Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So that you may have peace...

Peace.  It comes to us in many different ways, takes multiple avenues and looks strange to some.   Peace: it takes many different forms but it only has one true source.

Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

The peace I have is not my own.  This journey is hard.  Last night I told Lovie how much I miss my life... I miss the energy I used to have.  I miss not being nauseous.  I miss my bad hair life.  I miss staying up after the kids go to bed to watch tv with him.  I miss the normal everyday things I'm struggling so hard to hold on to right now.  But in it all, there is still peace.

Someone said to me, "This seems to be bothering everyone but you."  It is bothering me, but there is a very real sense of peace in it all.  These things are just temporary...I fully believe I will be restored.  I believe I will jog again.  I believe I will have energy again.  I believe and look forward to a time when I'm not sick and tired every. single. day.  

How can this be?  Because I believe what Jesus said.  He said that in this world we will have trouble...but take heart for he has overcome the world. That means that he has already overcome this for me.  The blood of Jesus is my victory. 

I'm including another song for your listening pleasure today...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC59rgmcu34    Skip the ads when you have the opportunity.

Until this is over my heart will stand firm.  I will continue to boast in my weakness because I know these things:
        He has overcome the world
        His blood is my victory
        When I am weak, He is strong

Peace.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  John 14:27

Only By His Grace,


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Song in my heart...

Skip the add when you get the opportunity.

Don't you love it when there's a song in your heart?  I'm not talking about that song that gets stuck in your head...no, I'm talking about a song in your heart.

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman has been in my heart all day long.  Do you know this song?  I've included the link above, if your so inclined.

My latest treatment was Thursday, December 26...and boy did this one kick my fanny.  I've been in a fog for the past four days.  But today, when I woke up from my nap (I get a lot of naps after treatment days) this song was on my heart.

"You're rich in love and your slow to anger.  Your name is great and your heart is kind.  For all your goodness I will keep on singing.  10,000 reasons for my heart to find."

I am so blessed.  I'm blessed beyond material things - and in material things, as well.  For example, today I needed to refill a prescription and our out of pocket cost was $5.69.  Insurance paid $77.12.  What a magnificent blessing - what a great God and provider we have.  But beyond the material, physical blessings, He is great to put a song in my heart.

I could sit with a downcast heart, my thoughts could lean toward the negative, my focus could be on my situation.  But instead, He placed a song in my heart...not just any song, but a song of thanksgiving, a song of love, a song of joy.

"And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come.  Still my soul will sing your praise unending...10,000 years and then forever more!"

If He should take me...my song will not end with my last breath.  My soul will continue to sing forevermore!

I am glad there is a song in my heart today... I'm glad this song is in my heart today!

"Bless the Lord, Oh my soul.  Oh, my soul.  I worship your holy name.  Sing like never before.  Oh my soul.  I worship your holy name...I worship your holy name."
Matt Redman, Sparrow Records

Only By His Grace,


Friday, December 27, 2013

Traveling Steadily along the path...

"Put your hope in the Lord.  Travel steadily along his path.  He will honor you by giving you the land.  You will see the wicked destroyed." Psalm 47:34 NLT

It has been a week since my last update.  It's been a great week!  Lots of Christmas spent with the ones I love.  Lovie took the week off, the kiddos are out of school; it's been magnificent.  Although there were some things we could not do because I wasn't supposed to be around large crowds, we have had a blast.

Christmas morning was as it always is; paper flying, surprised faces captured by the camera, chocolate chip muffins.  I even made a full Christmas feast for the four of us.  Turkey and ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, steamed broccoli, fresh baked bread, and a pumpkin pie.

Over the break I had a surprise visit from a friend who saw a pancake post on Facebook and decided to pop in and hug me.  It was probably the best pre-Christmas present I've received yet.  We sat at my kitchen table and shared pancakes; me in my jammies, she in her cute little ponytail.  We chatted and had coffee. It was the highlight of my day.  She is a marvel, this woman...and I love her dearly.  She made my day and I'm still smiling because of her great love.  

From the very beginning of this journey I have said, "if this is the path God wants me to take I will walk it with as much grace as I possibly can."  Today's verse speaks to that, and more specifically, to where we are.  

This week was another big infusion week for me.  What that means is I take two chemo drugs plus two liters of fluids on day one: 7 hours.  Then for two consecutive days I go back in for one liter of fluids: 4 hours each day.  My week is pretty much consumed with the infusion center.  But the staff is amazing and I am greatly blessed by their care.  I feel like we are traveling steadily along his path.

