Saturday, October 30, 2010

Family Time & FUN!

Can you guess what we did this week?

We were in need of some "Put the textbooks aside," some "breathe in the glorious fall air" some "let's not think about cancer today and just go and have fun" kinda family time of a day.

And so, off to the Apple Orchard we went. And it was FUN!

FUN watching each child reach in to find the "perfect" apple.

FUN to see the joy on their precious, little faces.

FUN to capture them holding their "prized" pick.

FUN standing back and glimpsing the oldest coming alongside the youngest.

FUN to wrap our arms around each other. Laugh together. Smile together. Be silly together. And say thank you, Lord for this beautiful, crisp, somewhat cloudy, appointment free, apple picking moment in time when we can come together as a family and just have FUN!

(Feeling overly ambitious, I did go home and make an apple pie and this weekend thought I'd tackle some applesauce...never made it before so if anyone has any suggestions or a recipe...let me know!)

On a side note: It had been a hard couple of days. Last Sunday morning, I began to go down hill again after my Thursday chemo. Throughout church my body fought hard but against muscle aches, temperature regulation, and bone pain and when we walked in the door from church....back to bed I went for the day. Monday was better. I was functioning but so run down. Tuesday I had to go into Philadelphia for a Vit. C IV infusion which ending up taking all day and by Wednesday I was finally feeling strengthened again and pain free. Rejoicing that I had a couple of days or normalcy before it all begins again this Wednesday.

I am off now to Luke's final football game of his season. Seth's play-off game was changed to next week, which ended up being such a blessing so we could focus on Luke and his game today. Overall, it is a pretty quiet weekend for us. A welcomed change.

Enjoy each moment of your weekend.

Much love,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I sometimes don't know where to begin these days.

I have so much going on inside my head. Swirling. And it is hard to put it all together.

That being said, I'm not so good at multi-tasking anymore.

My husband so gently pointed that out the other day. He was sweet about it. Making only an observation. Not in a critical way, but in a wow, here is another side to cancer kind of way.

As it unfolded.....I was sitting at my desk doing something. I can't remember what. My sweet hubby was at his desk, too.

Luke came in the room to share with excitement, his grade on his Language Arts quiz. He was speaking in general to both me and Barclay, standing in the middle of the room, brimming with happiness. Seth was also in the room telling us something about football. (this was later retold to me, as I don't really remember these specifics myself.)

And as Luke walked out, Barclay looked at me, called my name to get my attention and said, "Did you hear Luke?"

I hadn't. My focus was on something else.

And Barclay said, "You really can't multi-task like you used to, can you?"

Sad, but true. I can't. I can do it a little, but no where near the hands and head in many directions throughout the day kind of wife and mom that once was a mere 6 months ago.

Before chemo, I could hear everything going on in the house. I was in tune to the heartbeat of our home. The screen door squeaking announcing one coming or going, the laundry buzzer telling me the next load was ready for folding and drying, the phone ringing while a child needed help spelling a word all the while I was sweeping the kitchen floor (ok....I'm not much of a sweeper, so that didn't happen as often as was needed!) But you get the idea. I could multi-task.

I can't anymore.

My focus has to be on one thing for me to truly make progress, understand, and respond.

I've heard it called chemo brain. Others call it age. But since I'm only 38 and I say that loosely (only that is :) I think I have to stick with the chemo part. I think I officially have chemo brain. As the chemo runs throughout the body, it slows everything down. The body becomes sluggish. And that is how my brain often feels, sluggish. Almost like it can't process as quickly as before. Can't remember as well.

It has been an adjustment. A learning curve. A lesson in slowing down. In being intentional.


That is a word that has been before my heart for the last couple of weeks.

To actively put your mind on something with a purpose. To stay directed and focused.

Before, I could do this in many areas, at once. Now, it seems, it is one thing at a time. And if I don’t stay intentional, that one thing doesn’t get completely done.

I believe Jesus was intentional as He walked this earth..fully man and fully God. He was so in tune with His Father’s heart and desires. He intentionally found time to pray. He would break away from the multitude, go into the mountains and pray. Even He needed to be with His Father, to hear His voice. To commune.

