The last one for awhile...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

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!

3 Down 4 to go~I can do this!

Friday, October 29, 2010

 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

The weekends aren't what they used to be,,,

 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!

Day 9, I think...

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!

It's only Day 8?!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

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!

It went downhill from Day 3 real fast!

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 add another 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....

Looking back at Day 2

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!

Sometimes taking a look back is a reminder you still ALIVE!

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, 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!

I know hard, but praising God I know Him!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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!

So This is What "Hard" Feels Like

"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.

Dear Grammie

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 14th, 2010

Dear Grammie,
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."

Love Always,

Humbled, Content and Belonging! Keeping On!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

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, 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!

Had to Share! Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Praying for the Impossible

"'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.

Hebrews and Acts and Healing, oh my!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

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 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 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!