Friday, September 9, 2016

The Great Return

I can't believe my last post was over a year ago! How has it been so long?  Why did I stop writing? I could make all kinds of excuses - surgeries, recovery, kids, mobile church, laundry, etc. But, I really think the only answer is. . . I just felt like I had nothing to say. I am an introvert by nature. On the DISC scale, I am an S/C with very little D/I. I will work behind the scenes and not think twice about it.  But, I married a high D and as pastors, it is difficult to operate behind the scenes only and lead at the same time. Sometimes I have to be reminded that I do have things to say and share. So, share I must.  When I started this blog, I was feeling the effects of working all the time and lacking a creative outlet.  When I was given my diagnosis and started the treatment plan, all 'extra' things just went out the window and we focused on surviving and maintaining. It's been 2-1/2 years since the diagnosis, almost 2 years since my mastectomy and almost 2 years since my hair started growing back. I am back to working full time, keeping up with kids activities and serving in the ministry in every way that I can. My goal while healing was to not allow myself to get to the uptight, wound-up, stressed, over-worked, wrung out place that I was in when I found out I had breast cancer.  I remember driving home from work and just feeling an all over anxiety and an ever-present need to rush, rush, rush. I am busy again, but this time, it's different. I don't let those things stress me out the same way that I did. Traffic is still traffic. We still have to be in 3 different places at once sometimes, but none of it is world-ending if we are late, or miss something.  And I am so THANKFUL to be in that place! I had someone ask me when I was bald from chemo, would I take some pictures - and my answer at the time was NO WAY! I did not want to remember that mess.  But now, I look back to where we were and how things felt and there are people that have no idea what we went through. It is a miracle that people can't see the effects on me - that was my prayer, honestly. For a while, that rocked my emotional world though - because I knew that I was changed (physically, emotionally, mentally) and I knew that there had been struggle and suffering - but what people see is that I am well and 'normal'.  I think I will always refer back to this time to give honor and remember what the Lord did for me, for us!  Now, I want to reflect back on it! All of that to say, my 'silence' is broken and I will challenge myself to pour out again in this way. Funny stories? Maybe. Spiritual lessons? Hopefully. Kid memories? Probably.  It is what it is - it's my blog and I'll write what I want!  Happy reading. . .

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Life Lately

Well, it's been a while! Sorry for the drought, but there have been a few things going on. Let's see . . . cancer diagnosis, chemo treatments, mastectomy, radiation, Christmas holidays, rest from all that for 5 months while going back to work, then reconstruction surgery. Throw in a few bajillion baseball games, band concerts and various other kid related events, as well as church functions (ALIVE Conference) and that brings us up to speed. It's been a full spring! I am rounding out my days while on short term leave, recovering from reconstructive surgery. It was a little more challenging than I thought it would be, but in some ways it has been better than I expected - purely by the grace of God. I am back to sleeping flat in my bed again, praise Jesus! And can mostly walk upright - just a slight lean from the tightness of my abdomen where they stretched the skin tight to close up where they removed 'blubber'. I am looking forward to being able to join my family in the pool soon. Right now, I feel like a spectator for many things - something I'm not very good at anymore. I'm surprised at how quickly and easily I have settled into the hermit/couch potato status. I'm trying to identify if this is a physical thing only or if I have some other weird issue going on - since I am finding it more difficult to re-engage into the world - as in ministry, cooking, keeping a schedule. . .
   I am truly enjoying days by the pool, napping after kids get off to school and keeping the laundry caught up at all times. Just as each phase of this 'journey' has been a reminder of seasons and how quickly things change, I have to remember that this season of rest (laziness?) will end too. Hopefully, I will be able to walk in discipline to remember my limits, to keep a sabbath day and put everything in the correct perspective/priority order so that peace and trust will rule and not busyness and fret! It will be time to roll up my sleeves  and get my hands dirty again soon enough!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


