Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What to do when someone you love loses everything too

Friday my bay sister Sarah got married. It was a beautiful ceremony.  It was perfect!  We will never forget it.  It was a Celebration of what the purpose of the true Godly union of marriage is all about.  What a special time for our family.

It was also a celebration for our family in another way-- A celebration of the body of Christ coming together, in so many indescribable ways, for one special day.  You see, 9 days before the wedding, my parents home burned to the ground, along with every preparation for the wedding.

Last Tuesday I was working on a couple of projects for the wedding, in my own home.  My phone rang and I answered "Hi mom!" I was a little surprised, because it was a little after 4 pm and my mom usually didn't get off of work until 4:30.  She sounded frantic.

"Rachel, I just got off the phone with your dad.  I'm racing home.  The house is on fire!"  I said, "NO". and the breathe in my chest was gone. I couldn't breathe.  My mother said, "Just pray honey.  Pray for a miracle".  I told her to call me when she got there and told her to drive safe.  Then I prayed. I marched around my house praying outloud and pleading with God.  NO! NOT AGAIN to my family!  Not that house.  All the wedding things, everything my parents had worked for in their life.  I prayed the fire would be put out before it reached the main part of the house. I prayed my dad was safe. I prayed Sarah's wedding dress could be saved. I prayed my mom would be safe getting there. I prayed for the fire fighters (volunteer fire department in the rural Ozark Mountains).  I prayed and pleaded outloud.  I called Tony and he came home.

About 25 minutes after my first call with my mother, she called back.  I answered.  She said, "It's all gone honey.  Your dad is safe, but everything is gone.  The whole house is enfulfed and I can see through it to the barn. There is nothing left. We have lost everything. " I started sobbing and even then,  she said it would be okay. She told me not to come to Arkansas, but just to pray.

We hung up.  I collapsed and cried.  I couldn't believe it.  How could this happen?

What I didn't know then...  After calling 911, my dad ran back into the house several times to try and get things.  He got his guns and Sarah's wedding dress.  He emptied the kitchen trashcan and took photos off of the walls and filled it up as much as he could.  He was going to go back in and it was smoky so he decided it was too risky.  I am SO GLAD he didn't go back in the house.  His life was spared. 

It puts things into perspective again.  I felt like my scars and scabs were ripped off and bleeding again.  I was devastated for them, for us, for my siblings and my children. I was also thankful.  I was in shock too.  It's strange the series of emotions that can hit you in just a few moments. 

The next week was filled with chaos pretty much.  I started working frantically to try and recreate anything I could for the wedding.  I made phone calls, sent emails and texts, and facebook messages.  We borrowed things and bought things and thrifted items that we would need.  Three of my Aunts showed up to help with anything that they could.  People we knew and people we didn't know, rallied around us and provided meals, and money, and items from photo frames and vases, to plates, glasses and place cards.  We worked hard, made memories we will never forget, and the wedding was absolutely perfect.

What do I do now?  I know my parents were distracted and are now grieving.  They are still dealing with the investigation of the cause of the fire, and insurance people.  What a headache.  I know (sadly, from experience) that they are going to need help for at least a  year.  Each new change of the weather will be heart ache for them.  Holidays are going to be really rough.  My parents home was the center of holiday gatherings for our family.  This year, and probably many to come, will be different. 

Their house was more than just walls.  It was home.  It was the home I grew up in.  I remember the day we moved in, in December 1989.  It was a cold day.  We moved from California and I remember wondering "what in the world is this place?"  It was a place my family could always go to and feel loved and comforted.  After our fire (august 2012) it was a place we could go to and feel stable, the place that never changed-- Nonnie and Papa's house.  It was home for my kids.  It was security.  My family is grieving another loss.

The main thing is that we are all so thankful my dad didn't die in that fire.  He really could have.  And, honestly... if my mother had been home she may have too.  She probably would have tried to save everything she could.  So, I'm thankful both of my parents are safe.  I'm thankful that my parents taught us what to value in life.  I'm thankful that this world is not our home, we are just here temporarily. 

So, what do you do when someone you love loses everything too?  Count your blessings, be positive, and pray.  I may not know exactly what my parents need or what they are feeling, but I remember the pain I felt.  I know God has a plan and purpose to everything.  I know he is our healer and provider and comforter.  I urge you to focus your effort and purpose on things that are eternal--things that matter.  Everything will burn eventually, but no one can take our relationship with the Lord away.  Tell people about HIS goodness and focus your life on things above. 

