Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Renewed strength and His holiness

One down and seven to go.....not that I'm looking to the end, but thankful to have the first chemo treatment behind me and an inkling as to how I should feel on my treatment day and the days following. Last Thursday (first chemo day) was the hardest hitting.

I came home feeling fine and then by early afternoon began going downhill.....nausea, flu-like symptoms, and really, really tired. Thankfully, I was able to sneak away to the bedroom and lay down for a long nap. I didn't awake feeling much better and had little to no appetite, but a little more strength after the nap....enough to take me to the football field to watch the boys practice.

Friday, I awoke feeling pretty much the same. I had to go back to the oncologist Friday morning for my Neulasta shot.....which helps boost my blood counts so I am ready for the next chemo treatment. The dose dense ACT chemo schedule is a one week on, one week off schedule. The Neulasta enables patients to get chemo every two weeks, instead of every 3. But, it sure is an assault to the body! I told the nurses that I was still feeling nauseous, so they prescribed another anti-nausea medicine to take with my other two. I was told that if I was going to experience bone pain from the Neulasta, it would be apparent over the weekend. Praise God that the bone pain never came!

Friday came with mild nausea....kind of how I felt when I was pregnant, the nausea was there, but I could push through it and still function. I still didn't have much of an appetite, and overall just felt run down and tired. Everyone has been telling me to listen to my body, when it needs rest....give it rest. I am heeding that advice and very thankful that my 13 year old is adept at running the household, so I can sneak away for naps.

Friday night we had been invited to a friend's house for an end of summer swim party. The kids were so excited to go, and whereas I was tired, I wanted to go for the kids. Disease is hard that way. As the body is afflicted and trying to heal, it is tired and weak and the daily joys and pleasures can be robbed as the lack of energy and pain prevails.

My children have begun to see that side of disease. That my body is tired. That I have to lay down more often. That I'm not able to do all that I did before cancer became a part of our lives. I pray this is temporary. And whereas I know this is teaching them yet again a deeper level of compassion, that they are gaining perspective on human suffering, that they are learning themselves to go to God with their fears and trust him, and learning lessons on selflessness, the power of prayer, and on and on......I don't want them to see me this way. Selfish, I know. I want them to see me whole and healthy. I want to protect them from seeing me weak. I want to be fully engaged, always. I want to be available when they need me. I want to give them a full and happy life, without this disease defining our daily schedule and lives.

And yet, this life and their lives is not about what I want. It is about what God wants and what He wants to do in an through me. Once again, I am learning the lesson of letting go of my daily schedule and my kids to the Lord in a whole new way. Of laying down my wants, for what God wants. And that maybe as my children see me with their eyes as weak, they will see a God at work in me that isn't. That maybe, the very way I desire my kids not see me physically, is the way that God wants them to see me, that we all can be taught more about Him. God is the definer, I am to be the servant, who follows after Him. His wants for my children. His dreams. His schedule. His plan. So quickly I get wrapped in the physical, what I see with my eyes and what I know, what I feel. God is concerned with my relationship to Him....my faith, my love for Him....the pursuit of holiness: His holiness.

As I sat down this morning for another Vit. C treatment, I pulled out My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers....guess what the title was? "Destined to be holy." There it is in one phrase, what God desires for us from this life taken from 1 Peter 1:16 "

"....it is written, Be holy, for I am holy."

As Chambers writes, "We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness. Today we have far too many desires and interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them. Many of them may be right, noble and good, and may later be fulfilled, but in the meantime God must cause their importance to us to decrease. The only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy. At all costs, a person must have the right relationship with God. Do I believe I need to be holy?"

Holiness, as Chambers states, means absolute purity of your walk before God, the words coming from your mouth and every thought in your mind-placing every detail of your life under the scrutiny of God Himself.

And so in my physical weakness, I am placing the mother child role and relationship under the scrutiny of God Himself. I am placing my physical pain before Him, my thoughts and my words. Every word and every thought of mine is not holy. I continually go before the Lord asking for forgiveness in this area. And by His grace, I am forgiven and press on pursuing Him and His holiness even more. That this very cancer, that which to me is ugly, which robs me of time with my husband and children, which causes me to retreat bed.....will draw me into an even deeper relationship with the God who created me and calls me to be holy. That this journey will go to the heart of sin deep within me and in the end, be the tool needed to cleanse away that which is unholy. Oh may I not run from this, but embrace it.

And so......Along with the nausea and tiredness came a weekend filled with a whole slew of activities: away football game on Saturday, Harescramble race Sunday morning....Barclay took the two older boys to the race, I stayed back at home with Luke and Jed as I needed to be at church for Women's Ministry fall Bible Study registration and then Luke had an afternoon football game.

I thank God for His mercy and grace as He brought me through this chemo treatment. Saturday was again defined with nausea and just an overall tiredness, but I made it to Seth's 1st football game. By Sunday, my strength was being renewed. I awoke that morning with no bone pain, very mild nausea and beginning to feel like myself again. Off we went to church and then Luke's football game.

Monday morning, my energy was restored, the nausea was gone and another school day was underway. I am thankful that I get a week of reprieve from doctor's appointments and treatments...only one appt. today for Vit. C. It is nice to be back in the throes of being a mom with some semblance of normalcy. But as God reminded me today.....healthy or sick, weak or strong....the circumstance and day to day is constantly changing....but he doesn't. My happiness cannot be based on how I am feeling that day. My happiness, my joy, is found in God alone and is available every moment of every day. What matters is that I am pursuing Him and allowing Him to use my weakness through this cancer that He may be shown strong. That He posses me, not this cancer. May He shine when I am laying down, sick and weak....or when I am standing up.....healthy and strong. Either way....I am His and continue to daily pursue His Holiness.

Here is a quick recap in pictures of our "helmet" weekend!

Much love,

Friday, August 27, 2010

God the Help of Those Who Seek Him

That was the title of the Psalm that God spoke to my heart early Thursday morning as I sat with Him on the front porch, before my 1st day of chemo would begin. My heart was heavy and anticipation of the day was flooding through my mind. I don't remember how my eyes were brought to Psalm 121, as I began in Matthew 24, but God knew that is what my restless heart needed to hear and so He brought me there.

As the Psalm is so aptly titled, "God the Help of Those Who Seek Him", my heart was spurned on as I read each word.

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills-
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day
Nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore."