My hope is in the Lord.  From that I have not wavered.  Even when my platelets dropped, my WBC count went too low, and I was borderline anemic, my hope was still in the Lord.  He will not let my foot be moved, he who keeps me will not slumber nor sleep.  

This verse also says, "He will honor you by giving you the land."  For me, right now, the land I have been given is this land of cancer treatment centers, doctors' offices and infusion facilities.  It may seem odd, but I am honored that I have a place in this journey.  I have the opportunity to hold out hope to those who seem hopeless. 

Story:  Just yesterday, the woman I was seated across from was in for her infusion as well.  We chatted for a brief moment.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer; a small lump, but it had spread to her lymph nodes.  Her surgery is scheduled for March.  She said she was trying to be hopeful.  I told her that my step mother had battled and survived breast cancer twice, with two surgeries, and was cancer free for several years.  The lady smiled and said that was very encouraging and was exactly what she needed to hear.  

Now, I'm not one to take credit for these things, but I was honored and privileged to be able to hold out a glimmer of hope to this woman who was clearly concerned.  This is the land I have been given.

The promise also says, "You will see the wicked destroyed."  I don't know if, for me, that means I will see cancer destroyed, or if it means I will see hopelessness, grief, worry and fear destroyed.  

What I do know is this: God in his sovereignty has allowed me to walk this path.  I don't know the reason, I don't know the purpose.  I certainly don't understand the 'why me.'  But since he has allowed me to be here, I want to make the most of my time here. 

So, I put my hope in the Lord.  I walk steadily along his path.  He will me by giving me the land, and I will see the wicked destroyed!

Only By His Grace,


Friday, December 20, 2013

My Grace is sufficient for you...

After Wednesday's non-treatment I was feeling a bit defeated.  I guess I've thought I would continue to be super-woman through this whole journey.  

But then I thought about what Paul said, "Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

I realize that when my WBC count is low, platelets are low and I am borderline anemic that I am at risk for viral and bacterial infections.  Yesterday I was feeling rather low about it.  There were things I wanted to do that I simply could not risk doing.  There were places I wanted to go, functions I wanted to attend, people I wanted to see...but I knew that wasn't the best option for me.

However, today, in my weakness I am strong.  I will boast more gladly about my weakness so that Christ's power may rest on me.
When his power rests on me then I am more able to handle the circumstances of this journey.  When his power rests on me then I can point others to HIM.

The following is my song today:  It was written and recorded by friends we used to attend church with.  If you would like to hear the recorded version, you may follow the link.  I encourage you to listen.  It is a powerful song.


"Let me hear my savior say, "Your Strength Shall Return."
Then I'll rejoice in my weakness.
As I lean on your grace.
As I lean on your grace.

May your power rest on me. You are strong when I am weak.
I can bear all things when temptation springs, for you sustain me all my days.

Let me know my Savior's face.  Let my hope be secure.
Then I'll rejoice in my weakness.
As I lean on your grace.
As I lean on your grace.

May your power rest on me. You are strong when I am weak.
I can bear all things when temptation springs, for you sustain me all my days.

Once from the Lord withdrawn, I thought that I could live my life alone. Leaving the solid ground I sank beneath His wisdom. The harder I tried to climb, the closer I was to find, how great is my weakness.

May your power rest on me. You are strong when I am weak.
I can bear all things when temptation springs, for you sustain me all my days."
 Copyright 2008 Sojourn Community Church
Words and Music: Joel Gerdis and Neil Robbins
Artist: Sojourn Music
Album: Over the Grave

Only By His Grace,


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Transformed by the renewing of your mind...

"...but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." Romans 12: 2

Yesterday was not a greatly triumphant day for me.  We cancelled a treatment because my platelets are too low, my WBC count is too low and I'm borderline anemic.  All of these are side effects of the chemo and was expected... I just didn't expect it to happen to me.  Because, I'm stubborn like that.

When these things happen, the mind starts to play tricks on you... little thoughts creep in like, "Great, now I'm going to get sick and won't be able to continue,"  "What if I get a virus and I have to spend Christmas in the hospital?,"  "What if the chemo isn't working?"

It's moments like this I love to think of Abraham... What a great example he is to me... "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."  Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead.  Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God..." Romans 4:18-20

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to, "...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  NIV

I know this path may not always be easy.  I know that there will be days, like yesterday, when I will feel defeated.  I know that the recovery process is going to be long and hard.  