For those of you who want to help, there is a gofund account set up.  Please pray for my parents- Jon and Diane Alen.  Please continue to pray for them in a month, in six months, in a year.  The pain will still be healing. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Normal Platelets and Prayer Requests

I had an appointment today and my platelets were 228k, which is normal! PRAISE THE LORD!

People ask how I am doing.  As long as my platelets are normal, I can consider myself doing very well.

The last couple days have been rough for me.  My body's reaction to the high dose of steroids has not been wonderful.  The side effects have not been fun.  My lymph nodes have been swollen and very sore.  My digestive system is just jacked up, to say the least.  I have been tired, and trying to rest when Hazel does.  Each day gets a little bit better.  My doctor told me today to expect better things every day.  We are praying the side effects will fade quickly and my healing will continue. 

I have been advised to quite nursing Hazel.  My hormones have been imbalanced and breastfeeding doesn't help with that.  She was royally ticked off at me yesterday.  She did not want to take a bottle.  It has been pretty emotional on me as well.  I know it's something I need to do for my health and I am okay with that.  I had quite a bit of milk in the freezer, but we have now started on formula.  Boy, that stuff is expensive!  She is eating table food a lot now and is 9 months old, so we will only need to do formula for a couple months before she turns one.  Please pray that she transitions well with formula.  Prayers for her to sleep through the night would be great too.  Seriously.

I go back on the 21st to meet with my Hematologist and talk about a plan for maintenance.  As long as I don't have anymore dips in platelet counts, it should be an easy, short process.

- that my platelet counts stay in the normal range
- that my body will start feeling "normal" again, and the side effects from the drugs will wear off soon.
- that Hazel will adjust well to bottle feeding, and sleep better at night.
- for finances, that God will provide above and beyond for all of these medical costs

Thank you so much for the prayers.
Thank you for the meals!
Thank you for notes, texts, and calls of encouragement!

Friday, January 2, 2015

First Full Day Back at Home

Yesterday I was greeted with these precious signs and washi-tape hearts on the door when I got home.  

Tony took care of Hazel through the night last night and let me rest.  What a great night of rest in my own bed at home!  

My mom and Grammy made the family breakfast this morning then headed to Mississippi to get Grammy back to her house.  I am so thankful for them and how much help they were here!  Grammy pretty much folded laundry 24/7! Between getting behind at Christmas, to returning with a weeks load of dirty laundry from our trip, we were quite behind.  We still have missing socks. Where do all the socks go? 

Hazel bonded quite a bit with my mom (aka: Nonnie) while I was in the hospital and even started calling her nonnom.  It is so sweet! 

It was sad to see them go, but I was full of gratitude as I watched them drive away.

I am so thankful that I am alive, on the uphill climb of healing, and safe inside my home again.

When they left, my brother Nathan and his new Fiancè Holly came over to help.  Boy, was it nice to have them here to wrangle the kids, help us sort through Baby proofing toys, and take down Christmas lights outside.  We even fit in a tutu dress up princess playtime while Nathan shot nerf guns with Tobin and Tony put away laundry. Keeping the kids entertained is a full time job, so it really helped having them here for a few hours! 

I took my (hopefully) last giant dose of high octane drugs today.
 I go Tuesday to get my labs checked and meet with my Hemotologist Oncologist.  There will be many appointments in the next months to make sure my body is responding to treatment and my platelets don't decrease.  This steroid regimen is different than my last treatment and quite experimental.  It's only been done on 7 people so far.  We have high hopes it will do the trick! 

The side effects from the drugs have taken a toll on me today.  My body aches, heart races, and I am shaky, yet at the same time I am weak and tired.  Since the steroids ramp up, I am having trouble actually sleeping.  It's quite a weird feeling to be tired and weak but not get to sleep.  I have quite a bit of swelling which they expect to go down pretty quickly, so I am hoping for that!  The steroids also make me an eating black hole.  It has been an interesting day.  Please pray that my body will allow me to rest well tonight.

I didn't really write much about breastfeeding, but I was able to pump in the hospital and my milk tested safe for Hazel which was such a blessing and answer to prayer!  The drugs I am on now have dropped my supply quite s bit, so I am praying my milk increases.  She is eating quite a bit of food and tolerating bottles wonderfully.  All of this is an answer to prayer as well. You can continue to pray for these things. 

Sweet friends brought dinner last night and tonight which has been such a blessing!  Hazel enjoyed French fries tonight with her new 6 teeth!  
There has been a meal train set up and posted on my facebook page hat our amazing church family has set up.