As God always does, when I seek Him, He is to be found; waiting, with a heart filled with love, wanting to speak so intimately to the places of my heart that only He can see. And He met me in my quiet, deepest moments as I cried out to Him. He is my helper, my keeper and the one who preserves me...as I lift my eyes to Him alone. He never sleeps. He provides me shade from this trial and He will not allow my feet to be moved from Him. I held onto each of those promises throughout the day.

It's funny how we build up in our minds what we think the day will look like (at least I do...I guess it is the planner in me and the walls of defense that I think I can set up for protection.) And in the end, God always writes the chapters more beautifully than we ever could think or imagine as we trust in Him. I am continually reminded that everything comes back to our choices...who do we put our trust in- God or man?

Barclay and I walked in the Cancer Center doors a bit late (not an appointment I was gunning to get to early), and as I slowly stepped inside, my eyes were greeted by the loving eyes of my best friend, Beth. She and I had spoken on the phone the night before, but I had no idea she was going to come. What a welcomed sign in a place I really didn't want to be. She said, even if she wasn't allowed to stay, she just wanted to be there for me. I thought only one other person could assist me....but as I asked at the desk, they said, supporters are encouraged to come. I was thrilled. She stayed with me and Barclay through the infusion bringing laughter, comfort and friendship. May we all be so lucky to each have a Beth in this world.

The room that yesterday felt dark and filled with death...became a room filled with God's bright light filtering through the windows, extinguishing the darkness. Laughter graced our ears, and filled our hearts, and hope spread through me. Hope for each other person walking this same cancer road, hope for tomorrow, hope in a God who helps us as we seek Him.

My new home for the next 16 weeks.....

God surrounded me with the most lovely nurses all day....one who was also a believer in Jesus Christ. Kelly was another nurse who I had learned of through my friend, Hillary, a breast cancer survivor. Hillary has been such a source of encouragement along this path (as have each of you!). As Kelly saw me, she told me she had a gift for me left from Hillary. A party bag was handed to me filled with magazines, gum, and snack food to help pass my time. My heart was once again overcome with thanksgiving and praise.

Here the Adriamycin is being pushed through my port line. The Cytoxan then goes in as a drip, for about 45 minutes. Kelly was doing the pushing, but declined a picture....she said next time she'll be ready to be posted on the blog! She was another bright light on a dim day.

And here's my sweet friend and sister in the Lord, Beth. I love you, Beth! Thanks for walking so intimately beside me, once again.

And my precious husband, soul-mate and rock, second only to Christ, Barclay. He completes me. I love him more than life itself and pray God gives us many, many more years together.

We finished up around 12:30 or so. As the day wore on, I became pretty nauseous and tired. I think part of that was just the anticipation leading up to the day, but spent a few hours in bed that afternoon feeling pretty wiped out. The nausea lingered through the evening and is with me again this morning. Nothing too severe, but there nonetheless. My doctor has me on a tight schedule of anti-nausea meds, but may see if there is one more we can add in. I have to go back in today to get a shot of Neulasta which is suppose to help boost my blood counts, but is also can give you pretty bad bone pain while it works on the bone marrow. I'm praying against that pain, but knowing that God will bring me through that, too. One day at a time....

Thanks so much for praying for me and my family as we continue on this journey. Thank you for all of your comments here, your emails , cards and phone calls. I'm so sorry I can't respond to each of you personally, but know that I am thanking God for each of you and pray that He rewards and blesses you in ways I never could.

Much love,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today is the Day

I wish I could start out this post and tell you that I am strong today.

I'm not.

The chemo door stands before me and tomorrow morning at 9:15, Adriamycin and Cytoxan will be put through my veins in the hopes of killing any lingering cancer cells and decreasing my chance of reoccurrence.

I sat before my oncologist this afternoon as she went through the litany of side-effects, procedures, and what I can expect. As she handed me my prescriptions, telling me what I was to take on each day following my treatment...anti-nausea meds and pain relievers. She walked me into the infusion room. A sunny room filled with windows. But there was a blanket of disease that lay over the room. Faces were tired and worn. The light with darkness all around. And I was numb. Tomorrow, I would be sitting in one of those chairs and the effects would begin to run rampant in my body. There is no turning back and I know God doesn't want me to.

I haven't had words this week, hence my silence. I'm fragile today...it is one of those days where the clouds have descended and my head was cast down. I've had to choose moment by moment to fix my eyes upon Jesus throughout the day.

And a tug of war has been ensuing all week between my mind and my heart. Between trusting in the Lord by faith and then trying to understand what the next day will look like, the next week and the next 4 months. Between walking this journey not with what I know in my head to be true, but with what I know about my God in my heart to be true. And satan has been at every turn whispering to me that this cancer is going to take my life. I have felt like I'm walking on a tightrope and the balancing rod keeps swaying down. But with each tip of the rod, Jesus has faithfully been there, reminding me of His love and His Truth.

He had a message for me this week.

Yesterday, God used my older sister to speak this message to my heart. God spoke that message to me again this morning, as I was driving to my Vitamin C infusion at 7:30, and worshipping Him. And then again as I sat down in the infusion chair and looked at my email, another friend encouraged my heart through the Holy Spirit with the same message. As if that wasn't enough....during my infusion, I was preparing the overview for Ephesians this fall and studying Paul, who wrote Ephesians while sitting shackled in chains in a Roman prison. There He worshipped the Lord. The message for me was the same......."Stacy.....today is the day."

Not tomorrow. Not in 4 months when the chemo is done. Not in this time next year when your body may appear whole again. Today. Live for me today. Stay focused on today for I have much for you. Be filled with my Joy, today.

Today, is the day to rejoice. Today is the day I want to carry you. Today I desire to bless you. Today, I want to make myself known through you. Today, I want to fill you with joy and peace that doesn't come from the doctors....only from Christ. There is much you will miss if you keep looking to the end of the road.

I don't want to miss a thing. I don't want a moment of this cancer wasted in worrying, in doubting, in fear. I want to live for Christ today and be rooted in Him alone. I want Him to use me as He sees fit. I want to be filled with His joy, as the chemo goes in, as I lose my hair, as I endure radiation and follow-up surgeries. Oh, how my heart cries for this.

But the battle has been raging within me today. As I have gone from Dr. Bazzan this morning, to my oncologist this afternoon, to my plastic surgeon.....I have ridden with my worship music turned up and my head raised to my Lord and Savior knowing that my help comes from Him alone. I have praised Him with my heart and my voice for who He is and all that He has done for me. And as the tears have welled up in my eyes throughout the day, sometimes spilling over, I have given them to Him. I have given Him my fears of tomorrow, my hopes and my dreams, my life....

