretty uneventful, which the doctors say is good. The saying here is, "Boring is good." 

La Petite Belle's counts do fluctuate a little bit up and down, but any of ours would if we had our blood drawn so often. However, we had a more dramatic decrease at our visit yesterday so the doctor is taking her off a certain medication. There are two medications that she takes ... one that prevents pneumonia, and one that is an anti-viral (fighting that CMV right now) ... that can actually suppress the bone marrow. And, it looks like that is happening. So, instead of the oral medication for pneumonia prevention, she will be doing a breathing treatment once a month. The doctor and nurses don't seem to be worried about the drop in counts because they are pretty confident that they caused it with this combo of medications. The important thing, according to the doctor, is that her marrow is growing and producing. It may not be as fast as we want it, But, I am definitely expecting higher counts on Monday.

La Petite Belle's biggest struggle right now is emotional.
She has good days, but then has some really low days ... days where she is extremely homesick.
Earlier this week she told me, through tears ... "This was supposed to be my Freshman year. You know how much I was looking forward to it." It's hard seeing all her friends' school pics, and now, homecoming pics, and so many more to come. She has really learned, at an early age and through some heartache, what true friendship is and who her true friends are throughout this whole process. When you go through this kinda stuff, you realize how small your circle of friends really are. When you thought you had tons of friends, you wind up with only a few at the end of it. It's a shame. But, good nonetheless. Then, you understand the value of friendship and the true meaning of it.

She also doesn't want to be "that girl" (that's what she calls it). She wants her friends to respond to her the same way as before. She even said that she doesn't feel like herself anymore. I guess not. This girl went through and is continuing to go through one of the hardest things in the world. This stuff changes you. Depending on how you manage it, it should be a change for the better. We have all changed.

But, La Petite Belle's personality is still there for sure. I see so many glimpses throughout the day of her wittiness, sweetness, and inquisitive nature. She's there. She's the same. But, different.

It's hard to see your baby girl hurting. She has said multiple times, "I just wanna go home." To which I've responded, "you are home. Where we are, it's home."

I even asked the nurse practitioner about going home at our visit yesterday. I know it's early, but it's something to look forward to. Of course, it's a no-go before our 100 days. But, after that, if she continues to progress like a "rock star," we would be dropping down to twice a month visits close to that time and could very well do that from home, with one visit being our doctor there. That excited me, despite the fact that just the few times I was home during this, I felt like a visitor. So weird.

We are all definitely ready to be "home" with our K Belle. Our visits with her are too short. I long for the day that all four of us are under one roof, even if it's only a couple of months before K Belle leaves for Australia. Mama needs some time with both her babies and her family to be under one roof for some time.

I spend my days thanking God for La Petite Belle's healing. I have done that since the beginning. But, my thankfulness has changed. Each day of gratitude is different. Thanking God before seeing physical results is definitely harder. But, as La Petite Belle said herself in her news interview, "I just knew God is gonna heal me," I felt the same.

I read this today:
"Gratitude is thanking God AFTER it happens. Faith is thanking God BEFORE it happens." 
-Mark Batterson

So true.
Gratitude feels different than faith. My heart aches in faith and gratitude. I think it's the overwhelming love of God I felt and still feel in this. Whether there's good news or bad, He loves. There truly has been, even in my times of desperation, peace ... the invisible embrace of a mighty Father.

I literally thank God every day. Every. Day.
I think when you begin to do that, your outlook changes and you change.

Thanks again for all of your prayers and support. We truly appreciate all of you!

If you would like to financially support Katie's (aka La Petite Belle) journey to healing, you can find more information here: www.gofundme.com/Katieg.  All funds go to cover medical bills and expenses.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

When a Non-Hugger Becomes a Hugger.

I was never a big hugger. It's not that I didn't like to hug. My hugs were just truly meaningful. I hugged my children and my husband all the time. I hugged my friends. I didn't just hug someone to hug. There was always a purpose and emotion behind it. I guess hugs to me were more precious than I thought and not to be given out to every Tom, Dick, and Harry.

But, guess what?

I'm a hugger.
And, not just any hugger.
A 5-10 second hugger.
My hugs might be a little too long.
It might be a bit embarrassing. I'm not sure.

As I was back in my hometown this weekend for a marriage conference, I was in awe of how much I missed people. But, even more how much people seemed to miss me. They may have been lying, but it was still good to hear.

Everyone, not just people at church, people EVERYWHERE ... strangers in restaurants and stores ... all asked about La Petite Belle. They asked about me and expressed how our family was in their thoughts and prayers. I was in awe.

This simple fact made me a hugger. I was truly grateful. I truly missed everyone. And, my hugs were for real. Sorry to those who wanted me to just let go already. They were so sincere.