But, like Abraham, even though I may face facts that my body is not operating as expected, I will not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God.  He has promised never to leave me or forsake me.  He has promised that he will make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside still and quiet waters.  He promises to comfort me by his rod and his staff and anoint my head with oil.

I will take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.  I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind.

Why, I wondered, are their horrific people in the world walking around without a care, and good people are struck with illness, death, cancer....  Why?  Not that I was questioning God.  I was just pondering the universe, I suppose.  But it seems to me that when Christians are struck with illness, death, cancer, and hardship, it is an opportunity for us to glorify God through it all.  

When bad things happen to bad people, I think the world looks with an attitude that says, "they had it coming."  But when bad things happen to good people... and good people trust God through it... It brings God glory. 

If I have but one thing to do through all of this, it is to bring God glory.  No matter what the outcome, no matter the side effects, no matter the thoughts that wander through my mind.  In all, I will not waver, but will hope against all hope.  I will trust in the name of the Lord my God.

Only By His Grace,


Monday, December 16, 2013

Cancer is making me fruity...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  James 3: 2-4. NIV

The King James version says, "...Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience..."  

I was speaking to the cashier at Kroger today.  She told me that she has been a cashier there for seven and one half years.  Then she said, "Being a cashier teaches you patience..."  And then she said, "and the "other things," like self-control and kindness..."  

As I walked to the parking lot I thought...cancer is teaching making me fruity...  This cancer has been a test of faith, but I know that the testing of my faith is developing patience...  

From the beginning of this journey nearly seven weeks ago I have learned more about the fruit of the Spirit.

We have learned about love:  We have been loved well by our friends and family.  We have had meals brought to us - these meals have allowed us to continue to be active in our children's lives.  Because people have loved us by bringing us meals, we have attended Austin's Christmas program, where he was a wise man.  We have attended Kayla's Christmas band concert.  We were able to take Austin to the movies for his birthday.  If people had not loved us so well, these things would have been stressful, not enjoyable.

We have learned about joy:  In the midst of the trial, I have had a joy that beyond comprehension.  I want that joy to spread to others around me, to those I encounter on a daily basis, like the cashier today.  I want her to see my joy in the middle of the trial.

We have learned about peace:  I know everyone has not felt this peace, but I have had such a peace throughout this journey.  From the first step, I have had a peace that passes all understanding.

We have learned about patience:  There are days when I have to practice patience more than others.  I want to continue to go at the same speed that I've always gone.  I want to continue to do all the things I've always done.  Truth is, I get tired easily.  When I get overly tired I get frustrated.  When I'm frustrated, I have to practice patience.

We have learned about kindness:  We have had so many people exhibit kindness to us.  We have been blessed with gift cards for dinners out, we have been blessed with cards and text messages.  We have been blessed with words of hope and prayer.  

We have learned about goodness:  Even as we go through this journey, we have been given the opportunity to share goodness with others, to pay forward some of the blessings that have come our way.  We want to share the goodness we've been blessed by with others.

We have learned about faithfulness:  It is so important to me that we remain faithful to this journey to which God has called us.  I know that days of doubt and fatigue will come.  We have also learned of God's faithfulness.  He has been and will continue to be faithful to us through this place.

We have learned gentleness:  There are moments when the underlying stress gets the better of us and we get snappy with each other.  In these moments we have learned to extend gentleness with one another.  We have learned that a gentle answer turns away wrath.  We have learned that a gentle word or deed goes a long way at defusing a stressful situation.

We have learned self-control: More, rather, I have learned self-control...or am learning it.  There are moments, albeit rare, when I want to stamp my feet and beat my chest.  In those moments my prayer becomes, "Lord, let this cup pass from me...nevertheless Thy Will Be Done...." 

I am thankful for this trial that is developing perseverance in me.  I am thankful that it is developing the fruit of the Spirit in me.  I am thankful that when perseverance has completed its work I will be mature and complete, not lacking anything...

Only By His Grace,


Saturday, December 14, 2013

His ways are everlasting...

"His ways are everlasting." Habakkuk 3:6

"What he hath done at one time, he will do yet again. Man's ways are variable, but God's ways are everlasting. There are many reasons for this most comforting truth: among them are the following-the Lord's ways are the result of wise deliberation; he ordereth all things according to the counsel of his own will.

Human action is frequently the hasty result of passion, or fear, and is followed by regret and alteration; but nothing can take the Almighty by surprise, or happen otherwise than he has foreseen. His ways are the outgrowth of an immutable character, and in them the fixed and settled attributes of God are clearly to be seen.

