I am absolutely exhausted at the end of this week. Not, “I’ve traveled and had an awesome spring break, so glad to be home” exhausted. Not, “I have cleaned the house, washed 8 loads of laundry and done the grocery shopping” exhausted. Not even, “My kids have been running in and out of the house all day loud and obnoxious” exhausted. I know there is definitely some emotional exhaustion at work, but really I think it is physical exhaustion. Since my diagnosis 2 weeks ago, I have had 9 appointments/procedures, with 5 different doctors and traveled 272 miles. That may look great on my taxes next year, but right now it is overwhelming.

I am so thankful for the people that surround and support me. My husband has been away from work to be by my side for most of those appointments. My friends in town are picking up, playing with or just loving on my girls. My mom and dad have been here for a few days taking care of dinner, bedtime routines and our yard. And I can’t even begin to start on the fundraising efforts that are already in full swing. As we continue to put our trust in the Lord, continue to focus our gaze on him, I am amazed at the blessings that fall on us.

We are still waiting for details about this cancer, but we will continue to move forward. My year looks like chemo, surgery and radiation. Dates are not set for chemo, but the port will find its new home resting uncomfortably under my clavicle next week. If you are interested in following this fight, stayed plugged in here. Some days you may get the long and some days just the short, but my heart will no doubt be revealed like it has so many times before. Thank you for walking by our side.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Lace up the gloves

LoveI have been sketching lately. I fully intended to get on board with the idea of selling printables in my Etsy shop. I would come up with new ideas, sketch and scan, or digitally create a design for customers to purchase. My sketchpad and pens have been out for weeks, only on this day last week, I was sketching to soothe my soul instead of earn money. Convincing and confirming my soul that God is Good.

Friday, Feb 28th, I met with my oncologist to discuss some changes that had been bothering me. For almost 4 years, I had been cancer-free, healthy; healed. But now, I knew something had changed. The area in my chest that had undergone surgery and radiation felt and looked different. My doc took a quick look and ordered a biopsy and CT scan that afternoon. We waited and prayed through the weekend, worried beyond measure. By Tuesday March 4th, I was back with the oncologist awaiting the results of those tests. The CT scan had come back clear…that meant that if there was any cancer present, he could tell it had not metastasized. (Thank you God) But the biopsy had been sent to MD Anderson for a second opinion. It was that Friday, March 7th after preliminary results, that my doctor confirmed the cancer had returned. The cancer does look different, so even as I type, MD Anderson is still looking at it. Since last week, I have met with a radiation oncologist who confirms that radiation is in my future. I have met my oncologist who expresses his concern for this aggressive cancer that has already presented itself twice. I have met with a surgeon who confirms that a mastectomy is necessary. And lastly, today, I received a text telling me that the surgeon who will put in my port is calling to schedule a consultation. If you are following, that means chemo. I hated that word in 2010 and guess what… still do. In the days to come, I have a mammogram, ultrasound and MRI. I believe the surgeon’s words were, “I want to know what I am up against before I go into surgery.” I do not have a firm plan yet as they are awaiting some results from the biopsy, possibly doing a second biopsy and results from a new genetic test for the BART mutation.

Back to God is good. Do you believe that? Look at even your life. Can you believe that?

I can. And I will. I may be face-down to the throne everyday begging, boldly asking for him to take this away, but with all my heart I will believe He is good. He is love. He is in control.

Stick around, FIGHT4JULIE is back on.

“…Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9

8 years old

It is hard to believe that it has been 8 years. To me, Noah has always been a little baby. That round-faced, brown-haired little angel. Today, I began to really think of him as a kid. Of course, I have no idea what form he is in Heaven today, but that is the great thing. I have the liberty of thinking of Noah in whatever way brings my heart joy. And today, he is 8. I like the idea. We are waiting for Dad to get home from work so we can celebrate with cupcakes and let our balloons go. The kids honestly love this day as much as Christmas, I think. Audrey has the same love and understanding of her brother as Alyssa and that is beautiful to me. So does Megan’s entire Kinder class too, since she shared the story of Noah with them all this week.

