Almost Out

1.07.2017

It's late and quiet and I'm a night owl, so I tend to do a lot of thinking at this time when the littles are in bed. I'm pausing and thinking about where we are right now and where we just came from. We are almost out of the tunnel. The light is getting brighter in this season and soon we will bolt out into the sunshine free.

There have been very distinct moments where I felt like a wounded soldier limping out from the battlefield, going through any cancer will do that to you whether you are the patient or the mom of the patient. Moments when I cried over and over to God, asking him to protect and preserve the life of my sweet 2 year old son. And even now as we near almost the end of 100 days post bone marrow transplant, there's that quiet terrible whisper asking me, "Will God be good again THIS TIME?" Even though, I quickly say to my soul, "YES! He will be good THIS time and EVERY time!" Oh, how good he has been to this little boy and to us! Judah has his 90 day bone marrow biopsy this coming week and we are praying for clear results and 100% donor cells so he can finally go home, so that all 4 of us can go home, so that this whole back and forth, time split when we can't all be together time will end. I feel like in many ways my life is in limbo and yet at the same time, like God has used this time to mold me more into who he wants me to be.

God's opened a passion in my heart for healthy living and I can honestly say there isn't a more perfect place than Mount Pleasant, SC for that to start. My joke when I first got here was, "Where is everybody running to!?"

It's hard to put a finger on exactly how God is changing me, but I can feel it deep inside. A newness  of life is there springing up from the caked dry hard ground of my heart. I was so tired and rundown and complacent in life before and now I cannot help but feel as if God brought us through so much! There is NOTHING he cannot do! This time has helped me to stop and DREAM again, to pray and seek God to lead us to where he wants us!

I'm honestly excited about routine and life at home and running our businesses. God is good and I'm grateful for all of you and how you walked with us through this and while there is so much recovering and healing to yet go through, I cannot help but stop and look and see how far God has brought us. Praise Him for that, friends! Praise Him!
Happy 2017 to you all! 

Love,
The Traylors

Hospital Life and Judah Update: Week 1

8.19.2016


I sat in my favorite hammock chair pouring my heart and tears out to the Lord. Today was the day we were beginning our hospital life helping Judah fight 2 different forms of leukemia before his bone marrow transplant. I remembered how the very first time I walked into the clinic holding my 6 week old beautiful blue baby bundle, there was a guy that Hart knew from college. He fought leukemia as a child and was back for his yearly check-up. He had just had a baby boy. Something most cancer patients know just won't ever happen for them.

I remember at that moment the Lord whispering to my heart, I can do all things. See, what good I can do.

In my trembling fear gazing at my newborn, I wondered, "Was this foreshadowing things to come?" If so, God was telling me that He had it. Nothing is impossible for him.

I sit tonight after our first week of chemotherapy admitted in the hospital in awestruck wonder of God's goodness. I know it will get harder. This is just the first week of 5, but truly I feel so utterly blessed. There were tons of hard moments this week. We had to go back to surgery 2 days after to replace a central line that Judah had pulled out. We had to fight Judah to get oral meds into him. Chasing a toddler around hooked to a sensitive IV line and heavy pole that constantly was getting caught on things and wasn't long enough to keep up with how fast he was moving was EXHAUSTING. There were moments of intense frustration and little sleep. But there was SO so SO much good that all I can do is praise the LORD!

Walking into this week, I had the pleasure of being able to worship at church one last time for awhile and the song, "Christ be all around me" by All Sons and Daughters and it was one of those moments where I had to lift my hands and everything in me said, "YES! This is what I need." Christ before me, Christ behind me, above and below me. All around me.

And He has been. He has covered Judah like a shield. He has allowed Judah to be remarkably unphased by chemo thus far and I'm so grateful for this so very tiring week.

We had the body of Christ visibly around us in friends bringing meals to the hospital (SUCH a help!!!), sending us encouragement in many forms (texts, chocolate, links to songs, small gifts for me and the boys, financial giving, visits), having family help out, and the hospital staff here at Palmetto Richland has been so fun and positive, and helpful! It's really been amazing!
 

God is with us! He is before us and paving the way of complete healing for Judah!

Thank you for continued support and prayers! Because of you, we are being held up and sustained! 

Stunned by His Faithfulness

7.06.2016

I was hot and flustered trying to put Judah's carseat into the van in the middle of July. She scared me as she said my name which I barely heard over the music and thinking about how I was going to wrangle my wild child into his carseat. It was my neighbor and she wanted me to come over to her driveway to give me something.

I was on my way out to drop the boys off at a friend's so I could go show houses and running a bit behind schedule.

As I pulled into the drive way, she came out with a small rectangular piece of paper in her hand. As she got closer, she held it out to me and said, we just wanted you to have this. Get that baby well.

