Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Long Overdue Update: Believing God More!

I have been so super busy that I haven't had a moment to update the blog in a couple months! Quick update on Maria, the Russian orphan with down syndrome that our friends the Zuzunagas are adopting and which I posted about earlier when we were helping to raise funds for the adoption. Well, they are embarking this week to return to Russia and bring her home! Her adoption went through last week before a judge and everything went smoothly thanks to the prayers of many.

I continue to be healed. At one point I had given up hope that I could ever be 100% whole again with the strength and abilities I once had. Since then, I started attending a new ministry which was launched recently by Naomi Van Wyk called Believing Women. It's a wonderful gathering of beautiful women, inside and out, who love the Lord and each week we worship Jesus and are given a great message of encouragement to encounter the Living God and awaken to our true calling, purpose and destiny.

You can find them on Facebook and at We meet twice a month, and despite my busy schedule, it's the one thing I make extreme effort to attend because who wouldn't want to encounter the Living God and be filled in a deep and meaningful way? The Holy Spirit is definitely present and going there affects me as I learn to BELIEVE God more and more and see Him do big things in my life following that belief. Wow.

So, I started attending that and decided I had faith in God, but I had lost my belief in the fact that He does want to heal me. Whether it is immediate, over time or once in Heaven, He WILL heal me and it is way more possible for him to do so when I am believing than when I'm not. Believing him prepares me to receive it. So that's what I did. I asked Him specifically for strength and healing. I believe it. That week I was completely motivated to begin the journey I need to take for weightloss. A scary venture since the whole reason I had gained so much weight in the past 2 years was due to comfort. I had been in so much pain and suffering that food was the only physical pleasure that relieved it, even for 10 minutes. I became addicted and now I'm at the point where I'm totally unsatisfied with the results of that addiction. I had believed the lie that it didn't matter, that it feels good and that ignorance is bliss. Well, time to go back to what worked for me before which was the Prism Weighloss Program, a Christian-oriented program of transformation of beliefs in order to restore you to the true you. There was no group meeting in my town so I created one and put the word out. I believed I would have 5 members and thanked the Lord for it before I saw that reality. Faith is believing in what we can't see, right? Well, God came through and moved 5 people to join within a week. We have been meeting for just over 2 weeks now and it's going well. It's a 6-week phase so I'll update you at the beginning of Phase 2.

The other way I saw God moving in my healing was when I started feeling motivated to take stairs and park further away instead of relying on my handicap placard all the time. It felt great to be able to do 3 flights stairs, twice and quickly, as I had been fearful that I couldn't do one. Past experiences do not dictate what we can do today. We have to put the past behind us and stop listening to the lies.

I also started exercising again on a fitness trampoline. I was enjoying it very much and on Saturday, tried to do it quickly in between activities and landed wrong, injuring my knee enough that I have had to take a break. Once it's healed I'll be back to my regular exercise routine. It was a lot of fun!

That's all for now...Be blessed today knowing how much Jesus LOVES you and if you are at the end of your rope and have lost hope, perhaps God has allowed this circumstance to give you the opportunity to turn to Him, now that you realize you can't do it on your own any more.
1 Peter 5:5b-7
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Video Update: Both Hands Project

Last Saturday, our family worked with a team of 15 to undo 20 years of dust, grime and broken things in and around the mobile home of Louise, a 90-year-old former missionary who has no family. It was a blessing to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and to know that this could help the Zuzunaga family bring home Maria, a Russian orphan with down syndrome home sooner than later.

From Gentry Zuzunaga:
It really was a great experience as we were able to share God's love for this really needy woman. I am so amazed at all that God has done during our adoption process, including the Both Hands project. Because we chose to answer God's call to adopt, He has also given us the opportunity to minister to other people, including Louise, who we might otherwise, not have met. We serve a really BIG God and I'm so glad He can see the BIG picture because mine is definitely too narrow.

Please watch the video of our project and prayerfully consider a donation to the cause of bringing Maria home to her forever family. Funds are coming in so slowly for this family and the longer we wait, the older Maria gets. She is 4 years old right now. By 5 years old, the orphanages send these wonderful children into institutions for the mentally ill. It's not a pretty picture, but you can make a difference in the life of Maria today. The donation information is at the end of the video. James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Update! Light at the End of the Tunnel!

