All posts by Sarah Maxwell

Anna Marie Update: Getting Close

Below you’ll find another update from Anna Marie. Watch for a post tomorrow on a behind-the-scenes look on home life while she’s been gone. Love, Sarah

Anna Marie and Simon Peter

Hello All!

I got my second-to-last chemo yesterday and am really in countdown now! Just one more chemo on Tuesday and then fly home next Friday!!!

My blood levels are declining but with the booster shots and good nutrition, it looks like I should be ok to get the final chemo next week. It’s somewhat a cumulative effect; the two weeks off around my hospital stay gave my blood a chance to recover somewhat but numbers have been going down steadily since resuming chemo. Practically speaking, this means I’m more tired and easily fatigued, and more nauseated. I’m also more prone to nosebleeds with my platelets being so low. Not that long ago the children and I learned about white and red blood cells and platelets, so it is neat to have a real-world application for the newly-acquired knowledge.

Christopher and I had a really good remote consultation with an oncologist in Kansas City on Monday. He was very attentive, listening to and understanding my journey to date and our needs looking to the future. We liked him, and he was willing to provide my ongoing anti-HER2 therapy. In addition, he is familiar with the newly approved HER2-blocker subcutaneous injections and thought it likely that I can do those at home. It was an encouraging meeting and it is a blessing to now have a plan in place for when I get home.

Yesterday presented a good test-run to implement keeping a quiet heart in the face of concern. Of course, throughout chemo, a number of lab tests are being run each week. The results of one cancer marker test came back Tuesday and were showing an elevated number. Turns out that marker was in the “low” range when chemo started and has been checked a few times since then. It has been steadily climbing but wasn’t really something we noticed until yesterday when it was officially in the “elevated”/out of range column. While I know it’s very possible that my cancer can recur and that these treatments are not the end of my cancer journey, I was still surprised and concerned at the thought that I might have cancer growing or metastasizing right now. It was quite an opportunity to practice taking thoughts captive and remind myself of the truths I’ve been studying in the Quieting a Noisy Soul Bible study by Jim Berg. God is always good, always in control of all things, will always give me the grace I need, will always love me personally, etc. I often can’t sleep much the night of chemo anyway, so Tuesday night was a good time to meditate on Scriptures about that and hymns that directed my thoughts to those truths. At the end of the blog post, I’ll share one of the hymns that really blessed me.

My Seattle oncologist was unavailable to talk with me while I was at the clinic about that lab result, but Christopher and I had a Zoom appointment with him yesterday. He said right away that it’s common for that number to go up during chemo if it has started low, as mine had, and that it almost always goes down and normalizes once treatment is over. He’s not concerned about it at all and would be very surprised if my cancer would recur while on chemo. Even though I know God will give us the grace to deal with whatever comes next, I was so thankful to hear that metastatic cancer doesn’t seem to be likely for right now.

As far as the lump in my wrist, the antibiotic doesn’t seem to be making much difference. They had some other ideas on what might help and we are working through those now.

I will be getting a baseline MRI of my brain this morning. While my type of cancer, caught at this stage, has a somewhat low recurrence rate, it does have a higher likelihood of metastasizing to the brain than other cancers, and our oncologist thought an MRI would be prudent.

So, a few ups and downs in this update! But I’m thankful that we can rest in the joy of Who our Savior is as we find out the greatness of His loving heart!

Jesus, I am resting, resting
in the joy of what thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
of thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon thee,
and thy beauty fills my soul,
for by thy transforming power,
thou hast made me whole.

O how great thy lovingkindness,
vaster, broader than the sea!
O how marvelous thy goodness
lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in thee, Beloved,
know what wealth of grace is thine,
know thy certainty of promise
and have made it mine.

Simply trusting thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold thee as thou art,
and thy love, so pure, so changeless,
satisfies my heart;
satisfies its deepest longings,
meets, supplies its ev’ry need,
compasseth me round with blessings:
thine is love indeed.

Ever lift thy face upon me
as I work and wait for thee;
resting ‘neath thy smile, Lord Jesus,
earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
sunshine of my Father’s face,
keep me ever trusting, resting,
fill me with thy grace.
          Jean Sophia Pigott, 1876

Thank you for praying!

Love,
Anna Marie

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

Elliot Maxwell’s Newborn Photos

There’s something so special about newborn photos sessions. The miracle of the tiny human being created in God’s image—a bundle of intricate details.

When Elliot was 6 days old, I brought over my gear to do his newborn session.

We started with Elliot in the wrap and in the basket. He slept nicely, and even his little hands stayed in a good position.

We mixed in some family photos, some with Axton, and of course with Chelsy and John. The session start to finish was my fastest one yet (just over an hour).

