Another day~another doctor. It is what it is. So, when I met with my surgeon last week and heard the dreadful word "chemo", read my reports and saw that it was part of the plan all along, I was thrown back into a pit of despair OR did I jump back into the pit? As I become more aware of the enemy and His schemes and who, what and when He uses His strategies to try and make me feel defeated, I am also becoming more aware of the battles and strongholds I find myself in, how I got there in the first place and more importantly how I can get out of that pit and as quickly as possible. Well, this time was a little different because whether I was thrown into the pit, fell into the pit or jumped into the pit on my own, I was more aware than ever of what I needed to get out of that pit. I walked into a restaurant with my husband and instead of hiding behind the emotions and stuffing the tears back, I just wept. I didn't try to pretend to the strangers sitting around me that I was happy, that I was enjoying my moment, yet I certainly wasn't trying to spoil theirs either. So, we ate, I cried and then we headed home. I pulled out my Bible and before turning to scripture, I let it all out and I cried aloud to the Lord and prayed for understanding, wisdom and His peace to fall over me...and it did! I used to carry on for hours in tears and over much less important things. Uncontrollable worry, fear and anxiety would consume me and I would cry until I couldn't feel my body anymore! I was quieted by His soft reminder of "it's going to be okay, it's going to be okay." The next two days were heavier than I expected them to be. But I kept on seeking, I kept on knocking and I kept on asking, "Lord, just help me. I don't even know what to say right now, just please help me to keep seeing and following you and hearing you. Just help me to KEEP ON, Lord!" And the next morning I woke up walking bolder, more courageous and stronger than I have ever walked on this earth before. And that very day my eyes were opened wider, my heart was made brand new again and hope was restored again! Oh, isn't He inspiring, amazing and AWESOME?!! Yes, He is most certainly that.
So, that was a week and a half ago and today I met with another doctor who gave me some more brutally honest answers: that my cancer is a rare cancer and because it has already spread to the lymph nodes not once but twice and metastasized to the liver, there is and always will be a high risk of reoccurring cancer. However, when we spoke of my options, there were no clear options that posed to be beneficial to me at this time. Choosing chemo at this time might "mop up" any cancer cells that could be there that they can't see, but I am not as strong going into treatment this time as I was the last time and because of the dose and length of chemo for this cancer he stated I would not feel well and lose my hair again (losing my hair of course is the painless part of it all~I have been wanting to shave it all off again anyway;-). It would consist of weekly infusions of the same chemo "killer" as I like to call it (5FU and mytomicin) for 3 months. And still there are no guarantees. But there are no guarantees in life no matter what we do or don't do~we are not in control, He is, always has been and always will be. Or we can wait and "if" it reoccurs, consider chemo "if" it does. Really the only thing that makes sense right now is to wait...if you have ever waited for anything in your life, you know how hard it is, but try waiting when your life depends on it, waiting for God to reveal HIS will, waiting for the words "you are cancer free!", waiting to hear "you are going to live" rather than "you are dying". Waiting on the Lord is HARD stuff, but what He does in us and through us while we are waiting is AWE INSPIRING!! And my body may not be as alive as it once felt, but my spirit is more alive than it has ever been and my soul is renewed daily with His promises! So, we are not only waiting on the Lord, but will be waiting for a scan and then we will continue on from there.
I don't know about you and your life, but the Lord is making miracles happen in mine and I'm going to KEEP ON in Him, as hard as the work may be! If not to heal me of cancer, to heal my broken heart! And oh, it is without a doubt a time for mending in my home right now and a time for tearing down and a time for rebuilding! Yes, Lord, tear down these walls, strip me down to the bare essentials, Lord! Take me out of my self-pity and place me upon your rock and into the lives of others! You are not only healing me and my brokenness but my family is becoming whole! We are not only becoming connected to one another we are connecting with you "together" and we are connecting with others! Draw us nearer to you, Lord! In Jesus name rebuild these vessels of yours and let the Holy Spirit rise up within us. Help us to walk boldly in your Name, with courage and strength that we can only boast which comes from You! Thank you Jesus, for by your stripes we are healed, we are healed, we are healed! In Jesus Name, I pray. Amen.
In a nutshell...I am in AWE of the LORD! I'm not sure I can even begin to share in writing how he is connecting the dots, how I am witnessing His kingdom grow right before my very eyes and even taking place in my own home! Did I really just have a conversation with my husband, who did the story telling, about God's Word and men of the Bible? Did I really just hear him speak of his own God signs that his eyes are opening to? Did we just sit down and talk and I actually listened more than spoke and all the while inside my mind I was shouting, "YES LORD! YES! THANK YOU JESUS!"? I will remember this night and the chains of childhood bondage that carried on over into adult bondage, were broken and instead of seeing a bad circumstance as bad or against us, today's events and tonight's finale left nothing but GOOD to see and GOOD to come.
This man that I sat down with was not the man I married, he is so much more! He was no longer hiding behind the hurt, the pain, the disappointment and was no longer afraid of being "left behind!" He knows who his Savior is, where he is spending eternity and where his riches will be stored up in. No, he will not be left behind, he will be KEEPIN ON! I cannot wait to see how his story continues to unfold and to hear more of his testimony. He has an amazing testimony! And so as I have been doing for 3 years, I continue to pray for him and one verse comes to mind that I have been praying is Ephesians 1:17 and now I add 2 Timothy to that prayer! That he would walk boldly in his faith and share his story of courage and perseverance because it's an inspiring one! Oh, yes, I will grow old with him because the best is yet to be! And all for the glory of God!
To the man I married: you are the chosen one and I will be right here beside you as you begin your very own journey into healing. "I love you way too much" and I can't quite express how much peace and comfort and rest it brings me to know we will not only being living out our days on this earth together, but that we will have all of eternity to make up for what was stolen from us while here. Now, if I may...go out into this world and tell them of your story, do not be discouraged or afraid for the Lord your God is with you where ever you go! And speak of your faith, what God has done in you and for you and through you! You have a special story to share and I plan on being around to hear it! Keep on my love, keep on! MUAH!
Although my flesh appears fragile, feels beaten and tired; my soul is well! All praise and glory be to my Savior, who lifts me up out of pits, places my feet on solid ground, and carries me through another day♥ There is no other that is never-changing and always loving! I pray that you open your heart and let Him rise you out of your deepest worries, fears and sorrows and that you too will keep on and be well♥
This was the last entry that I was able to write before the "it can't get much worse", got worse. However, since surgery I have had some familiar and not so friendly reminders of this time, as my body is either rejecting or simply working overtime to repair itself. Either way it lead me back to these entries and left me with more of a willingness to share. It's helped me to put my current situation into perspective but more thank anything it has opened my eyes to the ways the Lord has revealed Himself to me and through me and when I am asked, "do you have any regrets?" I can say with conviction, "absolutely not! My life may be full of pain and suffering, but never before have I been more blessed!" Draw nearer to Him. Letting go is not giving up, it's letting God and I am finding letting God is a lot easier than striving to do it on my own:-)
Thursday May 7, 2009~
Radiation has started to effect my bladder and urethra which means constant frequency to go pee (my middle school friends will remember this reference~I really could use those depends~LOL). I had another shaking/chills attack 2 nights ago. This one was a little different~left a tingling sensation in my legs making it hard to move them which caused some internal anxiety (something that has begun to feel like a norm b/c I often find my mind wandering to the 'what if's' and all the unknowns of how my body will heal and function after treatment). So, once I snapped out of that exhausting moment I was able to eat some noodle soup and raisin toast. I wish I could say I slept good but the having to get up so often to go to the bathroom doesn't really qualify as a good night to me. Not sure what the other reason is right now for being up but it's 1:30am Friday morning and I'm not sleeping! Sometimes I just want to sleep through all of this!