I do realize that I never updated you after the NIH trip to Bethesda, MD.  It was such a rough recovery after coming home that I was just too sick to do so.  As it turns out my adrenals were shot and I had nothing to withstand the stress of travel.  So daily I laid on the couch moaning in stomach pain, and fighting nausea, many times vomiting and diarrhea.  After 2 months of this, I ended up in the ER and explained that I thought it was an adrenal crisis and to give me a hydro-cortisone shot which indeed helped stop the situation.  This after having had my stomach and colon scoped just to make sure this had not been a GVHD attack.  It wasn't.
Photo of me getting acupuncture at NIH in Bethesda.  First time :)  Since coming home I've had a very good acupuncturist work on me.  It's actually quite relaxing after the initial pokes!  A TIME magazine feature on chronic pain noted that the only effective alternative therapies for chronic pain were physical therapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga, and biofeedback, as well as two Chinese herbs that were found to be more effective than a rheumatoid arthritis medication. The names of the herbs elude me at the moment, but you can find more info at the link to the article.

So despite the hardship that was going to NIH, the resulting information and clarity was helpful in that they showed me what was and what wasn't GVHD in the body.  I have GVHD but limited to my skin and oral mucosa.  That is great news!   All the other stuff I've dealt with over the last 2 and a half years has been due to medication side effects and adrenal insufficiency.  Not so great, but something we can work with and hopefully overcome.

So ever since my birthday, I have felt like my old self which is really saying something since I just turned 40.  My energy is so much better and after some regular acupuncture and massage I have been regaining my muscle activity and sensations in my feet.  I started walking and am utilizing my former walk-to-run program which I invited everyone who wants to join me (we're just starting Week 3 now, but you can join anytime and start at Week 1)...I made a Facebook Page which has the schedule for the program and other tips and encouragements along the way:  Join my Walk-to-Run in 18 weeks group on Facebook  

The other great news is now that I'm feeling better, we're able to serve the Lord in new ways that I didn't think possible just a couple months ago.  Friends of ours from church, named Gentry and Luis Zuzunaga, are adopting a 3-year-old girl from Russia who has down syndrome.  They've fallen for this sweet, adorable child named Maria, and feel God is calling them to bring her home.  Since we cannot adopt at this time ourselves, we would love to do everything we can do live out the verse in James that says,  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

What better way to do that then to help out a 90-year-old woman with her home repair needs while raising money toward the $20,000 needed to bring Maria home.  Mike, Adam, Trevor and I plan to do just that.  We're teaming with the Zuzunaga Family and a ministry called Both Hands (one for the widow and one for the orphan).  Please consider sponsoring the English Family in our project to help Louise, a local 90-year-old woman who served the Lord many years as a missionary and who has many home repair needs to be attended to by our team.  The money raised will go to bring Maria home to the Zuzunaga Family.  To learn more about this project, about Louise, Maria and the Zuzunagas, as well as making a donation to support us visit:  - Your prayers are very much appreciated!  

P.S. Some of you will be receiving a letter in the mail with our flyer and a section to cut off and send in if you'd like to support us in this ministry. If you want to support the Zuzunagas through us, but don't receive a letter, you can do it through the link above. It's all to bring Maria home and help Louise!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

UPDATE to Up, Up and Away!

A quick update right before I head out the door--My corporate angel flight got cancelled last minute which at first made me think my plans with Kelly for the weekend were doomed.  Then I searched and found one last ticket on a US Air flight from LAX to Richmond which took me into Richmond at the same time and day as originally planned and for only $445 round trip after taxes.  The blessing of all of that was a dear friend popped by and dropped me an envelope...a gift of $200 to put toward that airfare!  Amazing.

Then I was kind of scrambling to find hotel in Bethesda during the Mon-Fri time I'd be there...close enough to get shuttle service and not need a car.  However, so many things were booked and most hotels were $250/night and up!  This morning though, I called the International Guest House and talked to the inn keeper. It's run by a church group, is a bed and breakfast and is only $40/night.  Imagine my delight when he said he had just one room for me and would actually be moving me into another room mid-week b/c they're kind of booked.  It's truly amazing.  They have international guests and group breakfasts, and at 9pm they sit around this great old home and have tea and cookies and conversation.  I'm so looking forward to the experience!  I've read great reviews of this place and it's only 4 miles from the White House and on the bus route that can take me to NIH in 30 min.

