Sunday, April 26, 2009

His Strength

Warning...whining is probably going to be part of this post.

Thursday was my third cycle of the really nasty chemo drugs. Prior to this one, I had done wonderful with them. Very little nausea, very little fatigue, very little anything. And then Thursday happened and I was knocked for a loop. Before the treatment finished, I was so sick to my stomach...totally unexpected. The next day, was okay and I thought I was on the mend, but then Saturday (and now today) has happened and I am not feeling like I expected to. I just really thought that I would be one of the few who do not suffer fatigue like most and who do not get sick, but that's not my story now. I'm praying that this is just a one time fluke and that I will do much better with my next round, but at this point, I cannot even think about going back without tears welling up in my eyes and a feeling of despair welling up in my soul. I want to fight these feelings because I know it's the devil trying to get at me. He's telling me that if I can't get through the third round of chemo, then how in the world will I beat this cancer. I hate that I allow him to mess with my mind and my emotions. I just wish he would back off and leave me alone.

However...I guess in the midst of it all, I go back and just remember what the Lord has told me. This is not my battle to fight; it's His. I do not need to rely on my own strength; I have His. I am a child of His and He cares about me and everything that I am feeling. And finally, He will have the final say with the devil and I can't wait to see Him put the devil in his place - HA! What a glorious day that will be when the devil can no longer have access to us.

I better end now...my sweet Chloe is begging me for a kiss and that is what I call the most perfect medicine.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friends are Priceless

From January 19th until April 13th we were blessed to have either my mom or David's mom here helping out with the kids and the house while I have been in and out of surgeries and chemo treatments. What a blessing that was! So much so that I was super nervous as to how I would do once they had to return home and I had to step back into full-time mommy roll. No more laying down when I felt tired, no more relying on someone else to help entertain etc... Thankfully, I have had TONS of girlfriends already step up and offer/insist on taking the kidlets for a while so that I can rest. But even before the family left, my girlfriends kept us supplied with meals, kiddie help, phone calls, emails, prayers etc... It's just amazing to me that so many people have shown God's love to us while we are in the midst of this storm of life.

When I think about my blessings, I now think almost automatically about the friends and family that God has given us. There are just not enough words to thank my friends for their love and support, and I have even more trouble expressing to Jesus just how thankful I am. Thankfully though, He knows my heart and when I feel like I can't thank my friends enough, I pray that they too will know my heart is bursting at the seams with thankfulness.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bald is Awesome!

So at my last treatment 10 days ago, both my oncologist and my chemo nurse were SHOCKED that my hair had not begun falling out yet. I, on the other hand, was like "yeah, I have lots of hair so I'm not surprised." Then my doc went on to tell me to expect it to happen within 2 days. Then I was shocked. So 2 days came and went and nothing...well, a few strands here and there, but not a lot. Then on the third day, which happened to be EASTER SUNDAY, it happened. Not just a few strands, but a ton of hair. Like so much that I was frantically trying to figure out what I was going to do about fixing my hair for church. Then, I thought, "hey, it's Easter, a day of new life, new beginnings, etc... just shave it and be done with it." So, after some afternoon tears and grief, David shaved my head and I was okay. Like really okay with it. My main concern was of course how Chloe was going to react. At first, she was very adament that I not take off my hat or my wig. She was scared of mommy's new haircut. But since about 2 days after shaving it, here are some comments that I have gotten from her...

** I love your new haircut mama!
** Mama's hair like Daddy's hair
** Chloe want haircut too
** Chloe want hat like mama hat
** Ooooh mama, your haircut is cute
** Can I touch it?
** Mama, put your headband on (it's a cute little head wrap)
** Mama got new hair (when I put my wig on)

The excitement and pure heart with which she says these things just melts my heart and makes me smile. She and David have definitely been my biggest cheerleaders with this whole new hair situation. Now here are some advantages to not having hair...

** I won't have to worry about what the humidity will do to my hair this summer
** I can get out of bed, in the shower, dressed and ready to go in 15 minutes flat
** I no longer have "bad hair days," just no hair days (haha)
** I love the cool breeze on my head when I don't have my hat on
** I don't have to pay for haircuts for a VERY LONG TIME!
** No money spent on hair products for a while

The only disadvantage that I can see to having no hair is that I used to read my People magazine while I was blow-drying my hair in the mornings so I no longer get that 15 minute luxury. Oh well, no biggie.

And that's my wrap on hair. Just wanted to share my experiences.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Waiting

Yesterday, during my devotions, I came upon a verse in Psalm (5:3) where David is crying out to God and he says, "Listen to my voice in the morning Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly." That really struck me. The word expectantly/expect is so powerful to me.
I decided to look up the word in the dictionary to get the full meaning of it and make sure I really understood meaning of the word. This is what I found:
Expect : to look forward to; regard as likely to happen; anticipate the occurrence or the coming of

How many times have I, like David, cried out to God asking Him for healing - complete healing - but instead of just expecting God to heal me I think "well, hopefully He will heal me, hopefully he will answer my prayer, hopefully I will see my babies grow up..." How much different would my outlook/attitude be if every time I went to God in prayer and petition I whole-heartedly expected Him to hear and answer. In James 1:6-8, he says "But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord." The notes in my Bible below that verse say "We must believe not only in the existence of God but also in His loving care. This includes relying on God and expecting that he will hear and answer when we pray. We must have confidence that God will align our desires with His purposes."

