"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes." Psalm 119:71

Friday, December 31, 2010

Is It 2011 Yet?

Today is the last day of the worst year of all my years.

"Forbid that I should walk through Thy beautiful world with unseeing eyes."
--John Baillie

Click below to enjoy one of the best things in this beautiful world (in my humble opinion)...
Classic country music! And the lyrics I'm claiming for 2011...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Moving On

I've had big plans for a huge cancer-free bash since almost the day of my diagnosis. Because I enjoy planning events, thinking of this up-and-coming party gave me plenty to think about while I was sick from chemo.

But I'm feeling differently now.

Christmas 2010 has come and gone. And I had four separate family Christmases. And at each one of them, cancer was far from my mind. Who has time to think about cancer when it's Christmas, right? Luckily, my treatment was far behind me (and my surgery so far ahead) that I was able to enjoy Christmas as "just me" again. Not, "Me with Cancer."

So, I'm over the label. I'm past the illness. I don't want to give anymore attention to it. And that includes planning a party. It's not the celebratory event or mood that I mind. It's the effort it would take me to throw the party. And each minute of planning would just be me sitting amongst the memories. And however enjoyable the planning was, I'd be inwardly wallowing at losing more moments to this dreaded disease. Someday, in the future, perhaps, I'll plan the charity event I've thought of for so many months.

For now, I'm just moving on.

I've still got the bruises, metaphorically speaking. And I've been changed in more ways than I can count. So I'll never be the same. But, thankfully I don't have to stay in this moment. It's like covering a wall with new wall paper. You can smooth the new paper over the old and have a shiny new appearance. But, with one intentional scrape of a finger nail you can reveal the old paper below.

I don't want to spend any more time dwelling on having been sick. I want to put up new wall paper. Maybe some paint. The room looks new but the foundation is the same.

"I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."
Psalm 34:4-8

God heard me.
My face has been lightened.
I have been saved from my troubles.
I have been delivered.
I am blessed.

And now I'm moving on.
Never to forget, but never to live in the past.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

More Along Those Lines

Read this post. This woman is a beautiful, moving writer and her tumbling ideas and speech in this post describe how Terry and I have been feeling about living radical lives.

It's worth your time. 

(Note: she calls her husband "farmer.")

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Accountability and an Awkward Topic

Since you were all a huge part in getting us through this last year, I think it's important that Terry and I stay accountable to you.

We are very transparent about finances. That's partly because of our "chatty" generation, and partly because of Dave Ramsey's influence. We haven't been shy in admitting our early financial mistakes and our attempts in the last few years to get things in order.

Before I was diagnosed this year, we paid off our car, were no longer paying credit card debt, and for the first time in a while, had a savings account that was growing. We had mastered Dave Ramsey's envelope system and we were, for the first time in years, not stressing about money.

But since we had just barely righted ourselves, this illness was all it took to send us back in this area. We were at the store the day before my mastectomy and I got a call from the hospital letting us know what our part of the cost of the surgery would be. I was mentally and physically exhausted, and the number the woman gave us felt so high. I ended up sitting on the floor of the store with my head in my hands, thinking, "How can I pay for this?"

Before we left the store Terry and I had prayed and left it up to God.

And as an answer to our prayers, so many of you were there for us financially. You sent checks and giftcards, sometimes with explicit instructions on what to spend money on, and sometimes not.

And even though we're far from perfect, we tried to use your gifts the best way we knew how. And oddly enough, the last two non-fiction books I've read have been about money within God's kingdom and Terry and I are excited about what God's teaching us about it.

And so, since so many of you have blessed us (and we pray you're blessed a hundred times over for it!) we wanted to take a moment to let you know that, yes, we are going to Disney World. But no, we are not paying for it.

You may think it's silly for me to address this topic, but I wanted to be very clear that we haven't taken any monetary gifts and shoved them into a vacation fund! We are blessed that my Dad and Step-Mom offered to fly all four of us to Orlando and they're treating us to a stay in a beautiful condo and four days at the parks. We don't deserve a trip, but we're so very grateful for it.

And I wanted to be accountable to you. You've prayed for us, served us, and sacrificed for us. This wasn't just my journey, but all of your's too. Terry and I will be accountable to you, not just financially, but spiritually as well. We want to use what we've learned the best we can so that all of your hard work and prayers are honored.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Year In Waiting

(*If you're not up for reading a long post, make sure you scroll down and read about how to submit prayer requests.)

Last year for Christmas Kelly and Kyle gave me Mike Huckabee's Christmas book. I was reading another book at the time, so I put the book on the shelf to read later. But when 'later' rolled around I didn't feel like reading a Christmas book when it wasn't Christmas. So over this past weekend, I curled up in bed with a cup of coffee, turned on the Christmas lights in our bedroom, and started reading.

It's a great book. A simple read, (In fact, it's called A Simple Christmas) that features 12 sections on different themes that Huckabee relates to certain memorable Christmases. The first few chapters were on Patience, Sacrifice, Lonliness, Family, Traditions.

Halfway through the book I got to the section called, "Crisis."

When Huckabee was in his first year of marriage, when he and his spouse were both 20, the doctors found a large tumor in his wife's spinal canal. He writes that just after the doctor gave him the bad news, "...I sat there alone trying to soak in what he had just told me. Cancer. That's a word that twenty-year-old healthy women (or their 20-year-old-husbands) are not supposed to be faced with, but here I was trying to come to terms with the fact that my wife had it."

