Saturday, December 24, 2011

Please HEAR this

I am blown away by this 5 minute video. So simple, yet so powerful. If you never read my blog again, this is a MUST hear/MUST watch video. It will be the very best 5 minutes of your day...and ultimately your life. Five minutes...that's all it takes.



Advent: God With Us from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Wonder If...

I have been awake since 3:45 with just one thing on my mind...

I wonder if Mary was ever awakened by the sounds of Jesus' little feet pitter-pattering down the hall to her room in the middle of the night. I bet she was!
I wonder if Mary was ever slightly annoyed that Joseph and Jesus could fall asleep in 2.2 seconds yet it took her forever to unwind at night.
I wonder if Mary ever gave Jesus "eskimo kisses" and if they giggled about it in the process.
I wonder how Mary taught obedience to Jesus as a toddler - especially a 3 year old.
I wonder if Mary ever got frustrated with Jesus - surely she did?!?
I wonder if Mary ever just caught herself staring at Jesus and silently began thanking God that he chose her to be Jesus' mommy.
I wonder if Mary knew that she would only have 33 years with her precious Son what she would have done differently, kept the same, done more of or less of, etc...

These things, along with many other, cross my mind especially this time of year. We are coming upon the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I feel like I have fallen into the Christmas spirit of frenzy, decor, gifts, parties, and activities with the kids. Don't get me wrong, these are are wonderful and exciting things when kept in perspective. It's just that it has been and will continue to be a busy season for Team Blevins. I had chemo 5 days ago, David is having surgery tomorrow, I'm having another thyroid biopsy Thursday, and our family is coming for Christmas. There are groceries to be bought, meals to be prepared, a house to be cleaned, kids to keep entertained, a husband to take care of post-operatively, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention that I haven't wrapped a single present yet. Oooh, I can just feel my anxiety level creeping up as I type. I wonder if Mary's anxiety ever crept up as she just thought about what her days entailed.
It's time to stop, bring the focus of Christmas back and let it be what drives the rest of the season forward. If you find yourself like me, all caught up in the "to-do" lists that seem to grow with each passing day in December, take a  moment to breathe, really thank God for the birth of His Son, and bring Christ back to the forefront of your mind this season.

I'm off to spend some time with Him now and as I do, I will not only pray for my family and the week we have ahead of us, but I will pray for each of you...that your week will be filled with things that scream Jesus and bring you back to the real "Reason for the Season."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Excerpts From A Favorite...

I have been reading some FANTASTIC books lately that I strongly recommend...could I even use the term "endorse"? Well, if I were an author, which I will be one day soon, I could use that term officially, but for now, I will use it and pretend...HA!

The first book I want to tell you about is by Kyle Idleman and is called not a fan. (and it is written just like that on the cover...lowercase and all). Here is how I came across this book. I had recently finished another book on my Kindle and decided to just do a search using just the word "Jesus" and this was one of the first books that came back. Now given the title, I was originally offended and decided to get the free sample just to see why this would come back on a Jesus search term. HOLY MOLY...I was hooked by the end of the short sample. Catchy title also comes with a subtitle (that I couldn't see at the time it was searched) of...becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus.

This book is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!!! Who wants to be a fan of Jesus? It sounds good at first, right?!? I mean it gives the feeling of "yay Jesus! Woo-hoo, I love Him..." but honestly, is that as far as it goes for you? Is that as deep as you want to go with Christ? Not me!!! I do not want to be merely a fan, but a follower! Here are some excerpts from the book...

* It wasn't the size of the crowd Jesus cared about; it was their level of commitment.
* Fans of Jesus who know all about him, but they don't know him.
* The biggest threat to the church today is the fans who call themselves Christians but aren't actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them.
* Fans often confuse their admiration for devotion. They mistake their knowledge of Jesus for intimacy with Him.
* There is no way to follow Jesus without him interfering in your life. It was cost you something.
* Like the Pharisees, many fans have given their minds to the study of God, but they never surrendered their hearts.
* Jesus does not expect followers to be perfect, but he does call them to be authentic.
* When we learn to truly follow Jesus, we find that obedience to God comes from the inside out. Submission to what God wants for our lives flows naturally out of that relationship.
* In Luke 9:23, Jesus makes it clear that if we are going to follow him, a casual no strings attached arrangements isn't a possibility.
* If you call yourself a Christian, by definition you are committing to following Christ with every area of your life.
and lastly...
* Taking up your cross and following Jesus can and will bring pain and suffering. You can't carry a cross without suffering. And here's the question that is keeping me awake these days: Am I really carrying a cross if there is no suffering and sacrifice? When is the last time that following Jesus cost you something?

Seriously, get the book. I will loan it to you via Kindle if you have one and that will save you a few bucks...it's really that good!!! Promise.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Update and Other Things

Just a quick update on Cathey. She is doing much better now and was able to enjoy Thanksgiving with her family. What happened to make her so sick with the chemo is that her body may not have the enzyme needed to actually process the medication the way it should. If that is the case, the med is not working and there is no reason to continue it. She has had the labwork to determine if her body is lacking this particular enzyme but I'm not sure how long it takes to get the results. Without the medicine, her life expectancy is cut DRASTICALLY so please pray that her body has the enzyme and that she can continue to take it. In the meantime, our oncologist did cut her dose of it so that hopefully she won't have the horrible side effects. Also going on with her is that her dad just fell out of his deer stand while hunting and is in the trauma unit at Vanderbilt with a broken neck. Another prayer request please. During this holiday season, lets just lift up the whole family to our God who is the ultimate healer and protector.

On another note, I have just finished an intense study of the book of John and I am telling you that there are so many things I discovered that I didn't catch the other billion times I have read from this book. For instance, there was one day that just 3 words stuck out to me and literally I stopped, read them over and over, meditated on them and the just prayed thanking God for the revelation. Those 3 words: "Jesus, being weary..." simple, huh? Easy to read and keep going on, but not this time. It was a day when I was recovering from treatment and was simply exhausted and not feeling well. Those 3 little words spoke volumes to me. Jesus knew what it was like to be so dog tired that it was hard to keep going. John could have used the word tired or exhausted, but WEARY...to me that indicates that Jesus was not just physically tired, but emotionally and mentally also. Oooh, the comfort I received just knowing that Jesus had days like I have too. I needed that particular revelation on that particular day and it has stuck with me. This past week I have been exhausted and weary to the point of tears. I'm pretty sure it's probably related to a drop in blood counts, but that doesn't really provide any comfort. It's been one of those things where I have had to just accept that my body was worn out...weary...and just rest. Just be still. I have thought of Jesus feeling the same way a lot this week and the truly it has provided comfort to know that as I am praying for energy and healing that He understands it and wants that for me too.
I don't know...I'm probably rambling now, but I would encourage everyone to slowly read through a passage, a chapter, or a book of the Bible and let the Spirit speak to you. I used to always wonder how someone could spend so much time on one or two verses, but now I know. When the Spirit reveals something to you, you can't help but stay there and ponder it, pray through it, and let the Spirit reveal things to you. Maybe this would be the perfect time of year to do that with the Christmas story from the book of Luke. Read it as though you have never read it before and let the Spirit move you. If any of you have any exciting revelations, please share them with me via the comment section. Trust me, I will probably get just as excited about it as you are...that's why some of my friends call me a Bible geek...because I get almost giddy at things that are newly discovered and it excites me to no end.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

*sigh*...PLEASE PRAY

This post is a plea for prayer. A plea for prayer for a lady who I have had the pleasure of getting to know briefly but feel like I have known for a long time. She is that type of person. You are immediately drawn to her and her sweet spirit and you instantly feel like you have known her for years.
Anyways, before I share her whole story with you in a later journal entry, I will share this with you first. Cathey has recently found out that her breast cancer has returned and is now in her liver...now NO place is a "good" place for cancer to come back, but the liver is one of the worst. Anyways, she has just started a new oral chemo that has made her EXTREMELY sick, in pain, and physically weak. Originally she was torn as to what to do in regards to treatment, but upon returning to the oncologist and hearing "without treatment you have about 3-4 months to live," she decided to go forth with it. 
Please join me in praying for Cathey and her family. Pray for her healing, strength, appetite, and for her pain to subside. Please pray that God would just pour down His blessings of peace and comfort to her and her family...especially the teenage daughter she has. Pray for a miracle!