Thank you for all the amazing prayers and support.  You can continue praying for the requests on the previous post.  I'll let you know when specific prayers have been answered, or new ones are needed. 

Please know that you have witnessed another modern day miracle from our Lord!  I cannot believe I get the privilege of letting the lord use my body as a living testament and miracle from him! What an amazing honor.  

I'll update tomorrow! ~Rachel

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I'm busting outta here early!

My Hemotologist came in and said my platelets are now 136,000!  She was amazed and said she was thrilled that my body responded so fast and said I was in the "early response group" for this experimental therapy.  She said I was out of the high risk for bleeding and I could go home today!  

What does all of this mean?  

Well, this battle is far from over.  My 4th, and hopefully last, day of drugs is tomorrow.  They will send me home with a bunch of pills to take tomorrow.  I will continue to come into the oncology office and have labs checked.  The hope is that my counts will continue to rise and stay in the normal healthy range without further treatment.  My doctor told me there is 30% chance that they may have to do the 4 day treatment again, so we are praying that doesn't have to happen.  

As long as my counts stay out of high risk levels and I don't developer complications, I stay out of the hospital.

Things to pray for:

- Today the roads are slick and Icy. Please pray for safe travels for us as we drive home.

- Pray that my platelets continue to rise to normal level (between 150,000. & 400,000.  

- I do have a genetic risk for blood clots so we don't want my platelets higher than normal, as that would give us the opposite problem.

- Pray for a full recovery for my body. This year my one word to focus on is health, so I will be doing everything in my physical power to get as healthy and strong as I can.

-Please pray that once I get home, Hazel will continue to breastfeed, and my supply will keep up with her demand. My doctor agrees this is the best thing for both of us. 

-Please pray that he Lord will provide for us financially through all of this. There will be many expenses throughout this process and we are trusting in his full provision!

THANK YOU SO MUCHH for your continued prayers for our family.  Please know you have been part of another miracle for the Cobb family. We are rejoicing today and accepting healing in our fathers hands. 

Thank you for everyone who has visited me, sent food and gifts, called and texted, watched our children, and brought meals to my family while I have been away, and everything else too! We could not get through this without all of your support.  

Here is to a happy, healthy 2015! 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ITP relapse

Sunday I was at my parents house in Arkansas enjoying our Christmas break.  On our way back to their house after church I was driving and noticed odd looking bruises on my hands and arms.  My first thought was "oh no! ITP!"  Then, I thought... "No.  It's probably the hustle and bustle of Christmas and traveling. "  

The next morning I noticed more bruises and by that evening I had small petechia (little red dots of blood) on my chest, and arms.  I knew something wasn't right.  I decided to pack us up and head home.  If something was wrong, I didn't want to be away from my doctors and home, and support network of friends where we live.

I dropped the kids off with tony at the house and went to the closest ER.  They checked my platelets and my lab results showed my count was 14,000. This is extremely low and very high risk for bleeding our, and other complications.  Platelets help your blood clot.  and without clotting, it's a bad thing.  ITP stands for Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Perpura. Google it, or look in my archives back to 2009.  That's when I was first diagnosed.

Ok, back to the story...

This little hospital I went to transported me by ambulance to a bigger hospital downtown Tulsa that has specialist for my disease.  I have a team of Hemotologist Oncologists working on my specific case.  My ITP is not like the typical cases.  My blood is different and they aren't sure why. They are doing a new experimental treatment on me over the next four days and will track progress closely. (More on that later)

Please pray for my platelets to increase.  Pray for Gods provision for this hospital stay.  Being in the hospital two different calendar years equals two different $3,000 deductibles.  Pray for my babies at home. They miss me and I am missing their time away from school at home for break.

We covet your prayers and are believing in miracles!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What a break!

Last week was fall break for our kiddos, from school.  We had a fun, restful, rejouvenating getaway to Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri.  We stayed for 2 nights, then went to my parents Farm in NW Arkansas and stayed a night there.  It was a great week!  Sometimes, you just need to "get away" from the every day to-do's of life. 

Big Cedar has a lot of things to do on the property.  We played mini-golf, canoed (the kids and tony did this one), swam in several pools, and hiked around in the gorgeous weather.  We will definitely be going back sometime in the near future!