And when my eyes are fixed upon Him, I have peace and I have His joy. Please pray that my eyes stay there. Please pray that I would look upon Christ, my creator and not upon the circumstance or the facts. Please pray that I would be strengthened each day by His hand alone.

Here is the song that God used this morning to minister to my heart His message. (You'll need to hit the pause button on the music at the bottom of the page.)

"This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

Much love,

Monday, August 23, 2010

A new year

14 years ago, my best friend and I were pregnant with our first child at the same time. She was a school teacher by training and passionate about all things educational. I mean a literary genius according to my definition. I was in the business world, at the time. Education was the farthest thing from my mind. All I could think about was being a mommy. You know nursing, swaddling and cooing with a sweet babe in my arms.

I remember having a conversation about schooling our unborn children. She brought up the conversation and I believe God used her to plant a seed in my heart that needed to be planted. Being a product of the public school system, that was about all I knew. It served me well, or so I thought. I worked hard. I got A's and B's, but most of what I learned in school somehow leaked out of my brain after the test was taken and the grade was received. One day, my friend shared with me her dreams of homeschooling her child still but wee small, growing inside her womb.

Let's just say......I thought she was crazy and being such good friends...I told her that in so many words.

Homeschooling....no way. I quickly dismissed the idea thinking "who does that? and who ever would dream about such a thing?" Back to the picture of the mommy holding her swaddled babe.

Well, as God always does with me. He plants a seed and then seems to give it time to germinate. He continues to come back to the same subject over and over again.....Stacy, my way, not yours. Trust me. He knows I am a bit thick and don't always grasp His way the first time. Remember, I have to study hard to get a good grade. I wish I caught on more quickly and pray someday I will. But God is patient. And I'm thankful He is. He waters and He waits and He continues to pursue in ways I don't always understand. All He asks is that I respond with obedience. Over the years, I've grasped that important part. Obedience.

Right before Ben was born, we moved away. A whole new town. Everything was new. And then two years later, pregnant with Seth, we moved again. Ben was 3 and ready for preschool that fall.

And God began germinating the whole idea of homeschooling only I didn't know it at the time.

I did my homework. I researched the local preschools. I talked to other moms and picked the one that I thought was the best preschool in the area. My sweet hubby, was on board. He got up early on registration day so he could be one of the first in line guaranteeing our son a spot that fall. A new milestone....preschool. I couldn't wait.

And then my world was about to be rocked with a new baby: nursing schedule, nap schedule, toddler...I was overwhelmed with the very thought of getting out the door with a new baby and having to be somewhere at a certain time, with some semblance of order. It was too much for me. I forfeited the preschool deposit in lieu of feeding and nap schedules and the heart desire to keep life simple.

And hence homeschooling grew in my heart and in my home. I don't remember it being a lightening bolt moment from God. He gently carried me along. Ben and I started working on activities at home during nap time. Word games, letters, books, songs, counting....while Seth took his naps.

The next year, we worked some more. Kindergarten was beckoning and I just couldn't wrap my mind around not having him with me. About someone else molding his thoughts not only regarding education, but about the world around him. Where would they bring God into his framework of thinking? He was still so young. And after 2 years of sitting and "playing" together, he had his Kindergarten skills down.

I began to ask questions about schooling to some friends at church. As the homeschooling topic was approached, I was accepting of it this time. I didn't think it was crazy or radical or weird. I actually began to fall in love with the notion and idea that I could do this by God's grace and direction. And bit by bit over those years, God changed my heart, bringing it into submission to His plan for our children.

As Kindergarten began, so did our homeschooling days and that was over 8 years ago.

Many have asked over the years, why I homeschool. The basic answer is because God told me to. It isn't anything I ever felt qualified to do. Actually, almost daily, I feel unqualified and inadequate. But I love having them all with me each and every day. I love waking up in the morning, not having to rush out the door, being gathered together. I love hearing their laughter grace our rooms. I love hearing their squabbles as they learn to get along and love one another. I love seeing the light go off in their heads when they "get" a new concept and I love seeing the joy on their faces when a good grade is received just moments before. I love hearing them teach one another and helping the younger sibling. I love the "impromptu" recesses that come up throughout the day. I love the flexibility. I love the conversations that just come up from a topic being learned that grows into a deeper discussion about life and God, as they are learning about who they are in Christ and their role in this world.

There is a lot I don't like, too. As my mother would say, "No choice gives you everything." She is a wise woman. But the pluses far out way the minuses.

And so, as life is being redefined for us again this year. I went back to revisit our educational choices this year. I asked God what I should do. As I looked with my finite vision at what the year would "look like"....again with my own eyes and not the perfect and infinite eyes of my God. My selfish heart told me to send them to school. I played with that idea for awhile in my mind, trying to understand it, picture it and walk through it. But the question that couldn't be answered until I brought it to the only one who held the perfect answer in His hands. And I knew. My older sister said it perfectly, "circumstance would not make my decision...only God."

I don't know what this year will look like. But God does. And while I am feeling sick from chemo, while my body is tired.....I desire my kids to be close by. I want to love on them with every part of my being. I don't want to lose a minute. And I want to stay in the center of God's will.

So this year, God has redefined our curriculum. We have added a lot of new and kept some of the old. We have switched some of our classes (no pun intended) to "Switched on Schoolhouse." I don't know if the kids will love it, but praying they do. It will help to alleviate the burden of daily corrections and planning. When I asked the older children if they would like to go to public school this year, there was a resounding NO! They were more than willing to make some changes instead. This is what God has shown us. This is what works for us. This is what God desires for our children and our home. So, we have made some changes making the year more manageable.

I know it isn't for everyone and in all areas of parenting, I tell people, you have to follow God's leading for your children and your home, and you and your husband should seek God together in these decisions. This is what God asks of each of us, as these children are not ours, but His.

So, this morning, a new school year began.

Here's a sampling of what the kids are doing this year. After 9 years of homeschooling, I've made a lot of changes from when I began. We've tailored the curriculum to meet the kids learning styles. I'm not afraid to try new things. The kids went to bed last night actually excited to begin the new year, and I was too. I'm not too excited about teaching Jed 1st grade material....but I'm excited to have that time to sit with him each day, side by side. Those are moments that, for me, make it all worthwhile.