So that's all for now - going to L.A. right now to enjoy Cinco de Mayo with my friends the Dahls.  And head out to the airport early early to see James McMillan, Mike's best friend from high school, who lives in Charlotte, NC where I'm flying into...he's flying in on the same airline at the same time from elsewhere and we'll meet for coffee at the gate before flying out again 40 minute later!  Then off to Richmond to stay with Kelly for the weekend and her Dad in Centerville (my old home town) on Sunday night...Sunday Kelly and I are going to visit our old stomping grounds :)

Love to all!  Krista

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Up, Up and Away on a Corporate Jet to the East Coast!

Hoping for a sweet ride like this one!
I was researching treatment options for chronic Graft-vs-Host disease which followed my bone marrow transplant and ran across a study being conducted at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD.  It's a historical study, but because GVHD affects all areas of the body inside and out, there is a team of specialists in every field who I will meet with over four days and receive all kinds of tests...CT scan, MRI, echocardiogram, pulmonary, dermatology, biopsies, oral, gynecological, etc.  They meet together as a team when we're finished and decide the best treatment options for me, write a report and send it to me at home for my doctors.  

It's a great opportunity to get everything looked at in one shot and get the cutting edge options that are available to try.  The great news is that the flight out there is free for me as it will be on a corporate angel flight which is a network of Fortune 500 companies who've donated their extra seats when they happen to be flying from your area to where you want to go if you're a patient going to an NIH-sponsored treatment center.  I think NIH counts!  :)  

I couldn't plan the trip because it is just what comes up in the system right before you are supposed to go.  I can't tell them what day I want to go or pick the city of choice.  But, the great thing is God is in control and cares about these details for me.  As it turns out, I will be flying out of Long Beach this Friday, the 6th.  It seems earlier than I'd plan because my appointments don't start until Tuesday, the 10th.  However, it happens to be flying into Richmond, VA, home of my best friend from high school, Kelly Koch Jones.  That right there is Providence, my friends!  We're going to have a wonderful weekend together before I go up to Bethesda on Monday.

I don't have a return flight home yet, but that will surely come up just right and just in time.  I am all for adventure and this whole trip sure fits the bill!  I'm going to relish in it for a week even though I'm going to miss my family terribly.   I was hoping to bring Mike and the boys since I have a seat for a companion to go with me, but the corporate jet rules are no children under 21 unless they're a patient.  And with all their grandparents gone on their own vacations, and therefore no childcare, Mike is staying home with them.  That's alright...we'll go again in the future when they're older and we can do it as a family and see more, but free would have been nice too!

As it turns out I'll be staying in a hotel near NIH so I don't have to rent a car (hopefully).  NIH reimburses up to $50 a night for hotel and $8/day in food.  That's will feed the rats of NIMH, but not me and only rats would stay in a $50/night hotel!  The only hotels in that area that are available are $200 a night so please pray for provision for this as we are not in the green yet. 

I'll take photos of the trip and try to update you on what it was like to be Queen for the day...riding VIP on a corporate jet -- don't I feel like all THAT!?  Can you tell I am a little excited? 

This is my theme song for the trip: Oh Virginia by Blessid Union of Souls - so great!

I'll be meditating on this verse as I fly from the west to the east coast even though I know that the Psalmist is referring to a much wider span!  High in the air, I will feel His love envelope me as I imagine how small I am compared to God and His love as I'm whisked across the sky...may you be caught up by Him wherever you are!

Psalm 103:11-12
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him;
   as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trying to Spread the Message of Hope...Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Welcome newcomers to my blog!  I’m participating in the 2011 Ultimate Blog Party in order to spread the message of hope and encouragement to those who are seeking it.  

My latest post, How a Horse Named Hero Changed My Lifewhich has received the most comments I have ever had on one post, is a good example of what I write about here.  I am a homeschooling mom and survivor of leukemia (twice) who had a bone marrow transplant in 2009.  It has been a long recovery process over the last two years, and my husband and I blogged about the whole thing, even in the darkest hours when it looked like I wouldn't make it.  We offer encouragement and support for those who are suffering.

Comment below if you found the blog through the Ultimate Blog Party and thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How a Horse Named Hero Changed My Life

It has been two years since coming home from UCLA.  That photo was me the week of Valentine's Day 2009 in ICU in an induced coma because all my organs had shut down.  My friend is smiling because that's what you do when someone is taking your picture.  I had no clue what was going on or I would have smiled too.   It's a miracle I am here, yes.  That's enough to make you smile.  But the miracles continue as I walk with a marvelous God.