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.” Matthew 14:23

And He was intentional about who He spent His time with whether it was the sick, the lost, the broken-hearted or His disciples. He knew He needed to teach the disciples and His time with them was guarded. He had a job to do. He didn’t get off track in that job. But in the bigger picture, He came to touch the hearts of the lost. To give them a glimpse into the Kingdom of God. To show them He is the way, the only way way to the Father, to eternal life.

“And Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.” Matthew 4:23

His heart was one of compassion and love. An intentional love. He loved intently - everyone. And even when He hung on the cross, was in excruciating pain and suffering, His heart was moved for the thief on the cross who humbled himself before the Lord.

“And Jesus said to him (the thief), ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Even in His greatest hour of need, Jesus never lost His purpose or His focus because He was rooted in His Father and His love.

I want to be intentional about the way I live life. That doesn’t mean that I direct the show, on the contrary, that means that I have to be still enough, undistracted enough, quiet enough...putting God first in all things, so as to hear from Him about His intentions for me and my life. My time with Him has to be guarded.

Then His intentions become mine. Not only in the big picture: Marriage, family, ministry....but the little one....laundry, meals, house cleaning, football games, rest, correspondences, blogging etc...

And once again, I see this very nasty thing called cancer as a blessing in my life. Cancer has further rooted me in God's Word, drawn me closer to my the power of the Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to stay focused....not on many things at once....but on the one that matters most...God.

And when my focus is fixed on the author of my faith. The very one who defines, created and perfects my faith, then all else is in order because God has set the order and the very heartbeat of my heart.

There is order on the outside....because there is order on the inside, in the innermost place of my heart and soul. In my Spirit.

And this thing called multi-tasking takes on a whole new meaning...being intentional with each task with the love of Christ always before me, within me and surrounding me. With His purpose setting the compass on this journey. As my day is laid out before me and the many things calling for my time and attention, may each happen as God orders my day, directs my focus, and my heart is in tune to His.

“Seek first the kingdom of God.....”

Much love,


Sunday, October 24, 2010

And they.....


So proud of Seth and his team! Although they made us parents a little nervous in the beginning of the game. The opposing team scored first. They dug deep, stayed focused and worked as a team to win the league Championship 16 to 8.

That's my boy!

Off to Regionals next weekend.

Much love,
Stacy (proud football momma!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Round 5 complete

Chemo #5
Sorry it has taken me two days to update. I have just emerged from bed today! Thanks to each of you for checking in on me following my last chemo treatment. Overall, chemo went smoothly, but truly it wiped me out for a day and a half.

My body took to the Taxol just fine. No reaction. Which I praise God for. That was my prayer going into it. "Lord, if you desire this drug to be used to fight my cancer, then please allow my body to receive it." All went well.

The hardest part honestly, was the Benadryl. Before the chemo gets infused, I have to have about 40 minutes of IV pre-meds. These include Emmend (anti-nausea), an infusion of steriods, and this time, a bag of Benadryl was added to ward off a reaction to the Taxol chemo drug. Now if you have ever taken liquid Benadryl then you know, it makes you a bit sleepy. Well, try getting it put directly into your veins. It is a whole different story. I had all these great intentions on using those 4 hours wisely and frankly, God had a different plan. I truly was to just sit still.

My sweet nurse said I may begin to feel a bit loopy and sleepy after the Benadryl. That was an understatement. Barclay came to sit with me for the first hour or so of the infusion, just in case my body had an adverse reaction. After the Benadryl, I could barely hold a conversation. I was so out of it. I had to force my mind to stay focused on each word. After awhile, I just succumbed to the medicine and had to close my eyes for a bit.

The Taxol went in just fine. Praise God. It was a long afternoon. I didn't get home until after 5:00 and went straight to bed. The evening of my infusions are always the worst. My body fights with all it has to combat the drugs. I was wiped out. Literally.

On Friday, it was much of the same. It was the first time since chemo that I wasn't really able to get out of bed all day. My body was just depleted of energy. Thankfully, a sweet friend again had offered to take Faith and Jed overnight from Thursday to Friday which was a huge blessing. On Friday, school was conducted from my bed, as the older boys would come in with questions. And dinner was so graciously brought in again both nights, helping to alleviate the load.