I still feel like such a novice at this homeschooling thing. By the grace of God, I pray our children will learn and grow into the person God created them to be and that He will be their foundation. As He has called me, I pray He equips me. It is never what I thought or imagined way back when....but then again.....

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.' says the LORD."
Isaiah 55:8

We continue to trust the Lord with each step. And all we can do is take the next step in faith and obedience.....here's to whatever step God is asking you to take next. He never disappoints.

Much love,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The familiar path

My feet had travelled these paths before. This was my third time in 3 months walking back through the hospital's Ambulatory Care doors, down the hall and corridor to be greeted for the third time by a nurse, who remembered each of my travels. She welcomed me with a smile as she weighed me, checked all my vitals and moved me into the bed where I would wait to be transported to the operating room.


The sounds were familiar, the nurse's questions were the same, the procedure was one I had grown accustomed to, and many of the faces were like old friends, as we both remembered one another from the previous journey down these halls. But it was a place I didn't want to be. It was a place that reminded me over and over that I have cancer. A reality that encompasses me some days like a heavy blanket. But yet the blanket doesn't keep me warm. Instead, it brings a chill and a heaviness. A reminder that I need a physician. That this port surgery, whereas minor in the whole big cancer picture, is necessary for my further treatment for this disease. I didn't like it, but I knew I needed to walk these familiar roads because in the long run, this surgery, this port, would cause the treatment and journey to be easier.

And it makes me think of the verse in Jeremiah that I have held close to my heart for the last couple of years. The verse that lays across the top of my blog.

"Thus says the LORD, Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

We need to stand and we need to walk in the old paths. The paths that lead to God. The paths of steadfast devotion to God alone. The path that leads to healing, to eternal life, to rest. The path of obedience, of truth, of rest. We need our eyes open to the next step knowing that God has the big picture already taken care of. Eyes open and fixed on Christ, not on the adornments along the path. This surgery, it was an adornment along the path. My eyes went to the surgery and off off God. Only God is the leader of the good way and the old paths. Not the paths that we determine, we mark and we try to navigate ourselves. When we get off on those paths, we have left our trail leader behind. There is no rest and there is no direction. We become wayward and eventually wind up lost. The old path can sometimes be the difficult one because it involves again and again a surrendering of our will and desire to do it ourselves. A constant theme in my life involving a daily, and I mean daily, yielding to His Spirit at work in my life. And God tells us that when we walk the path of obedience and submission to Him, we will find rest. And God desires to give us rest.

I need rest. And I have learned that God's way is the only way of true rest and peace.

On that familiar path, God placed His saints and familiar faces around me. As I entered the OR, my plastic surgeon was the first smiling face that greeted me. He was there operating on another patient, but stopped by my bedside, offered up some humor (as is his way), and moved on. Another nurse stopped by, remembering me from my first travel through those OR doors and then Heather's face was before me. A sister in Christ. A dear friend and nurse from church who has been in the OR with me for my last two procedures. A ray of sunshine amidst the clouds. And then one of the nurses assisting the anesthesiologist stopped by. Her name was Faith. And that was all I needed. As God was saying, "Stacy, stand, see, walk and find rest. Trust Me."

God surrounded me with reminders that He was lighting my path. He had me in the palm of His hand. That these familiar paths are comforting and not travelled alone.

I awoke in the recovery room quite quickly from the surgery feeling well. There was some pain at the incision site, but manageable. As the nurse began talking with me, we soon learned that we were both sisters in the Lord and began encouraging one another on our personal journeys. Her daughter had some health concerns and she was considering schooling option. She asked me about homeschooling and our hearts quickly became as one. Soon after, I saw another familiar face before me. Carol, who had been my transport nurse to the OR for the mastectomy. Carol, who back in July had stood next to us as Barclay had prayed over me before I was wheeled into the OR waiting area. She leaned over me and asked if she could give me a hug and kiss. That she had been told I was back in and just wanted to come over and say hello.

I was surrounded by God's love and His abundant grace being poured out. On this road, I really didn't want to travel, He grabbed my hand and told me to follow. I followed Him that morning and He lead me to to His paths of rest and refreshment, as He always does. Once again, I stood marveling at the God of my life who doesn't leave us abandoned in the wilderness, but leads us beside the still waters.

On the way home from the hospital, the still waters began to ripple and quickly the battle ensued again. Pain and muscle spasms began to grip through my body. The port was put in my left upper chest muscle, so again, my pec muscles were manipulated and moved. They were not too happy. For the last two days, I have been back on valium and percocet managing the pain. The bed and heating pad have become my friends again. I am not able to lift anything heavy with my left arm for a few days, allowing time for the incision to heal. I am tired and my body is tired.

Yesterday morning, as I sat on the porch having my quiet time, God spoke to my heart as I read Psalm 40 & 41.

"The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed." Psalm 41:2-3

God knew all that Friday would entail and He met me in the morning strengthening my heart and spirit once again. He will sustain me.

Throughout the day, my port seemed more and more tender. I had Barclay take off the bandage and this is what we saw.

Most of that was dried from the surgery. But we were a little concerned. And each time I took a deep breath, my chest ached. We ended up calling the doctor's office. I had to go in that afternoon at 2:45 to see my plastic surgeon for a filling, anyway. The surgical office is all connected: Plastic surgeon, breast surgeon and now my general surgeon all see patients in the same suite. The nurse told me to have my plastic surgeon take a look at it that afternoon.

In a nutshell: I ended up being sent down to radiology for an xray to make sure that I didn't have a pneumothorax (where the lung is partially compromised from the surgery site). They saw a very small one, sent me over to the ER across the street. I spent about an hour and a half in the ER as they checked me out, deciding that we were 36 hours past surgery so if my lung would have collapsed it would have done it already. After talk of having me spend the night in the hospital for observation, I was quite relieved when all were in agreement that I could go home and rest at home. Home we went after a long afternoon.

They cleaned up the incision site and here is the lovely bump that will adorn my chest for the next 6 months or so. (the white sterie strips will be removed in the next week). I am assured that over time, I will forget the port is under my skin and won't be able to feel it. I'm not there yet, but hopeful.

And here is a picture of what the port looks like under my skin. It has a long tube that was placed in one of my arteries. This allows the doctors to access my veins without having to go through my arm. All my chemo treatments will go through the port, as will any blood that needs to be drawn. It is basically my access point. Pretty amazing, huh?