This day has changed quite a bit over the years. Some were harder than others, but I embrace the fact that again, I can make it what I want. And we are still thriving with the cake and balloon release. I think a lot of times, people think that they have to grieve or remember is specific ways, but there is freedom when you understand that you can do it your way.

Recently, I have realized that my story of Noah has really traveled with me. When we moved from Houston to TN, I was worried that no one would know about Noah. No one would know that I was “supposed” to have a son. But as time allowed, his story came out. And as I shared my experiences with others, I shared my God, and my faith. Then as cancer came, those same friends watched me face it again. When I moved back to TX, I was able after time, to share my story of Noah and cancer with new friends. And each one in Austin was as touched as the first ones who were there in person in Houston or TN. I am thankful that our moves have given our stories room to grow and touch more people.

Thank you to those who continue to remember with us.

Hear it Now: “Choosing Trust”

That is about the only thing that got me through this past weekend. I was asked to speak at Sugar Grove Church of Christ’s women’s retreat. There were 3 women who gave their testimonies this weekend and I was honored to be among them.

While preparing, I learned that my story, my circumstances have been my way to glorify God. I learned that it was not just my story, but ultimately a story of God’s providence for His children. Thank you to those who have spoken out and who let me know that our actions have really made a difference, back then and today. I had full confidence going into the day that God was preparing me to speak for him, that He would give me the words and calm my spirit; and He did.

So… you want to hear it?
Listen to the mp3: Julie Whaley, Choosing Trust (16mb)

A calling…

Your back? Honestly, I am surprised. It is like so many other things, I have the intention to blog about so many things. I actually do enjoy writing. And if I did, I would tell you…

Megan finally lost her 2nd top tooth, so she has that cute, toothless smile right now. (Quickly to be replaced with teeth that are meant for her 35 year old face.)

Or that we spent one night building lego creations for a local toy store competition. It was good family time, lots of fun and I won 1st place much to Ethan’s surprise.

I could write about Ethan’s 4th season as Alyssa’s soccer coach and how well he does coaching and caring for those girls. How sweet it is to see some of them give him big hugs and how they are starting to work together to get the mental game of soccer.

I could show you several of the new paintings I have done and say how blessed I am to be able to use my talent for money through Etsy and in my local church. I have been commissioned to do paintings for the wall, decorations for VBS, stage decorating for Sunday mornings and today was asked to be a part of a live performance art on Easter Sunday. (I gently declined that one)

And there is Megan and her obsession with Star Wars. (chalk art of Princess Amidala, R2D2, and Jar Jar Binks)

Probably deserving a blog post would be that all three girls are going to be in glasses. Alyssa and Megan were diagnosed with amblyopia which needs 24/7 glasses and 1-2 hours of patching each day. Audrey is also extremely farsighted and will be in glasses full time. She has to have further testing done with a pediatric optometrist because she was soooo helpful during her evaluation.

But alas, that is not what this post is for. I need your help. I have been asked to give my testimony at my mom’s church’s womens conference in April. Whoah…. right? I mean, I did a public speaking class in college, but I am pretty sure that tensing up my muscles and relaxing them will not make this talk go easy. I have a lot of story to tell, right? And some of you have been here through it all. I have all the comments ever recorded on this blog, so I could go back and spend the rest of my year reading them. But even better, I want to hear from you. How did Noah change you? What did you see about our family as you read the blog? Did any of my events truly change your life? Just  a brief thought is all I want and you can email it to me if you prefer at (j the letter D my last name@mac.com – no spaces). Thanks friends.


My lost art

Blogging. As I sit in my room tonight, it is cold, quiet and my thoughts go to blogging. I am so behind, I have missed several important things, do I even try to catch up? Do I just start from here? It is a love/hate relationship, because once I miss something it feels like doing a chore. I realized that I started this blog to write. To put my feelings down, out there for you to read. Assuming you are still there. Give me a shout if you are still reading. It turned from an art form to a chore of documenting my life, my kids, my vacations, holidays. Well tonight, I am going old school. Back to my heart.