Enjoy the photos, and there are a few behind the scenes near the end which Chelsy took.

Love,
Sarah

I love that sequence. Axton gives the funniest looks after a kiss!
Brothers
The John Maxwell Family
Elliot also happened to be with me while I worked on this blog post. 🙂

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not,
to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:14

The Garden Experience

Late last fall, Christopher and Anna Marie decided they’d expand their garden. So, they tilled up ground and mulched it all winter long. Little did they realize their main gardener would be gone!

Anna stepped in to head up the project, taking responsibility this spring when life seemed to turn upside down for the Christopher Maxwell’s. Often, Anna would be out working in the garden in the early afternoons with little helpers (and some of the littles just enjoyed active backyard play).

Daniel introducing his latest bug catch. He would often name them.
Lots of activity in the yard
Ellie’s really strong
Christopher placed old carpet down for weed control.

Two months later, this is the beautiful garden (above)!

Great work, Anna! You invested so much.

Each night, Christopher faithfully shines his flashlight under the leaves of the zucchini and squash plants looking for squash bugs.
It’s always a rewarding find.

“And the Lord shall guide thee continually,
and satisfy thy soul in drought,
and make fat thy bones:
and thou shalt be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”
(Isaiah 58:11)

Anna Marie Update: Countdown: Ten Done, Two More To Go!

Good afternoon, everyone! We have another update from Anna Marie. Love, Sarah

The countdown is on! I completed Chemo #10 yesterday, which means I only have two more to go! Lord willing, Simon Peter and I will be flying home July 17th. I am so grateful for everyone enabling this to happen.

While the side effects from the chemo haven’t been debilitating (well, other than that week in the hospital 🙂 ), my energy and stamina are much lower than usual and the first few days after chemo I generally don’t feel especially well. Despite that, this has truly been a time of rest and spiritual refreshing, and I have cherished having such special time with Simon Peter. 

I am looking forward to transitioning back into life as a mommy surrounded by my husband and children! I’ll have some treatments that will continue for another 40 weeks, but those don’t have the same side effects that the current chemotherapy regime has. We are working through how to go about that, whether getting it intravenously with a local oncologist or with a newly FDA-approved subcutaneous injection I could do myself. We are praying that the Lord will bring together all the details for that.

Currently, I have what appears to be a small infection developing in an old IV site near my left wrist. Hopefully the antibiotics I’m beginning today will resolve it. I’ll also be getting a baseline MRI of my brain soon. While my type of cancer, caught at this stage, has a somewhat low recurrence rate, it does have a higher likelihood of metastasizing to the brain than other cancers—and our oncologist thought an MRI would be prudent.

The scenery in this corner of the country is so beautiful and I’m grateful to be surrounded by this demonstration of God’s power and love. My parents, sister, Simon Peter, and I have recently enjoyed a couple of day trips. Looking at the waterfall, mountains, and the Puget Sound brought to mind a long-time family-favorite hymn:

I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at his command, and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, that filled the earth with food,
He formed the creatures with His Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that man can be, Thou, God art present there.
    Isaac Watts, 1715

The last line of this hymn has been so meaningful through this season: No matter where we are or what is happening, we are surrounded by God’s presence. “And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” (Exodus 33:14) What security we have in Him!

Love,
Anna Marie

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Why Titus2 Exists

Our passion and joy is to encourage, exhort, and equip families in the Lord Jesus. It thrills our hearts when we hear from readers that we have succeeded in doing that. 

Here are a few snippets from a mom’s recent email (with permission) because she affirmed our core passion and purpose: 

Reading aloud is one of our favorite things to do, but finding good quality material is a very difficult task in this day and age. Your book (Summer with the Moodys) is a picture of genuine people loving each other and following Jesus. It is also a glimpse of hope for the awesome things God can do in the hearts of any of us sinners when we walk with Him. 

My heart has been so blessed to watch my daughter listen intently to your story and pick up on all the little Christ-like examples of character you have woven throughout the book. We have read the bible together as a family for several years, but since reading Summer with the Moodys aloud to my children, my oldest daughter has developed a zeal and love for the Word. She gets out her Bible to have Bible time alone in her bedroom. She asks her dad to read the Bible to her out of the blue. She sings praises to God while she is folding laundry. When asked what she would like for her birthday, she said a Bible case and Bible highlighters like I use. She’s five years old! Praise the Lord!

I can’t express my gratitude enough for how God has used your book and relatable children characters to water seeds we have planted in our daughter for years. We planted, your book watered, the Lord caused to grow. A Mom

Makes our hearts happy. 

“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,
we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” (Titus 2:12)