During this whole 'journey', there have been some challenges and some victories. At one point, I received Dodie Osteen's book "Healed of Cancer".  I dug into it very quickly and have highlighted these 40 scriptures that she used - they have become my own.  I have them printed out and on index cards.  It's amazing how much the Word has been a source.  My favorite scripture is Jeremiah 30:17 that says 'I will restore your health and heal your wounds, says The Lord". I have quoted that many times over the last few months.  Especially when my hands and feet were numb or when I was feeling queasy.  My prayer when I started this was that I would not look tired and sick.  I did not want my children to have to see me in the worst of the worst.  I did not want to look sick.  Thankfully, although I have felt sick many, many times, I have not really looked sick.  I did lose my hair.  It began to fall out two days after my second chemo treatment.  My scalp was so tender and I could barely run my fingers through my hair without having a handful of hair left in my hand.  I was surprised at how quickly it happened.  I noticed it on a Saturday evening and I was still able to wash and style my hair for Sunday church. But Monday morning, I washed it but couldn't dry it so I wore it with gel and curly to work that day.  The next day, I was afraid to get it wet because it would fill the bathtub drain, so I wore a scarf to work.  That afternoon, The Hubs met me at a wig shop and we picked out a wig.  That was not fun. I wanted something a little different (shorter looked better and I felt would transition better for a hairstyle change). They offered to shave my head that day, but I wasn't mentally ready then. By Friday, I was sick of losing hair so I went in and had it shaved down with an 8 - leaving about 1-1/2 inches of hair.  It changed textures completely when I was no longer about to really use hair product or blow-dry.  It looked gray and flat against my head.  A month later, I had my sister help to shave the rest of it off.  My mom was there too and wondered if I was traumatized by it, but I had already been dealing with the 'trauma' for a while so it actually made things a little easier.  I have not enjoyed wearing the wig as much as I thought I might.  It's not uncomfortable, just gets old. Scarves and hats are more comfortable to wear but I'm not completely comfortable with wearing these out very often. I don't really get stares just sort of pity-looks.
   At one point, my boss gave me a book she had seen on Oprah with the author called "Silver Linings."  I really enjoyed reading this one - written by a woman who was a hospice nurse that was diagnozed with breast cancer around age 39.  She gives practical wisdom along with medical wisdom and each chapter ends with a list of the silver linings that she looked for and found.  What's funny is that I had already done a similar exercise for each stage.  You can't help but look for the good in things that you have no control over.  Otherwise, the heaviness can be overwhelming. So, although I hated losing my hair, I definitely enjoyed shaving 25+ minutes off of my get ready time in the mornings. And not having to shave my legs or anything over the summer was nice.  I did miss a lot of summertime fun activities but then I didn't have to look for an excuse to not go out in my swimsuit. It's all in how you look at things! Since my treatments happened every other week for 4 months, we got a pretty good feel for what would happen when and how to deal with it.  I have to say, my kids and my husband were real troopers!  I also had incredible support from family, neighbors and church people who brought food and drove kids to activities. I was able to step back from a lot of responsibilities at church and hand them off to able-bodied and willing leaders - probably something I should have done months/years before.  It was nice to be able to count down - like 'I've done 3 out of 8 treatments', 'I've done 7 out of 8 treatments'. I was completely done before the last one.  We did another ultrasound just before the 8th and final treatment - it did not show significant change in the size of the tumor.  I was very much aware of the the size from the first ultrasound.  I saw the black spot in the middle of the screen and I watch the ultrasound tech measure it. So, lying there watching the same thing months later after enduring so much medicine and iv's and blood checks, I was done. I called and left messages asking to not have to complete the last treatment.  I told people I was not doing anymore.  I got to the oncologist's office the day before my scheduled treatment and had already discussed with a nurse over the phone that I would probably be required to complete it.  I was an emotional mess. I cried the day before. At work. At home. I cried in the office with the oncologist. I cried in the car on the way home.  The dread of having to do it again was just more than I could handle. But I did it. All 8 chemo treatments. I got to ring the bell when it was done, with nurses gathered around cheering with me. I told them 'thank you' but I hoped that I never see them again. They were very kind, but I am ready to turn the page on this chapter!