"...If there was silver lining in this cloud, my tear-filled eyes couldn't see it. I did my best to outwardly show confidence and optimism, primarily to keep Janet from giving up and also to further the facade that my faith was unshaken and firm in the face of such unexpected news."

There was much more involved in their crisis though. They were struggling financially, Mike was in his last semester of college. Their car was broken into while they were both at the hospital and many of his school books were taken.

And her tumor was in such an awful place that doctors said she would either be paralyzed from the surgery or, once they opened her up, they would find it inoperable and she would have a few months to live at best.

After the surgery, the surgeon came to talk to Mike. "Dr. Fletcher then calmly and gently told us that when he had gotten to the tumor, expecting it to be firmly attached or wrapped in the spinal cord, he had started the extraction and it had simply dislodged. He said he was surprised, but he had been able to remove the four-or five-inch elongated tumor that had grown inside the bony structure of her spine. I'll never forget him saying, "I think you guys had a lot of people praying for her... and me."

Janet's recovery was long because of the back surgery. She underwent radiation once she was well enough. They got up at 4 a.m. every day to drive 75 miles each way, to sit at a doctors office for an hour, then get back home in time for Huckabee to go to work and school.

And, then, just a few weeks after her treatment, it was Christmas time.

"The Christmas of 1975 was perhaps our simplest ever. Neither of us had money to buy anything for the other that year. But neither of us wanted any "thing" anyway... Something was dramatically different about this Christmas. We had made it to Christmas, and life and hope were all that we wanted. The lights were just as bright and the Christmas food was just as good, but it was the first Christmas ever that no gift at all could have equalled the one we cherished most. We celebrated life itself, and it was a pretty good reminder of what really matters in life... That Christmas we learned that God's greatest gift to us is not to remove us from crisis, but to walk through crisis with us. He does not do us a favor by taking us out of all the trials and tribulations of life, but strengthens us by giving us the grace to get through them and emerge on the other side having realized that what we thought we couldn't endure, we in fact just did."

"How often do we ask for the gift of escape from a problem and instead it seems to escalate? When we want Christmas to represent the easy path and the glittery gifts, we fail to understand that the real message of the Messiah is that the first Christmas was the opposite of easy. It was more about long stretches of darkness and lonliness, instead of the stunning stars that were eventually seen in the night sky. Before the angels sang and the shepherds saw stars, a scared couple fumbled their was around a strange town and endured pain and humiliation. True faith is forged in the furnace, not in the showroom."

This book was a gift, a year in waiting. It would have made for a nice read had I picked it up in December 2009. But this year, it meant so much more.

I hope you've noticed that there are now prayer requests listed on my blog, jus to the right of my posts. Christmas is the most trying time to face difficulties, and I'd like to pray for you if you're going through one. Email me at pray28cancer@yahoo.com with any requests. Unless you specifically request that I don't, I'll list the requests on the blog for others to pray about. 

And if you aren't sure about the story of the first Christmas, if you aren't certain that you do have faith to get you through your trials, read Luke 2 and choose to put your hope in Christ, who came into our world as a baby, but will someday come back as the King.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

Slow Down!

So busy. So busy!! Did I sit down today? Did I sit down all weekend??

I can't stop moving- it's The Reason for the season that's got me anxious to do all I can do to spread His message of hope this year! What can I do? Who can I help? How do I teach my kids it's not about gifts? How do I include a message of Christ's love in my thank-you gifts to Micah's pre-school teachers? How do I remember that its not about gifts-- the ones I get OR the ones I give?

I won't be overwhelmed with chores, to-do lists, or how to buy bigger, better presents. I won't care about wrapping paper, curling ribbon, or gift cards.

I will be overjoyed by the true miracle of it all. I will sing carols and reach out to the needy (which is you, me, your next-door neighbor. Be careful how you define needy or you could miss out on plenty who really need help.) I will pray, pray, pray. I will S-L-O-W  D-O-W-N beginning... NOW!

Every year I say I hate the pace of this special season. I believe our enemy's got us right where he wants us. If we're so consumed with shopping, gift-giving, creating traditions, and attending every party we're invited to, then before we know it... Christmas is over. And we've not stopped to get on our knees and worship. To say how much we're humbled by His grandness. To imagine the sky filled with angels singing the greatest birthday song. It's heart-breaking that I was thisclose to letting it all pass in a blur again!

I had cancer this year. I did! Really-- it wasn't a dream. It's come flashing into my life like lightning, quickening the pace of life and making me dash through things at a break-neck speed! Get-to-the-end-of-it! Get done, get done, get done! Be over, be over, be over!

But now it's time to stop all of that. It's time I looked up again and just sat and talked with my God. The one who "stepped down from his throne... to romance a world that is torn all apart." When Jesus left the wonders of heaven to join the human race and be born into a world full of hate, disease, and selfishness,

 Luke 2:14, New American Standard
"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

Friday, December 3, 2010

How You Can Help

Help this family this holiday season. This mom and her sons are members of our church and they've had a hard year. Click the link below for more info.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


What made me mad today: difficulties getting hospital staff to FOCUS!

What made me laugh today: when the man doing my bone density scan asked, after being surprised to learn that I was a breast cancer survivor, "Did you eat lead paint when you were little?"

What scared me today: smelling the soap in the oncologist's office. That smell immediately reminds me of sickness and fear!

What made me happy today: generous friends, a smoothie, hugs from my boys, a good book, and the premier of a new season of Top Chef!