It's amazing that you still pray for me!  Many think because the bone marrow transplant was 2 years ago, I should be "fixed" by now.  I don't have AML leukemia anymore, but the side effects of the treatment, namely what comes with Chronic Graft vs. Host Disease following transplant are worse than most illnesses.  

I have been in the dumps lately, completely discouraged as my face was falling apart - literally!  Large patches of skin falling off and leaving tightness and burning, red skin beneath...painful and embarrassing.  I was actually feeling shame for looking so ugly - no amount of lotion or ointment could cover it up - it's GVHD (Graft vs. Host Disease), a result of my bone marrow transplant.  The transplanted immune system (from another human) doesn't recognize the body it's in and attacks it, actually trying to reject the skin organ.  It's the #1 cause of morbidity in transplant patients sadly because it can go into every organ. 

 The outward appearance of it had been affecting me emotionally, increasing in intensity until the week of Valentine's Day when it got so bad that I started not even wanting to see people.  I felt very unloveable and unacceptable.   This of course was untrue, but that was the "voice in the head" which I attribute to the enemy of our souls who wants nothing more than to destroy us from the inside out.  

Well, thank you all for your prayers -- God is always there, always watching, always cares.  He spoke to my heart on that Thursday, February 17 through a radio show on Focus on the Family featuring stories of rescued horses and renewed hope...truly an amazing segment that everyone ought to listen to!  For me, I'm not a huge animal lover like some are, but after this show I am more so!   

One particular story, grabbed my heart so much I almost had to pull the car over.  It was the story of Hero the horse. I'll let you listen to the story yourself at the link in the paragraph above, but what God spoke to my very heart that day was life-changing.  In an overwhelming moment, God poured out love to me and spoke deeply to my heart that he loved me, that He had not forgotten me, that the problem with my face, the peeling, burning, redness, was all part of my ministry...that they are the scars I bear from my battle.  That He is the ultimate Hero and was not ashamed to bear scars and come back to show love, redemption, hope to us, therefore I no longer need to be ashamed of these scars.  My whole ministry through the battle was about love and hope and redemption and sharing that with others, and here I thought the GVHD which was visible on my face, making me "ugly" was not a part of that.  Somehow it didn't count.  It all counts.  And in that moment in the car, with tears streaming down my face.  I felt the incredible burden lifted, chains were broken and I was FREE.  

I cannot express the incredible joy that filled my heart that day and continues to fill it -- even when someone asks me with a concerned look, " having dry skin or something?"  (For someone to mention it with concern tells you how bad it must be when most people probably have some degree of dry skin!)  Prior to February 18, that would have been fuel to drive me to be even more self-conscience.  But no more!  Now, I recall that day when God spoke to my heart that these are my battle scars to show others the power of God's love, hope and redemption.  Like Thomas, after Jesus returns to the disciples after His Resurrection, I have something to show people that HE IS ALIVE, proof if you will.  If I had a perfect healing, where you couldn't see any scars, the miracle would not have as long lasting, powerful and far-reaching effects. 

So the other disciples told him (Thomas), “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:25-29

 1 Peter 4:16   However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Even though my scars are not "persecution for being a Christian" what happens is that I do get judged if someone doesn't know me...some even judge whether or not I'm a "good" Christian whatever THAT means, as if I have not had healing or have had problems for some reason of my own doing.   Well, no longer will I be ashamed of the scars I longer will I be afraid, embarrassed or feeling unworthy of love...I know God loves me and that is all that matters.  I will not hold back His love for others because of my scars (please forgive me for doing so).  So obvious now that the Enemy of our souls has been at work here trying to eliminate my effectiveness to do His will on this earth. 

Some may read of my experiences with God and think that somehow I am something special to be able to experience God, the God of the Bible, in such a way that He speaks to my heart and I can feel His presence and walk in His way.  No!  You need to realize that I am no different than you!  God wants a relationship with you, dear friend, right here and right now.  You don't have to "improve" to be worthy of a relationship with your Creator!  He'll take you right where you are at, scars and all!  Each one of us carries some scars of the battles we have faced...some are hidden on the inside, but the scars are there.  Turn to Jesus and let Him be your healer and He will meet you in just the way you need Him to which might not look like the way He meets me, but meet you He will.

...bless you all for not being ashamed of me...

Here's a photo of Hero, the horse who resides at the Crystal Peaks Ranch in Bend, OR -- a dream of mine would be to take a road or plane trip to Bend and visit Hero in the summer.  I received a lovely note from them inviting me anytime!  Be sure to listen to the radio show Rescued Horses: Renewed Hope