Well, today I spent the day with my girls~ Miss Anna Ruby and Lily-Bug. They took me to treatment which took extra long today. I met with the nurses and my doctor today briefly about the infection that they are treating me for. Because of the effects radiation is starting to have on all my organs in that area we are keeping a close eye on skin irritations, urinating issues etc...on Monday I had a urine test done which came back positive for infection~treating it as an UTI. Also had an internal exam~was not quite as bad as I was sweating it would be. From the internal exam the doctor believes that the tumor has shrunk about 25% in width. It's still the same in length, which is basically u-shaped and so close to the urethra that as we narrow in on the field of radiation there will likely be more effects to the urethra and bladder but my doctor and nurses are working right beside me every step, every infection and every process of the way! So no matter the discomfort or pain that comes and goes I feel secure in the hands, expertise and compassion of my medical team~no doubt in my mind a heavenly intervention:-)
Today during treatment I started on my back and Dr. Jones narrowed in on some fields dealing with my lymph nodes in my groin. He said that my left lymph node is smaller which means that it's responding to treatment. He also mentioned that during our next meeting on next Tuesday we will be setting up an MRI to see how effective treatment has been so far on the tumor and hopefully other areas. After I finished treatment on my lymph nodes I flipped over to my new position on my stomach (where I will be for the next 8 treatments). This is a lot less comfortable and a little concerned how it's going to work after I have the pump hooked back up to the medi-port on Monday~but I have a great team so I rest assured we can rig up something to get me through a little more comfortably.
I was finally given a burn cream to apply to all of 'down there', from front to back, where the skin has broken down and opened up. It's not only "sunburned" but opened up and sore, so now it's like I'm applying frosting to my less appealing areas on my body, but it seems to be working and helping with the soreness and stinging itchiness. I am just trying to keep up my strength and keep my anxiety at bay for my next round of Chemo. Oh ya and for all those who thought I might get away w/o losing my hair, it has started to thin...lost some today...and that too I will take one day at a time. I'm not great, but I'm okay. And after reading the book of Job in my Bible and was reminded of the trials that the Lord put him to the test with, I was reassured of His promises and reminded that He works for the good of those who love Him...and Job... there's an amazing person and an amazing story!
Friday, May 1, 2009 12:56 PM, EDT
So I am at the end of week 3! 4 more weeks to go! Gosh these doctors know their stuff: "week 3 you will start to feel the local effects~sores,blisters,skin peeling,sunburn,uncomfortable to sit or lay down." Oh yes, they were right on! My mouth has started to heal and I have managed to eat and talk normal today but the sores and pain has just moved out of there and has taken up residency in another area-oh do I have to say the word??? Vagina and anus~ugh! This is real so might as well keep it that way. There's no good way to describe the affects of cancer and the side affects that treatment has on the body. There I said it, now we can move on~phew!
Today I spent the morning relaxing with my kiddos. Joey just loves Fridays~no school~no rush~no demands~just us being us and being the way we love to be; comfy cozy at home with each other. We colored and they played candy store while I got dressed and ready for my last treatment of the week! I never looked forward to the weekends as I do now! Two days off! Yay!!! My old friend Jean from when I used to work at Tri-County came to visit and took me to my appt and to run a few errands~that was lovely! She has signed herself up to take me every Friday~what a great treat! And before I forget I spent the day yesterday with my Aunt Laurie (the chef) and my cousin Katie who was thrilled to get a free get out of school day! That was a very special and relaxing day and can't wait to see them again. Much love and thank you for all you did!!
So, now I am going to lay down so I can work up the energy to decorate some of my own sock creations. The kids decorated some new ones for me this morning so I will wear those Mon and Tue next week during treatment. Always a way to make it fun! God Bless
Sunday, April 26, 2009 4:38 PM, EDT
Sunday: Woke up to my baby girl laying her head next to mine whispering "mommy,I'm awake. Are you gonna get up?" She climbed into bed for a few moments (love those morning moments;-). I did get up~praise the Lord~ feeling hungry but good. I then got dressed and ready to head off to church with my little Church-going Girl. Half way through my mind being made up to go and basically 'sucking it up', I began to feel my inner voice saying that I might not make it through service physically and as hard as it was to give into that voice I knew in my gut it was the right thing to do (taking care of myself at every and any given moment is what I must do-no matter the sacrifice! So my mom and I dropped Jessie Girl off at my friend's house and she went with them instead. I tried to hold back the tears and was hoping she didn't notice but I think she did for a quick minute, so I shrugged it off and acted goofy instead and gave her a hug and a kiss and ran to the truck where the waterfall came crashing down! Darn! I just wanted to go to church with my daughter! I just miss it being me and my kids!!!! I miss having the control over our days together. After the wonderful day I was able to have with her the day before it made it a little harder letting go today. Well, after that release, I came home to smother Joey with lots of hugs, kisses, and "I love you forever and ever Amens". He was good about it~kind of like God had prepared him for it before I got there because he was more tolerable and accepting of my overdose of mommy hood;-)
Physically my tongue and mouth has hurt worse today than any day. A really bad stinging sensation across the top of my tongue. So yes, I am starving!!!! Everything looks so scrumptious! I managed to get a shake, tomato soup, applesauce, and tea down with my miracle mouthwash and some broccoli and cheese soup is on its way. I cannot wait to chow down on some real food!!
I finally got a few minutes to myself this afternoon to just watch some shows and just be. Back to "work" tomorrow! Live Laugh Love and be strong!
Friday, April 24, 2009 6:22 PM, EDT
Day 9: Day 9 right? Lost track for a minute. So to make a long story short I finally slept normal for the first time last night!!! Only got up once to pee and right back to my wonderful sleep!
Rachel took me to radiation today~"I hope seeing me will help you sleep tonight Rach-please please do not worry about me. Don't worry 'bout a thing, cause every little thing's gonna be alright." Remember, right now I don't know any different and I'm doing what I need to do.
After radiation I came home and enjoyed a cup of tea on my neighbor's porch. Oh, God is so good! Then enjoyed the afternoon with my girly girls. Thanks Lesley,Sarah and Tania-love you lots;-) Had an early BBQ~never ate a burger in such tiny pieces before but whatever it takes to get it down! After a late lunch enjoyed a game of Skip-Bo with the girls. Oh, God is good alllll the time!! And the winner is....Kylee! LOL Kiddos came home, took baths, had supper that ladies from church brought~thank you to so many who have given their time and efforts. And then my favorite part of the day was sitting on the couch with my Joey and Jessie and my Todd~coloring and listening to funny hockey songs. It was a glorious day!
Thursday, April 23, 2009 6:30 PM, EDT
Day 8: Wow! it feels much longer and much more than 8 treatments, but that's okay! Today was a great day!
My mouth is filled with sores lining the outside edges of my tongue, under my tongue and down throughout my throat and one hurting lymph node! But I had energy! I got up, enjoyed some time in the early hours of the morning (yes, early hrs~5am) with Joey and shortly after Jessie and my mom as well. Was a nice morning~had to explain to the kids that Mommy might be doing some of her own sign language when hurts too much to talk~but they understand babble better than anyone so we were good!;-) A little emotional string was tugged when I spoke up enough to let my family know I could not talk much and when I do it's slurred and doesn't sound like me~and then hearing myself felt like I was listening to a stranger within, but shed the couple of tears and enjoyed the day NO MATTER WHAT!