Monday, June 16, 2014

And the rambles continue. . .

April 3rd - that's the day I sat in the doctor's office and listened to her tell me that I had 'Invasive Ductal Carcinoma'.  Jimmy and I were just shocked. There's nothing you can ask or say in a moment like that. She explained that this is not an area of specialty for her so she read the report and then recommended a surgeon that she wanted us to meet with - who would be able to explain more. I drove home - we were in separate cars - and cried and prayed and called my parents who were waiting to hear. I stayed home the rest of the day just trying to figure myself out. The peace of God was definitely there, but there were so many unknowns that we had to work through. I called and scheduled an appointment with the surgeon for the following Monday.
We celebrated Kid#1's 13th birthday that weekend and it's always good to have a busy family weekend to keep your mind off of things. So thankful for my family through all of this!
Monday meeting with the surgeon was a 4:30 appointment. I stopped to pick up my slides from the biopsy, mammogram and ultrasound so that the surgeon could review. He also wanted to do an exam. I have always seen female doctors, so this particular exam was very awkward for us, but he came highly recommended. After the exam, he took us into a conference room and spent the next hour and a half explaining options to us. We learned that the tumor was about 2.5 cm in size and not aggressive. He felt like he would be able to operate and get a clear margin around it - a lumpectomy - but that he wanted me to see an oncologist to review everything in case they recommended other treatments. I have learned so much about cancer now - I'm disappointed in myself for not asking more questions when my mom and mother-in-law dealt with similar situations. They are both doing well after removal of lumps - by the way. I do not have a family history of breast cancer in my family, especially at so young, so we know this is unusual. I have lived an exceedingly blessed life but I know that I am not immune to sickness or rain. God's word never promised that we wouldn't go through things, it promises that He will be with us as we go through things. And He has been with us through this whole journey.
The surgeon refereed us to an oncologist and so we left planning to schedule an appointment. As we talked about what we had learned from the surgeon it became very clear that the Hubs was not comfortable with this surgeon. His mother recommended that we go see the oncologist she had used at MD Anderson so I called and scheduled an appointment with their oncologist and surgeon. It was a completely different experience. Every doctor, nurse and radiologist has been a young woman. They are informative and understanding.  My oncologist has recommended things that she saw her own mother use. Because of my age and the size of the tumor, it was recommended that I use chemotherapy treatment to treat my system. The surgeon did not feel like a lumpectomy was the best course of action but she understands that this would be my preference. We decided to use chemo first to try and shrink the tumor and then see if a lumpectomy would be  possible - before we consider a full mastectomy. None of these things were in my plans. We have prayed for God's healing and believe that He is already at work. Do I understand why there hasn't been immediate healing? No. Do I believe that God could do the miraculous? Yes!  I want to be the one that crazy miraculous things happen to!  More to come. . . the story continues.

Not so rambly rambles. . .