In the past months, I have really come to love The Church. I have been able to see the body of Christ be what it was created to be.

Before our lives drastically changed, I don't think I really had a true love for the Church like I do now.  Seeing the Church be the Church is really a beautiful thing.
Know that I am not talking about any particular church, but The Church ... the body of Christ as a whole. I have seen so many come together and support us through this time. And, not just from our own church, but other churches and denominations. Truly beautiful.

Just this past Sunday, I saw such an amazing picture of this that truly moved me.

As Beau and I were on stage singing and leading others in worship, a man came up for prayer. He approached one of the prayer team members and said, "I don't have a need. But, I came up because I want to stand in the gap for the Gaspards and I want us to pray for their daughter." This gentleman had lost a child and knew how difficult it was to see your child go through sickness. The prayer team member told me that he asked the man to pray and he would agree with him. And, when the man started to pray, it was powerful.

The fact that someone stepped out of their seat, to walk to the front of the auditorium, and find someone to pray with them for my daughter's healing and for our family is simply astounding to me. Most people go up for prayer for themselves, for their needs. Not many go up to stand in the gap for someone else's needs. It really touched me. After I sang words like "I'm holding on to hope, holding on to grace, fully letting go, I'm surrendered to Your ways," someone was petitioning God for me. Amazing.

This is just another example of the Church being the Church ... praying for others, standing in the gap for others, supporting others. That's what the Church is all about.

I may not have seen it before because I was blinded by all the negativity in the Church. Yes, there is that. But, when you can look beyond that, there really is something beautiful. It's when the Church decides to be Jesus. 

We feel surrounded. We feel lifted up. We feel peace as we walk through this journey.
I will never view the Church the same.

If you would like to financially support Katie's (aka La Petite Belle) journey to healing, you can find more information here: www.gofundme.com/Katieg.  All funds go to cover medical bills and expenses. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Third of the Way There

That's where we are today - Day +33.

Lots going on here. Some may think we are able to just lie around all day and do nothing. But, actually most of our days are filled with activity.

At this point, we go to the hospital three days a week to visit the BMT clinic. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, that's where we are. The visits are LONG. And, not like your typical "It's ridiculous that I have to wait an hour to see the doctor" long. I'm talking three hours, maybe four. And, that's if we have no other appointments at the hospital. Last Friday, we were there until 5:00 pm due to extra cardiology testing.

Needless to say the visits are exhausting for La Petite Belle. We have to wake up pretty early for them and my girl still hasn't been getting the good sleep like she used to get months ago. She crashed on the couch when we got home yesterday.

Along with her clinic visits, she is enrolled in Houston public schools online and is in the process of having a homebound teacher come to the apartment twice a week to help her. However, she does have to log in and do assignments every day. Try that while you're on Marinol. Should be interesting.

We have a home health nurse who comes once a week to change her dressing and check on her.
And, she is currently in the process of getting ready for in-home physical therapy.

As far as how her health is now post-transplant, she's doing well. Her blood counts are all rising or holding steady. Her blood shows that she is 100% donor cells right now. In fact, her blood type is even changing over. Crazy, right? Her DNA is 100% of someone else. Mind blown.

Tomorrow she is scheduled for her first bone marrow biopsy since transplant. They'll be getting a closer look at her marrow.

She's on a ton of medications. She's not loving having to take so many pills each day. We're also constantly changing medications to make sure levels are right.

The one issue we're dealing with right now is how her body is going to handle and fight something called CMV. CMV(Cytomegalovirus) is a very common virus which most of us have in our bodies. We don't even realize we have it because it causes no symptoms and just lies dormant. However, for someone with a weakened immune system, it could cause concern. La Petite Belle was positive for CMV before her transplant, so her body still has some of the virus. Her donor was CMV negative. So, basically her donor cells don't recognize the virus or know how to fight it. Her levels of the virus are rising. Her medications have been changed in hopes of her levels dropping and not continuing to rise. 

If you're looking to pray for something specific, that would be it ... that her body would be able to fight CMV and the levels of the virus would go down. Actually, our prayers each night include that God would keep her free from any infection, germ, bacteria, virus, etc.

My heart aches with gratitude. I don't know if you have ever felt that, but it literally aches. But, it's a good ache. I thank God every day for where He's brought us, what He's doing, and what is yet to come. Overwhelmed with gratefulness. Humbled before my awesome and mighty God.

Also, humbled by all of you who join with me in prayer each day for my baby girl's healing. Humbled by your generosity. Humbled by your compassion. Humbled by your love.

Only 66 more days to go until our +100. Although we may not be able to go home on that exact day, we are hopeful that it will be very close to that.
Continuing to believe for God's best for La Petite Belle.