We are off this morning to Seth's first football scrimmage. I am so glad to be home and able to go. I awoke this morning in a little less pain, for which I am thankful. This trial has been teaching me over and over that my feet need to be planted firmly in Jesus Christ and on His paths. Even when the path is difficult and doesn't make sense, I know that He has purpose for this path. So I stand, I see, I ask, I walk and I do find rest in Jesus Christ alone, moment by moment as I surrender this cancer and this journey to Him in my frailty, but in His strength.

"The Lord be magnified! But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer, Do not delay, O my God." Psalm 40:17

Much Love,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Small Things

Last week when I met with my integrative doctor, he put together a protocol of sorts for me to help build my body and immune system while I undergo chemo. There were quite a few things he recommended including some dietary changes. I won't go into all the specifics, other than to say wheat grass was also added to my diet 2x a day. Apparently wheat grass has amazing benefits for the body and juicing 2 oz. of wheat grass is the equivalent of 2 1/2 lbs of fresh veggies, not to mention what it does for cleansing the blood, building the immune system, and giving your body a ton of vitamins and minerals.

I had heard of wheat grass before, but do not own a juicer, nor knew how to acquire the amount of wheat grass I would need for 4 oz. a day. I was on a whole new mission. One of my friends helped steer me in the direction of our local whole foods store, where a kind, young man hooked me up with his supplier and each week, I place my order for wheat grass. Thankfully, we have a second fridge in our mudroom (because we have 4 hungry and growing boys who never seem to be full). This is now what sits upon the shelf. And this flat only lasts me about 4-5 days. Yes, I know, it looks like a hunk of sod.

Last Friday, we picked up our sod, oops I mean wheat grass. You have to laugh, really! And there was a small problem, we didn't have a juicer. There was a juicer that the whole foods store sold, which the kind, gentleman offered to me for $50, but explained that I would probably prefer an electric one considering the amount I would be juicing. We left the store, wheat grass in hand, no juicer.

Over the weekend, I tried to research the best juicer to buy. I read reviews. I searched for the best price and I was becoming a bit overwhelmed first at the cost of these juicers (you need a special kind that juices wheat grass), and second that the sod was sitting in my fridge and I did not want it to go bad while I tried to be frugal. I then handed the researching job over to my husband, who also had a bit of trouble finding one that was affordable and capable.

Monday came and still no juicing.

I had to go back to the integrative doctor early Monday morning to get some blood drawn at the office. I figured I would ask there what they recommended and assumed I would just bite the bullet and shell out the money.

And that is where God swept me off my feet once again.

I had been praying about the expenses and asking God just to direct me to the right juicer. Maybe that sounds silly, but I think God cares about all things, the big and the small, He created the gnat for goodness sakes. Pretty small! There are so many decisions being made right now, that I have to bring everything before the Lord, lay it all at His feet and wait for Him to lead me.

Lead He did.

I had a couple of things to talk to my doctor's office assistant about. She had remembered me from last week, as I had sat in front of her and began crying from the magnitude of the tests he wanted run, the supplements he wanted me to take, the information that was being given to me and $ signs before my eyes. I trusted this doctor, but slowly was becoming overwhelmed as my eyes were leading me in those moments, not my faith. How quickly I can step off track with my eyes.

Well, we covered the business at hand and then I asked her about a juicer. Thinking that she would recommend the big $ juicer that they sold there, I braced myself for what I thought was the inevitable. I saw it sitting up high on the office shelf.

As I sat across the desk from her, she looked at me with these tender eyes and a big smile. She got out of her chair while telling me she had something for me.

There in front of me was placed the exact juicer that the whole foods man wanted to sell me. It was the $50 manual wheat grass juicer.

She gently explained to me that a gentleman had just returned it the other day. He had used it one time and decided it wasn't for him, so brought it back. The only hitch was, they couldn't get it nicely back into the box. The pieces were all there, including the instruction book, but it couldn't be resold. She looked at me and said, "I want you to have it. I get to choose who receives it, and I want to give it to you today."

I think my mouth fell on the floor. My heart was overcome with this woman's generosity toward me. I looked at her and just said, "Really?" and I fought back the tears, thanked her profusely and accepted this beautiful gift.

It may seem small in the whole big picture. But I got in my car with a heart filled once again with praise and awe for my Lord and Savior.

"Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart;
wait I say, on the Lord." Psalm 27:14

He does care about the small things and He continues to show me His faithfulness. Why do I have to worry about anything, for He has the end to the beginning already covered? He is continually reminding me to rest in Him and wait on His timing for everything. My heart is strengthened once again.

On a different note all together.......

I graduated from my physical therapy appointments today! Hooray!! I don't think I got an A+ in the arm movement department, but enough progress that she thinks I can just continue with the exercises at home and be ok. One less appointment to fit into my schedule each week.

I got my official chemo start date....Thursday, August 26th. I'll see my medical oncologist on Wednesday and then have my first treatment at Chester County Hospital the next day. There is a part of me that just wants it to get going. The faster it starts, the faster it will be over. I will say, it is a little weird seeing that date listed on my calendar. But trusting the Lord that this date is of no surprise to Him. He has gone before me in all things and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He will continue to lead me and guide me through this part of the treatment.

Lastly, I go back to the Operating Room tomorrow morning. I would covet your prayers once again for a smooth procedure without complications. I get my port put in for my chemo treatments. This will be the means by which they access my veins so I don't have to be stuck in the arm for each treatment. It should be an in and out operation. I have to be at the hospital by 8:30AM and my procedure is around 10:30. Hopefully I will be home by early afternoon.

My dad is also here staying with us this week and my children are having a ball with him. I am so thankful he is here and cherish this time spent together. He has jumped right into our daily lives, football and all! He took the kids to Putt Putt today and then out to lunch while I was at an appointment. What precious memories are being created. My heart is so thankful.

Much love,

Saturday, August 14, 2010


8 years ago today God ushered into our arms our sweet baby, Joshua Isaac, on August 14, 2002.
I am celebrating him today.

Celebrating the gift of his life and every breath that God breathed into him for 119 beautiful days. Born with a fatal, random genetic condition called Trisomy 18, Joshua astounded the doctors, gave evidence that miracles do continue by God's hand, and taught me in 9 months and 119 days more than I could have learned in a lifetime without him. We have always referred to Joshua as our "Special gift from God" because he was in fact a gift straight from God's hand to our lives. I treasure each day I got to be his mommy and look forward to a blessed and joyous reunion in heaven with him one day.