And selfishly, pray for me. You see, to me,  she is another "Kate." Like my sweet Kate, Cathey and I share the same oncologist, and were diagnosed within  6 months of each other with breast cancer. My instant reaction is to run run run as fast as I can from this so that I don't have to deal with seeing another friend suffer, but every time I try to push her out of my mind and "forget" about the situation, I feel God telling me to be His light. To be His hands and feet. The flesh part of me wants to say "heck no" because I walked this road with Kate and I still hurt from it and I don't want to do it again. However, the Spirit is telling me to do the opposite. I don't know why. I don't know why this is happening, but He is gently reminding me that this is another opportunity that He is giving me to share His love.  But why does it have to be with someone who I can so closely identify with? Why can't it be a neighbor who is super healthy or someone at the gym who just needs a good influence? 
Last night, I cried myself to sleep asking God why things had to be this way, and just pleading for Him to heal Cathey completely. My heart is already burdened to the "n'th" degree so I don't know how this is all going to play out or how this is going to grow me in Christ in process, but I am trying to just trust in God's sovereignty and remember that this will all be for His glory which makes all the suffering that we all endure worth every second.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Finally...Something that Works

Aaah, I am sitting here about to watch a movie with my wonderful husband on a Saturday night and am feeling absolutely fantastic other than just a touch of nausea (but it's totally manageable!). Three days ago, I got my third treatment and normally, I would still be in the bed or on the couch at this point. However, we tried a new drug this time to offset the nausea and IT WORKED!!! I was even up and about yesterday evening with the kids and then was out ALL DAY TODAY at soccer games, the mall, etc... I cannot believe how amazing this new drug is and had I known how great it would work, I would have never been hesitant to try it to begin with. Now granted, I did sleep for about 1.5-2 days, but still, I was not hugging the toilet or feeling like I was going to so in my mind, that is a success!

On another note, I am in a discipleship group that I want to share with you about, but that is for another post. This is NOT another Bible study, but an actual discipleship group. And I'm telling you that I have learned sooooo very much and am learning more each week. It's exciting to even think about it and I love going each week.
However, right now, my husband and the movie are calling so I will tell you all about the group next time. Until then...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oh Goodness, I Need Guidance

So, Chloe, my nearly 5 year old, is getting more and more inquisitive everyday about EVERYTHING from gymnastics to "big school" to Jesus. I literally never know what is going to come out of her mouth but I can promise you that most of her questions are waaaay above her age level. This can be cute and fun when it comes to everyday run of the mill type questions, but when it comes to questions about Jesus, God, Heaven etc..., well that's when I get a little fumbled at how to answer on her level so that she understands.

Here's the latest thing that surprised me. We were reading the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night and asking Him questions. Of all of the things that she picked up on in the story, this was it...
CHLOE: "Mommy, how do you get born again?"
ME: "well, being born again doesn't mean you have to be a baby again. It means that you believe in Jesus, you know He died on the cross and that He forgives our sins, and that He lives in heaven with God. And after you know all of that in your heart you just talk to Jesus and tell Him that you love Him, that you know and believe all of it, and that you want to follow Him."
CHLOE: "well, I already know all that mommy."
ME: "Do you believe it Chloe? Do you know He is real and all of that really happened a long time ago? And that when it's our turn, if we have believed in Jesus and followed Him that we will get to go to heaven and live forever and ever and ever?"
CHLOE: "I know that mommy. And mommy, did you know that in heaven God will let me have sleep-overs in your castle and maybe I can just live with you?"
ME: "I know! That will be so much fun Chloe! Heaven is going to be one big party with all of our friends and family..."
CHLOE: and Jesus and Cabot (our dog).

And then she ran off and was ready to do something else. WHOA! I certainly wasn't expecting that question from her. It's so hard to figure out how to speak TRUTH to a child on a level that they understand and not feel like you are totally blowing it or minimizing it. This is where I am praying that grace covers it all though as I would never want to lead my children the wrong way.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is It November Yet?

This will be a random post of random thoughts going through my mind. Just a warning that it may jump all over the place so buckle up and come along for the ride :)

I am so ready for October to be over! I cannot wait until next week - oh, what am I saying? Am I really wishing my days away? My oldest will be 5 years old in November (or as she likes to say, "mommy, I will be a whole hand on my birthday")!!! Am I really wishing that time to hurry on? YEP, I sure am and it's all because I am sooooo incredibly over PINK this year (month).
I'm not really sure why it has been like this for me this year? I always look forward to our annual Race for the Cure ,and this year....well, not so much. It's coming up on Saturday and we have plans to go down the night before, stay in a hotel and then take it all in on Saturday. We have always enjoyed the walk and doing this together as a family but this year it's just different. Part of me wants to stay home and go to Chloe's soccer game and keep the weekend "normal" for us, but the other part of me wants my children to see a little piece of what God delivered me from and how incredibly blessed we are as a family. I also feel like I need to go and walk to remember Kate. I will feel incredibly guilty if I don't because i put that pressure on myself. If she could see me typing this I know what she would say, "forget the walk crazy girl. I never liked to exercise anyways!" But I still feel like I owe it to her and her family because I still carry some survivor guilt. And I feel like I should do it because I am beyond grateful for the Komen foundation and all of the money they have donated to research and awareness etc... If not for this non-profit, I would possibly not be here.
There was an article written this month in our city magazine, Clarksville Family, about me and how my past year has looked. It was a follow-up from last year which was a follow-up from the year before. Anyways, I liked the phrase the author used when describing me and my journey. She said, "cancer does not define Kelly. It influences her, but does not define her." That is so true and it took me 2 full years to understand that. It took me pulling back from all things breast cancer related to really get myself back on track emotionally. I had to step back because I was allowing cancer to consume me which held me back from being able to move forward.
Maybe this is what I am doing again. Trying to pull back even more. Trying to avoid the hurts that come with going to the walk (seeing people walking "in memory of..."). Is that wrong? Someone once told me that I had a responsibility to tell others my story as it may save their life. Here is what I think about that. My responsibility, as a follower of Christ, is to tell others about Him...not me. In the process, He has given me an amazing story of His power and glory to share. That is more important to me than telling women to do self exams. Now I know that sounds harsh and I really do want women to be pro-active in their health, but more so, I want them to be pro-active in their faith!
OK, I think that's where I should end. My sweet babies are sleeping soundly in my bed beside me as David is still not home yet. I'm going to snuggle with them and try to reconcile some of these feelings about pink and October.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Yes, I am Blogging at 4 AM

So technically its 4:33 AM on Sunday morning and yes, I am sitting here awake and alone in the living room instead of in the bed soundly sleeping with my husband. Unfortunately I have some sort of nasty respiratory infection that keeps me coughing and is making it hard to breathe while laying down. Not to mention the night sweats that are oh so disturbing. Praying the antibiotic will kick in soon and start healing these lungs right up. And as for the cough syrup the doctor prescribed, lets just say it works. And...Other than this infection, the bone pain, muscle aches, and nausea from chemo the other day is GONE!!!!! Praise Jesus!!!!! I can certainly handle 3 days of yuck feeling after chemo each time knowing that after those 3 days I will have 18 to feel fabulous with my family!
Anyways, the real reason for the post...Stephanie...the gal I mentioned in the last journal entry very briefly. Here's the story. When we were leaving Seattle last Wednesday, David went over to grab us lunch while I took the kids to potty and then on to the gate to wait. When we got to our gate, the area was ridiculously full so we just stood by the agent desk and figured we wouldn't have seats. No big deal at all. Then for some reason, Chloe and Brody started walking into the crowded waiting area and spotted a table for kids in the middle that had 4 seats and only 2 little girls were at it. We headed over there and immediately I was drawn to the mom. She was young, had a bandana around her head, was obviously bald, and I assumed it was due to chemo from breast cancer (it helped that the bandana has pink ribbons all over it). Usually, I do NOT strike up conversation with a total stranger about breast cancer but this mom looked so sad and tired and I thought that if I could just offer her a few words of encouragement that maybe it would help.
I started the conversation by just asking if she was currently in treatment for breast cancer. She sweetly said that she was and then I proceeded to tell her that I too had had breast cancer. Her eyes grew wide and a smile crossed her face, and inside I could feel the Lord saying keep talking to her. We asked each other the normal survivor questions, and found that our cancers were quite different. She originally was a stage 2, I was a stage 3. Her cancer was triple negative (meaning non-hormonal, non aggressive), mine was triple positive (hormone related and aggressive), yet despite these differences, there were so many commonalities. We both had the same chemo treatments, same radiation, and same surgeries, both were 31 at diagnosis, both have pre-school age children...her twin girls were 2 at her diagnosis and are 4 now (and ADORABLE!!!) Her husband is in the ARMY and was able to take on the role of a recruiter so that he could be home and non-deployable while Stephanie was sick. And she said that her family also lived out of state like ours do.
I then asked a question that made me want to puke...like really puke. I asked her why she was still in treatment since it had been 2 years. I knew the answer already, but she seemed to want to keep talking. Her story is heartbreaking. Stephanie was diagnosed in December 2009. She had her surgeries in February 2010 and started chemo the next month. She did the same grueling chemo that I did for 5 months followed by 6 weeks of radiation. She finished all treatments in October that year and her oncologist told her he would see her back in 6 months. A few weeks passed and she got pneumonia...well, they thought it was pneumonia. No one ever did an x-ray to really see, but instead just put her on 5 different rounds of antibiotics because it wasn't clearing up. In the mean-time, she told me that she had a followup visit with her neurologist for migraine headaches...she had been having them since she was 12 so this was a routine check-up. She mentioned the un-resolved pneumonia to him and he immediately ordered a chest xray to be done that day.
You know how this story is going to go, right? Chest x-ray showed several spots on her lungs. Next step was a PET scan to check the rest of her body for metastasis...the cancer had already spread to not only her lungs, but to her spine, brain, and abdomen. At this point of her story, I felt the Lord telling me to tell Stephanie that I would pray for her, but I felt like at this point it would sound so cliche...especially since we are perfect strangers. I waited and let her keep talking. She told me about the radiation she was taking for the spots on her spine, the new chemo she was taking and how it was just attacking her blood counts ferociously. She spoke with such strength and resolve yet there was something lacking...
Eventually, they called her flight to begin boarding so she and her husband started gathering their bags and getting their girls ready. They were off to New Hampshire, where they live, so that she could get treatment the next day. I don't know what possessed me except to say it was the Holy Spirit's urging, but I asked her name and told her that I was going to put her in my prayer journal and pray for her. I'm not kidding when I say that her eyes grew wide, a smile crossed her face, and she got a little teary eyed. All she could manage was "I'm Stephanie and thank you so much!" I hate that we didn't have time to exchange emails or phone numbers, yet I also feel like God may have been protecting my heart... the heart that hasn't fully healed from Kate's death. I think that our encounter in the airport was all that she and I were meant to have yet I will keep praying for her daily. I love how the Lord just puts people in your life for seasons that can last only 45 minutes or can last for 10 years. This short season with Stephanie will not be forgotten for a long time to come.