My left lymph node in the groin area hurts quite a bit after treatment yesterday and today making it tough to walk (I might be a bit slower now Wanda and Nellie if ya wanna go walking~just teasin'. Love ya) The day was good. My sister and my nieces came to visit along with with my Aunt Laurie and Aunt Tammy (two of my mom's sisters) and I cannot forget my cousin, Katie who entertained the kids alllllll day! "Are you tuckered out, Katie Girl?" Love you and thank you for that~the kids adore you;-)
It was no accident that I felt well today walking into treatment. The older gentleman that is usually there at the same time as me came in and sat down. He asked how I was and of course in return I asked how he was -there are no "I'm good", "fine thanks" or responses of the sort (unless of course we truly are-we are cancer patients feeling something new and annoying, frightening and nauseating every other day, so there is no need to mask it or try and hide it). He responded with "I feel like shit, oh sorry, I feel awful." Well, that's another thing I'm learning about cancer~you do not have to apologize for feeling like "shit". If that's how you feel, then you say it. If you feel "awful" you say "awful". To some there is a difference. Anyhow, I told him to certainly not apologize~I'm not easily offended and to share with brutal honesty. I had noticed yesterday he was not in the waiting area for patients where we usually meet and chat and thought "maybe he's done or hasn't gotten here yet" before I went in and perhaps we missed each other. Well, today was no accident that he arrived in the nick of time before I was called into treatment. Because when he told me how he was feeling he also stated that he didn't come into yesterday's appointment b/c he is feeling awful, nausea, chills and wiped out. So of course I could sympathize and also had been battling this just a day ago~but then I was called in so left him with a sincere "'hope you feel better real soon"'. As I was laying on the table during treatment I thought to my self "not missing a treatment is crucial, even when you are sick and can't or don't want to do it even one more day~ you've got to get there!" And reminded myself that this was a commitment that I made from the beginning~to be at every appointment NO MATTER WHAT! That's easy to say when getting there is still bearable and you have someone driving you everyday...and then I wondered "does he even have someone who drives him to his treatments or does he drive himself? Does he even have a support group, a support person or anyone at all?" I prayed that he would still be there when I walked back out to change and he was! Again, no accident! So before I left I asked "do you drive yourself to treatment or does someone drive you?" Of course I was hoping that the answer would be, "oh, no, someone drives me." But it wasn't. He drives himself to and from treatments so yesterday when he wasn't feeling well enough to drive he just didn't go. So, I just put it out there "look, I have a big enough support group that does not need to be with me all the time and can certainly be shared so if you ever need a ride you let me know and we will get you here. Hope you feel better real soon and I will see you tomorrow." I hope I didn't just add too much to my family's plate because I am already a handful! We shall see...I want to make sure this man does not miss his treatments and I hope my family forgives me for offering their services to another as though they aren't burdened enough with me. But that is another commitment I made from the beginning and that is to Pay It Forward and let His will be done!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 6:32 PM, EDT
I am going to try to go back a week ago where I left off~cannot believe I only got into Day 3 and have already hit bumps in the road...okay here we go~~~~
One Week Ago
Started chemo treatment Wednesday. Wednesday and Thursday seemed to be "so far, so good" days. With the exception of Thursday being an unexpected traveling day back and forth to my Oncologist~I had called Thursday morning when I noticed that there was blood in my line (the pump). Was told to 'come on down' and have it looked it. Should not have been blood in my line and they flushed it out and all seemed well. Came home took a nap and woke up to more blood in my line but not only in my line but also around the outside of my port site. Ugh! "What is going on?!" I called the office at 4pm and the nurse said she would stay until we got there. She had to give me a whole new pick line and pump even though it had appeared to be working fine and normal. The only conclusion we came to was that there was a lot of added pressure put on the site when straining to go to the bathroom (constipation was a side affect from pain medication).
Friday the nausea began. Not too bad, but enough to take my nausea medication, which seemed to do the trick. Friday evening I noticed the middle of my chest starting to irritate me on the inside. Didn't think much of it. Woke in the night Friday night several times and finally decided that my chest hurt. It bothered me most laying down~"of course it did, b/c laying down is what I enjoy to do while sleeping at night!" I made it through the night but as morning approached it got to the point where I just held my chest and prayed for the pain to go away~was a strange feeling because I didn't feel to be having trouble breathing nor did it hurt to breathe so we were referred to the ER by the on-call Oncologist. Arrived at CMMC around noon on Saturday~had an EKG (heart looked good), had CT Scan of chest area which consisted of knocking me out with 50 mg of Benedryl because I had a mild reaction to the CT scan dye once before (wooooo-eeee! that was a close second to anesthesia!). The scan also showed everything to be OK in chest area and blood work came back OK. The doctor mentioned the steroid medication (given before my first chemo treatment) that can cause irritation/infection of the esophagus which was where he believed my chest pain was coming from~kind of like a bad case of indigestion (I guess). Anyhow~we got more medication that helped treat that and numb the area internally. Left the ER around 4:30-5 that afternoon and came home and slept! I could not wait to go the next day to have the chemo pump taken off!
As the day went on I started to slowly feel like I was recovering from the chest pain. If I remember right Monday was an okay day~weak, feeling tired but like I could be heading back to where I was before I started chemo~that would be very welcoming at this point.
There are of course so many little things that have gone on emotionally, mentally and I'm sure physically I have left out due to my mind being fried by the meds and internal chaos. Okay, so Tuesday (the 21st) we met with my Radiation Oncologist after treatment and discussed my weekend and what's new in the world of my mouth! Ugh! So, we (the doctors and myself) have come to the conclusion that other than the infection I am fighting I am experiencing chemo side effects quite early and rapidly~very sensitive to it. Anyhow, back to my mouth~I am no longer able to brush my teeth, skin on tongue, inside cheeks, throat and in side nose has begun to shed and peel~already have sores in my mouth caused from chemo~which of course means more medication. Got some numbing "miracle mouth wash" that helps the healing process and also numbs my mucous canals so that I can eat with less pain. And now taking when it becomes too painful to even talk. And add diarrhea to this, a lovely green~(like the color of a frog-my cousins understand my references to frogs;-). After leaving my treatment yesterday I had the worst anxiety attack yet~so addanother medication to the list...although I have to admit, it felt good to release those emotional toxins.
Saw Oncologist today and definitely have an infection of some sort in the mucous canals and also in GI area (they think it's too early to be having side affects from radiation, but haven't ruled it out since I am already pretty red and sore in the vulva area). So we have a heavy duty antibiotic to fight this infection and try to stay ahead of what's to come next. Just ate at 4:45p and it didn't come back out 10 minutes later so things are looking up! Woooo-hoooo! And on the other end of things I'm talking a little funny either due to pain or numbing the area. But right now at this very moment I'm feeling minimal pain~mostly a lot of discomfort but was able to sit and write this much so that's a good thing. If I am on here writing then you know I am doing well enough. Did not expect to only get into day 3 and have so many side affects pop up but there's the update in a nutshell. Going to think about eating, take my miracle mouthwash and then decide if I still want to eat, hmmmmm....
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 7:02 PM, EDT
Day 2: Mornings are a little bit slow going. I'm one of those that usually opens my eyes, gets right up and starts the day. Not a minute to waste. Well, not-so-much right now and not by choice. The pain meds and now treatments are making me feel a bit "elderly" in the morning. No offense, but I am only 30 years old so what else can I compare it to! Just one more thing the Lord is preparing me for later on;-)
Once we got one kid off to school and the other off to Memere's house, we headed to my Oncologist's office in Scarborough. Arrived there with only a minute to spare~I was always early for things before~do not like being late for anything~do not like relying on others...oh my poor husband;-)
After checking in I informed the nurse that I had a crew with me today; my husband and parents joined me for my first chemo treatment~the more the merrier (not convinced of that yet, but certainly do not mind~might has well make it a party when we can, right;-) Hopped up on table and got down to business~nurse entered, I sat still and looked the other way~she took her mini fire extinguisher and sprayed my port site to freeze/numb it~adequately stabbed me with a needle which entered into the port that is already attached to my vein under the skin ( this is how they will be withdrawing blood which will be done weekly and how I receive my chemo medicines and any other iv's that would need to be given as we go along. The minor surgery it consisted of to have put in beats being poked a thousand times in a week and allowed me to do my chemo at home where I wanted to spend as much time as I could.)
At about 9am I sat in the infusion room where patients go to receive their chemo treatments. Me, being one of the fortunate ones today only had to be there for 40 minutes while they prepped me with some anti-nausea medication and my first chemo med. Next chemo med was hooked up to my pump at 10am. This is a pump with a mini IV bag attached that I carry in a little black fanny pack (waiting to be bedazzled by my mom and daughter~a great Nana and granddaughter project to do while Mommy naps;-) This medicine will release itself every 2 hrs at a time in 5-10 min intervals for 4 days (24 hrs a day). I will go to Maine Med on Sunday at 10am to have the pump taken off and my port flushed until my next chemo treatment during week five of treatment. I feel good so far.
We left Scarborough and headed back to Lewiston for my radiation treatment at 11:45. Which was just a bit longer today to mark some areas in my lymph nodes where we want to be sure the radiation is hitting. Then met with Dr. Jones, my Radiation Oncologist, so he could meet my parents who spent a day in the world of cancer~but still my world just the same...Wasn't so bad, was it?
So, as we were leaving my radiation appt my butt started feeling hot like I had just left the tanning bed (I wish~bring on the bronze pleeeeeaaasssse) and I thought "maybe I accidentally hit the button for the heated seat"... After realizing the heat was not on, it clicked! The radiation is working or at least I'm having an affect from it that hopefully means it's working.
Today was another great day! I even ended it with a nice stroll with my neighborly friends I love so much. They will have to pick it up a notch for the next lap though! Remember, I'm the Speedy one around here. LOL
When I returned home I was welcomed by another friend and delicious chicken pot pie cooking in the oven! Thank you~was soooooo good. Not sure who's enjoying all these meals more~ me or my dad;-)
Now I'm just sitting here wondering if there is a pain med out there that is really going to give me enough relief to sit comfortably~still not working~and that's when frustration begins to build but I will not let the enemy get a foothold!! Live~Laugh~Love and be strong!