Unless the Eternal One himself can undergo change, his ways, which are himself in action, must remain for ever the same. Is he eternally just, gracious, faithful, wise, tender?-then his ways must ever be distinguished for the same excellences. Beings act according to their nature: when those natures change, their conduct varies also; but since God cannot know the shadow of a turning, his ways will abide everlastingly the same.

Moreover there is no reason from without which could reverse the divine ways, since they are the embodiment of irresistible might. The earth is said, by the prophet, to be cleft with rivers, mountains tremble, the deep lifts up its hands, and sun and moon stand still, when Jehovah marches forth for the salvation of his people. Who can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? But it is not might alone which gives stability; God's ways are the manifestation of the eternal principles of right, and therefore can never pass away. Wrong breeds decay and involves ruin, but the true and the good have about them a vitality which ages cannot diminish.

This morning let us go to our heavenly Father with confidence, remembering that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and in him the Lord is ever gracious to his people."

Morning and Evening Devotional, by Charles Spurgeon.

I included this devotion by the great Charles Spurgeon because I've been pondering the never-changing aspect of God. 

The song, Great is Thy Faithfulness says:
"Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.  As Thou has been Thou forever wilt be."

I think of the names of God in the Old Testament:
Jehovah Rapha, The God who heals... He healed the sick then, and he has not changed.

El Shaddai, Lord God Almighty.  He was Almighty then, and He is mighty still.

Jehovah Shalom, The Lord is Peace.  He was the God of peace then and He is the God of peace today.

Jehovah Nissi, The Lord is my banner.  He has been my banner throughout my life, and he will continue to be my banner still.

Because he changes not, I can trust him to be the same yesterday, today and forever. He was faithful before, He is faithful still.

Only By His Grace,


Friday, December 13, 2013

Whatever you do...

"Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.Colossians 3:23-24.

Since this journey began, my reaction has been and continues to be, "If God, in His sovereignty, has allowed me to walk this path, I will walk it with as much grace as I possibly can."  I have since changed that thought process to include, "...I will walk it with as much grace as I possibly can...and I will give Him all the glory along the way."

Right now, my world is consumed by this journey.  I sometimes wish I could go back a month to the oblivious fog I operated in.  However, because so much of my life consists of doctors' appointments, treatments and updates, I am considering this my "work" for now; the business of getting better!

In which case, I am taking Colossians 3 to heart.  Whatever I do, I am working at it as for the Lord.  Whether that means I'm sitting in a chair receiving chemo, whether I'm at the lab for blood work, whether I'm just having a check up with the doctor, it is my work for the moment and I will do it as for the Lord.

How does that relate?  Well, when I'm sitting in the chemo chair, when I'm in the lab, when I'm visiting with the doctors, I have a small window of opportunity to be a witness of God's grace in my life in spite of this great trial. 

If I truly believe that this is the path I'm allowed to walk for the moment, and I do truly believe it, then there must be a greater purpose in it - greater than I can see, greater than I can imagine, greater than I can understand. 

God has allowed me to partake in this great journey.  I do not want to fail to represent Him for even a moment.  If one person is touched by His great grace, then I have been allowed to participate in His faithfulness.  If one person is encouraged, if one person is helped, if one person receives a greater hope...then I have been blessed to participate in this heavenly task.

So, because I have been gifted with this great task, since I've been blessed to participate in this great journey, I will do all of it as for the Lord, because he has invited me to participate in this great plan with Him.

I am blessed to be a willing participant - whatever the outcome, wherever the journey leads, my heart will say, "If this is the path He has allowed me to walk, I will walk it with as much grace as I possibly can, and I will give Him all the glory along the way!"

Only By His Grace,


Thursday, December 12, 2013

The ones who don't get thank you cards...

Our family has been so very blessed.  We are receiving meals, gifts, Christmas ornaments, packages in the mail, anonymous gifts, gift cards, prayers, blessings and lots of love.  

We could not be doing as well as we are doing if it weren't for the love being shown to us.  Yesterday my sweet friend brought us the most amazing dinner: grilled chicken, roasted potatoes and wonderful green beans...she even made gingerbread for dessert.  What is amazing is that this precious friend went out, in the snow, cleared the ice from her grill to grill the chicken for us -- and she's 6 months pregnant!  I don't deserve this kind of love! Thank you, sweet friend.  You are a great treasure to me and I can't imagine my life a single day without you!

Because my friend offered to bring us dinner I was able to spend some time cleaning my house plus I got a nap and a shower!  Had I had to plan for dinner and cook dinner I would have gotten neither a nap, nor a shower, much less cleaned my house... It was a gift of nourishment for our bodies, but for my spirit as well.  Thank you!  And I love you, dearly!