My oncologist had said that with Taxol, the nausea is lessened, but instead, on day 2 flu-like aches can descend. Well, I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. I have not had any nausea and so far the aches and flu-like symptoms were only yesterday, and were tolerable.

Today, I feel almost back to normal.....the new normal that is.

And I am so thankful for that day and a half of rest. I am thankful once again for the hands that have been outstretched...again and again to our family. I am thankful for God's grace and mercy. I am thankful that today, other than lingering fatigue and reduced stamina, I am out of bed and able to function again. Thank you all for your prayers. Thank you also, for sharing your prayer requests with me. It is my privilege to usher you and your families before God's throne.

This evening, two of our sons have football games back to back. I am thankful to be able to go. Seth's team is playing in the championship. They are undefeated and play for the league title tonight. It is a big night for them. The game is at a high school stadium, under the lights. If they win, they move onto Regionals. We are all really excited. I hope to have pictures to share tomorrow.

And so round 5 is behind us!

Faithy girl keeps asking me, "Mom, when is your hair going to grow back? Are you always going to be bald?"

I sweetly tell her that around Christmas time, my hair should begin to grow back.

Her innocent and child-like reply is, "Wow, mom, that is a long time away!"

Ahh, to be a child again and live in each moment. To her, Christmas is a lifetime away. To me, it is a mere 3 more treatments. Again the reminder that we are to press on in Christ, keeping our eyes on Him and not what lies ahead. To come to Him with a child-like faith....a faith of purity, simplicity, eagerness, trustworthiness, and sincerity. This is what God desires of us. To put aside what we know in our head and follow after Him and love Him with our heart, soul, mind and strength. To respond to Him with unwavering faith. To live in today knowing that He has tomorrow already figured out.

"Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it. And He took them (the children) up in His arms,
laid His hands on them, and blessed them." Mark 10:15,16

What a picture of our Father's love for us. He takes us in His arms, He lays His strong, mighty and gentle hands upon us and He pours out His spiritual blessings.

May you rest today in His abundant love.

Much love,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Woo Hoo!

I had my oncologist appointment earlier today and my hemoglobin level is up to 11.7 and all other blood counts look good for Round 5 of chemo tomorrow!!

Thank you so much for your prayers this week. Yes, I am still really fatigued despite the rise in my red count. Today my eyes just burned and my body was calling for a nap all day. As my oncologist said this morning...."Stacy, we are putting poison in your body. Your body can only fight so hard before it gets tired."

Oh and to think I have 3 more to go after tomorrow.....BUT GOD!

Oh, He is merciful, gracious and loving and has fought this fight and won. He is my strength and my hope. And so I say, woo hoo for my blood counts. Not sure if it was all that wheatgrass (and oh does it turn my stomach right now!) but I will keep plugging away with it as I know it does the body good. Was it all those beans or the mighty hand of God upon my body? I'm giving Him the glory and the credit due His name. He is my sustainer and all else is used by Him to accomplish His purposes.

And so another day dawns and with it another round of chemo. Tomorrow morning I teach through the last 10 verses of Ephesians 2 at our Women's Bible study and then scoot out for the Cancer Center. I'm moving into the Taxol portion of my treatment. With that comes a longer infusion....about 4 hours and the possibility of an allergic reaction to the new drug. May I ask for your prayers for tomorrow that my body would receive the Taxol without a reaction and that it would do the job intended on any lingering cancer cells. Thank you so much for bringing my name before the Lord. I know He hears and answers prayers according to His will.

I have chosen to go alone tomorrow to the Cancer lounge and just "Be still before God." I need that time. It is a big step for me to go alone. I'm not much of a loner. But God continues to teach me that with Him, I am never alone.

How can I pray for you tomorrow as I'm receiving my treatment? Please let me know, as it is an honor and a privilege to in turn, bring you before the Lord.

"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:10,11

Much love,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


As I stand before the mirror each day, the reflection gazing back at me is one that has become all too familiar.

One I never imagined would be set before my eyes.

I had once imagined a reflection of silvery, gray hair adorning my head, deep set laugh lines (ok wrinkles) accenting my face, hopeful to one day see a body that had gracefully weathered time. A body over time reflecting age and not disease.