Ok, so most of the people who read this silly attempt to blog already know what is going on in my world lately.  If not, this will not be a pleasant start to a post.  I may not even post this but just use this as a way to gather my thoughts - they always seem to become more orderly in my head when I write them down.
Series of unfortunate events:
- Middle of February - after a 7 day cruise with my hubby, discover a lump in my left breast. It feels a little like contracted muscles - tight and a little uncomfortable when pressed. Agree to get it checked out.
- Early March - celebrate my 39th birthday and call to schedule appointment with ob/gyn.  Doctor is out of town for the following week (Spring Break) and appointment would be pushed to April so agree to see Nurse Practitioner instead. Pay large amount of money (unmet deductible) to have her tell me that I have a lump and need to get it checked.
- Mid-March - schedule appointment for mammogram and ultrasound. It was a Tuesday.  Laid on the gurney and could see the ultrasound and the large black spot on the screen. Radiologist goes over the spot again and says we need to schedule a biopsy.  She is also concerned about the lymph nodes under my left arm. Nurse walks me out and explains that I shouldn't be worried, God is in control. She tells me that she gets on her knees every morning and prays for her patients - and has for the last 15 years. I thank her - such a sweet lady! They want me to schedule appointment for the next day, but I had jury duty scheduled for the next day. So, we set it for Friday morning.
- Wednesday of that week - I drive downtown for jury duty and come seriously close to getting selected for a murder trial that will take at least 14 days of court room time.  When they ask if anyone has any medical reasons or trips planned, I raise my hand and explain the biopsy scheduled.  Desperate prayers are sent up as I sit throughout the day and wait for their decision to be made - thankfully they were able to come up with 12 people out of the 80 and it did not include me!
- Friday of that week - my parents drive in the night before so that they can help over the weekend and mom can go with me to the appointment.  I have already requested my husband to go - since I don't know what all will transpire.  Mom and Hubs wait while I am poked.  It was much more painful than I had anticipated, but overall the recovery was pretty quick. I tried to watch Frozen with little bit but couldn't stay awake. I had committed to going with several of our women to a women's conference that night and the next day - and since only two of us knew the way, I knew I would be driving.  I kept ice packs in proper places and some extra in the car to trade out as needed throughout the night.  It was a great service - absolutely felt the peace of God! Was worn out that night so didn't stay for fellowship (even though I would have loved to) and headed home.  Up the next day and back again.  I had a crazy feeling during the service, as she preached on Esther, as if the Lord was placing a huge heavy robe as for a queen upon my shoulders.  It was strange because everyone else was shouting and jumping and praising, and I was worn out but feeling the weight of the robe like a warm blanket. It was like grace and peace and the only word I could use to describe it is 'regal'.  I don't know what it means or how it fits into this 'journey', but I believe there is some significance. Both boys had games that day, but in different places. So we finished out the day at games and eating out with the parents.  That weekend was the busiest we have had in a long time - and maybe it was like that so that my mind was occupied with family and other things - but I was completely covered in peace!
- Results week - I was told 3 to 5 days, and it took the full 5 days for results to come back, but they went straight to the ob/gyn's office and they were closed on a late Friday afternoon. So, I called repeatedly the next Monday (over 1 week later) and could only get the answering service.  I called the clinic that did the work to see if they could make a suggestion or if they had a back number to the doctor.  The 'nurse navigator' assured me that they could not give results, they had to come from the doctor, but that she would help me find out what I needed.  I finally got through the next day, Tuesday and scheduled an appointment for Thursday to go into the office.
- Thursday - almost two weeks after the biopsy, we wait in the waiting room for over an hour and are ushered into an exam room.  The office is undergoing some transition so they are in an upheaval (hence the day and a half of no phones), so the nurses begin to prep me for an exam and I assure them I am only there for results. The nurses quickly get the doctor who comes in and hugs me. I've known her since she delivered little bit over 5 years ago. She begins with shaking her head and tells me she does not have good news. . . (To be continued)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How is it mid-March already?!

Somehow, time has flown in such a way that one-fourth of the year 2014 is almost over. . . let that sink in for a minute. So, here's what has happened so far this year (or at least since I last blogged):
- Christmas came and went. It was glorious! Great gifts, baking bonanza, time off with the family. Could not have asked for more.
- New Year's Eve - fellowship and games, and prayed in the New Year with some of my favorite people. All prepped for a great year of promise!
- January included some work travel. Who goes to Calgary in January? This girl. Nothing like standing at the window in your hotel room on the 23rd floor of a strange city, looking out and seeing life happen - to remind you how small we really are! So thankful for grace and home and snow boots.
- February - the month of LOVE. Took a 7 day cruise with The Hubs. Can you say 'Fabulous?' It was! Especially since about 75% of the crowd was over 60 - I felt young and like I looked very good in my swimsuit! One of the waiters asked us if we were on our honeymoon - we laughed and shocked him when we told him we had been married almost 17 years. And admitted that yes, we were married in our pre-teens. The house got a good cleaning because the parents came and kept the fort standing while we were gone. I really like those parents!
- March - started with a bang (as in birthday bang) - I am now just a few (as in 12) short months away from the dreaded 4-0. Oh well.  Beats the alternative.  Had a great time with my gang - family, friends and church.  Got two cakes (the white cake with strawberries and whipped cream icing from HEB is the winner - sorry, Sam's chocolate cake). Gained pounds that I don't want to talk about. But had an all around great time!  Got a new vacuum (hello Shark!)  DISCLAIMER: I did not get a vacuum cleaner from my husband for my birthday.  It was simply because we needed a new vacuum cleaner and I was whinier around my birthday.
And that leads us to today.  March 11th. The middle of Spring Break for the boys - they are getting geared up for Intense - woohoo! The windows are open and I am avoiding cooking dinner because - what should I cook?! All in all, this year has been good to us and I am truthfully looking forward to the rest of it!
Much love