I pray for a 3 year old girl named Claire who has cancer, had chemo and surgery. One day I came upon her page to Caring Bridge~a site where cancer patients and family can share their stories and journal their days. It brought me back to my very first day of treatment. I went to my journal entries I had written on this site and decided that I would share them here. We are not to live in our past nor does carrying our past around with us do much but weigh us down and keep us from living now. However, simply looking back can be a wonderful reminder of where we are today and in my case, it reminds me I am KEEPIN ON! And I also love to see how I have grown up in the Lord! I post these entries to share my journey from the beginning. And as I begin to share my story, I ask in Jesus' name that He use my experience to help and heal others.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009 8:08 PM, EDT
Day 1: So I woke up this morning feeling 'excited'! I had to stop every now and then and ponder if what I was feeling is normal or was I confusing it with another emotion, anxiety, fear...as it drew nearer to leaving for treatment I still felt 'excited'. When I walked into the radiation department I felt certain, energized and at peace. I then knew it really truly was 'excitement' that I was feeling. I was anxious to begin the fight for my life! As I grabbed a not-so-lovely johnny from the closet (thinking, "who really cares what it looks like, I'm here to save my life...but if I'm going to be here every single day for 6 weeks maybe there's something I could jazz it up with" and that is when my socks became the opening liner most days.)
The radiation therapist briefed me on what will become a daily routine and said in a casual somewhat routine yet somewhat concerned manner "are you okay?" (I think she was thinking I looked way too happy and way too energized to be there~like maybe I was in the wrong place;-) I said "yeah, I'm excited. I'm ready." She replied, "well, that's one I've never heard before." And then I knew she must have been thinking I had checked into the wrong place! And I thought '"well, you have never heard that before because you have never met me before!")
So, I entered the radiation room filled with calmness and peace that only the Lord is able to bless me with. I laid down on the hard and thin table flopping my legs open into the mold we made last week (I'm pretty sure I looked like a frog bathing in the sun). The peace and calm was so powerful that I was able to fall asleep in less than 5 minutes! The treatment itself only took 5 minutes but I felt like I had been sleeping for 20 and wanted to enjoy the relaxation for at least another 10 more! But since I will be seeing these same people everyday for the next 6 weeks I chose not to argue and 'hopped' down off the table;-)
As I walked out of the room I prayed for the next person that would be laying on the table after me~that the Lord would wrap His arms around him or her and fight their cancer with them as He has been for me! Today was a great day! I enjoyed cleaning my house, cleaning my camper, the fresh air, time with my parents and my children and husband. I may not be this energized tomorrow but I will live~laugh~love and be strong every chance I can!
Because I couldn't have said it any better I had to copy and paste this email that was sent to me today while I was asking the Lord, "how much more, how much longer will this pain go on?". This morning I have been bombarded with one reminder after another that my pain and my suffering is not all about me! And I stepped outside of my discomforts and shared this Encouragement of Today with several who are experiencing their own tests and trials right now. If you are going through a season that seems to be more full of hurt and betrayal, sickness and loss, than joy, comfort and peace, open your Bible and read the book of Job. God has reminded me of this man and brought me back to his story many times during my battles of physical pain and emotional healing. For now, I think you will find some encouragement in the entry below. I pray the arms of our mighty God will wrap around you in the midst of your raging storm right now. Turn to Him and let Him lay you down in green pastures and take you to quiet waters where He can and will restore your soul. I pray the Holy Spirit come upon you now and that you would not only be moved to great awakening as you read the words below, but that you would feel His presence and be lifted up from the depths of your sorrows and heartache to a place where hope resides. To a place where your strength is renewed and your mind is made fresh and clear of the good things that are to come. To a place where you aren't wondering but are certain that you are not simply getting by but you are KEEPIN ON!
"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth."
Job 19:25 (NIV)
Do you know what "hard" feels like? I'm not talking about the feel of stone by a river, or concrete under your feet. I'm talking emotionally hard ... spiritually hard. The kind of hard that makes you want to give up, go back to bed or slip into some sort of temporary abandonment of reality.
Do you know the kind of hard that makes you question everything you know, or thought you knew, about God?
The book of Job in the Old Testament tells the story of someone who knew hard. It's surely one of the most difficult to read because God removed His hand of protection and allowed all the pain that Job experienced. In fact, God even pointed Job out to Satan as blameless, which Satan twisted into a challenge to bring Job down.
Confident in Job, God allowed the testing. So one by one, Satan destroyed that which was dear to Job: his family, health and possessions. Then, just when you think it couldn't get any worse, Job's wife and friends step in to "help" with the most unhelpful advice. Job is beset on all sides, and at times he is ready to give up, even asking God to "crush" him and relieve him of misery.
Job was a good and honest man. A man of high integrity, He didn't deserve the hard times he experienced. Yet, in spite of unrelenting agony, Job battled to hold on to truth - truth about his feelings and truth about God. In spite of confusion and questions, Job refused to curse God. Though Job didn't understand why he was suffering, he chose to walk in honesty and integrity, believing God would bring something good out if it.
Job faced "hard" head on. He wobbled a bit, but then planted his feet and steadfastly held on to faith that his God who had never abandoned him before, would not do so now. No matter what he lost, and who abandoned him, Job knew God would always be with him. His emotions may have pulled a bit on this, but Job kept steering back to center. Job faced "hard" well.
To declare his faith, Job spoke words that echo through generations, off the lips of saints of old and suffering saints today: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth."
Job's story has a happy ending. After passing the testing, the Bible says, "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first" (Job 42:12a, NIV). Although Job had to go through the hard times, and there were no easy answers, the Lord never abandoned him, and had a reward on the other side.
The good news is Job's story can be ours. Not that we would wish such catastrophe on ourselves, but we all face our own "hard." And Job's Redeemer is our Redeemer. If you are facing something hard today, Job's story can bring you comfort and hope, for our Redeemer lives!
Dear Lord, I praise You for being the same regardless of what I am going through. There is nothing that is outside Your control. Help me to suffer well, and to guard my lips against any falsehood. Turn my face toward You when I can't lift it myself. I choose to trust You today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Although we will both remember the days that we were told "it's cancer" very vividly and it's not a welcoming memory, we rejoice and celebrate today because we are two out of the 11 million cancer survivors who celebrate another birthday this year! And because of that there are so many other vivid memories that I do welcome and want to share today as we celebrate you and what this day not only means to your daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters.
I'm not sure if you and Grampie know how much I remember of my childhood or if I have even ever told you how special my memories of growing up with you are. But after today I think you will have a pretty good idea as I try to put into words what my heart, soul and memory recall.
During some typical growing up and fighting for my independence at every age and every level of maturity, I remember complaining about living in the country. Pittsfield felt like a city compared to home and because of my defiant nature as an adolescent and oh yes, something I still struggle with as an adult, I would find myself wanting the exact opposite of what I had or wanting to be in the opposite place that I was and that was anywhere but at home with my parents or in the country where my friends seemed so far away. I sure do wish there were a way to appreciate things as children that we learn to appreciate as adults because it saddens me to think that I even thought I would have been happier anywhere but where I was. I was right where God had placed me, at the bottom of the hill, with only a wide open field that laid between my bedroom window and my grandparents door. Psalm 23 begins to describe how my thoughts have matured yet the view from my childhood bedroom window remains the same when I reflect back..."The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." He certainly shows me how amazing He is when I recall the green pastures of my childhood and the quiet waters that always restored my soul as a child and how he uses those memories to restore my soul even now.
I remember sitting on my bed looking out the window just taking in the scenery. If I could draw beyond a stick figure my memory alone would be able to paint a mural of immense detail of your house, the field, the golf course, the ponds, the lake, the woodpiles, the willow tree, the golfers and the neighbors. And if that picture could be heard, people would hear the sounds of Grampie's tractor starting in unison with the first bird's chirping of the day, the chainsaw cutting the wood that kept you warm and those of us who visited, scorching hot all winter long. You would hear the big mower going around and around the field creating the sweetest smell of fresh grass and earth, and our neighbor Jay with the same thought in mind as he created his own beautiful landscape across the way. There would be sounds of occasional cars whizzing by, random golf balls bouncing off the pavement or once in a great while shattering a window, the clanging of pins being put back followed by voices of men who just got a birdie or of the women cackling over their own scorecards. At night it would be the sounds of crickets and frogs croaking so loudly that it became a bedtime lullaby you couldn't fall asleep without.