Now...for those who don't get thank you cards... I am going to try to write this without growing overly emotional.  But I must just brag on my precious family for a moment.  

In the past month my husband has taken time off work to go with me to treatments and doctors' appointments.  He has done housework, ran errands, taken kids to and from school, taken them to after-school and church activities. He has managed our finances brilliantly and navigated insurance without question. He's let me nap without complaint, he's lost sleep, he's gone without personal time and he hasn't complained one single time.  

He has always been my very best friend and my truest companion.  To say "I love him" is so understated.  He is the love of my life.  He is the one who holds my hand and my heart.  He holds my hand during the night when I sleep.  He hugs me gently so he doesn't hurt me.  He is a true example of how Christ loves the church and gave himself for it.  I am blessed beyond measure for all he is and all he has done.  I cannot thank him enough for being a rock during all of this.  I am blessed for every moment of every day of the past 22 years that I have had the blessing of sharing with him.  John Ross...I love you to my very core.  You are the greatest gift God has ever given me on this earth!

My precious children have also stepped up during this journey.  They have cleaned their rooms, learned to do laundry, helped with household chores, let me nap in peace, cleaned up after dinner, finished homework without me fussing, given up activities, stayed home when they wanted to go somewhere and culled their sibling rivalries.  They have hugged me gently, loved me greatly and blessed me immensely. 

We were told by three fertility specialists that we would never have children, but God in his great grace blessed us with both Kayla and Austin.  They bring us joy, laughter, lessons and love.  We are better people because we are their parents - they are an inheritance from The Lord and we are blessed. 

To my family, I cannot write a thank you note to tell you how much I appreciate you.  You are more than a help to me.  You are a blessing of all blessings, a treasure.  It is an honor to share my life with you.  You are heaven sent and I love every minute I share with you!

Only By His Grace,


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jeremiah 33:3

"Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."  Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV

Apparently, I am an anomaly.  I'm ok with that.  Let me tell you of the great and mighty things God has done for me this week...

Last week was my first chemo treatment.  Side effects were to include, but were not limited to, nausea, fatigue, numbness in hands and feet, insomnia, constipation [sorry if that's TMI], anxiety, irritability... etc, etc.  These side effects were expected to be severe.  So severe, in fact, I was given one prescription to take 3x per day for 3 days post treatment, 3 powerful anti-nausea drugs, 2 narcotic pain killers and one 3-day slow release anti nausea drug in case the other three didn't work.  I was told to sleep, to try to stay in darker rooms, and to take my medications like clock work so the nausea didn't get ahead of me.  

I was called in post treatment for two days of additional magnesium and potassium, kidney function was expected to decrease, platelets were expected to decrease, anemia was also expected, bacterial and/or viral infections were expected as well.

When my doctor called me on Monday to check on me, she found me at the office, doing my job.  Yes, I was tired, but still functioning.  She asked if I had been sick or fatigued.  Fatigued, yes, but that was from a weekend of Christmas parties, staying up late to watch movies, two school functions and general over-doing.  Nausea...not at all.  She was shocked - so shocked she asked, "Are you sure?"  I'm pretty sure!

Today, when I went in for my 2nd chemo treatment, my nurse was shocked and astonished that I had neither been sick, nor tired.  She was amazed that I went to parties, cleaned my house and attended school functions.

My platelets are higher than normal, my kidney function is UP, I'm a far cry from anemic, and I seem to be in good general health.  

Why is this?  Because we serve a Big God.  From the very beginning, I have had people tell me they would pray for my comfort, for peace, for joy, for strength.  Meanwhile, I was rallying for people to say, "I will pray for your healing."  If we serve a big God, why would we limit him in what we pray for?  If we want healing, why would we not ask him for it?

I think it's because we lack trust.  We are afraid to ask for the big thing because we're afraid we will not receive it. It's easy to pray for comfort, peace, joy, and strength because we believe he can and will deliver those things.  But I don't want to offer God a consolation prize.  I don't want to say, "This is what I expect you can do, so it's all I'll ask you to do."   I want to ask him for exceedingly more than I can ask or imagine! 

Why?  Because I am already seeing great and mighty things which I do not know.  I am already seeing your prayers for comfort and peace and joy and strength being answered daily.  I am a walking testimony of God's grace and his abundant mercy, and I am sharing that grace and mercy with everyone I can.  I want them to know why I'm able to do what I do, and how I'm able to function when I should be in bed.  I want them to know that I trust a big God and he is doing great and mighty things in my life.