What I see with my eyes, the reflection that is cast back to me is one of disease. Of scars still bearing the redness as they heal. Scars across my chest and under my arms from drainage tubes and incisions, sutures as the disease was removed and my body closed back up. A bump that lies just under my skin where my left bra strap crosses my shoulder. My port. The access point of my veins for the drugs that for 8 weeks push through my body. And the disfigurement laying across my chest. That which God gave woman is now gone in its natural state. What shouldn't be foreign is.

A body that over the past 6 months has shed almost 10 pounds, pounds that 6 months ago I was wishing away, now wishing back on. Pounds not shed through diet and exercise. Pounds shed as my body fights a waging battle against this disease. The body staring back at me is thinner, wearing the battle scars from the fight.

And then my gaze is cast to my head where cancer has left its heavy imprint. The effects of chemo as the hair is now gone leaving behind a stark white scalp edging the remnants of a tanned face from the summer. Eyelashes and eyebrows still remain, but in the coming weeks, those too, may disappear as new drugs flow through my veins.

And Satan again stands as a shadow in the background of these images trying to define me. Trying to take this physical body, my flesh, and say that he is the workman. This is what disease has done to me. I am now half a woman. And my body cries cancer.

But I won't let him. As hard as Satan tries to take me down and daily bring before my eyes and those around me, the physical scars and effects of cancer. He won't have me. He won't ever define. He can mar my outside and tear down my physical condition.

But He can't have me nor can He touch the new creation I am through Jesus Christ.

I am HIS. And in me, He is creating a masterpiece. As He is with you.

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

Satan can touch the outside to His hearts content. But He can't touch who I am in Jesus Christ. I am sealed with the Holy Spirit, the moment I gave my life over to Christ. The moment I said yes to Him and No to this world. The moment I put my trust in Him alone. I am His and He is taking the life that He created, disease and all, and creating a masterpiece for His glory. As He is the master designer. He is my workman.

A friend of mine gave me a mug early on in my diagnosis that read this inscription:

Caner is so limited.....
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the Spirit

As my eyes are, and maybe yours too, are drawn to the outward manifestation of this disease. As my body bears the marks on the outside, my soul and my Spirit cannot be touched by the hand of this disease. They can only be touched by the Hand of God. And as my outside may look marred, my inside is being renewed, refined, and polished for Him. May you see Him and His handiwork and not this disease.

As I taught last Thursday morning for the ladies at our women's Bible Study, this was the message God put on my heart to share as we worked through Ephesians 2:1-10.

It was a message I needed to hear over and over again that week as I prepared to teach.

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2 that before Christ was invited into our hearts and lives, we were dead in our sins and trespasses. False steps, missing the mark, falling beside the way, violations against God Himself....We were spiritually lost and spiritually dead and meandering along the path of the world. No direction, constantly trying to fill the empty space felt deep in our soul with the things of this, food, materialistic goods, love, fame, power, titles, and more. And without God we are in a desperate state.

Two small words change the whole picture.

But God.....

"But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved, and raised us up together, and made us sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His lovingkindness toward us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-7

But God who abounds in mercy because He loves us, even when we lived apart from Him. Even when we put up the barriers and shut Him out. He loves us and desires to give us life through His son, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

And through His love: He gave us new life, a new position in Christ, and a new home...a dwelling place with the Lord. The pathway for a relationship with Jesus Christ.

To show us the riches of His grace. He reaches out to save us. Undeserved.

All you have to do is receive Him. Receive His grace. Call on His name and be saved.

And it is by His grace that we have been saved. Not by our works. Not by going to church. Not through our parents. Not by trying to be a good person. Not by giving money to others...all this is good. But it won't give you salvation.

Salvation is a gift from God...through faith....through believing in Him.

And we, are His workmanship. The work of His hands. And our lives are His as He masterfully puts each piece into place creating in us the most beautiful tapestry. The most beautiful landscape. The most beautiful masterpiece.