Although I am 31 years old now and moved away from the country life, I still look out my bedroom window. Except I am not seeing my suburban back yard. I see what I saw for 18 years because it is the view that fills me with peace and God "lays me down in green pastures and leads me beside quiet waters and restores my soul."
There are some other memories that don't necessarily create a picture but a feeling. The feeling of comfort and security in the midst of adolescent changing. While life as a child can internally feel like it is moving so fast and chaotically changing, externally I was comforted by the same sounds, the same people and the same view everyday for 18 years. Every morning I would wake to the same sounds of Grampie's hard work and dedication. And although as a teenager it could be quite annoying to wake every morning, in the summer no less, at 6am to the sounds of tractors, chainsaws and lawnmowers, yet once I was beyond the first 10 minutes of feeling annoyed, that feeling was replaced with respect for a man who worked so hard and actually got up with the birds on his own to do work, rather than sleep in and waste the day~now I know where I get it from because I have never been able to sleep in past 7am and I would rather get up and start the day than spend it in bed wishing later I had gotten up sooner to do the things I am called to do. And there was the feeling of comfort knowing that it was always the same person and the same sounds that I would wake to each day. I also remember noon time being another part of the day when the same person at the same time would walk down the driveway to get the mail. You each had your daily routines and it is simply inspiring to look back on now as an adult who actually craves these and appreciates these tedious chores that I watched you and Grampie do each and every day because it reminds me of the childhood I was fortunate to have and the life I am blessed to still be living.
Although I started many days off thinking I couldn't wait to move out of the country and see other places and meet other people, I can't really express how much I actually saw, the numerous people I actually met, and the amazing feelings I experienced as a child in a small town that most have never even heard of. I remember the moments of simple and pure excitement of just kicking of my shoes and running through the field as soon as Grampie had parked the tractor just so I could feel the fresh mowed grass between my toes. And I recall how it felt to walk out my door and through the field as though I was in one world then as soon as I crossed the dirt driveway to the other side of the house I was in another world.
I remember the feeling of knowing what to expect when I opened the door to your kitchen many mornings. There you would be just as I knew you would, in your robe and slippers, cash box and keys in hand and the smell of coffee already brewed. And Grampie often standing there just to say hello and smile because someone else was finally awake to speak to or smile at...and he always greeted me with a smile never knowing that I had been annoyed with him an hour ago for waking me once again with his noisy machines;-) But once I walked through your door none of those annoying feelings mattered or lingered. They were immediately replaced with warmth and love and anticipation of what the end of the day would bring. And even though it usually brought the same people to play the same game, and the same order of a drink, steamed hot dog and chips or crackers, it gave me a feeling of thankfulness because while other kids my age were working for strangers or just letting their parents pay their way I was working for and helping my family while learning a lot about people and life in the process. I remember rushing to unlock the clubhouse doors, to make a pot of coffee and get the register running and the door unlocked before the first regular golfer came to start their day just as they had the day before. I couldn't quite appreciate why people wanted to do the same thing from sun up to sundown, day after day, but when I look back, especially after the last two years, and think how wonderful it is to just be able to do the anything in a day, I begin to understand the simple joy and contentment of doing the same thing everyday. It's an amazing reminder of where I have been, where I am now and where I look forward to being.
So those are just some of my memories of what I felt and what I saw. But a few of my most cherished memories are a couple of things that I did with you. When I think about some of our times together I remember lots of shopping. And although it was usually in Nannie's Lincoln I vividly recall many trips to Unity in the yellow and blue Buick. I don't think you ever knew it but I had that car on two wheels one day when I had gotten my permit. I was driving with mom one day as I took the corner at Hawthorne Park a little too fast. If you asked her, she would tell you that is one memory you will be thankful to not have been a part of;-) But back to the shopping. I don't recall much of anything that was ever bought, however I do recall that you always got dressed up in these really nice suits or coordinating outfits when we would go shopping. I would put on my shopping clothes, walk through the field and wait for Nannie to arrive in the Lincoln. I always thought it funny that she would get into the passenger seat and you would drive and then later on when Aunt Tammy or Aunt Susie would go, you would move to the passenger seat and one of them would drive. I never questioned why, I guess I just thought it was the law or something, that the youngest one with the license had to drive. Anyhow, I remember always falling asleep between the end of your driveway and the parking lot of Zayre's, Ames or Riches. And not because I was bored of yet another shopping trip with my grandmother and great grandmother, but because there was something about Nannie's Lincoln that just put me right to sleep and I am sure the comfort of being with two special women in my life had something to do with it, too:-) Like I said, I don't recall what we ever bought, but that I am sure I always came home with something and since you liked to get dressed up so nice to go shopping I might assume you probably came home with new outfits for the next shopping trip as though it was going to be a long time before we took another one. Ya, two days without shopping was a long time. LOL. (That is laugh out loud or lots of laughs depending on who you ask in case you were wondering). And shopping was not all that I looked forward to because the day was not over until we sat down at the House of Pancakes and had a lobster roll with pickles, chips and a coke, well, yours might have been a Tab;-) And on the trips when Nannie didn't go we went to Belanger's for the most delicious Seafood Salad Sandwich, french fries and Coke...oh the memories that lead from one to another. Because as I am recalling the shopping trips that consisted of you looking stunning in your outfits and accessories it reminds me of your weekly trips to Ruth's. Not for a hair cut but the same hair-do. I used to think it was funny that you would go once a week to have someone else do your hair and that it stayed that way for 7 days~didn't you sleep on it like the rest of us did??! And that is when I discovered your Aqua-Net! LOL! That stuff is the superglue of yesterday! I can't believe your kitchen wasn't just one big cluster being held together with Aqua-Net!
I feel like I could go on and on with a hundred more memories from Easter Egg Hunts, to traveling a short distance in our pj's while it was still dark on Christmas morning to see 12 stockings hung by the fire always with an apple and an orange waiting at the bottom to be picked out and adored as much as the other things that were packed on top of them. Funny how I don't remember any of the other things that were in the stockings except the apples and oranges;-)
I know that I have not been back often enough to visit but I want you to know that I sit and visit with you and Grampie in my memories more often than I even realized until I started writing this. I am so thankful for the most recent events and traditional ones at best that have brought us together the last two summers. It has been wonderful to see myself as a child in my own children during our most recent visits during Christmas mornings and two of the most beautiful weddings I have been to. To see my son driving a golf cart, swinging a golfclub, skipping rocks in the lake and asking for something to drink or eat at the clubhouse reminds me of how good I had it and teaches me that although I may not be raising my kids in the country setting I grew up in, I can certainly raise them with the same values, the same comforts and the same security that kept me safe and reassured me of love each and every day. I can show them that although it's okay to want to see other places, meet new people, experience other ways of life, that it doesn't matter so much where you go or who you meet or what you do in life. It's your roots where God planted you to begin with, that get you there.
Well, I knew how to start this letter and I sure didn't have trouble finding things to fill it up but I am finding it hard to come to a conclusion so rather than end with another memory or some great quote or word of God I am going to end by making another memory with you. We are going to pick a day and we are going to go shopping. Since Zayres, Ames and Riches are no longer around we are going to hit the other places we used to go to...Mardens, Pennies and Kmart. Then since the House of Pancakes has been replaced with a Rite Aide, and I think Belanger's is still open, we are going to have a "like we never had cancer kind of meal" and order us a Seafood Salad Sandwich, french fries and a Coke! (Except this time mine will be followed with a coffee enema instead of an ice cream for dessert). And since I am the youngest one with the license now, I will sit in the driver's seat! As long as I have it in DRIVE and not REVERSE we should have ourselves one good trip down memory lane. LOL!
So, here's to you, another year survived, another birthday celebrated and to KEEPIN ON with the memories! And no matter what changes or remains the same, we will live according to Psalm 118:24 and be thankful for each and every day. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Oh, you won't believe that I spent 2 hours writing and editing a post titled "Humbled, Content and Belonging!" to find out that when I hit the PUBLISH button, I was no longer connected to the interen! My mind so quickly wanted to blame it on someone else or the connection itself, but that is a war I'm finding myself on the winning side more and more everyday...so, I looked down and was humbled in the midst, although not content and questioning my belonging in this moment, that I had accidently hit the wireless button to 'off' and when I came back online my edited version had not been saved! UGH! Is it the end of the world? Nope, but once I finally redo it and get it posted you might be able to imagine the me that would have cried for days over it and know the me that is owning up to my mistake, finding contentment in just being and loving that I am where I belong...on the couch resting! LOL~Stay tuned for the post that was supposed to be under this title, but will have to wait...I'm sure there is a reason, although I do not know what or why, I will still rest in His holiness tonight~KEEPIN ON!