It was a check for $1,000.

I was stunned. 

We love these neighbors so much. They are like my kid's 3rd set of grandparents. They have watched my kids run around barefoot to pick blueberries in the back yard and have seen my little daredevil's tricks on the trampoline over and over again. They have given popsicles over the fence and taken them when this frazzled mama just needed a couple hours to clean the house. They have gotten mail and fed our dog when we were out of town.They have been sweet family right next door for the last 7 years, but I didn't expect this.

In all honestly, I didn't expect any of this.

Some 20-something year old man halfway across the world giving my baby a chance at new life. A neighbor handing me a check for too much money to go towards all the added expenses coming up.

And suddenly, I see right up close that God sees my heart and knows my fears and wants to show me He is bigger. When I pray and ask God to be CLOSE; He is. He gives and provides and uses His people for His glory and leaves me speechless, because I am too used to the mundane to see this God that is able to move mountains. So he proves it to me as he stuns me out of complacency. He is the giver of life, of new life, of needed things to help relieve stress and mostly, he is my God the One who also had me read this passage this morning before all this happened and as I reflected on it again this evening, I can't help, but see this verse jump out before me.

"The living, the living, he thanks you, as I do this day; the father makes known to the children your faithfulness." Isaiah 38:19 

If you would like to find out more about Judah's health updates check out his FB page! If you would like to know more about his giving, go here!

Be Near

7.02.2016

This trial is different. I have a confidence going forward. I know it will only be a season. Trials don't last forever. I can trust God. All things I tell myself all day long.

I know this, but it doesn't stop the heaviness that can fall upon you in an instant.

I spent the majority of the day reading a book. The first book I have read in a long time. Once I get into a book, I have trouble putting it down. I'm just like my Gramie that way.

I had no anxiety or worry really floating around in my mind. I was just trying to finish my book between episodes of my children bursting through my bedroom door.

Then suddenly it was there. What was that? Why did it suddenly come on me? Where is this coming from? 

I felt the weight of it. All of a sudden I wasn't normal. All of a sudden I didn't want this life with a child diagnosed with pre-leukemia. I wasn't like everyone else. I was alone.

The darkness enveloped me and I tried pushing it away to no avail.

Kissing the boys goodbye, I grabbed my car keys and went to meet a friend. I admitted the haunting heaviness that I was carrying. I didn't want it. I wanted to be light and free and not heavy laden.

Why was my life full of trials? Why me, Lord? 

In the 7 years we have been married, we have experienced what many don't experience in a lifetime. One year of newlywed bliss, then a little one surprisingly coming 9 months later. Financial burdens, cars without A/C in SC heat, one car family, past health trials, struggles through fostering while simultaneously growing life inside of me. Second son born, then hospital life and a diagnosis we thought was the end.

It's felt like one string after another, yet there has always been joy and blessing in the middle of it all. All of it has melded our family together and closer to the Lord, even when he has felt distant.

I finished my book and grabbed my journal. I knew what was wrong.

"Lord, I want to know you CLOSE in the midst of this trial with Judah's health. I don't want to question what you are doing or why. I just want you to be near to me. I don't want to be complacent. I want to be moved by your spirit & love you deep. Please don't be distant. Let me know more of you. Help me to hunger for you, Lord, to feast in your Word. Draw me in Lord & cradle me now. I need you Lord. Be near." 

I was tempted to put it aside and turn off the light. But, I grabbed my Bible instead. I flipped it open to the Psalms and read exactly what I saw first. Psalm 73.

This Psalm starts out by saying, "Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." 

That was it. I was envious. I wanted normal. I wanted to not be the mom of the child that would die if we didn't go through a bone marrow transplant. I wanted to be able to have an easy life, free of trial and coast right on through, enjoying whatever riches we could achieve and live right on however we desired.

Without Jesus. My feet had almost stumbled.

God brought me to this exact Psalm to show me what that life would be like apart from him. It was not worth being envious over. Their life seems easy and best, but it brings death. There is no pain and everything appears to be perfect. They are normal. Nothing appears to be wrong on the surface. But it is far from desirable.

"Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory." v. 24 

"Oh, Lord, you are holding my right hand. Even now reading this exact passage. You led me here. You are guiding me with your counsel. Thank you, Lord!" 

"Whom have I in heaven, but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you." v. 25

Straight up conviction like an arrow to my heart. I wrote in my journal, "...there is nothing on earth I desire besides YOU."

How I fall short of this! Forgive me Lord! Be in front of me. Let me desire only you on this Earth.

Only Jesus.

I can't be normal, because God loves me. He wants me near and He wants me to inherit more than anything on this Earth could give. He wants to give me himself.