I received an email from my S-I-L today: “I am replacing pictures on the fridge with updated ones from Christmas cards, and Noah’s picture remains.” She has kept a photo of Noah on her fridge since the year he died. How cool is she? So I read her email and smiled and thought how sweet that is. He is still a part of their daily life. It wasn’t until tonight, as I am quiet, randomly scrolling through my 19,918 photos (no joke) in iPhoto that my heart goes to Noah. I look through the handful of photos that I have of him and pause here.

This is my sweet boy. I stare at this photo for awhile. Remembering the environment, remembering the sounds, the nurses, the families in the same situation. I have to make myself believe that this child is/was mine. I look at his face. Who does he look like? Why do I not know that face. What was he dreaming or thinking or feeling in these moments? I know without a doubt that God brought us through that hard time. That so much of the pain has been just washed away. I am so thankful for that.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: you have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;” Psalm 30:11

As I look to the new year, may I be girded with gladness. Finding the joy in my life right now. Giving thanks for the blessings. And daily finding ways to pass that joy on to others.

If I hear from anyone, maybe I will post things like… San Diego trip, Sea World, Megan’s birthday, Audrey’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas musical and Christmas photos. Sounds like too much work! Maybe I will just keep rambling.

Blessed Day

We longed and prayed for the day she was born. And then, she was born again.

Alyssa has such a sweet, tender and sincere heart and made the decision that she wanted to be obedient to God’s commands and wanted to follow Him for the rest of her life. There has been an old school thinking from my background that has told me, “she is too young or she doesn’t fully understand.” Well the truth is, she doesn’t fully understand and neither do I, right?  Baptism is for the new believer. And I had to put my CofC thinking aside and let her just believe. The Bible tells me, that is enough.

We were able to celebrate this day with most of our family, but definitely missed the rest. Lots of cousins, lots of silliness and lots of smiles. Thank you so much to all of you who have poured into Alyssa. We can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for her.



Halloween is such an odd event, really… You plan on costumes and work up to the day. You dress the kids, fix hair, make-up, rush them out for a picture b/c you know the ones you will take later in the night will look horrible. You head off in costume, everyone excited. 28 minutes later, 1 kid is scooting along with one shoe off because of a blister, 1 has lost her hair – which is what made the entire costume, and 1 kid riding piggie-back with a bloody chin and plastic-gouged palm. The costumes are shed, everyone is tired and we have 3 buckets full of candy that can make 1 child go into anaphylactic shock. Ah… Halloween.

But we do it every year for some reason. Last year, there was a silent bet going on how many times Audrey would fall down as we walked the neighborhood. All I remember is that I lost and she fell about 7 times.  For good conversation, we shared this previous bet with new friends as we T&T’d tonight. Every time she stumbled or caught herself, we chuckled. She tripped on the deck before we even left and started the night with a 3″ cut in her chin. Before we called it quits, she fell off some stairs (she admitted to jumping), and somehow cracked her cheap plastic bucket jamming slices of plastic into her palm. These pictures certainly don’t do the night justice. We did enjoy hanging out with new friends though. And that was worth any misery that Audrey suffered…. at least in my opinion.

Off to Preschool

Just 1 short week after the big girls went to school, Audrey was off for her 3rd year of preschool. I think we had talked about school so much for Megan that Audrey was ready to go. She decided this year that she was not bringing the beloved Bubby. Upon writing that line, I decided that I needed to insert a photo of Bubby. Well, 20 minutes later, I decided I may need a whole post on Bubby. I love all these photos I found. Needless to say, he has been a BIG part of her daily life.

So like the big girl she is, she walked right in and began her day. She gave me a hug and went to work on some puzzles. It was me, left at the door, trying to capture the moment in disbelief that she was not hanging on my leg or following me down the hall like almost everyday last year. It never gets old saying, “Man, she is getting big!”

She is in a new class, with a new teacher, without her best friend (Bubby), without her sister and she did great. I am so proud of her.