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Five years ago I sat beside my youngest sister and listened as she boldly rejected my views of God. She's always been a free spirit, much too non-conventional for traditional religion.
"Good thing I'm not into religion," I gently replied.
She twisted her face as if half expecting a lightening bolt to strike us both. "But you ARE religious."
I laid my head against the back of the lounge chair, closed my eyes to the sun now washing over me and simply replied, "Nope."
Deciding to let my statement just sit for a while, I decided not to clarify unless she asked. And ask she did.
That's when I explained that I follow God not a list of rules. I am passionate about getting into the Bible - God's teachings - and letting the Bible get into me. I no longer evaluate life based on my feelings. Instead, I let my feelings and experiences be evaluated in light of God's Word.
I have watched God chase me around with rich evidence of His presence and invitations to trade apathy for active faith. But I had to make the choice to see God. Hear God. Know God. And follow hard after God.
Then I took my sister's hand and told her I'd be praying for God to mess with her in ways too bold for her to deny.
Fast forward over five years later. My sister walks into one of her professor's office and sees one of my books on her bookshelf. I don't think she really believed anyone actually read my books. But there it was. And it messed with her.
She later went home and poked around my blog a bit where she found a clip of my testimony. Again, it messed with her. One verse in particular messed with her so much that she let the possibility that God exists slip into her heart.
A few days later she went and had Jeremiah 29:11 tattooed on the back of her neck. And she started calling wanting to talk to me. About life. About tattoos. And about God.
Last Thursday, I stood in the middle of the Atlanta airport praying for this precious girl who had called asking for those prayers. She had called. She had asked. And that's the miracle of our Jesus. He is the God of the impossible.
I wonder what might happen if we dared to ask God for the impossible just a little more often. I'm up for it? Are you?
Dear Lord, use me today to reach the heart of one. I want to trade any apathy I may have today for active faith. Lead me, and I will follow. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
I haven't been too busy to write, just too exhausted from God's work! My new found energy has been followed by pure exhaustion. Flipping through pages of the living word and "oh let me tell you, it is alive!!" It's as though the words have been walking right off the page and right into my livingroom! Better yet, they are leaping off the page and following me around! "BE STRONG!" Aaahh! "Okay, Lord, I will be strong right now." "FORGIVE HIM AS I HAVE FORGIVEN YOU!" Gulp There He is again sneaking up on me throwing those words of truth right off the page into my mind and heart at all the right moments, just when I need to forgive another for careless ways. When I begin to have fear or worry, he throws Philippians 4:6 like a nerf bullet my way; not hard enough to hurt but perhaps just a little sting to get my attention of what He commands. And I say, "do not worry or be anxious in anything but in everything I pray to you oh, Lord! And in thanksgiving, oh Father...I have so much to be thankful for!" And often in just this part I become so focused on what I am thankful for and praising Him for that I forgot what I was worrying or feeling anxious about to begin with. He must chuckle to himself every time I do this to myself, letting my thoughts once again spiral out of control until I reach out to him, the One and only who did, can and always will save me. This kind of stalking I welcome because it keeps my paths straight. I don't always understand God and His timing and His will for me, but I have been learning fiercely to trust it and to keep trusting it and when that serpent of doubt tries to sliver His way in, to trust even more! I can't lie, I get a little overwhelmed wondering when the next one is going to jump out at me or when God is going to do some flinging around of verses or give me what seem to be glimpses of visions, that many times I have no idea what they mean until a later time when it is fully or partially revealed. When the right time, the right person and the right event is in alignment with His will and all for His glory, I get these chills, as though time has stopped and something much more pressing must be handled. I often think, "But wait, Lord, I have been working so hard at not being distracted by anything or anyone than what is in the moment, but during these times of revelation I know that this is a time when He wants me to make the exception, in fact He insists on it.
I am taking some time to rest in God's word. I usually rush through things that I love because I can't wait to get to the next level of passion, but if there is one thing that I am learning and God is holding my hand tightly throughout, is to stop rushing! Oh, my goodness! When He slows me down (because He knows I don't know how to do it on my own) I become so aware of how much rushing through my life I have done, yet I get so excited to be realizing so many new things I just can't help but want to hurry up and know more~lol. I am really learning for the first time how to live in "the moment." No matter what moment I am in, where it has me, who it does or doesn't have me with, whether I want to be where I am or not, I am truly discovering the concept of being in the moment. But not just being where I am or where I want to be but where God wants me to be. My calendar used to be full of parties, shopping trips, more parties...now it's more like hockey, dance, field trips, church, Bible Study, family time, camp, and lots of doctor's appointments...still a work in progress. And so this involves a big change in the attitude of my heart, not to mention breaking some pretty persistent habits...not an easy task for this wiry gal, but one that I have been given and one I am trying obediently to follow...so is this what it's like to live out God's will?
As I am sitting here and as I almost started to feel sorry for myself for it being a beautiful Fall day and I am laying on the couch thinking of all the things I would be doing, could be doing...I held up my royal glove because I knew He would be throwing me a fastball and sure glad I was ready because bam, there it was! Romans 8! I would love for you to read this on your own and let God speak to your heart what it might be needing to hear at such a time as this but I also want to share the curve ball He threw at me as I was about to sit down in a little bit of cozy self pity. Romans 8:5 "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." And this is when I was glad I had my royal glove up and ready! v.9 "YOU, however, ARE CONTROLLED not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you." Phew! I am a bit exhausted from playing "catch" with God in this moment. But in those moments, He showed me that I may not be outside with my kids, but I can hear them out there, laughing and playing. I might not be out there helping my husband with yard work, but I can rest assured that he is capable and content in his time to be able to do so. I might not be doing much of anything that I want to be in this moment but I am doing what He wants me to be and that is resting while He heals my body. So, with that round of playing catch with some pretty powerful words of truth and Him once again reminding me that I have been called for His glory! I feel rejuvenated enough to put on my Nikes and take a few steps out on faith and let God build this body back up, after all, it is His temple. God Bless and Love You All!
...it's GOD WAKING ME UP!! Funny, how if the dog were to jump down off the bed and wake me because he is too lazy to jump back up, so he whines until I roll over and pick him up or if the kids wake me because of a bad dream or a midnight bathroom break I feel frustrated and annoyed. But, when God wakes me I am doing all I can do to contain my energy and not be the culprit of waking the sleeping.
This is exactly what God has been doing to me! Waking me up while the world still sleeps so that I might have a moment with just him. Because he knows how much I, like a little kid, do not like to miss anything. He knows that if I wait until the light shines through my window or I hear the first rustle in the next room before waking, even if I were to set my alarm to get up before the others, he knows I would keep hitting the snooze button and it would be the same scenario day after day, putting off my devotional time and quiet time with him because life easily calls me away. So this is day 7 that he has had me up not long after the birds have finished their attempt at waking the world. Thank goodness not many pay much attention to those birds or I would be having to get up at 3 am just to be alone in the quiet and stillness to get what God is trying to tell me I need to get!
"So, what exactly is it Lord? What is so important that you must wake me in the dark, to start what will now make for a very long day?" And he responds, (in my experience this only happens when we are willing and listening, unless he's REALLY trying to get your attention and I know what that's like too...I'd rather be willing and listen!) do believe although he may see me struggling a bit at times when I am feeling the need to pull back, he is chuckling when he says "because if I thought you could this on your own, I would leave it to your own will, and we both know how that story goes." Oh yes, I do. Thinking that I am superwoman, I can do all and be all. And in the process that means a lot of little short cuts along the way and we all know where shortcuts leave us, right back to where we started because sometimes there is just not a quicker or easier way to go about changing our lives. And I have tried it all or at least it feels that way. And guess what, not matter how many times I have tried to take the short cuts in life or the easier way, I have gotten lost and failed miserably because I was trying to do it on my own. And guess what else? Guess where I have ended up each and every time? Well, before God I ended up flat on my face, thinking the world was coming to an end and there was no point going on, yes the big pit of feeling sorry for myself, resenting others, isolating myself, loathing myself and simply making life so much harder than it needed to be. Now, when I find myself starting to drift or faced with temptations of taking a short cut (and still have a few of those moments although becoming less~yay!) I fall right back into the arms of God! Oh, it feels so much better to fall upon Him than the hard pit I was always falling back into.