This cancer. It is one puzzle piece in a puzzle that has yet to be completely put together. What you are going through today.....your pain or is one puzzle piece and it will fit skillfully into the next piece and the next and the next...and when you breathe your last breathe and as a believer in Jesus Christ, when He ushers you to your eternal home....the landscape of your life will be life a magnificent sunset setting across the horizon. And on that day, it will all make sense...the pain, the trials, the disease. The day we stand face to face with the designer, our God and Father, Jesus Christ.

But God....He defines me. May this life be all about Him. May these scars be for His glory. May He create His masterpiece through the few fishes and loaves that I have.

Much love,

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Oh what a beautiful week it has been.

How I so love the life that God has blessed me with. Wishing that breast cancer didn't need to be a part of my life, but thankful for how cancer has opened my eyes to so many blessings staring me in the face each day. Blessings that I took for granted. Blessings from the hand of God.

As I was picking up the house yet again this evening, I was so tired (I know I'm a broken record on that one!), as there was a big pile of laundry calling my name from the laundry room, dishes were in the sink, homeschooling books still on the kitchen table, the counters had gathered odds and ends from the week still waiting to be returned to their rightful place, and the mudroom floor was littered with shoes from a girlie size 10 to a teenage size 11. The house was abuzz with noise from upstairs as the older boys were laughing and carrying on about their day tomorrow.

As I emptied the laundry basket upstairs, adding it to the pile already accumulated downstairs, I walked by my husband who was so graciously helping me get to the bottom of the dishes in the kitchen sink. In that moment, I told him, that I so wanted the house to be quiet and the piles all gone, that my body was tired and the day had been long, but I know that in too short a time, that will become our everyday. There won't be piles of laundry, shoes scattered, crumbs speckling the floor, laughter gracing our halls or feet running through the kitchen. They will be grown and acting more adult-like, forging paths of their own outside these four walls. I'm not ready for those days. These days go by too quickly as it is. And it is in those moments that my mind reminds me of my cancer and my fragility. And that none of us know what the future holds. That each moment should be mine to cherish.

By the hand of God, we have been blessed with 6 beautiful children. They are not ours. They are His. I know that deeply as God called Joshua home way before I was ready to let him go. They are on loan to us. God has asked us, no He commands us, to love them, to train them, to instruct them in righteousness, to teach them about God, to discipline them, to make disciples for Him. That is what God asks of me and that is what God asks of you. Our time to do all this and more, is so short. I don't want to miss a minute.

None of us know the number of our days. Cancer reminds me of that daily. That life is as James said, a vapor, a moment in time. How I want to make those moments count. The time God gives me to be a wife, a mother, a friend. I pray that it is long. I pray that He allows me to see my children graduate, be wed to the spouse He has chosen for them, to be a grandma, to hopefully see them walk in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and serve Him with the gifts He's given them. It fills me with joy just thinking about it. But I don't know. And so I take each day, as crazy as they are around here, and I invest in their sweet hearts and while I'm doing it...pick up the messes along the way thanking God for the time He has given me and the abundant blessings.

The week has been busy. I had my follow up appointment on Wednesday with my integrative doctor (Dr. Bazzan). He had run a whole slew of bloodwork, testing heavy metals, doing an estrogen panel and then a ton of other blood work. We went over all the results and he was very pleased with my results. He made a couple of changes to my supplements in light of the results, but was very optimistic about how my overall body was handling the stress of chemo and how it was fighting the cancer.

I had a Vitamin C infusion that day, as well. I must say, as I have walked this road marrying conventional medicine with alternative medicine, there is a lot of wisdom in both camps and if medicine would only see the merit in bringing them together easily for everyone, I think disease overall would look quite different. So much starts with diet, nutrition and exercise. You can't put kerosene in a car and then think it will go very long or very far. Why we think we can do that with our bodies, I'm not sure. Anyway, I thank God for how He has lead me along this path.

Overall, it has been a wonderful, non-chemo week. The boys continue with their football and racing season. Seth's team is undefeated and have their first play-off game tomorrow. Barclay is taking Luke and Ben to their 2nd to last dirtbike race. Seth is bummed to be missing that race, as it is his favorite track, but knows that he made a commitment to his football team and that is where he'll be. And I'll be standing on the sidelines, cheering him on!

May you too, be enveloped in the many blessings given by the hand of God. May we all have eyes to see them, not needing a disease or a hardship to open our eyes, but just a heart filled with thanks and gratitude toward God for all things. God is good, always.