I guess I just want to end with this. It's simple. Get this dear friends. It's simple. You think you have to evangelize and tell the whole story of God, Jesus, and salvation in order to feel like you have witnessed to someone. However, many many times, it's as simple as listening, sharing your story, and offering words of encouragement. It can be just telling someone you are going to pray for them (and then doing it) or it can be as easy as showing someone an act of kindness.
This sweet girl reminded me of a few things:
1. life is short so embrace each day with as much energy as you can...even on treatment days if the only energy I have is to hug my kids and husband while I am laying in bed, then so be it, but do it with as much love as possible.
2. be grateful and praise God in every situation. The trials in life that we go through are not just pointless, they are to build us up to do even greater things for the Kingdom.
3. and finally, never be afraid to follow the Holy Spirit's leading or urgings. You can't go wrong if you do.

I'm sad that I won't be able to update on Stephanie, but I really do feel like this is just how God is choosing to protect my heart at this point. I know she was trying to get into some clinical trials in Boston to try some new chemo there. Even though we won't be able to follow her story, please join me in praying for her, her little girls Izzy and Addie, and her husband.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another Day, Another Treatment

Short, sweet and to the point...that's what I plan for this entry to be.
Yesterday was round 2 out of 18 treatments. I'm now 1/9th of the way done. Woo-Hoo! Everything started out really good. I was in a great mood having just came back from a wonderful visit with my brother Jordan, his wife, Kim, and their precious baby Adalynn. They live in Washington - very close to Seattle - so we toured around Seattle, Olympia, and a little side trip to Tacoma. I was physically strong and ready for round 2.
My nurse yesterday was super sweet. Her name was Suzanne and she and I had a lot in common. She accessed my port just fine and started my saline drip first. Later she brought in the Herceptin and started it as well. About 20 minutes into that infusion, I got nauseated, had some other stomach problems, and started getting really cold - like I was shivering. She was able to get an order from my doctor for a wonder drug called EMEND that is for nausea and lasts 3 days. I took this 2 years ago with my other chemo and it truly was a wonder drug. I never got sick and all was well then. Suzanne also slowed the infusion down quite a bit so it wouldn't drip in as fast and even after she did that I started to feel a little better.
Last night was a little hard...around bedtime I really started feeling the body aches and pain and I'm still having that as I type. Naproxen helps a little as do Epsom Salt baths. The nausea is still there, but NOTHING like it was after my last treatment. I have not vomited at all this time around. I do have a new gel that I rub on the inside of my wrists that consists of Ativan, Benadryl, and Decadron (all used for nausea in the world of cancer) all compounded together. I have had to put it on twice since the infusion, but again, it's working well and I can't say enough about how great it is to NOT puke. Other than those things, I'm just really really exhausted. Feel like my legs weigh 1000 pounds each and I just want to sleep. Luckily, my children are playing well together today and understand that mommy is okay but just feeling a little yucky. Chloe asked me if I needed to go see Dr Seawell (that's her pediatrician) and get a shot. HA....that's my little nurturer though. Always wanting to make sure everyone is taken care of and okay.
I do hope to feel better soon because I met another mom who has 4 year old twins and is going through breast cancer treatments now too and I want to tell you all about her and how we met. Kind of a cool story. Until I have the energy for it though, here are a few details. Her name is Stephanie and she has stage 4. She had chemo yesterday too and is not doing well with it at all. More detail later, but until then, pray for her and her family.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Weird, Just Plain Weird

October is here, cooler weather is upon us (which makes this hot flashin' gal happy), and PINK IS EVERYWHERE...which leaves this gal feeling a bit weird. Here are a few reasons why...

1. I feel bad. As in I feel really bad that not every single month is dedicated to some sort of cancer awareness. Maybe it's guilt that I feel because my mom has cancer that I don't even know the color ribbon for (maybe there is not one), and I think her cancer deserves a whole month dedicated to fundraising and national awareness.
2. I feel irritated. There was a pin on pinterest.com that just did not resonate well with me last night. But it's odd because it kind of goes against what listed as #1 in my list. The pin said, "I hate breast cancer awareness month because more children die of childhood cancers that women die of breast cancer." WOW! Internal struggle here! Four of my most memorable patients when I was working as a nurse were all oncology patients. This hits home to me. At the same time though I wanted to comment on this person's pin and say "cancer sucks for all cancer patients so be a bit more sensitive when you pin things like this." But then I wonder if this person lost a child to cancer. I recently read a statement that said (and I'm paraphrasing) your pain is the worst pain you will ever have because it is YOUR pain. No one else "gets it." So maybe a little grace should be extended for this "pinner."
3. I feel desperate? Susan G Komen is the nonprofit that I believe put breast cancer on the national radar. Before Susan passed away, her sister promised her that she would work hard to find a cure for breast cancer and bring awareness. The reason October is dedicated to all things pink and breast cancer is because this sister kept her promise and has worked very very hard to bring national attention to this illness. I feel desperate for every other cancer to have that one person who works to bring awareness to the world about it. Lance Armstrong is one who did that for testicular cancer.
4. I feel like I want to vomit. Ok, maybe I shouldn't have used that term given how I responded to the last chemo treatment, but it's true. I took Chloe with me to run errands the other day and of course, my ever observant and extremely smart 4 year old said, "mommy, look! there is cancer stuff everywhere. Why did they put chemo things in the store?" After being taken aback for about 2 seconds, I just replied to her that October was a month when lots of people give money to cancer doctors so that they can work really hard to make a medicine that makes cancer go away forever. Dumb answer? Maybe. However, she was satisfied and didn't ask anything else...but she did continue to point out all things pink ribbon related for the remainder of that shopping trip. It became slightly nauseating when she even got excited about pink "chemo" bubble wrap. A four year old should not have to worry about cancer, chemo, mommy's hair coming out again, mommy's scars and boo-boos, and mommy having a sick tummy for days on end. That is what makes me want to vomit...that part of Chloe's innocence has forever been taken. She even commented that the cartoon character, Caillou, must have cancer because he has no hair. I want her to notice pink ribbons that would look adorable in her hair, and pink princess things...not pink cancer ribbons...at least not at her age. But who knows...maybe the Lord is already softening her heart to this and He will use her in a mighty way for other people with breast cancer.
5. I feel grateful for all of the research, awareness and attention given to breast cancer because I know it saved my life. Had I not known anything about self-exams I would not be here today - my oncologist has said that had we not caught it when we did that I would have been gone within a year. I know that awareness of the disease put self-exams, mammograms, and ultrasounds on the map and gave women more weapons in the fight against breast cancer.
6. And finally I feel a little melancholy. This month always makes me miss Kate. I miss her smile, her laugh, her voice. I miss the friendship that we so quickly formed in the chemo waiting room. I miss seeing her every week and getting together for lunch in between treatments. I miss having a sounding board and being a sounding board for her (although she is perfectly healed in heaven now and doesn't need a sounding board). I miss her especially when we do our annual Race for the Cure...it's coming up. She is supposed to be walking with us. It doesn't seem right to not have her physically here. But I would never wish her back. I would never ever wish her away from the feet of Jesus back to this sinful, fallen world that we live in. She is the lucky one if I am being honest. Her family and friends certainly aren't as her husband still misses and grieves her fiercely, but you know what I mean....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Needed This In Writing

This journal entry is nothing super enlightening or special for most of my readers, but to me, this is what I consider to be a huge "accomplishment" so I needed it in writing in order to look back at it when my next treatment rolls around and I feel like I might die again (not literally, but you know what I mean).

For the first 11 days after my new chemo drug I was sick with nausea, vomiting, body aches, and bone pain. It was literally the worst 11 days that I have had not only because of the physical symptoms, but also because I wasn't mentally prepared that my body would react the way it did. I sailed through every other chemo (or at least that's the way I remember it) so I certainly expected the same thing of myself this time around. I never once imagined that I would go back two times in 1 week for IV fluids to combat dehydration. I never once imagined that the smell of my favorite foods would cause me to dry heave. I would even get sick some days just thinking about food, or seeing a commercial.