So, He woke me again this morning. At first I thought, "it's just because I have so much to do! Dry the clothes for the yard sale that got soaked from the rain the night before (another attempt from the enemy to get me to put myself right back at the party of self-pity, but nope, I pulled out my shield of truth that blocked all those flaming arrows!) and some things to do for our get together with some family and friends, pay some bills"...so I put more clothes into dry, gathered some stuff for the party, got the computer out and paid some bills..."okay, Lord, surely you did not wake me at 5am on a Saturday morning to do these things?!" These are the kinds of things that I am trying to remind myself can wait just a few hours and don't need to be done with such urgency and perfection, well, unless of course not paying a bill results in no electricity when the others do awaken~LOL. As I began to pace, more in my mind than in the kitchen, I walked over to the table and picked up my Bible and opened it to Mark 9. I had no idea what I was going to turn to and so I read about the "what ifs" and the boy who was possessed by the devil. And then I thought I was just fighting an attempt to stay focused because I set it down and came straight here to my blog. I read a comment that was left about when we question and when we believe and there it was! This is why God woke me up!!! You don't just read a random passage in the Bible and then read a comment that correlates to it on accident!!! And so, this is what I responded to the comment and it led me to here: "I just read this very moment in Mark 9 about the boy who was possessed by the devil. Jesus speaks about how much longer, how many more generations will the unbelief go on! How many more times does he have to speak the word of God to His people before they believe it? I could feel Jesus' frustration in the text and it drew me nearer to Him, as it would a friend or a person I can relate to in a similar circumstance we ahve shared. And it also showed me how many let the devil lead their lives today and many without even realizing it. I too have been there, wondering "is this the will of God or the devil trying to get me to believe his lies?! So, that is why I am fiercely in the word and at such a time as this, as I am fighting for my very survival, as I do the best that I can to beat a killing disease. But I am finding that the devil wants me to believe more and more that there is nothing that can be done, that I am dying and that I should just accept that. But God has made his promise to me and my job is to grab a hold of it and BELIEVE it! Keep on~a shift is being made and we will one day rejoice in knowing that we were a part of something wonderful!"
And then I was reminded of a brief conversation I had with my husband last night about so many changes, although small, I am beginning to see in others. And I thought, "I know how hard it is to change and line yourself up with the word of God, yet still remain in this world so corrupted with the latest fashions, the easiest solutions, thousands of short cuts making you think that while you are saving time in one area or saving money in another, it's going to somehow make your life better and more fulfilling." But, I also thought that if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!!! Like I have said before I am still a work in progress but God has revealed many things to me, things about myself that I cringe when I think I was once that way, or feel overwhelmed when I realize how much work I still have to do, but he is also revealing to me some of the things that I was trying to change about myself that don't need changing at all, but rather simply need to be put to use! And you will never believe what passage came next after these conversations and thoughts racing through my mind...2 Corinthians 10! Tearing down barriers! I could rewrite all these passages for you but since I have spent so much time already this morning with Him, and would love to spend so much more, two of my other God-ordained responsibilities have woken for this glorious day. So, I encourage you if you are following these blogs for whatever reason and you want to have some amazing insight into what God lays upon my heart, go grab your Bible and spend some time with Him and see what He might reveal to you! And if you don't have a Bible you can get one anywhere! I recommend NIV for reading. I just got myself "The Message" rewritten by Eugene Peterson which is awesome as well and easy to understand. Because if you are anything like I was the first time I picked up a bible, I wondered where the road map was, where the directions were..."don't they have an instructional DVD or something that I could watch and learn how to read this? Do I start from the beginning and read it like a regular book? And what are all these numbers?!" Oh, I laugh at myself when I think about the days of frantically thumbing through my bible at my first services trying to get to where everyone else was turning before Pastor spoke because if I didn't everyone would hear not him alone, but also the annoyance of pages flapping frantically of the new girl who doesn't even know where Genesis is in the bible! And of course no one was thinking this, well at least not to my knowledge~lol! They were just thrilled I was there:-) And then when I found out the Bible has a table of contents too! OH GLORY! But then there was the pride of "I am not going to be seen referring to my table of contents at church, I should know where the book of Acts is." Oh, how many walls He has been tearing down!! And that is one I have loved to watch crumble! And so now, if I can't find the book we are in during service or at home or where ever I may be, I start right at the beginning~well, even before Genesis (I know where that one is now:-), and I start right at the table of contents because He put it there for a reason! Oh, He is so good, isn't he!
Be blessed everyone. I love you all and I know I am keepin on, but I pray that you are KEEPIN ON!
Oh, boy! If there is one thing that is not allowed to be said in this home it is, "it's not fair!" Oh, there are some words or things that pierce my heart but nothing like this one! I have been making charts with my kids since they were old enough to know the meaning of "no". They would consist of, PICKING UP TOYS, BRUSHING TEETH, MAKING BEDS, the typical chores, adding in HOMEWORK AND DISHES AND GARBAGE as they have gotten older and capable (the sooner they learn some of these things on their own, the easier it will be for them in the REAL WORLD). And they would be rewarded for their efforts and hard work but I even begun to look at this differently.
I have been guilty of buying my kids things because of how I was feeling or because I had a bad day and took it out on them or because they actually did something that most human beings should know how to do (age appropriate of course with the right instruction)~when did I start rewarding my kids with things like toys when they do what they are suppose to do? Ugh! Not an easy habit to break and not one I am proud of to say the least. And one day when I woke up and realized, the more that they have, the more they began to say "it's not fair!" Well, this did not sit well with me at all! So things began to change and rewards became praise and special moments together and eventually it is becoming enough.
Well, eventually the cycle became less and less but still remains a battle from time to time in this society where marketing preys on guilty parents and innocent children. So, you can only imagine my response tonight when I heard, "it's not fair" AGAIN!
You see, in my heart, just as there is always, always, always something to be thankful for, there is always, always, always someone out there worse of than we are, no matter the circumstance. Things have not always been great but they certainly haven't been bad. And I can't say that things didn't get pretty bad when I was first diagnosed with cancer, because they did. But through it all, aside from the chemo and radiation not only killing cancer cells but destroying my body in the process, I could not think of anything bad. I had enough love and support for 5 cancer patients! I even offered some of them up to patients during my radiation visits who didn't have someone there with them everyday or someone driving them to ensure they got to all their patients. In my families eyes I was all that mattered, but for me it has always been about so much more than me and what I am going through. There is more to this than me!
I know kids are kids and they don't understand things the way we do, but when they say that "it's not fair", I feel such a strong urge for them to know, that "no, it's not fair, life isn't fair in our human eyes, but ask that God would give you knew eyes to see that although it may not seem fair at times, it's pretty darn good. And although it may not seem fair and you cannot understand right now why we have asked God to take my cancer and he hasn't, LOOK around!!" He hasn't taken my cancer away from me yet, but look at all He has given me, given us! My cancer may have grown and might be growing rapidly, but the love and support that I have has grown even more rapidly and in my eyes, that is more than fair! That is amazing! That is God! Thank you Jesus...oh, I could write another whole page on the night that I wept tears of joy for all you have given me, and tears of sorrow for all that you endured, because my trials pale in comparison to your walk to the cross!
Dear Lord, Help me to develop spiritual perseverance. Do not let me shrink back because of what someone might think or how someone might feel because of my excitement in you! You know my heart and you know that I only want good for your people. So, today I will let your light shine through me Lord! It is by you, in you and for you that I walk in peace, with my head held high, claiming YOUR hand upon me and the reason for the bounce in my step and the joy in my heart! Thank you Jesus! For by your stripes we are healed. So help those of us who stumble upon doubt, stumble no more! But stand in full armor of you and your word! And KNOW that you are LORD! In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
It feels more like years that have separated this week from last week! And that my friends, is a GOD THING! I cannot believe the convictions He is placing upon my heart...wait! Yes I can! and yes I do! Although I think to myself, "how could I ever doubt Him, why did I?" I can't be exactly sure of the moments when doubt would creep in and when the "whys" started coming but I can tell you the reason it did.
I have always had a tendency or perhaps an addiction, maybe just an unawareness of being consumed. There have been many times I have been so consumed by something or someone else. And even though I like to consume myself with good things, good people and healthy activities (well, not always good and healthy, but I can only go so far back when moving forward has been such a whirlwind) I would begin to feel incomplete, unsatisfied, not content...I would feel frustrated. "Why, if I am doing all the right things and even what God says I am to do, according to His word and His grace, why do I feel so out of sync? Why do I keep feeling like I am hitting a brick wall?"