"By the God of your father who will help you, And by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above...." Genesis 49:25

Much love,

Monday, October 11, 2010

One step closer

I sometimes wish there were more hours in the day.....but these days those hours might be spent sleeping.

That's where I've been the last couple of days. Going to bed early and rising later than I should share. So not like me, but coming to terms with the new and hopefully temporary "me."

Treatment on Wednesday went well. Well, as good as chemo can go. Surely not my favorite place to be, but God uses that time to open my eyes to so much pain and suffering around us. To fill me with compassion unlike I've known before. To see those chairs filled week after week causes my heart to ache for each person God puts before my eyes. I've had the privilege to hear from some of their hearts as our paths cross in the chemo lounge (as I call it.) It is my privilege to usher their name up unto the Lord, or sometimes just their God knows their names intimately. Their faces are forever etched upon my heart and mind.

My sweet friend and ministry right hand, Adrianne, came to treatment with me, as Barclay was only able to stay for a bit. There was a slight bump in the road as we waited for my blood work to come back. Each treatment is contingent on good blood counts, as chemo goes to work not only on the bad cells, but also the good. My hemoglobin came back low. I am running around a 10 and normal is 12-16. That would explain my overall fatigue. I have found recently that even after sleeping a full night, I wake up tired.

They were still able to give me my treatment, but now will be watching my blood counts weekly versus every 2 weeks. As of now, my oncologist isn't doing anything to help elevate the levels. I see Dr. Bazzan (Integrative MD) on Wednesday and will talk more with him about what I can do to help bring the numbers up. Ultimately, I know that God can raise these levels, so can I ask you to pray that God raises them as only He can?

The post-treatment days went according to the previous weeks. Wednesday night I was met with extreme fatigue and nausea. I crawled into bed around 7Pm that night. Thursday, I felt a bit run down, but able to function throughout the day. Precious friends offered to help with the children that day. After Thursday morning Bible Study, the older boys went for a playdate and Faith and Jed went for an overnight with other friends. They were all thrilled to have the afternoon off from school. I headed back to the Cancer Center for my Neulasta shot and then home to find this waiting for me.

Dinner had been brought in and was tucked away in our fridge with the overflow welcoming me on our kitchen island. This huge mum and pumpkin the topping on the cake. To say that we have been showered upon by the love of many is an understatement. My heart cannot encompass the generosity, love, and true beauty that we have experienced through friends and the body of Christ. We have been the recipients of God's love in action. Thank you seems inadequate but all that I have right now. I can't wait to shower His love back on each of you in the years to come.

And then set beside this bounty was yet another token of God's provision and His hands this side of heaven...While driving home from the Cancer Center, I had called a friend to ask her how to cook beans. With low hemoglobin, beans are a good source of iron, especially since I have limited my intake of red meat. Her beans rock! After asking her what I needed, she offered to make me a batch of black-eyed peas. Well, she sure was speedy and had not only made the beans, but had run them to my house, sitting them in the midst of the bounty and greeting me upon arrival. And yes, they were yummy. Still eating them over brown rice.

The fatigue really hits me by late in the afternoon. I made my way to bed early on Thursday, slept until 8:30 Friday morning. Friday was the hardest. As my body fights against the chemo, it is like fighting a nasty flu. My body has trouble regulating its temperature, my eyes feel hot, my muscles ache and a general run-down feeling sets in deeply. All of this, on top of nausea that lays as an undertone upon the body. I laid low all day Friday.

And then Saturday, and new day dawned. We were off to football, once again. The body pushes through the drugs, and the light begins to show through the clouds. Energy comes in small bursts and life begins to feel manageable again. A sigh and thankful heart that another round is behind me. One step closer.

My body is tired, but my heart faints not, for the God of the universe is sustaining me daily. He continually meets me in my weakness and shows me His greatness. He reminds me that I am "kept by the power of God through faith." (1 Peter 1:5) He is holding me so tightly in His grip. There is no other place I'd rather be.

Back in August, God spoke this verse to my heart in my quiet time. He has brought it before me again, a reminder of His sustaining power....