My devotion scripture this morning says this:  "For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing." Jeremiah 31:25 NLT.
I believe I am experiencing this rest and joy.  There are moments of sorrow and moments when I'm weary.  But as a whole there is joy and rest.  I am blessed beyond blessed and so very thankful to the God of all comfort because I know that he will continue to show me great and mighty things which I do not know!

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Only By His Grace,


Monday, December 9, 2013

9 years ago today...

Nine years ago today my big guy was born.  I can't believe he's nine.  Where did the time go?

He is such a joy and a treasure.  What a happy kiddo... 

Happy Birthday, sweet Austin...



Thin skin and thinning hair...

I joke with my hair dresser regularly that some people have bad hair days... myself, I've had a bad hair life.  I wasn't blessed with long flowing tresses, golden locks or thick, glorious strands.  Rather, I was blessed with thin, fine, tangly hair.  I started going gray at the age of 19 - yes, that's right.  Those who know me know I'm chemically dependent, that I color AND highlight... So, as my hair begins to thin, it's really not bothering me as badly as I anticipated.  I bought the cutest wig, and the color and highlights actually match my own.  It's just way more hair than I've ever had.  Who knew that cancer treatments would give me the best hair ever, that I wouldn't have to style it, that I could just hop up and put it on in the morning.  So, as I wait for the inevitable, I am looking forward to my wig.  

I noticed this morning that my skin is starting to feel "thin" as well. I was applying my moisturizer and realized how saggy my skin was looking.  Holy Moly!  So, as a quick trick, I ran my face cloth under very hot water and applied it to my face for a minute or so.  The steam de-wrinkled me and seemed to plump up my saggy-ness just a tad...at least that's what my eyes wanted to see. 

Metaphorically, I find the people closest to me becoming increasingly thin-skinned as well.  Little things that didn't bother them before are starting to well up within them.  A small, minor situation happened over the weekend, and although it really wasn't a big deal, to one family member, it was larger than life for a few minutes.  It occurred to me that to this lovely, everything in their world seems out of control right now.  There is uncertainty, worry, fear, stress, a need for normalcy... and this one thing that seemed to be "under control" was suddenly not... and to this lovely, it was just another reminder that things are not normal right now, that we are just pretending.

It is difficult to watch my loved ones go through this with me.  I would save them from it if I could.  But, there is purpose in the journey, of this I am sure.

1 Peter 1:5 says, "And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation..." NLT.

The corresponding devotion says this:  "In life, we'll face many struggles.  Nothing will ever be truly secure.  But, God never changes.  He's holding an inheritance for us in heaven.  No matter what we go through on earth, we can believe in God's promise of heaven.  He'll enable us to make it through all the hard times and help us see that this life is only temporary.  He only asks us to trust Him because the true life He offers is awaiting us."

This was particularly impressive to me today.  It goes right along with everything else in our life right now:  hair is temporary; so is hair loss.  Stressors come and go.  Minor emergencies are fleeting.  Wrinkles and sagging skin may not be temporary, but they are so unimportant...  

What continues to get us through the hard days, the tough times and the tight spots is our faith that God is protecting us by his power and that we will receive a promised salvation.  

Only By His Grace,


Saturday, December 7, 2013

The business of becoming less...

This post is difficult for me to write.  I think I've always been a little more active than many, a little more driven than some and a lot more stubborn than most.  That's been a mode of survival for me throughout my life, I guess.  I'm like the energizer bunny...I keep going and going and going - even when I need to slllloooooowwwww down....

I was telling my sweet husband last night that I am feeling less human every day.  When this journey began, we thought I had a blockage in my kidney - a stone, a cyst, something benign... something reparable.  When we left the hospital one month ago today with a diagnosis of cancer, we were shocked to say the least.

I left the hospital with a friend...a nephrostomy.  Because my left kidney doesn't drain into my bladder for emptying, I have a port in my left kidney that drains into a catheter-type bag.  I empty it when I empty my bladder.  I've grown used to it, now, it's second nature.  
I am a little hindered by the tubes and wires, but not so much that it keeps me from doing what I normally would do - I even went for a jog a few days ago.

Last Tuesday, I received my chemo port.  It is a one-inch port they surgically implant under your collar bone, near your heart.  It takes approximately3 stitches to seal it up, and it leaves a big bump under your skin.  It stays tender.  I'm not getting used to this new friend as quickly.  It is sore and boy does it hurt when you bump it - or if someone hugs you too tightly.  