Well, today He revealed to me, that even when consumed by Him, I have felt unsatisfied. But why?! how?! Because I had not been declaring His work in my life the way I am feeling it! I have been too worried about what people might think or say! Really?! Well, humility is not usually a pleasant feeling but let me tell you when it's coming from the Lord, you'd be wise to take heart and listen and be humbled, my friends! Be humbled! Because this Lord of all Lords, has been tearing down some pretty thick walls of mine and they are crashing down all around me! The chains are breaking one by one! I am not dying! I am coming alive! So, if you wonder about a personality disorder from time to time~rest assured that it's just God in the process of doing some of his own surgery~reconstructive surgery of my spiritual heart and soul. I welcome humility in the eyes of the Lord because it is showing me what true abundance in life is and how He wants nothing more than for us to live a full, abundant life full of joy and peace, and prosperity. You will need to turn to His word to see what that really means for you. Because I am not talking about an abundance of anything of monetary value! Oh, how glorious is He who binds up the brokenhearted, heals the sick, and never changes!
And can you believe, well for those of you who know me well enough, that I actually found joy in preparing supper tonight~all organic, chopping, cutting, preparing and serving with a smile on my face and joy in my soul. And I thought to myself, "all the while I was complaining of my 70th bowl of oatmeal and more potatoes and more salad and oh, another juice, really? I just finished swallowing my last one. And oh wait, I need to take this pill and add this spoonful, and now it's time for a coffee break"...and I never had to do it myself, my mother was there taking care of me, feeding me and feeding my family. (This is a whole other story for another time, anyhow...) I am learning to like the healthiest of foods, and instead of it feeling like so much work and like I'm missing out on all the good stuff, I am finding peace and serenity in taking the time to prepare my kids lunches and snacks everywherewe go instead of choosing convenience over health. And more importantly I am realizing I am not missing anything! In fact I am getting ALLthe good stuff I need and desire from God and His garden. It's still a work in progress, but to think that I used to be consumed with my looks. Funny, because I lost my hair and I'm still smiling. I have lost a lot of weight in sickness and still smiling. No more of the easiest and fastest foods; driving by instead of driving thru and still smiling. And no more pounds of chocolate in one sitting; haven't had one candy bar or ounce of chocolate since April and still smiling. This journey has really opened my eyes and my heart to what I have really been missing in my life and that is balance, believing God NO MATTER what, and singing praises of Him out loud no matter who is around and no matter what they do or don't believe! Because when my spiritual health is in order, my physical health will be too. It wasn't the good stuff I was missing, it was the God stuff!
Oh, I thought of a thousand (oops, I'm going overboard again:-)...so, I thought of at least 3-4 different stories while writing this entry, but for now just hearing my daughter who used to be just as addicted to chocolate as I was, singing "Kylee'sRawsome Healing Adventure" tonight while she looked at herself in the mirror wearing her "rawsome" t-shirt after eating a "rawsome" supper. And because I was feeling it, I showed it and sang it out loud "Hallelujah! and thank you Jesus!" And so if there were any of you wondering where we stand now and if having surgery has in any way changed anything...the only thing it has changed is that I am even more convinced than ever that we are on the right journey and that God has been with me while I waited whether I could feel Him there or not and that we are KEEPIN ON! Love and Blessings Everyone!
Here are the notes taken from my appointment at Lahey Clinic. This just gives a brief outline of the facts from my appointment. I will be receiving an email soon re guarding my arrival date and time of surgery. For now, I am eating all the organic protein I can and will be walking walking walking~wish it were skating skating skating because I had some serious muscle mass when I was doing that. Although, as much as I miss hockey and as good as I felt when doing it, I am enjoying my time doing other things and not being too consumed with one thing. So before this turns into another entry other than the notes I promised, I will end with this for now~KEEPIN ON!
Meeting with Dr. Roger Jenkins 9/16/2010, Lahey Clinic What is it? Same cancer as the prior cells – this is a growth from the original cancer that is now also in the small left lobe of the liver and has potentially affected the lymph nodes behind the liver. Pain Pain that has been occurring is most likely caused by the tumor and its growth. The nerves of the shoulder and the chest are all associated with the area of the liver so “referred pain” from the shoulder to the diaphragm is common. The tumor stretches things within the body – this hurts. The tumor is right no top of Kylee’s stomach. That’s why she feels hungry but when she eats she fills up quickly. She could keep eating frequently like she has been to combat this. The liver and secondary occurrence of the primary cancer The liver is the most common place for other primary cancer to spread due to blood flow. The left lateral segment, where the tumor is at, is a better location for surgery because it is the easiest to remove. The liver contains blood vessels all over it so the surgery is primarily around the blood vessels, not the issue of the liver itself. Kylee’s liver is functioning normally at this point. Dr. has learned that if you remove the liver you should also remove the gall bladder. Otherwise there’s a high chance of inflammation and a secondary issue, post surgery. They’ve also learned to remove lymph node. Each one of us has hundreds of lymph nodes They will look around while they are in surgery to identify all impacted lymph nodes but he only thinks there is one. Since the prior cancer responded extremely well and rapidly to the chemo – we can presume that there is only a small spread and this may have occurred prior to Kylee’s last chemo and radiation – aka its not really new. It was there all along. If the piece is removed there is a good chance of a cure and that it won’t show up somewhere else.
The Surgery The surgery is a 2-3 hour surgery and Kylee will have general anesthesia . She will also have an epidural for pain, post surgery, so that she doesn’t have to take morphine. Due to Kylee’s age, weight, she will have an up and down incision which will make it quicker and easier for her to recover afterwards. As for the surgery, its mostly around the blood vessels and its not a difficult surgery for a doctor which does these so often. Kylee will remain in the hospital for 5-6 days and will have the epidural for approx.. 3 of those days. She will have a tube inserted to drain the excess blood from the surface of the liver. Recovery Kylee should expect to be very tired after the surgery. She should bounce back well. She should expect to resume to normal activities 6 weeks after the surgery without much pain after she leaves the hospital. She will have pain medication in the event she needs it. The liver is “greedy” and takes all the nutrients to grow in size to recover from what was removed. It will take all her calories first so she’ll need to be sure to have enough protein and calories in order to meet the liver growth need and her personal need. Otherwise she will lose muscle mass which she will lose some anyways. You don’t lose fat (which she doesn’t have!), you lose good muscle. There are no other drugs or post surgery treatments which will require medical treatment. There is not a need for a nurse to visit when she comes home. Her family should be able to take care of her. Complications There have been some people who have had a hard time eating for a couple weeks after the surgery due to nerve damage from many lymph nodes being removed, but he doesn’t expect this with Kylee. There were no other complications from liver resection identified. Will she have to have Chemo or Radiation? Surgery is first. Then after that there may be a protocol that says she is best served by other treatment but for now there is no impending associated chemo or radiation planned. That will be up to Kylee’s oncologist. Kylee will need to be followed up for a long time so she should expect to continue to have visits to check on her body for a long time. Preparing for Surgery Kylee needs to bulk up now as much as she can, eating frequent meals. She needs to eat protein and get a lot of calories. It would be good for her to continue with her supplements because they are all healthy additives but she shouldn't take anything not mainstream before the surgery. She needs to stop ibuprofen and aspirin 5 days before the surgery. Kylee should also exercise and build up her endurance with walks and light exercise to strengthen herself prior to surgery. This will help her recovery. She should get a lot of rest and be in the best condition that she can. Waiting for surgery The Dr. would have recommended that Kylee wait for surgery. This is because they are able to see that it hasn’t spread any where else now besides the liver and the lymph nodes behind it. Therefore, removing the liver resection and the lymph nodes are more assured to remove all cancer. If they had removed the liver before – they might not have seen that it spread to the lymph nodes. Waiting was good and there should be no regrets. What we are exposed to and its impact on our bodies The Dr. believes that the cancer in the US is caused by what we are exposed to. He believes this because the cancers in our country are different than all other countries. He even went on to say he was upset with himself because he ate an apple he hadn’t washed today. He said we wash antibiotics down the drain and we grow things with artificial hormones. He doesn’t think this is a good thing. Schedule The doctor said a couple of weeks out is OK but no longer. Kylee has the birthday party for September 25th so Julie will call Kylee to schedule the surgery after that. She will come down the day before to get pre-surgery testing and to get a new MRI which will show the blood vessels to guide the Dr. through the surgery.