If you would like to financially support Katie's (aka La Petite Belle) journey to healing, you can find more information here: www.gofundme.com/Katieg.  All funds go to cover medical bills and expenses. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lessons Learned: How to Respond to Someone in Crisis

God doesn't allow horrible circumstances to happen to us because we need to "learn a lesson." I know this because He's a good Father and a good Father doesn't create heartbreak and hurt for such a thing. 

As a mother, I'm not going to slice off my child's finger and say, "Don't play with knives. Use them carefully. They're dangerous." No.  Ridiculous, right? A good parent won't do that. But, good parents will guide their children through hard times ... love them, hold them, help them in any way they can.

With that being said, God does speak through circumstances. When we listen carefully to His voice, we do learn and we do grow. And, when tragedy comes, we listen harder if that's possible. We listen harder because we want an answer to "why."

Thing is God usually doesn't answer that question. He may, but not always. Or if He does it's not until further down the road. Sometimes, there is no answer to "why" and you just have to carry on without understanding. You have to start asking the "what" and "how" ... "God, what are you doing through this? And, how are you going to use me or this situation for Your glory?" That's definitely where I've been for months with our own circumstances.

When you are faced with your own tragedy or hard thing, you become more compassionate toward others who are hurting. Your heart aches harder. You understand in a deeper way.

I have learned more about what to say and how to react to others in their own tragedies and hard times.

First off, KNOW THIS: There is NOTHING you can say that will make it better. Absolutely nothing. While your sympathy and compassion are much appreciated, this is not a time for you to preach to someone. Not. At. All.

Honestly, that has been the MOST annoying thing for me.
Number One: I know God myself. You don't have to explain Him to me.
Number Two: I don't need you to tell me that God wants the best for me or is working everything out for my good. I wish Christians would stop that. It's like our go-to when we don't know what to say. Just stop it.
Number Three: If you're going to send a Scripture to someone, make sure it's applicable and that God REALLY wants you to send it.

It's almost like Christians don't want to face the facts and truth that other Christians can really hurt. And, that bad stuff happens to them too. It's like Christian denial.

I'm here to tell you ... bad stuff does and will happen. Really bad stuff. Just because you're a Christian does not mean you're exempt. The only difference is that we have a hope when others don't. I can't imagine going through hard stuff without the hope I have through Jesus.

So, Christians ... don't try and tie things up in a neat bow and think saying "all things work for good" will make everything ok and you can wipe your hands clean of the matter. I promise you that's not what Christianity is about. Imagine if Jesus just walked around to all the sick, the dying, the hurting and just gave them a hug, looked in their eyes, and said "all things work together for the good" and some of those other Scriptures we like to quote. Thank God He didn't. 

No, He looked at them. Saw their hurt. Felt their hurt. And then He healed them. Of course, I know He's Jesus, the Son of God. But, we should do the first three and leave the fourth to Him.

From this point on, I will not send the standard Scriptures people send to those who are facing hard times. Actually, I won't send any Scriptures unless I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt God wants me to do that. Don't get me wrong ... there are people who have sent me Scriptures that were just right, at the right time. But, I received so many I stopped reading them. I know ... I sound like a horrible person. Really horrible.

A lot of times, as Christians, we can come off as "preachy" or "high and mighty" because we think we know best and we know everything. When someone is going through something hard, don't make it a time to try and think you understand or you can teach them something. You can't.

That's what I learned not to do. Here's what I learned to do.

Say what you truly feel. Don't be "churchy" and say what you think is expected. Sometimes there is nothing to say and that's ok too. But, do say something. There are those who I thought were my friends who have said nothing. Not a word. Not a call. Not a text. Not a message. Nothing. So say something even if it's "I love you" or "I'm sorry." Just say something.

Make that something simple. Sometimes "I'm sorry for ..." is all you can say. That's what you feel. Your heart breaks for them. You want to help them. If you really do, you say "what can I do to help you?" Better yet. Just do what you think they need. {I already wrote about that here.} 

And, lastly, pray for them. A lot of times we say we're going to pray, but do we really. I'm guilty and I'm sure you are. We get busy. We go on with our lives and it slips our mind. Commit to pray for that person, not only for them, but for you too. When you pray for them, God connects you with that person even more than before.

In a nutshell:
Say something.
Do something.
Pray something.

I don't claim to be anyone professionally trained in how to care for others. All I am is a person who's been on the hard-times side a lot lately. However, I've been on the other side much more. Through this, God has taught me how to respond to others.

He didn't cause this to teach me that lesson, nor any other lesson, but I have learned the lessons nonetheless. He has shown me what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus when others go through difficult circumstances. He teaches and guides when these circumstances occur when we lean into Him and listen.

If you would like to financially support Katie's (aka La Petite Belle) journey to healing, you can find more information here: www.gofundme.com/Katieg.  All funds go to cover medical bills and expenses. Thank you for your prayers and support!