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

He is. . .

Found this list of names of Jesus and who He is for us, and had to share. Let Him be these things to you! He is. . .
  • Alpha and Omega – Revelation 1:8
  • Blessed Hope – Titus 2:13
  • Bright and Morning Star – Revelation 22:16
  • Captain – Hebrews 2:10
  • Comforter – John 14:16-18
  • Christ – Matthew 1:16
  • Counselor – Isaiah 9:6
  • Creator – Romans 1:25
  • Crown of Glory – Isaiah 28:5
  • Deliverer – Psalms 40:17
  • Dwelling Place – Psalms 90:1
  • Everlasting Father – Isaiah 9:6
  • Faithful and True – Revelation 19:11
  • Fountain of Living Waters – Jeremiah 17:13
  • Gift of God – John 4:10
  • Good Shepherd – John 10:11
  • God With Us – Matthew 1:23
  • Gracious – Romans 16:24
  • High Tower – Psalms 18:2
  • Holy One of Israel – Psalms 89:18
  • I Am – John 18:6
  • Immanuel – Isaiah 7:14
  • Jehovah Jireh – Provider – 1 John 4:9
  • Jehovah Nissi – Banner – 1 Chronicles 29:11-13
  • Jehovah Shalom – Peace – Isaiah 9:6
  • Jehovah Tsidkenu – Righteousness – 1 Cor 1:30
  • Jehovah Shammah – Present – Hebrew 13:5
  • Jehovah M’Kaddesh – Sanctifier – 1 Cor 1:30
  • Jehovah Rophe – Healer – Isaiah 53:4-5
  • Jehovah Rohi – Shepherd – Psalm 23
  • King of Glory – Psalms 24:7-8
  • King of Kings – Revelation 19:16
  • Lamb of God – John 1:29
  • Life – John 14:6
  • Light of the World – John 8:12
  • Lord of Glory – 1 Corinthians 2:8
  • Lord of Lords – 1 Timothy 6:15
  • Master – Matthew 23:10
  • Mediator – 1 Timothy 2:5
  • Merciful – Hebrews 2:17
  • Mighty God – Isaiah 9:6
  • Name Above Every Name – Philippians 2:9
  • Omnipotent – Revelation 19:6
  • Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6
  • Portion of Mine Inheritance – Psalms 16:5
  • Redeemer – 1 Corinthians 1:30
  • Resting Place – Jeremiah 50:6
  • Rock of My Refuge – Psalms 94:22
  • Same Yesterday, Today and Forever – Hebrews 13:8
  • Shepherd – Psalms 23:1
  • Shield – Psalms 84:9
  • Strong Tower – Proverbs 18:10
  • Treasure – 2 Corinthians 4:7
  • True Vine – John 15:1
  • Victory – 1 Corinthians 15:54
  • Way – John 14:6
  • Wonderful – Isaiah 9:6
  • Worthy – Revelation 4:11
  • Exceeding Great Reward – Genesis 15:1
  • Excellent – Psalms 8:1
  • Yes and Amen – 2 Corinthians 1:20
  • Zeal of Your House – John 2:17