However, yesterday and today have been the total opposite for me! I have had the 2 most wonderful days. No sickness at all! No pain, no nothing except 100% happiness and excitement to be back to normal. So, here's how yesterday went down... I got up with both kids at the crack of dawn, got them ready for Chloe's soccer game and headed to the fields. David had to work or he would have been with us at the game too! I watched my little soccer star play her heart out and every single time she scored or blocked the other team from scoring she would look over at me, grin super huge, and give me a thumbs up signal. After that, the kids and I went to Kohl's, Target, Dick's Sporting Goods, and the Halloween Express Store. It was so much fun to hang with my kids and feel really good! After that, we came home to eat lunch and rest for a while. Several hours later, after David had gotten home and rested too, we all 4 went outside. David started some yardwork while I took the kids on a walk through the neighborhood. I pushed Brody in his stroller and Chloe pushed her baby doll, Amy, in her doll stroller. After that, the kids and I played cornhole, ladder ball, kickball, and had races around the yard. Then I helped Chloe learn to ride her bike without training wheels. She is a fast learner and  by the end of our time doing that, she was riding on the grass without any help at all. She was so proud! During the bike practice, Brody decided to help David with the yard-work so they were buddies. After it finally got dark, we came in, gave the kids baths, ate dinner and everyone pretty much passed out early. It was a great day!
Today, pretty much the same scenario except we had church this morning, then went out to eat afterwards. The afternoon consisted of another walk through the neighborhood, bike riding practice for Chloe, kickball with Brody, and David finished up the yardwork.

I go back for treatment again in 10 days. I plan on using these next 10 days WISELY as I don't know what this next treatment will be like for my body. If it happens to be just as rough, well then this journal entry will serve to remind me that there is an end in sight and the time after will be filled with sweet sweet memories.
I go back in 2 days though for an ECHO to check the function of my heart. Unfortunately this chemo can cause heart function problems so they will monitor it every 3 months with ECHOs. I have been having these done for almost 3 years now because the other chemo had the possibility to cause heart failure also and so far my heart is super super healthy. I don't expect that to change at all. That's at least one advantage to having cancer at a young age...generally all other organs are healthy. I will also have labwork drawn to check my blood counts to see if my white cell count has dropped a lot and to see if I am becoming anemic. And then I will see my oncologist to discuss how the first treatment went and decide on a plan for next time to combat the sickness before it even starts.

For now though, I am about to hit the sack and think about how wonderful the last 2 days have been with my family until I fall asleep. I am blessed beyond measure and count myself lucky to really be able to put things into proper perspective (eternal perspective)...that's what cancer and chemo will do for you...it's not ALL bad :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

7 Days Later and...

I think we have a winner. I think we have FINALLY found the right combination of nausea meds for me as I have only threw up one time today and have only had mild nausea. This is HUGE!!! Here is how my week has gone down since the first chemo dose last Tuesday.
Tuesday: nausea, vomiting, bone pain
Wednesday - same except multiplied to the nth degree with the bone pain and puking
Thursday - still hurting but not AS bad - still vomiting - in for IV fluids and a shot of Phenergan
Friday - felt a little better but had the port-a-cath placed back in so that set me back
Saturday - hurting from the surgery, nausea,
Sunday - really really tired, nauseous off and on
Monday - HORRIBLE nausea and vomiting - back to Vanderbilt for more IV fluids, IV Phenergan and IV Ativan. Also talked plan with nurse. She said that if this next round does the same thing nausea-wise, then we can talk to my oncologist about cutting the chemo dose in half and doing it every 2 weeks instead of every 3 weeks. She said they have had to do that for other patients before too. She did say that the dose I got last week was a loading dose of 8mg/kg and from here on out it will be 6mg/kg.
And today, well it started out rough as I was STILL feeling the effects of the anti-nausea meds from last night, but I really think we have a handle on it now. I have a Scopolamine patch behind my ear for 3 days and I will just change it out every three days. I also am taking Compazine for continued nausea as needed and Phenergan if I do vomit.

This is so hard for me as this was not the norm for me with the super big chemo drugs 2 years ago. It's not even the puking that bothers me because it relieves the nausea for a little bit, but the incessant nausea, the desire to take care of my family, and the guilt I feel at having to rely on David for EVERYTHING is killing me. I find myself having a pity-party that has lasted all week because I want my life the way it was 10 days ago. I don't want to have to deal with all of this again. However, for today, I am taking the break in nausea as a blessing and am getting ready to dive into the Word for some sweet reminders from my Savior that His strength is made perfect in this weakness that I have.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Back to the Land of the Living...for a few hours

Well, NOTHING could have prepared me for what went down Tuesday when I went to my oncology appointment. It started off with me being so anxious that I got dizzy and threw up before I even met with my doctor (there's some real reliance on God, huh - insert eye roll here). I'm not really sure where that much anxiety came from because I knew exactly what was going to go down, but still yet, my mind got the best of me and there you have it.
Anyways, labs were first and after 4 IV pokes, the chemo nurses finally got an IV started and sent word to Dr Mayer that I needed a portacath/mediport  before I came back next time. After that fiasco I saw Dr Mayer and we talked specifics of what went wrong. Basically, the Tykerb trial was to see if it was as good or better than receiving Herceptin alone. They have found that it is not as good as Herceptin in preventing recurrences and disease-free survival so the people who were chosen to receive the Tykerb alone were given the option to receive Herceptin now. Dr Mayer thought it in my best interest to have the Herceptin because I was a stage 3 at initial diagnosis and I am at the peak time for recurrence right now. She did also say that it's not like the Tykerb did nothing during the year that I took it, it's just that it didn't do as much as they had hoped it would. So I signed the consent form to receive the Herceptin and to the infusion rooms I went.
Before getting the Herceptin, I was given Benadryl, Tylenol, and Phenergan (because I was already nauseated) and then the drug started going in and would continue for 90 minutes. It was MISERABLE! I kept clock-watching and trying to walk around a little because the Benadryl gives me restless leg syndrome. I was actually probably stumbling around because all of those meds made me crazy too and I don't really remember too much of that day.
Anyways the following day I vomited every single thing I put in my mouth. My bones hurt, my stomach churned all day, and I was 100% miserable. Thrown for a loop! I never felt this way with chemo except 1 times - not this bad at least. And I only ever threw up 1 time with chemo. I laid in bed that whole day thinking that I would rather lose my hair then feel like this  17 more times. It was horrific. And then the next day came and while I was able to get out of bed amd function somewhat, I was still dizzy, nauseous, and weak. At this point I knew I had better call my oncologist. She set me up to get IV fluids and told me to take Ativan for the nausea (given to chemo patients). Did all of that and the extra fluids helped...along with the shot of Phenergan they gave me for the continued nausea.
So today is port day. I went in this morning and got my new portacath placed. It is under the skin in my chest...like right up against the bottom of my collarbone. Right now I am in pain and can't move my neck and the nausea is starting back up. I am just praying that it goes away because I am quite sure that it would hurt to puke with this thing in my neck being so new. However, my kids are begging me to ride to Rite-Aid with them and David to get my pain medicine and are telling me that they will buy me a slushie if I go. Who can turn that down?!? So, I'm off.
I've had some revelations (thank you mom) this week about all of this that is happening and will share them when I am more coherent. As for now though, the facts are all I can muster up to talk about. Love you all and thank you from the depths of my heart for your prayers!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Treatments Starting Again...

The phone rang on Friday as I was piled in a car with 6 other gals. We were on our way to our annual Ladies of Legacy retreat in Gatlinburg. It was supposed to be a glorious 4 days away with a total of 29 women in a massive cabin. We hadn't seen each other since last September, but back to the phone call...I answered with a very happy "hello" as we gals were having a great time chatting it up. And then everything in the background sort of went "away" and all I heard was "Dr. Mayer needs to see you Tuesday about the Tykerb that you took." If you don't remember, Tykerb was the trial drug I was on for the aggressive part of my breast cancer. It is FDA approved in stage 4 breast cancer and they were testing it to see if it was as effective in stage 3,2, and 1 breast cancers also. David and I were told that all of the research to date pointed to Tykerb actually being shown as effective if not better than the standard drug (Herceptin) that oncologists were currently using. I agreed to the trial knowing that it would benefit someone in the future...possibly even my own daughter. There were 4 different "arms" of the trial I could be chosen for and I happened to be chosen to recieve the Tykerb only arm. Unfortunately, research has now shown that Tykerb is NOT working as they originally had hoped it would and that more people who took that drug are getting recurrences and are dying of breast cancer than those who got the Herceptin.
So, what does this mean for me? It means that I will start a form of chemo on Tuesday...the Herceptin...the standard drug for aggressive cancer. I will more than likely have a small surgery in the next few weeks to get another porta-cath put in (permanent IV) to get my treatments through. This first treatment on Tuesday they will just try to find a good vein and give it through a regular IV. This treatment will be given every 3 weeks for 1 full year. As far as side effects go, they are the same as with any chemo except this one will not cause hair loss. Nausea, vomiting, fever, low blood counts, achiness, fatigue, etc...are to be expected and are normal.