And I am remembering from where God brought us.

Just as the Israelites remembered through the feast of unleavened bread the victory and freedom they received through God as they were lead out of Egypt, so I too, remember what Christ did in my heart and life through my son, Joshua.

Exodus 13:3
"And Moses said to the people, 'Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place."

So often we see our children and know that our role is to instruct their hearts toward righteousness....but for me, through Christ, Joshua instructed my heart. He taught me more than I ever taught him. Through his precious life, the chains of fear that held my heart began to be broken. A heart that had always been set on finding solutions and living my life by my terms, was being deconstructed and transformed to be a life set on the foundation of Jesus Christ and trusting in His will and plan, even when I couldn't see the solutions. Trusting that God had all the answers. And upon this foundation, Christ continues to build in my heart and life. A life of faith in Christ Jesus. A life where I can say,

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Many have asked me why I'm not angry with this cancer and how I am able to have joy each day. It is through Jesus Christ alone and my faith in Him. Knowing that this life is not about me. It is not about me defining the lifespan of my children, about the pleasures of this world, about trying to find happiness and contentment outside of Christ, about what my time should look like each day, for my time is not my own; it is all Christ's

That 8 years ago, in April 2002, when we learned that Joshua was sick while I was still only 4 and a half months pregnant, I got angry with God. I let the anger grow into bitterness. I let it bring me into an emotional state of depression, pity and doubt. I laid in my bed for a week and I tried to escape the reality of my life and the life of my son. I mourned his life, a life growing inside of me, but hadn't yet even taken a breath. I mourned my life. A life that wouldn't be defined by a healthy child who would grow into a healthy man. Trying to protect myself from so much unknown and uncertainty. And yet I couldn't.

And I wrestled with God for days until finally one morning His voice was louder than my cries. And I opened my Bible, laying in bed, all alone and I found Him. And He spoke to me in ways that I have never been spoken to before. I began in Romans 5 and kept reading. In the margin of my Bible under Romans 7:13 "But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me....." I have written "this is where I was April 2002. Death was being produced in me as my mind stayed on my emotions, as my mind stayed in fear, as my mind stayed in anger and bitterness. And Satan wanted me pulled so far from the Lord that I felt isolated and on an island of grief and despair.

I continued on and God began a new work in my heart. As He shined his light on my sin he began to lift me out of the pit. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." Romans 7:18

And I knew I needed God. I couldn't do it by myself. I couldn't get out of this pit of despair. I didn't have the power and I didn't have the energy. I needed God more than ever.

And I couldn't get enough of Him. He began the heart surgery that needed to be done on this selfish, sinful flesh of mine. I remember hanging on His every Word. I couldn't put my Bible down. He lovingly and graciously brought me on to Romans 8. And as I read, the Holy Spirit began to further show me my sin and then bring me to repentance.

God brought me eyes to Matthew 10:37

"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."

And I remember weeping. Weeping because this was me. This was my sinful heart. I loved my son more than God. So much more that I would turn my back on the one who gave me life and Joshua life and think that I knew better or had a better way. Who was I?

And I went back to Romans.....

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba Father." Romans 8:14-15

"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Romans 8:16-17

And again, in my margins I have written next to 8:14....April 13, 2002....I feel like I am suffering as Christ did. Oh let the glory be with Him alone. I am going through my own crucifixion with self. And I continued reading to the end of chapter 8 where nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I went back to rest my eyes on the words Abba Father.

This was the verse that struck me. God is my daddy. He will never let me down. He will never leave me. He knows me from the inside out, before the foundation of the world. And He has a plan for me and my son Joshua that is so much bigger than April 2002. I needed to lay my Isaac down. I needed to take Joshua, take Trisomy 18, take my life and give it fully to God. Lord your way, not mine.

And I went to the garden, the Garden of Gethsemane and read as Jesus prayed to His Father before being lead to His death.

I got off of my bed. I knelt down with tears streaming down my face, sobs coming from deep within and I gave Joshua to the Lord. I gave Him my fears. I gave Him my pain. I gave Him my life in a way I never did before. And I prayed as Jesus did,

"Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will." Mark 14:36

And a wave of peace washed over me unlike any I ever experienced before. The peace of the Holy Spirit. The peace that comes as we walk in obedience and submission to the will of our Father. The peace that surpasses understanding.

And so today, I celebrate Joshua. I celebrate my boy. I celebrate and give thanks to my Abba Father who loved me enough to be patient with me, to grow my faith, and to bless me with 119 glorious days with Joshua. I celebrate that as children of God, our lives don't end in the grave and that Joshua today is with our Heavenly Father, whole and perfect.

Today, I am on a whole new journey with breast cancer. But many parts are the same. This time, I'm not angry. I'm not bitter. I'm holding on to the very one who gave me breath. I'm taking the thoughts captive that Satan floods through my mind and the emotions that if not, checked at the gates of heaven, bring me into bondage. I will not let Satan have His way.

I have tried writing this post since 7:00 this morning. I awoke this morning with joy and throughout the day, I have watched Satan try to unravel me and distract me to the point of almost having an emotional breakdown. Satan took every part of my life this morning and began to throw darts and my shield of faith was down. I was weak and unarmed.

Around noon, God opened my eyes to Satan's tactics and through some precious people calling at just the right time, God used them to pray with me and turn me around.

My shield of faith is now held high. Victory is Gods. Joshua's life had purpose. By the grace of God, I can stand in this trail today because of Joshua. I rejoice today in his life and thank God for my beautiful baby boy!

Much love,

Thursday, August 12, 2010


for many answered prayers this week. As we have stood before the treatment door for the last two weeks, my prayer has been that God would bring clarity and direction with our next step. That as we sat before 3 different Medical Oncologists, at the end of the day, they would all say the same thing, making the decision quite clear cut for us: Chemo or no chemo and if so, what protocol?

I am thankful for unity from all the medical oncologists.

I am thankful for answers and decisions.

It is not easy sitting in that patient chair three times. The chair where you hear....

"Stacy, you are 38 years old, you had two positive lymph nodes with macro sized cancerous cells or deep tissue as they like to say, and you had a .3mm cancerous spot found close to your chest wall."

For the medical oncologists, no chemo isn't even on the table.