Heaviness gone. God was near right now leading me to himself.

"But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." Psalm 73:28

God is promising to be near to me. That is where it is good. He is my refuge. And I have to make it that way. All this is happening in my life, so that I may tell of all His works!

Who am I to doubt that? 
Stephanie Middaugh @stephmiddaugh Instagram photos | Websta:
photo cred from Pinterest

All There

7.01.2016

He lay there belly first in the sand with his smiling face lifted up to the sky. I looked down at him, unsure if I was really ready to get sandy and wet. There was something about him I couldn't help, but take in.

He was all there. He was not worried.

I have bore many worries ever since we got the news over a month ago that he was pre-AML right as we turned the corner of his 2nd birthday. Despite my trust in God, of course the worry as his mother comes down in dark waves that take you to depths you don't want to go alone. Ever.

As I stood looking at him and seeing how happy he was, knowing this would be the last time he would be at the ocean shore for quite some time before his transplant, I couldn't help but be reminded of how I should be more like him. He was doing the exact thing that God wants me to do. Be all there. No worries about the future.

I sat down next to him and let the sand sift through my fingers, enjoying the water splash over us and ebb back again. We were there together and I allowed myself to be all there until the fears crashed back in trying to rob my joy yet again.

The irony is that I do trust God. If the worst thing happens. If my child died. I still believe God is good. That he loves me and that he knows what is best for me, but I would live with an ache that would never erase, and I know I would never be the same. And I'm not sure I would be a person you would want to live with.

I never thought this world would be my world, even as I walked in and out of the cancer clinic passing the little bald heads as we went in and out for labs. I saw in their faces the heaviness of seeing their child's life on the line and I wanted to understand, but didn't know how. I was always lighter. I don't think you really know until it's your reality and you feel the weight of what it means on your shoulders.

Even with all the questions swirling in my mind, I know that the grace of God is given in the exact portions you need it, exactly when you need it. I cannot fathom how His redeeming grace will be with me as we walk this road together. But without a a doubt, I know it will come at the exact moments I need it, because it's happened already.

Sitting in that room for the first time, meeting the transplant doctor and hearing all the things that could possibly happen to your child as he plays innocently on the floor with toys, I did not cry. I have no idea why. In fact, the doctor was worried she didn't adequately explain everything, because in that moment, God's grace was filling me with peace despite what I was hearing. He has Judah's life in the palm of his hands! I have no choice, but to walk forward and trust Him, that he is good!

I often wonder what it would have been like to be the Israelites lost in the wilderness. They knew the Promised Land was right on the other side, but they didn't want to trust God. They were content to sit in the hot, blazing desert where they could control little around them, than to follow God into the land that He was giving them rich with milk and honey.

I remember once digging my heels in and refusing to go where God was taking me. How can this be God's plan? How can He be doing this to me? None of this makes sense. This is NOT right? What on earth is happening? 

The surgeon scribbled onto a pad of paper what my insides would look like and explained I would wake up with a bag stuck to my skin. I was septic and it was poisoning my body very quickly. They had 4 hours to rush me into surgery and save my life by removing my entire large intestine, so ulcerated from colitis it couldn't even function anymore. It had burst. As a 20 year old college student, I could not even fathom how the heck this strange situation came into my life and how God would use something like this to prepare me for this time with Judah. I didn't go through that trial willingly. God gave me no other option and I was mad about it for awhile. 

I missed my exit as I listened to his coordinator tell me the news I had been waiting to hear. They had chosen a donor and they had sent the paperwork to Europe to be then delivered to my donor who would receive the call that they had, in fact, the exact same protein as my wild 2 year old little boy. They were his match. When could he donate?

I was filled with a relief and a heaviness all as the same time. This was real. This was happening.

I can't say what will happen at the end. This is a story that God is writing and I'm flipping the pages of the book as fast as I can trying to read about what happens next in the plot. You get to follow along with me and see the rawness as it comes.

I know one thing for sure. I want to be like the little boy belly down in the sand not a care in the world with a zeal for life that stops you in your tracks and makes you sit right down in that surf, get sandy and wet, and try to remember what it was like as a kid again with no worries in mind. It's here where God wants us. It's in this place of trust as we pour out our fears to Him, knowing that He is the good good Father and He will take me, Judah, and you into that Promised Land, whatever that looks like and wherever he has it. This side of Heaven or the other. I trust you, Lord Jesus with my life. And I trust you Lord with Judah's life. Will you trust him with yours? Make us new, Lord. 

This is one of many to come as I chronicle our journey through bone marrow transplant with my 2 year old Judah. My voice as a mother through it all. Check out Judah's facebook page for the most current updates.