Last summer when I was pregnant with Brody I called David and asked him to bring home some ice cream for me. This is rare for me as I really hate ice cream...generally it makes me sick to look at it. However, this time I really wanted it and could not wait for him to get home. So when he got home and handed me the ice cream, Chloe plopped herself right at my feet, opened her mouth and expected me to give her a bite. There was no doubt in her mind that if she just came to me and opened her mouth that I would give her some ice cream. It has occured to me that maybe that is the way Jesus wants us to be. Maybe He wants us to go sit at His feet, ask things in His name, and then expect Him to answer.

I just love it when Jesus speaks to me through my kiddos. Next time I got to Him in prayer and petition I won't just ask and then think "hopefully He will heal me", or "what if He doesn't," I will instead sit at His feet and wait expectantly.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Day of Praise

Today, from the moment I woke up, has been a day of praise. I just woke up with a pure joy today and for no particular reason. Odd...
Anyways, as I was showering (that's the only place I get a quiet second to myself), I started thinking about how God has just perfectly orchestrated EVERYTHING in my life, but most recently, the turn of events with this breast cancer diagnosis.

I just need to write this down so that I can physically see it and look back on it as a reminder that God is the perfect composer of my life story.

January 12th - The Holy Spirit weighed heavy on my heart that morning to do my first ever self breast exam. The lump was found and my OB/GYN was able to get me in only a few short hours later for a check.
January 14th - I was meeting with the surgeon who we were very impressed with skill-wise, just not personality-wise. He ordered the mammogram.
January 20th - Mammogram done. Met with radiologist before leaving the appt. and she was able to set up the biopsy for the very next day. I met another very special lady that day who sort of headed up the mammography department.
January 21st - biopsy done
January 23rd - cancer diagnosis made
January 29th - first surgery done
February 6th - met with surgeon for the results of surgery. He was really nasty to us and didn't tell us the full story of my results. Was talking to my friend in the mammogram dept who suggested a surgeon in Nashville for a second opinion. Called that office immediately and while their normal appt wait time is weeks, they got me in within 3 days
February 9th - met new surgeon and just immediately knew I was in the right place
February 23rd - mastectomy - more cancer found that was not originally found. Had this second surgery not happened, I would have never known that more cancer was there as it hadn't even shown up on the mammogram
March 12 - met oncologist and knew from the first 5 minutes that I was in the right place!

Sometimes I find myself still getting really irritated with my first surgeon for the way he treated me and David, but truly, had I not met him, I would not have met my friend at the mammogram department and then none of the rest of events would have ever happened. So, I praise God that I met him and I am thankful that God led me to him. It just really proves that EVERYTHING works out according to God's purposes.

So today has just been a great day. I am at peace and I feel His presence all around. I love days when I can just sit, reflect, and praise my Jesus. Isn't He amazing?!?

Here are the lyrics to my very favorite song by Casting Crowns. It's called Praise You in This Storm which is exactly what I promised God that I would do back on January 12th. I pray that I will always praise Him no matter what.


I was sure by now
That You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as You mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm


Are those not the best lyrics ever?!?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Season of Stillness...

Yesterday I received an email from my mom telling me about her devotion that morning being based on Psalm 46:10. The verse says "Be still and know that I am God." I just want to share an excerpt of her email to me (hope you don't mind mom!):

Right now I think that is exactly what God has in mind for you. Then I was led to another verse in Hosea (14:9) where it says that the ways of the Lord are right. I had written in my Bible "even when we don't understand them." Is that not true? During this time of stillness for you, I really believe God is renewing your spirit and you will learn so much about him and his strength that you will be amazed.
I'm not saying that we don't need to serve God, but there are times when he wants us to just be still and wait - hard to do isn't it?

Oh yes, it is very hard to do. I don't know if the reality of how short life can be has just set in so deeply with me that I don't want to waste another second, or what it is that had me almost panicking about doing nothing right now. Maybe it's that I know what God has told me about this cancer being used to furthur His kingdom yet I don't know how. However, after praying about this season of my life and really meditating on what God wants me to do, I really DO think that this is the time for me to just be still, wait, and watch. I think that He is going to show me things about himself that I may have already known, but not known to the fullest. I think he is going to show me just how big he really is and how much he can really do. I think he is going to cover me so much with his perfect love and peace so that when the season of stillness is over then I can go furthur His kingdom the way he wants me to.

So, here's to waiting, watching, and resting in His arms.