How do I feel about all of this news? Shocked is the first word that comes to mind. And then as the shock has had time to settle, gratitude, excitement, nervousness, and sadness have seeped in at different times.
Gratitude that there is another medicine that I can take for this!!!! I am so thankful that it's not too late to do anything. Tykerb was supposed to cut my chances of recurrence by 50% or more and Herceptin will cut it by 50%. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity to take a different drug!
Excitement that God has chosen me again to be His vessel. I really don't think this is about the cancer, but about WHO I will come into contact with during this upcoming year and how I can bring a ray of hope into their life. 
Nervousness because of the side effects, and infusion reactions that I may experience. Nervous of going through treatment again but not having Kate there. Anxious because every single time I go I still just get high anxiety if I am there too long...I know that's just a mental thing, but it's still very real to me. And...I will be there approximately 4-5 hours each time.
Sadness because I don't want to have those yucky chemo side effects again. I don't want my sweet babies to see mommy sick and start asking questions. I don't want any added stress to David. I'm most sad though because we have had the most amazing 9 months of health, happiness, and joy and now this is happening. I feel like a scratched up CD...the song is playing beautifully and then it gets stuck and just keeps spinning around while not going on to the next lyric. It's unexpected, it's disappointing, but there is hope. You can either clean the CD and try again, or put in a whole new CD and sing a new song. Either way can result in joy. I think it's all about perspective...

I hope to get more detail from my oncologist on Tuesday and I will update as we go along this new journey. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: Last Day in Ethiopia for Team 3

Wow! I am so determined to get to Ethiopia now that I cannot stand it! Oh to be able to meet, bless, and pray with these people. Bring it on June 2012! Ethiopia Bound...me for sure, David possibly. We are praying about it already...

Ordinary Hero Blog: Last Day in Ethiopia for Team 3: Blog written by Adriane, Team 3 The last day in Ethiopia, our team saw desperation and beauty collide in a nearly unimaginable way. ...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: OH Team 3 Shares About Baby Levi

Pictures and... a Heartbreaking...truly heartbreaking story.

Ordinary Hero Blog: OH Team 3 Shares About Baby Levi: Team 3's last day in Ethiopia fell on the day that they received the sad news of little Baby Levi whom I blogged about yesterday. We all go ...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: Power Team 3~ Day 5 in Ethiopia

I also just posted "Day 4 in Ethiopia" below this post so make sure you read it as well.
This one however makes me so eternally grateful for God's protection! I have been praying that God would place a hedge of protection around David and the team while they were there so that they would not even hurt their foot on a stone (Psalm 91). Boy did they need it based on the events that occured. Thankfully, I am reading about it now and had no idea about it happening when it did. I would have been a mess, but I would have for sure at that specific time been a mess on my knees going to my Father on behalf of Team 3....
UPDATE*** apparently part of the blog post was taken out for whatever reason. This was the part of when the team was visiting the widow in the Muslim community and right outside of her door began a riot. People in her community thought that the team was there to preach to the lady and they were not going to have it. Luckily, the translater was able to "talk them down" and made them see that the Team was just there to find out what needs she and her family had. And the scary scary part for me...there was only 1 way in and 1 way out of this lady's housing complex...
Read on to get just a glimpse of how wonderful and amazing our God really is!

Ordinary Hero Blog: Power Team 3~ Day 5 in Ethiopia: Today we set out to serve the women who carry the large bundles of wood, eucalyptus sticks and whatever else would beenfit them to take to...

Ordinary Hero Blog: Team 3 in Ethiopia~ Day 4

Another update on the work being done in Ethiopia. Amazing stories...and some tugging of my heart strings. And...maybe a few tears shed as well.

Ordinary Hero Blog: Team 3 in Ethiopia~ Day 4: Here is the latest update from the team in Ethiopia. I am a day behind so I will have Day 5 coming right behind this one :) This team is do...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: Our Power Team in Ethiopia~ Day 2&3

Ordinary Hero Blog: Our Power Team in Ethiopia~ Day 2&3: I am so blessed to see the amazing things being accomplished in Ethiopia right now by this power team of 10! Watch the video below to hear f...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ordinary Hero Blog: Team 3 ~ Day 1 in Ethiopia

Another update!!! I have been anxiously anticipating this so without further ado...click the link below and read on. Oh, and I got an email from David today. He is having a wonderful time, is safe, and is working hard. I'm hoping we can chat on messenger later today. If we do, I will update again. Please pray we can because I miss my husband more than words can say.

Ordinary Hero Blog: Team 3 ~ Day 1 in Ethiopia: Here is an update from our Team 3 this year who just spent their first day in Ethiopia. Delilah from the trip is our blogger updater. This i...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quick Update from Ethiopia

Click the link below to follow David's trip. This will be my only communication with him as well for the next 10 days so we will be reading along together. Keep praying for him and selfishly I ask for prayers for me. I have never gone even 1 day without talking to him so this is already hard. I am thinking about him constantly and wishing by the grace of God that an email or random text would just appear from him. But, at the same time, I don't want him thinking about me or how to figure out a way to reach me...I want him to be too busy changing the world for Jesus!!!!



Ordinary Hero Blog: New OH Team Off To Ethiopia!!: I am soooo excited to announce that this OH Mission Team left yesterday for Ethiopia. This was not a team we publicized to get people to j...

Monday, August 29, 2011

He's Off.

Yesterday morning the kids and I took David to the airport to meet up with the rest of the team that is traveling to Ethiopia. It was like the exhale to a deep breath that I had been holding for a few months. I'm still amazed. I stand in awe of the One who provided this opportunity for David and I stand proud of my man for being obedient and having such a willing heart and spirit. He will be missing about 10-12 days of work which includes the ever-so-important inventory and profits/loss paperwork. Normally, we have planned every single trip around the end of the months so he wouldn't have to miss these things, but without hesitation he just taught the general manager how to do it all and left CONFIDENT that all would be fine. That is God's grace!

Anyways, we spent Saturday night packing, repacking, and checking/rechecking the packing list I had made for him. We weighed luggage at least a million times to make sure NOTHING would stop us from getting the supplies on board that plane. We enjoyed spending this special time together. When I was a traveling nurse almost 10 years ago, I learned how to pack a car with all of my belongings so as to be able to travel to wherever I would be working for the next 3 months. I think that came in handy while we were packing as you would not believe how much i got into a small duffel bag and back pack. I'm talking rain boots, 6 days worth of clothes, toiletries,  etc... It was a tight fit, but a fit nonetheless! As I was getting him all packed up, I was slightly envious that I was not going to be going with him this time, and then the Lord clearly showed me that I am David's helpmate and that is huge. While I may not be going with him, I am making sure that he gets off without a hitch. And I could not be more honored to take care of my man like this!

I did hear from him last night. He flew out of Nashville, to Atlanta, then up to Washington DC. All flights were on time (thank you Jesus for commanding Hurricane Irene to back off and move on). The team checked into a hotel in DC last night and had a HUGE protein meal as it's likely this will be the last bit of protein they will get for a while. They are set to leave for Ethiopia this morning and that will be a LOOONG 13 hour non-stop flight. As I type, they are checking bags and getting ready to go through security so pray that all of that goes smoothly again today. They will arrive in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia at 7:45 tomorrow morning. That would be midnight tonight central time.
Pray that they get there safely, that they get through customs without any problems. We've been told that if the customs officers choose to go through the bags and see all of the things we have brought to leave there, that they may make them get a work visa, they make charge an insanely amount of bag tax, and they may even take things out of the bags and keep them. The team plans to go through customs seperately so as not to look like a huge group.

I will keep updating as I get updates so check back often.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Update on Ethiopia

By the grace of God and your generosity, we have been fully funded for the trip to Ethiopia! It has been absolutely amazing to sit and watch God work all of this out and bring the Ephesians 3:20 scripture alive right before our very eyes. And not only that, but we have gotten 80 soccer jerseys and 20 soccer balls donated to us. I am literally blown away at the generosity and the hearts that people have for the people of Ethiopia. Too bad this stuff isn't what is being reported on the 6:00 news, huh?
As the days draw near for departure...we are down to just 9 days...I ask that everyone who reads this to put David and the mission team in your prayers. I truly believe their worlds are going to be rocked and changed as much as the people they will be serving. Pray for their safety, their physical strength and mental/emotional well being. They will be in the heart of a third world country that is currently experiencing a famine and while they will be desperate to help everyone, the truth of the matter is that they just won't be able to. I know how this will affect them. Imagine for just one minute that your own child (or niece, nephew, grandchild) was living in a trash dump, or an orphange looking for food, begging to get even just a morsel of something, and continually wondering when their next bite of food would be coming to them. I can't hardly think about it without tearing up. I can't imagine Chloe and Brody being in those circumstances. So, this will be hard for the team to see, process, and understand.
Also focus your prayers please on the families that they will be coming into contact with. Pray that their physical needs will begin to be met and that their eyes and hearts would be open to see the love of Jesus through our team. Pray for the time that our team is with them that they can just put aside the worries they have and enjoy what our team has in store for them.