With these two small developments in my physical body, I'm beginning to feel less human and more -- terminator.  I'm starting, also to feel "weird."  Weird as in, I'm making people around me feel weird... like they don't know what to say, or what to do, or how they are supposed to act.  

Please let me say, there is nothing right or wrong that you can say.  There is nothing right or wrong that you can do.  I am convinced that I am in this place for a reason - there is a a purpose. I am just happy that you want to journey along :)

It occurred to me this morning as I was reading, that so much of my life has been dependent on what I could do - how well I could do it -- how much I could get done -- how many tasks I could check off my list.  My body is now feeling broken, and I am realizing more and more that my strength, my hope, my comfort, my peace... it comes from a great and powerful God, and is not dependent on my to-do list, my house keeping schedule, my ability to run farther and faster than my shadow.

Psalm 20 is my prayer today - I hope it encourages you, too, whether you're feeling less human, or just less than enough...

"May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.  May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans success.  
We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.  May the lord grant all your requests.

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand.  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm!"  Psalm 20:1-8

Only By His Grace,


Friday, December 6, 2013

Two posts in one day? Whaaaa????

What a blessed, wonderful, glorious day we've had!

No school!  Ice storm, now snow... kids are across the street sledding with the neighbors.  We watched Polar Express AND Charlie Brown Christmas... We made peanut butter fudge and peanut butter balls (buckeyes).  I wrapped a couple more gifts and got a few little household chores done...

I also got a nap!  Yay, for naps!

But what has been resounding in my heart today is the little devotion card from this morning's draw:  "How great is our Lord!  His power is absolute!  His understanding is beyond comprehension!"  Psalm 147:5 NLT

You know, my understanding in this journey is so finite - and yet God's understanding is beyond comprehension.  I remember someone saying that we look at life as if we are looking through a knot hole in a fence.  We only see what is directly in front of us, but God is above the fence.  He sees what has already passed us by, and what is coming our way.  Truly his understanding is beyond comprehension.

The devotion said this:  "We truly can't understand how great God is.  Our finite mind sees so little of His awesome power.  We look at the world He created and we understand only a sliver of what He is able to do.  Yet, our God wants to let His power loose in our life.  He loves us so much.  He wants to empower us to accomplish great things for Him.  We don't have to just go through the motions - our life can really make a difference for eternity with God's mighty power."

Wow!  How magnificent is that?  That God in his greatness still chooses to use one like me... Lord, I want to be willing to be used in whatever way He sees fit, even when I can't see the path, even when I don't understand the journey.  Even when I don't know the future.  He does!  He hems me in, behind and before.  

As always, it is...

Only By His Grace,


Infusion Day three... not so much

Yesterday was infusion day number three... only not.

When they started my chemo on Tuesday everything went brilliantly!  However, they wanted to tack on a couple of extra days of IV fluids containing magnesium and potassium.  After day 2 fluids, my magnesium and potassium looked great, and my kidney function was, get this, better than it was on Tuesday!  Go figure - they were NOT expecting that :)  To which I say, " Ha Ha!"

Therefore, infusion day 3 was cancelled... yep, that's right... no IV fluids, no magnesium, no potassium. Isn't that amazing! ?  

Last night was Austin's third grade Christmas program.  I was able to attend and to enjoy myself, too.  I have had so few side effects, that I am quite astounded.  I've not been very tired, I've had very little nausea...they've given me fantastic anti-nausea drugs... I have been so very blessed.

One lady stopped me last night and told me that she was sharing this blog with her friends... another teacher said she was sharing it with her friends, too.  There are people all over the country praying for us.  And to each of you I am grateful!  I believe in the power of prayer!

A sweet friend brought us the most glorious chili last night for dinner.  I may have to beg for her recipe.  It was delicious!  And I also received in the mail, the sweetest blanket with photos of my precious family on it... what a great gift!  Thank you!

"The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." (Psalm 147:11)

There are so many people who have surrounded us during this journey.  I am so blessed by the cards, letters, emails, comments on the blog, visits, phone calls and text messages.   But my real comfort is in God's unfailing love!  My hope springs eternal every day. I know that as much as all of you love us, Our heavenly father loves us so much more.  I know that I have one standing in my place, interceding to the father on my behalf.  And my hope is secure!  He will not fail!  