But the first time sitting in that chair is the hardest. The first time you hear the words chemotherapy thinking that word would never be a part of your vocabulary, let alone your life. The first time you hear the definition of your particular cancer components and then the statistics for recurrences with chemo only treatment and then chemo with 5 year hormone therapy (Tamoxifen).

By the third, (which was Fox Chase Cancer Center yesterday), I just wanted to say to the medical oncologist, "Please let's just cut to the chase....what protocol do you recommend?" Mind you, this was after two hours of "sitting in the patient chair" and listening to more data and statistics, more clinical trials more numbers than I could handle. Thankfully, God restrained me and I kept my mouth shut. At one point (about 1 1/2 into the consultation), she looked at me and said,

"are you still with me?"

I was holding by a thread. I think my eyes had begun to glaze over and I just wanted to get out of there and be done. I know she was just doing her job, and giving us a thorough picture of her recommendations, but I was so tired and tired of talking about me and cancer.

So, at the end of the day, I've had three medical oncologists all say they would give me "dose dense ACT" over 16 weeks, 8 infusions. Same infusion schedules. Same formulas. And then I had an integrative doctor echo their protocols saying "we need to get the elephant out of the room first through chemo and then go in and do a massive clean up job."

He's the only one interested in the massive clean up job. So, I am thankful for whole body medicine. That he will look at my body, address the estrogen issue at the root of my cancer and prepare my body to heal and rebuild while the chemo is destroying my immune system and killing any microscopic cancer cells that may still be present in my body. As thankful as I am for conventional medicine, no one in conventional medicine wants to look at the root of my cancer which is estrogen. No one wants to talk about diet and nutrition. And for me, this is frustrating. I'll leave it at that.

I am thankful that my husband is in agreement and for the unity God has brought us on this decision.

I am thankful to get through this next door, heart and head together, accepting chemo as the next step in treatment, for healing to begin.

I am thankful for the release from the radiation decision for now. The Fox Chase radiation oncologist recommended a month of radiation following chemo, but told us to get through the chemo and then make that decision.

That lifted such a burden. As again I was reminded to take just one day at a time. 4 months of chemo, a month off and radiation wouldn't start until early January. That decision could be made in December. We have time and time is good.

I am thankful for the dinner that arrived Wednesday afternoon. I had forgotten that someone had offered to bring us a dinner that evening, knowing we were going to be in the city for half the day at Fox Chase. I came home and crawled into bed, feeling so tired from all the information presented that day and for having to be out the door by 6:30AM. Knowing that I would have many bellies needing some dinner, I laid there thinking about what I could quickly throw together and cereal was sounding really good.

There was a knock on the door and in walked Sharon with a hot, delicious meal. Thank you Sharon. You truly were a beacon of God's love in action and our bellies were filled with a yummy meal.

I am thankful that I am driving again. I did a trial run over the weekend with Barclay and whereas you take for granted how many pec muscles come in to play to turn the steering wheel, I felt confident that I could do it. It feels good to be behind the wheel again. My absence has given me a much deeper sensitivity toward my mother, who no longer is able to drive. My heart aches for her and all those who are disabled.

I am thankful that I am off of all my pain meds and Valium.

I am thankful for friends who were willing to take our children overnight from Tuesday through Wednesday. You truly blessed us more than words can express. Thank you.

I am thankful that this busy week is almost over. One more appointment tomorrow with another integrative physician. I am praying that he is in agreement with Monday's physician, as he works with insurance for some things and Monday's doctor does not. Praying God will give clarity on this end of my treatment.

I am thankful for the rain we received today. This morning as I sat on the porch, the rain gently fell upon the grass and leaves. It created a symphony around me and I thought of God. How he sends forth the rain.

As it is said in Hosea 6....
"He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth."

God sends the former rain to prepare the soil for the seed and the latter rain to bring forth the harvest. How true this is in our lives. The soil of my heart always needs to be prepared for the truths that He wants to instill deep inside of me. The latter rain takes those seeds planted in my heart and hopefully brings forth His fruit.

We need rain in our lives. Without rain, the ground gets dry. The land becomes parched. The grass grows brown. The plants wither and the flowers die.

So I am thankful for the rain that God has sent. My umbrella is down and I stand in the rain and say, Jesus, reign in me! Pour down. May this be so meaningful. May the harvest be bountiful. Oh, I wish it didn't have to be this way. And I pray that this cancer is just a stepping stone on my journey and God will heal me; whether through His mighty hand or through the hands of many doctors. But I am thankful for how God is using this rain to take my faith and press in deeper into my heart. I am thankful that He has counted me worthy to carry this cross. I am thankful that He is holding me ever so tightly and tells me He will never leave me or forsake me. I am thankful that I am His child and that as I cast my cares on Him, He will care for me. I am thankful for the refining and purifying that is taking place within me. I am thankful for how He continues to open my eyes to see Him.

I am waiting to hear back from my new Medical Oncologist, Dr. Johnson. We chose to stay at the hospital where all my treatment began. It is our local hospital, and all the doctors there have taken such good care of me along the way. I am trying to have my chemo treatments take place on Thursday afternoons, which seems to work in my doctor's schedule. I have to have a Muga scan done before chemo can begin. The muga scan will look at how the blood is pumping through my heart. The Adriamycin part of chemo can cause heart damage in a very small percentage of people, so the Muga gives a baseline for my heart pumping function. I am waiting to see when this test will be done.

On Wednesday of next week, I go back to the operating room to have a port put in for chemo. This should be an in and out surgery. Chemo may start the next day, August 19th, but most likely the following week, Thursday, August 26th, as there is a lot to get done in the next couple of days. In many ways, now that the door is defined more clearly, I just want to fully get to the other side, so I am anxious to begin. The sooner I start, the sooner I will be done.

At dinner tonight, Faith and Jed started talking about Christmas. I told them it was a long way away and then paused thinking, Christmas will mark the end of my chemo. As much as I want to look ahead to that point, it seems too far. All I can do is look to today. But oh, how I will be rejoicing when December finally arrives.

And so with a thankful heart I close out tonight. Another day, another breath, another step on the journey.