More updates in a week or so. And again,  thank you so much for your kind and generous donations. We are humbled, we are grateful, and we are blessed!

*just a side note...I say "we" a lot through this post like I am going too, but I am not. I just feel so much a part of this trip that I can't help but say it like I am going to :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This is Becoming So Real Feeling...

The book I mean. The publishing company that I am almost sure I am going to go with just keeps coming at me in various ways. Could it be God giving me some not-so-subtle- hints? What do you think? Since I wrote my last post, every single time I have been on the internet checking email or just searching whatever, this company's logo comes up. NEVER HAS HAPPENED BEFORE! I contacted my pastor about the book he published and the process he had to go through, and it turned out that he published with the same company. Another friend of mine is writing a book and she emailed to tell me that she too has chosen that company.
I am getting more and more excited over this opportunity and have already written 22 pages. Believe me when I say that I know that it doesn't sound like a lot, but I've only covered about 1 month of my story so it really is. I know how I want the layout of the book and each chapter to look, journal entries will be included as will some of the personal emails I received. Today it also crossed my mind to not forget to include the adorable things that Chloe would say or ask during those crazy two years also.
I don't know what I will end up doing for now. But I do know that I am going to keep writing when I have time and keep praying until I am 100% sure of what God would have me to do.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Writing A Book

So, a while back I contacted a publishing company very well known in the Christian Book world...Thomas Nelson. Their books line the shelves of LifeWay. I just wanted some information on writing a book about my 2 year struggle through breast cancer and all that comes with the diagnosis...including God's provision. After I sent the email though, I never really thought too much about it except when random people would say, "you should write a book." Honestly, I love to write and always have! It's very therapeutic for me and I also like having a written record of specific seasons in my life and how God has always been there for me even when I couldn't feel Him.
Anyways,  a little over a week ago, I submitted just a couple of pages of the book I have been working on to a guy at Thomas Nelson. And...last week I got a call from him encouraging me to keep writing as there is a definite need for non-medical breast cancer books for young women (under 40). And I totally agree with that because almost every breast cancer book on the shelf is written by a doctor, or by a woman with grown children and possibly even grandchildren. There wasn't one book that I could find written by a gal who had babies at home to take care of and all of the responsibilities that come with mother-hood all while having surgeries, lots of chemo, and daily radiation. Just the logistics of it all is enough to drive anyone coo-koo!  I wish there had been a book that I could have picked up and read so that I would not have felt so alone at times and wondering how to do this season of life. Something I could have read to say, "oh, it IS normal when your toddler asks about cancer everyday and dying and heaven..."
So, I am writing my book, and praying about what to do with it as I get further into it. I just know that the Thomas Nelson company told me that if I partnered with them that I could have a book on the shelves by Christmas. Oooh, it's exciting, but I am praying through what to do with my book as I continue writing it. Regardless of what I do with it, I am writing it and at the very least, it will be something that I will have for my family to read for generations to come and they will be able to see God's amazing provision in the big details right down to the tiniest of them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

REST (aka Sabbath)

So a few months ago one of my closest friends, EW, and I traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to the Deeper Still conference. While there, we were privileged to sit under the teachings of Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore. And to be led into the presence of God by the amazing Travis Cottrell. This has been a dream of mine for years so for me to be in the presence of such Godly women was a complete blessing.
I have to say that at first,  I was most excited to hear Beth Moore because she is the one who I have studied under the most as far as Bible studies go. HOWEVER...when Priscilla Shirer got up to teach, I was captivated and still to this day am remembering things randomly that she said and really trying to put them into practice in my own life. So, what did she speak on? Are you wondering? Well, I can tell you that at first you may think you know everything there is to know about this topic, but I can promise you she brought a new understanding of it for me... and I think you should keep reading because it may impact you as much as it did me. So, without further ado, the topic was SABBATH!
Seems easy, huh? Rest on Sunday. Rest on the 7th day as God did. Isn't that what you automatically think of when you hear that word? I do...or I did. So, let's get on with it. Priscilla started with some questions. Think on them and evaluate yourself. I'll put my answers in red so you can see what I struggle with as you evaluate your own struggles.
1. Am I so addicted to chaos that I can't even enjoy a rest or a break? YES!!! I love the crazy busyness that I have in my life...or I thought I did.
2. What do I OVER-DO in my life? material things for the kids, exercise, dessert, buying tons of books - I LOVE LOVE LOVE non-fiction and anything from Lifeway.
3. What is taking up so much space in my life that I can't even enjoy it? (and it can even be good things!) my day to day life and what all I have planned for the children
4. Is there breathing room in my home? not really; there are too many books, toys, magazines
5. What frustrates me? that my kids feel entitled to things now, that I am a totally all or none kinda girl when it comes to food and exercise
6. What has become distasteful to me? that I am not able to ENJOY my children because of our schedules
7. What are my priorities? quiet time with God, my family, keeping the house cleaned and the family fed, doctor appointments to keep my health in check, meeting with my Godly girlfriends periodically to check in and share struggles and "God-stories."
8. Am I anxious when my calendar isn't full? YES!!!! Can I live in the white space of the calendar?  I am learning how to do so. 
9. What am I enslaved to now? the voice of the enemy telling me that for my sanity I need to keep the calendar full of activities
10. What do I have a hard time saying "no" to? play-dates, outings, shopping, anything sweet, my kids


So, did you answer them? Good! Now, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! Over-doing it will transfer into every area of your life making it all distasteful and foul...just like in Exodus 16. Moses told the Israelites that could gather food each day for 6 days, but on the 6th day they needed to gather a double portion because they were not allowed to gather food on the Sabbath. What did they do instead? They tried to gather enough for leftovers on the other days also and it ended up becoming full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Kind of like when we over-do it...things turn into a mess real quick with our attitudes, physical space, health etc...

Learning how to rest is essential to our well-being. It is ordered by the Lord. He tells us in Psalm to "be still..." He says in Deuteronomy, "you shall not do any work." There must be a time when we stop ALL things and say NO to something.
Now, does that mean we have to say no to everything on one day of the week? On Sunday to be more specific? NO!!! That is NOT what the Sabbath truly means. As a matter of fact, the Sabbath, by true definition, is when we stop to remember that we were enslaved to something and were in bondage to a yoke of sin. It is a time to remember God's provision and how he rescued us from that enslavement, and then remember the promises he has given us. What the Sabbath is, is a principle to guard against becoming enslaved to anything again. It is a margin of time to remember...not necessarily a day. Wouldn't it be more effective to take a Sabbath EVERY day instead of just one day/week, or never (gasp!)?

So, since this conference, I have cleared the calendar and have enjoyed my time so much more with my family. I haven't felt the pressure of being places with them at certain times and then getting frustrated with them when they were moving slow. I've been able to enjoy watching their little imaginations run wild instead of having them in structured activities all of the time. And when I feel the urge to say "yes" to something...even the good things...I am learning to stop, pray, and then do what God says.

Now I will leave you with a little food for thought...
Living as an enslaved person will have you hoarding what you are given and then thinking you never have enough. But living as a free person will have you giving and then knowing that God will miraculously provide for you.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Word is Alive