I love the scripture that says, "For I know the plans I have for you...a plan to prosper and not to harm you... to give you a hope and a future..." (paraphrased).  I love that passage because I know that even though this journey may harm my body, God's unfailing love will prosper my soul!  I know that this is God's will for me, right now, for this glorious season of my life.  I don't understand the plan, but I trust the God who does!

I am blessed beyond measure and full of hope and a future!

Only By His Grace,


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Infusion center day two...

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body."  2 Corinthians 4: 8-11

As I sit in the infusion center for an additional day, I am keenly aware of this passage of scripture.  So many are the conversations around me.  Some are battling with insurance to pay their bills.  Some are here because their cancer is back.  Some have been through so much, they are reverting to a childlike state, and you can see their spouses bearing the weight of it.

But I sit here thinking how, yes, cancer makes you feel hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down.  But the strength our savior gives keeps us from being crushed, abandoned, destroyed or in despair.

Oh, there are moments... Moments when the unknown overpowers you, moments where fatigue overtakes you, moments where nothing seems normal.... But I remind myself daily that this is the path God is allowing me to walk, by his sovereign grace...and I will walk it gracefully!

I want the life of Christ to be revealed in me, more than cancer is evident in me.  "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body."

We are blessed that our insurance is good.  We are blessed that my symptoms have been mild.  We are blessed with doctors who care...genuinely!  Every day, we are not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, and not destroyed!  And all this...

Only by His Grace,


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Lord Mighty in battle ...

"Who is this king of glory?  The Lord, strong and mighty, The Lord, mighty in battle,". psalm 24:8

As I sit in this hospital bed, hooked to fluids and steroids, anti -anxiety meds and anti -nausea meds.  I cannot help but think of a message tweeted from the IMB at he KBC meeting in October.  I will not try to quote it perfectly, but basically it said this:

"The battles we face are not necessarily attacks against us personally, but rather, they are attacks against god's glory. " Now I don't know about you, but that makes me spit fire angry to think something, anything is trying to attack my God's glory.  Whether it be cancer, financial hardship, depression, anxiety, loneliness, pain or torment, I want to stand against the attack and be faithful to point others to His glory. 

No, he doesn't need us to fight for him, "This king of glory is strong and mighty, mighty in battle" rather we are the ones who need him to battle for us. 

How then, can we move forward in our walk of trail and turmoil?  First, we acknowledge that he is the one who fights our battles for us.  We trust him and we wait patiently to see the salvation of The Lord.  Secondly, we make ourselves ready to shine the light of the hope that we have.  The world is watching.  The world is looking to see if our God is what we say he is. 

When an attack comes at our God's glory, we rise up against the attacker and give God all the praise.  We give him all glory and honor due his great name. Because when an attack comes at our Lord, we know he is strong and mighty in battle.  He fights for us, and in return, we must give him honor and glory due his name!

Giving him all the praise for this blessed path I have been chosen to walk!  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace on whom his favor rests.

only By his grace


Monday, December 2, 2013

Blessing upon blessing...

I made a boo boo and thought today was my first chemo day... turns out, I am, as suspected, CRAZY -- and the chemo starts tomorrow.

Today I received the sweetest basket of goodies from some very sweet ladies in my life.  To say I was overwhelmed by their kindness is the understatement of a lifetime.  I don't know whether to cry tears of joy and gratitude or do the dance of joy because... I REALLY like the stuff inside :)  Somehow the dance of joy seems entirely inappropriate...and selfish...but still... I really love the things inside.

This precious friend brought to me a basket of the following goodies to get John and I through the long 6 hour treatment tomorrow... 

Granola bars
Bottles of Smart Water
3-CD boxed set
a prayer journal
devotional books
Promise books from God's word
2 little scripture plaques
3 mason jars FILLED with chocolates and mints
a word search book
a Soduko book
gum (because of my garlic and ginger tea)  ha ha
colored pens
and so much love I can hardly contain it.

There was a beautiful Nativity Christmas ornament that simply says "believe" and the sweetest cards of encouragement and prayer.

To the sweet friends who blessed me today, I say thank you.  You are a treasure.

I have friends transporting my kids from school and friends bringing us dinner. I spoke with a friend today I haven't spoken with in a while - she is a beautiful cancer survivor.  I have another precious, selfless friend managing Meal Train for our family and literally hundreds of people praying for us. Literally. Hundreds.  

My family receives texts and emails and cards and letters ever day.  Each day is filled with blessing.  Each day is a reminder of His mercies renewed every morning.

To each of you, I thank you.  My heart is so full and blessed!  You are a blessing to me... I can't imagine my family going through this without a single one of you!

Only By His Grace,