Much love,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Sunday morning, I awoke, as I usually do each morning around 6:00, and went down to the front porch to meet with my Lord. For the past couple of months, I have been reading through the book of Matthew, some days it is a whole chapter and others, just a few verses. Back in April, as our Bible Study was concluding, my heart was being drawn to study the steps of Jesus. To go back to His earthly ministry and walk with Him as he healed many, taught the multitudes, instructed the disciples and ultimately gave His life upon the cross for you and I. I wanted to see more of who He was, His heart and His love poured out as He interacted with all those who gathered and called upon His name. I encourage you to go to any of the Gospels and look closely at Jesus. You won’t be disappointed.

I happened to be in Matthew 21 as Jesus was entering Jerusalem, the Triumphal Entry. His entrance was just as it was prophesied years earlier by the Prophet Isaiah & Zechariah.

“Behold the King is coming to you, lowly and sitting on a donkey,

a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Another example of Jesus’ humility. He entered the world in a manger and entered Jerusalem as the King of Kings, riding on a donkey. Exactly as it was foretold. To the day. There He was with His disciples, and all those who had traveled with Him from Jericho. And people gathered around him. I’m sure some poured out onto the streets to see what was going on as such a crowd entered into Jerusalem laying down palms and blankets to the ground that Jesus road upon. Here was Jesus proclaiming that He was the Messiah and the King, to the people gathered around, to the disciples, to the world. It was a Sunday, and in 5 short days, He was to be crucified. No one knew that. But He did. And as He entered Jerusalem, He knew it would be His final entrance.

The people were overcome with joy, with praise, with elation and they began shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!.”

It was on these words that I laid my eyes. These people didn’t fully comprehend who He was, but they knew there was something different about Him, there was power in Him and it moved them to a posture of praise and exaltation. They didn’t need to understand the why’s and hows..they just knew that they needed Him and loved Him and their hearts were overcome. They raised their arms, lifted their voices....worshipping Jesus.

“Hosanna.” An exclamation of joyous praise. Hosanna. Save now!

And as I stayed on this word allowing God to wash over me. As I bowed my head and my heart to my King Jesus, all I could do was praise Him for who He is.

A couple hours later, I stood in church, worshipping. And you know what song we began singing....”Hosanna.”

My heart was overwhelmed once again with thanksgiving, joy and praise as God met me in that moment.

That I would constantly have an attitude and heart to worship. To look up and not around. To keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. To have a heart always inclined to praise Him for the good and the bad. The difficult and the easy. For health and for disease.

For me right now, it is a moment by moment abiding. It is an act of my will to choose Him and not to walk in my disease. It is not easy. But I so desire to walk this road with my arms raised to Him. “Open my eyes to the things unseen...Lord. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Everything I am for your kingdom’s cause.”

And then as I walked out into the foyer after worship. I bumped into my dear friend, Allyson.

Just two days prior, my husband shared with me that the patient that had a fever last week, was rescheduled for Monday. That would mean that he couldn’t go with me to my Monday appointments with Dr. Bazzan (integrative doctor) or the general surgeon. I must admit, I didn’t take that announcement very well and as I tend to do, I wanted to solve the problem as I thought I knew how. God quickly interrupted me. And instead of making phone calls, trying to line up reinforcements, I prayed.

My friend, Beth, was at the Jersey shore and I knew that she wasn’t available to go with me. I don’t go to many of my appointments alone. One because there is always so much information that I tend to quickly forget, and two, I like company, or maybe I am just extremely weak!

Later that day, I went to pick up the phone and call another friend to come with me, but I stopped, again feeling God say, “wait on Me.”

I put the phone down.

Well, I stood there in the foyer with my sweet friend, as she asked me how I was doing and began to probe deeper. I told her of my Monday appointment and told her that I was going to ask her to come with me, but she has 3 small children. I knew that there was no way this could work, and didn’t want to put that strain on her. And as only God can orchestrate details....one by one I watched Him put the pieces together.

Well, on Monday’s Allyson’s mom comes to help with the children. She would call her mom and see if she could spend the night, as my appointment was really early. She asked where my appointment was. And as I told her the location, low and behold, her mother lived almost around the corner. She knew right where it was. Once again, God’s plan is so much bigger.

I pulled into the parking lot at 7:30 Monday morning, and Allyson pulled in right next to me. No children. Free Monday morning and able to walk beside me, be my note taker (and 7 pages of notes she took!) and help me decompress later that day as I filtered through all the information.

And so I say, Hosanna in the Highest! He is the King of Kings. He is the Savior of the World. He is worthy of all praise. I don’t know how many times He needs to show me, as I continually fall down, He is continually picking me back up, showing Himself strong. I will praise Him.

My appointment went well on Monday. Dr. Bazzan confirmed much of the foundation that had already been laid in my treatment. He has a myriad of tests he wants to perform and labs to run. He guided me in the area of supplements and confirmed that I needed to go through chemo, but he would build my immune system as the chemo went in to destroy. He uses an IV Vit. C therapy alongside chemotherapy. He guided me through food and nutrition and he showed me the marriage between conventional medicine and whole body health. And for that I am thankful. It was just what I needed. I will take his information and pray over it. As a result of our meeting, God lead me later that day to another doctor, who practices much the same way. I see him on Friday to compare notes. He, too, does Vit. C therapy and is a cancer survivor.

The cost of all of this was overwhelming in the end. And again, as I walked out his door Monday morning, I sat in my car and cried. Cried because of the guilt that came heavy down on top of me as to the financial burden this would be placing on my family. Cried that I had cancer. Cried that this is where God had me.

I called my sister, who was unable to talk to me. My husband was in surgery, so no phone. I believe that is where God wanted me as again, in my weakness, God showed Himself strong. I needed to turn to Him, not Barclay, not my sister, but Him. He has the answers. I had a 40 minute drive home and in those 40 minutes it was just me and God. As my faith waivered. As I began to doubt that God would show me His path in this marriage of treatments. As I went to the circumstance, once again....He reminded me to look to Him.

Just an hour later, I sat in the general surgeon's waiting room, not alone, with Jesus. I pulled out my phone and looked at my email. I get a devotional each Monday from James MacDonald. I opened that email and set my eyes upon the title... "I Choose to Trust." My heart gave way to praise. My eyes laid upon God's word in Isaiah 41:10, the theme verse for that devotional that day:

"Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

And again, I repented for my doubt and unbelief. With one hand, God is holding me. That is all He needs. He is all powerful. I don't have the answers today, but I will choose to trust Him and I will praise Him...no matter what. I grabbed that verse and claimed it yesterday morning. Lord, I am holding onto you and I will fear not! Hosanna to the King of Kings.

Much love,