The Lord has given me a new piece of Scripture for this season of my life. He is so faithful to do that because He knows exactly what we need to cling to at the exact time that we need it. That just goes to prove that His Word is alive!!! So a few months ago I had a crazy dream (pretty sure I blogged it already) that I had to stand in front of a camera for a music video and recite Ephesians 3:20. It was so clear to me that the second I woke up I grabbed my Bible and opened it to see what exactly God was showing me. Here is what my Bible says: Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 
I asked David if he would mind if I shared  a bit of our story on here as I totally believe in bragging on God in the most true and detailed way that I can while still respecting the wishes of my family. Of course he was fine with me sharing it with my blog family because honestly if it changes the kingdom for just one person, then it's worth it!!!! Have I mentioned just how much I really do love this husband of mine? Anyways, here is the back story...when I was diagnosed with cancer, David was put on the back burner. He never complained about it, and kept all of his feelings to himself. He thought he was doing the right thing because everyone he came into contact with would ask how I was doing and then follow it up with "just be strong for her." That meant don't talk about the "what-ifs..." Just stay positive even when she isn't you have to be. Well, that turned into emotional turmoil that no one knew anything about. It kept building and building until one day he told me how he was feeling and just let it all out. I was SHOCKED! I guess I naievely thought that he was doing just fine since he never indicated otherwise, but I learned in that instance that what he needed was to feel like God had not abandoned him. That God still loved him more than anything on earth, and that he still had a purpose. He needed for our friends to understand what he was going through yet none of our friends had been down our exact road...especially in regards to him being a business owner, having an infant and toddler, and a young wife with aggressive cancer. He had a lot on his plate...running his business, taking me to surgeries and caring for me afterwards, chemos, taking care of the kids, home needs etc... To him, it felt like God was there a little, but just in the background watching it all happen. Watching his internal thermometer get ready to combust. At that point, I started praying and asking God to please send David a strong mentor who could speak truths into his life, I prayed for his relationship with Christ to return to the state it had been and then be multiplied 10 times over. I prayed for him to just be able to be broken when he needed to and let God show him His perfect love and comfort. I prayed these prayers for over a year. I knew that I was praying God's will because everything I prayed was scriptural so it was just a matter of waiting for God to answer.
During that year of praying, we did have some rough patches. Upon the advice of our pastor at church, we sought out counseling to help us both work through our feelings. I was still angry that my reconstruction didn't work, that I had been put through 7 surgeries over a 2 year time frame, that I was still suffering effects from chemo and radiation and that my body image had changed majorly making a whole new set of issues. I was angry that 3 friends in chemo at the same time I was had died, and one of those was my best friend Kate. And then I was angry because I felt angry. I wanted nothing more than to feel blessed and thankful for the miracles God had already performed in my life. It was a constant battle. Do you know that 70% of couples who face cancer will have their marriage end in divorce? So, we knew that couldn't be us and opted to start counseling! What a blessing that was.
But then the counseling ended and we were still trying to adjust to the new norm in our lives. Our babies were now toddlers, my check-ups were stretched to every 4- 6 months with scans and blood work, we went through some difficulties with some "friends" of ours, and had to start making choices - real life choices in regards to our priorities. Those were tough and we felt the effects of those choices negatively from a world standpoint, but ever so positive from the Kingdom standpoint.
Anyways, this whole time I could see David teetering on the edge of going full force with Jesus and being crazy in love with Him and many many times I thought he was there. That my one more prayer would be the one to knock him over to the other side of the fence (is that pride?). And then something would happen and I would get frustrated and tell God I was done asking. But by His grace, the next day or week, there David was...closer than ever! It went like this for a while.
Then...one morning I was walking with my friend KB and I mentioned that I had been praying for a mentor to come into David's life and she said her husband was looking for someone to mentor. WOW!!!! So, we kind of planned it and set them two up on a coffee "man-date" and what was originally going to just be one day has turned into a set time and day to meet, have coffee, and talk life. David loves knowing that he has that guy to go to and run things by and just confide in. And he knows JB will shoot straight with him too...just like KB does with me :)
Anyways, the week after the mentoring started, JB casually mentioned Ethiopia to David and he was 100% fully on board to go on the mission trip. He took a few days to pray about it and then KNEW that God was calling him to go. So without really having any details, he committed to going and I knew God was up to something big!
Since committing, we have been fundraising for the money to be able to go. The trip costs $3100, vaccines are $250, and then whatever money he will need for food, etc... We prayed about how to get this much money in such a short time frame, did what we could, and literally sat back and let God do the rest. May I just say that He has provided almost every single dollar of this trip so far?!? I think we are just about $500 away from the final goal. And the final payment isn't due until August 20th.
And, without any detail really, I will say that I feel like God is impressing something on my heart as well right now and He has shown me so far how each step along the journey has been all orchestrated by him. I'm just praying my Ephesians 3:20 and am going to watch him do more than I could ever imagine.
Be bold in your prayers. Be confident in the Lord. Ask expectantly! He is our father who loves us perfectly and He wants to give us the desires of our hearts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's Been Happening Here

Well, to start off with, LOTS has been going on with Team Blevins. So much so that I have been blogging it mostly on the family blog and have neglected this one. Sorry! I will try to catch up on things here though and share a few new things that are going on too.
I guess the most exciting thing health-wise is that I had my 6 month MRI scan last week...this one was to check on the lymph node that was growing behind my sternum. Other than the 5 IV sticks and massive bruising from them (I still have them and one is about the size of a tennis ball), everything went great! I assumed I would not hear from the doctor until the end of the week so when the phone rang I was a little nervous...you know the saying, no news is good news. So for the call to come less than 24 hours after I was scanned was alarming. However, the nurse on the phone said that the MRI showed no growth in that lymph node and it had actually shrunken since the last one. THEREFORE...I need no more breast MRI's unless something comes up that is odd and needs to be checked. YAY!!!! And because some people have questioned whether it is okay to not be checked anymore since I had breast cancer, let me explain the reason. Breast MRI's are mostly done on women who have had reconstruction surgery or only a lumpectomy. I have no breast tissue left, no reconstruction and therefore no reason to scan. If any changes occur, I will be able to feel them in the chest wall when I do a self exam. So, yes, I still have to do those. Also for the next 3 years I will still be seeing my oncologist for a check up and blood work every 4-6 months, so she will be keeping a close eye on me.
As for my other bit of health news...yesterday I did have another type of scan. A bone scan. No worries though. I think my doc was just being precautious. I started running again about 10-11 weeks ago and forgot that my body just doesn't do as well as it did pre-cancer. I got what we thought was shin splints so bad that I could hardly walk, but with the standard RICE treatment they were still not healed. Well, they were better as long as I stayed off of them. And my mistake was doing a 6 miler a week ago because I really thought they were healed enough. So, given that the pain is still there my doctor wanted a scan to see if there is a fracture. I'll get results Friday...oh, and that was another 3 needle sticks because of the tracer they had to inject. My poor veins just will not cooperate so for both scans I ended up with needles to my feet. OUCH!

And I have more to update on but it is time for laundry to be switched over and the kids to be put to bed so I will save it for tomorrow. It's exciting GOD stuff!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Africa Bound...

 I seriously doubt that what I am about to write could be any more exciting than this: David is going to Africa...in approximately 50 days!!! At the end of August,  he will go with 9 other people (mostly from Clarksville) to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to love on some sweet little orphans, help rebuild a boarding school, and spend time investing in the lives of adults and children who live in a trash dump (more on that in a minute). 

This has literally been the most unexpected thing to happen to our family in 2 years! We would have NEVER thought that this would be happening, but when Jesus calls, you either obey or you wind up in the belly of a whale (you remember what happened to Jonah!). So, we are stepping out in faith and just trusting Jesus. I say "we" but truly it's David as I will be staying behind on this trip and praying fervently for David, the other team members, and the people of Ethiopia who they will meet (and selfishly that the Lord calls me to go one day also).
 Anyways, while they are there, the team will do 3 projects as I briefly mentioned earlier. They will work on a project at Resurrection Orphanage where our dear friends met their beautiful daughter (they brought her home 6 months ago). They will also travel to a place called Korah, a literal trash dump where an entire community lives off of the trash brought there. It is painfully heart-wrenching to know that these people have to go through trash to find food for themselves and their children. Can you even begin to imagine that being your life?!?  In Korah they will partner with an organization called Project 61 to help them with whatever they need. Finally, they will complete a project at the boarding school where children from Korah are able to attend by sponsorship through Project 61. 
 The trip will be 10 days long and costs $3000. That price includes everything except a few meals and any souvenirs that David may want to purchase to help stimulate their economy. We have prayerfully considered how to get this much money is such a short time frame and honestly, I have had some anxiety over it. HOWEVER, I KNOW that Jesus has specifically called David to this mission and that He will provide exactly what we need. He always does. Thankfully, the organization that this trip is through - Ordinary Hero - has a great fundraising program. If you will check out their website store by clicking on this link Ordinary Hero Store, you will see many amazing items that you can purchase and 40% of your cost will go directly to David's account! All you have to do at checkout is click on David's name in the "Affiliate" box and it's done. Simple! I have already chosen 3 T-shirts for me and the kids to wear and I'm telling you they are absolutely adorable! They also have jewelry, accessories, etc... Just go check it out for yourselves though and see. AND...if by some chance you don't see anything that appeals to you, but you want to help us out, then you can click on the button on the side of my blog that says OH and donate to David that way, or you can donate directly to him. If you choose a direct donation though, the check will need to be made out to Ordinary Hero. And if you are unable to help out financially, then we ask that you would PLEASE help out by praying for David and the entire Ethiopia team. Pray that they will have safe travels, have the physical and mental strength that they will need while they are there, and that they will come back shining the light of Jesus even more than they already do. Pray that the Ethiopians that they will come into contact with will see that they are loved and cared for. Pray for their health, security, and salvation. And pray for those sweet little orphans to find forever families.
Thanks for reading this entirely long and informative post. I will post periodic updates as to where we are with our fundraising efforts mainly so you can see how Jesus is providing and how you can still help if you feel you are called to do so. Feel free to copy, paste, and forward this blog link to anyone you know who may want to help change a life and become an "ordinary hero."
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the timelines for funds being due which is where some of my anxiety lies...EEEK! July 20th is the first due date for $1400 and August 20th is the final payment due date of $1500. Whew...typing that just increased my heart rate...trust Jesus, trust Jesus, trust Jesus is my new mantra!!!
Hugs to each of you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Experience