I didn't take my real camera out much, but did take some photos of the kids.  Well, trying to get a photo with all three kids looking wasn't easy, and didn't really happen.  They sure are cute though! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

I will trust you, Lord

I just got back from urgent care with Caroline.  It seems she has some kind of weird rash.  It will go away, and isn't anything life threatening or crazy like chicken pox or measels. The rest of us most-likely will not get it.  "It's just something kids get."  said the doctor.

"What?" I thought...

Kids get numerous runny noses, colds, splinters, and (apparently) rashes in their little lives.  It's just something that happens.  As I was was driving home, the doctor's words kept resonating in my thoughts and I began to wonder.

Does God think this about us, His children?  When we sin, does God think, "Another one of my children stumbled, it's just what they do."  I'm not sure why I thought that.

The nurse took us to a room and after she took Caroline's vitals, we waited for the doctor to come in.  I was thinking... as Caroline's mother, all I wanted to do was take away her "itchies" and make her feel better.  I ached as I sat in the room waiting for the doctor to come in, watching sleepy-eyed Caroline tell me she was scared.  She gets scared easily these days, and is afraid of most things little girls are afraid of (like spiders and the dark), as well as things most little girls don't have to think about (another post on that later). As I rubbed her back, I prayed that this wasn't going to be a big deal.  I remember taking her to the doctor for a bruised foot last year and finding out she had kohler disease--that was a huge deal.  I was praying this wasn't going to be another big "to-do". 

It wasn't a big deal, but I was glad I took her just to be sure.  We stopped for an ice-cream cone on the way home.  I told her she was brave and that I was proud of her.  We talked about how there was nothing to be scared about.  She agreed that she had worried for "no reason at all".  I explained that God tells us that worrying is a sin, and it only hurts our heart.  I asked her how it made her feel to worry and she said she wanted to cry.

I wonder if God cries when we sin?  Does he look at us like I look at my precious Caroline? I think he probably does.

Lord, forgive me when I don't trust you.  Forgive me when I sin and worry about things I have no control over.

From rashes to worrying...

I promise to trust you, Lord.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Back to the Blog

Well, it's been 6 months.  Our sweet Hazel is rolling everywhere, sitting up, and trying her tastebuds at some table food.  The kiddos started in a new school this year.  Tobin is in 2nd grade and doing awesome.  Caroline is in Kindergarten and loving every second of it.  We bought a house and moved when Hazel was 6 weeks old so I put blogging on the back burner.  We have been planting roots deeply into the ground and are so thankful for God's continued blessings over our little family.

We bought a house on 3 acres in a little town outside of Tulsa and we are loving the country/small town feel. 

(Here are the kids in front of the new house, the day we closed)

We have lots of projects to do around here, but we are so excited to call another house OUR home.  Now that we are somewhat in a daily routine I thought it was about time I start blogging again.  The thought of catching up overwhelms me, so I will just take it day by day.  There will be new posts (about who knows what) and I'm sure there will be "catch-up" posts as well.

Thanks for keeping up with our family.  

Monday, April 14, 2014


Hazel Hope Cobb
8lbs 9oz  - 19 Inches
born 7:40 am April 3rd, 2014

We are so in Love...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

8 days to go!

 I took this Prego-Selfie today. I am 38 weeks.  She feels lower today than she even did yesterday.  I'm starting to feel really tired, lots of pressure, but not completely miserable yet. I"m so thankful to be carrying this sweet girl and am just trying to enjoy every second I have left.  I'm not going to lie though, I'm ready to meet her!

Because I have gestational diabetes, my doctor has me doing kick counts twice a day.  Sunday, the baby's kicks were not measuring up and got everyone a little worried so we went to labor and delivery to be monitored.  The baby looked beautiful on the monitor! We are once again so thankful that God is taking care of me and this sweet baby.
 This picture was taken at 37 weeks.  I am pretty convinced I'll be having a 9lb + baby.  We will see.

Tony took this pic of me Sunday evening after we got home from church.  It's a more flattering position that the one I took today ;)
 Here I am at 36 weeks.

I've been busy making cute little things for my new girl.  Little spit-up bibs and burp cloths are my most recent projects.

 We are doing cloth diapers with this baby, after she gets out of the newborn diaper stage.  We have been working on our diaper stash and getting ready for her, all around!


We are all ready to see this baby.  The kids drew this on the sidewalk last week. That's Tony and me, holding hands, with hearts above our heads.  Can you tell which one is me?

 Please be praying for us as we await this baby's arrival.

My C-Section is scheduled for April 3rd at 7 am.  We appreciate your support and prayers. We will keep you all updated as the date gets closer!