Today marks a first for me. Oh, before I get into my experience though, I guess I should update by saying that my brain MRI came back totally normal and my CT Scan came back showing a new lung nodule, no growths in the others, and a new kidney stone. We still have no idea what the nodules in the lungs are, but that's okay because no growth = no cancer! Thank you Jesus! I think we have been praise dancing around here since we got the news. This is the first time since my initial diagnosis that I can honestly say that my husband was a nervous wreck. It was determined that since there is no cancer spread that my tremors, nausea, etc... were an indication that one of my medications was just building up in my system too much and was causing negative effects. The dose was cut in half and my tremors are almost all gone and the other "symptoms" are totally gone.
Now, on to my experience. Today, after my Bible study, I took the kids to eat at OUR Chick-fil-A. As I was coming back from the bathroom with them, there were 2 sheriff deputies sitting in a booth. The larger one nods at me all the while staring at my chest and then whispers something to his partner who then proceeds to start staring at me and whispers something back. When they saw me watching this whole thing, they both diverted their eyes. While I couldn't hear what they were saying, I KNOW that they were talking about the fact that I have no breasts. And of course now that I am home, I could think of 18000 things I could have said to them (that's probably the Holy Spirit keeping me from losing my religion. ha!) And of course David was at a meeting in Nashville today so I couldn't even go tell him (again, probably the Holy Spirit protecting David from losing his religion with them.) They are not regular customers of ours...as a matter of fact, our 2 managers said they had never seen those 2 deputies in our store before, so I guess it's good that I likely will not see them again.
This is the first time I have witnessed someone talking about my "situation." It ticks me off, makes me sad, and embarasses me. I start questioning if I shouldn't have worn the outfit I chose today, but I actually was looking and feeling pretty cute in it until that happened. I start wondering how many other people actually talk about me and I just don't know it. But then, something else happens. I remember that God has told me I am beautiful (Psalm 45:11), that my identity is in Christ, and that my suffering in this present body is totally worth the Kingdom's cause. And nothing can top that!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Conversations

I was talking to my dad earlier today and we had a pretty good conversation. Well, it was really good to be honest. We were talking about the current situation with not knowing if the cancer was back or not, and I was able to just articulate that I am finally at a place where I can say (and really mean it) that regardless of the results, I know my purpose is to bring glory to God, so however He sees fit is really fine with me. I desperately want to live my life to point to Him. I want people to look at me and not see Kelly, but see Jesus. I know I have such a long way to go, and every single day I fall, but by grace I fall right into His arms. He picks me up, dusts me off, and tells me to go back out into the world and try again.

And another conversation I had Sunday has really weighed on my mind (in a good way). I was talking to our pastor's wife and told her that I just wanted to live long enough to see my children come to Christ so that I could KNOW that I would see them again. Then I told her about how Chloe, my 4 year old, already tells me that she loves and trusts Jesus, and then tells me that she knows and believes Jesus died on the cross and now lives in heaven. She will tell you that Jesus forgives all the bad things we do etc... And while i was telling Christy this, she kind of looked at me like "Chloe is so there." It's the faith of a child. She has professed her beliefs and she will only grow in her knowledge and faith from this point on. I cannot even tell you how happy my heart is when I see how much my little girl loves Jesus. She will sing this song with me all the time by Building 429 and there is one part where she will lift her hands and sing "take this world and give me Jesus..this is not where I belong." She sings it with such conviction too! I need to video her and just put it on here. And another song  part she sings and raises her little hands goes "I am lifting empty hands cause I was made for you..." And Brody, well he is learning and soaking it all in as well. He's got his favorite song about going "one foot, one foot at a time." And he is learning that God made everything. I pray that my children change the world for Jesus. That they will do infinitely more  for the Kingdom than I could ever imagine.

So, those have been some conversation bits that I just wanted to get written out before they became a lost  memory. These have such meaning to me and hopefully they will to someone else too.

Hello...Hello???

Just an update to say that I had my scans done yesterday so now I am just waiting on my phone to ring. I'm going to be busy today so that I don't just sit and stare at it trying to will it to ring. I got lucky yesterday though...only 2 sticks before they got an IV. It's generally a 3-5 stick process so I consider myself pretty lucky. And...I even got a little nap in the MRI scanner! Who does that?!? It is ridiculously loud. Anyways, it was a nice little 25 minute nap.
Now for a funny story about yesterday. My friend Cortni went down to Vanderbilt with me. About 1/2 way there, we remembered that the 13 year cicadas are out and are EVERYWHERE!!! Oh heavens! Those things are crazy large, and crazy loud! Anyways, as I am driving there, a few small swarms come towards the car and hit the windshield...I have never seen bigger dead bug marks ever! GROSS!!! So Cortni and I start planning to just valet park so that the cicadas have no chance of crashing into us or landing on us and just staying there. Seriously, they have no care about humans and will just land right on anyone. OK, so we get there and there is a relatively close parking space so we brace ourselves and take off running across the parking lot so as to not get attacked. We made it in and the valet guy was staring at us like we were nuts. I proudly told him we were just running from the cicadas. Then he knew we were crazy. Anyways, after the scans and on our way back out, we heard someone doing lawn work...weed wacking to be exact. Uhhh, NOPE. It was the dang cicadas. I'm telling you they are everywhere and vicious. So I get my keys out and we take off running back across the parking lot and hop in the car, check each other's backs and head out of there. It was hysterically frightening, and a nice distraction for the day.
I can just picture God laughing at us and what we must have looked like running and eeeeking at everyone of those dang things. Thank you Lord for the great distraction and thank you more for not letting one of those ginormous things hit me or land on me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Testing Testing 1.2.3

So the symptoms have not stopped or even slowed down at all. As a matter of fact, since I last wrote, my husband has noticed an increase in the hand tremors and insisted I call my oncologist and not wait the 2 weeks. I also, since then, have had a headache so bad that I begged David to take me to Vanderbilt in the middle of the night, but we didn't go because it was the middle of the night and our kids were sound asleep. It took 8 Motrin and 1 Imitrex to finally let up enough to allow me sleep. I have never in my life experienced anything like that. I'm now on medicine in addition to the Prilosec to try to help control the nausea. I guess the one positive of always feeling sick is that I may lose a few pounds.
I've been on all ends of the emotional spectrum. One minute I am fine and standing firm in the Truth and God's promises, and the next minute I am a basketcase from not knowing what, if anything, is going on in my body. My poor husband has really had to deal with my moods on top of his own fears as to what may be going on with me.
I told my mom though that one thing is for sure. If the scans do indicate a spread of cancer, it will be GAME ON! I will fight the beast just as I did before and I will not give up.
So...come Tuesday morning, I will be having a brain MRI, and a chest/abdomen/pelvis CT. Hopefully I will know results by Wednesday afternoon. I will be sure to update. Until then, I am going to take the kids to Huntsville tomorrow to visit my brother who is in the Army and is down there on official business. He has the day off so we are going to go spend the night and spend time with him. I can't wait.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pity-Party Warning

I'm just gonna be real honest here and say that I am in the midst of a major pity party and I am gonna stay here for a little bit and just get some feelings out. After all, this is my journal and if I can't be real here, then for the love of Jesus, where can I be?
I saw my oncologist yesterday for a regular 6 month check-up. I went in knowing all was going to be just fine, but decided to still mention a few things that were "off" for me. Honestly, I didn't think anything of the symptoms and really thought Dr. Mayer wouldn't either. However, as I was explaining them all to her and she was probing for more information, I came out of there worried and feeling like I had already been diagnosed with metastasis. Oooh, I can just cry right now thinking about it. I've been having some nausea for almost 2 weeks. Nothing major, nothing to take medicine for, not a big deal. I've also been having some bad hand shaking on the right side and some extremely mild shaking on the left. I just assumed it was no big deal. I also have sometimes where I feel out of body like. And that one is just hard to describe unless you have ever had it, but again, I didn't think anything of it. Well, turns out that all of those symptoms coupled with some headaches I have been having (which I assumed were just allergies) COULD be a problem.
So, for the next 2 weeks, I have to keep a detailed journal of all symptoms. After that, I will notify Dr. Mayer and we will go from there. If she deems it necessary, I will have a brain MRI in 2 weeks and a chest/abdomen/pelvis CT Scan.
I just feel so alone right now. I cry at the drop of a hat. I feel like I did 2 years ago when I was waiting on biopsy results. I had a "near" panic attack driving home from the grocery store today because I think deep down I associate coming home to my house with a bunch of bad memories of surgeries/chemo/pain/sadness etc... I feel like no one understands and while I know I need to pray about all of this and "not worry" I get so ticked off when friends say that to me. What I really want to say is "no crap I need to pray about it! What do you think I have been doing for the past 2 years?!? Quit giving me advice on things you know nothing about. Yeah, everyone has problems, but not everyone has the very real possiblity of hearing "you have this many months to live so get your things in order." I'm tired of people comparing apples to oranges. I don't pretend to know what others are going through if I have never been through it myself, so don't pretend to know how I feel. UGH! Know what I do when my friends are having financial, marital, or other problems? I don't say "oh, I know how you feel. Try not to worry about it." Nope, I ask them if I can pray for them if I am with them, and if I'm not physically with them, I will either pray for them on the phone or just send some encouraging notes.
Well, now the tears are really flowing and I feel pretty broken. Luckily, My wonderful husband suggested we come to Nashville and stay this evening with the kids to get away from the house and do something fun. We ate out, went swimming in the hotel pool, and tomorrow we will visit the zoo. I am grateful to have a husband who loves me and takes care of me. He truly is my knight in shining armor and I don't know what my life would look like without him. I better stop whining now and try to go to sleep so we can have a great day at the zoo tomorrow.
Trusting that the Lord will comfort me and lead me to the Rock that is higher than I am because my heart is truly overwhelmed tonight.