"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

Much love,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Halfway mark

Tomorrow I sit in the chemo chair once again.

I'll receive my 4th and last push from the "red devil" Adriamyacin and then the last drip of Cytoxin.

Hard to believe I will be half way there...that is, to the chemo finish line.

A couple years ago, I started running to add some variation to my morning workout routine. It had gotten a little mundane. For months, my feet hit the pavement of our neighborhood, but soon, that too, became uninspiring. I needed a challenge. Something to work towards.

A friend suggested I pick a local 5K and begin training in preparation. If you know me, you know that I love competition. I love the thrill of competing, I love pushing myself and of course, winning is nice too. And so I set out with a race on the calendar and a training schedule before me.
I remember standing at the starting line amidst a sea of what seemed like serious racers. I mean most of them looked the part, that is of a real racer and a real runner. And I remember looking at their feet. Looking at the running shoes adorning their feet and thinking of the miles that those shoes had run. The terrain they had mastered. The finely crafted shoe made to cushion the foot and protect it from the constant pounding as the weight of the body made contact with the hard surface underneath.

Then my gaze fell to my own two feet.

To the running shoes that had covered many miles and while not always cushioning my feet well, they had carried my legs. But I felt instantly inadequate. Thinking I can't do this. How did I ever believe I was a runner and that I would make it through a race. I don't even have real running shoes.......who am I?

Within in seconds, the horn sounded and the race was underway. No longer could I think about my inadequacy, my insufficiency, my weakness.....I had to run and run I did. And as I ran, I remember the markers along the way signaling my distance covered. The finish line was yet in sight, but there were milestones, beckoning me onward. Filling me with endurance. Giving me a reason to put the next foot in front of the other. I was tired and my legs began to feel heavy. But I remember rounding the last corner and seeing before me the marker saying, "you're hitting the end, only 1/4 mile left."

I dug deep.

I set my eyes on that finish line.

And as I hit the last long stretch, I heard the cheers and encouragement ring through my ears from the sidelines where my husband and children stood. Pushing me forward. Strengthening me and encouraging me.

It was what I needed and my run turned into a sprint.

As my feet crossed over the finish line, what was an all out sprint became a steady walk.

Walking it out....the tired legs, the sore thighs, the burning calves. The fast breathing slowed down to deep breaths, as the sweat rolled down my forehead.

The race was done. I made it. And instead of feeling depleted, I was energized.

It was worth it.

And so tomorrow, I am rounding that corner of treatment. I don't yet see the finish line and I'm not suppose to.

And yes, I am tired.

But I see the half way marker and I'm asking God to give me the strength to keep running to that finish line.

There are days I still don't believe this really is my race. I feel inadequate. I feel weak. I feel insufficient. And you know what, I am all these things.

But He isn't.

And so I run this race, not alone. I run surrounded by you all cheering me on. And I run in the strength and joy of the Lord. I run one step, one day, one race. Standing fast in Him as He has equipped me and He sustains me. It is only on the battlefield that we are trained. And truly this is a battle. A race. My training ground.

Please pray for me tomorrow. Please pray against the nausea, against the fatigue and that this last dose will do its job. Please pray for endurance as I have four more to go and next time, the chemo drug changes.

I'm rounding the corner, running, knowing with each step, I am one foot closer to the finish line. It is worth it.

"Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
and let us run,
with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."
Hebrews 12:1,2a

With love and gratitude,

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Good for me to be afflicted

"It was good for me to be afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.
The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.
Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
Those who fear you will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word.
I know O Lord, that Your judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort,
according to Your Word to Your servant."Psalm 119:71-76

This is what God spoke to my heart yesterday as I sat with Him in the morning. Hard words to hear, huh?

"Good to be afflicted."

But really, not so hard when they come from the one who made me and fashioned me. He knew I needed to hear these words and these words ministered to my heart. I know Him and His love for me abounds and is everlasting. He has only the best in mind for me and will work this cancer out for His good....that I pray each day.

-to distress with mental or bodily pain (yes, I understand this word to its core)
-to trouble greatly or grievously
-and the object of humble

It is the last part that sits with me and brings the verse into its complete meaning...."that I may learn your statutes."

See, God didn't just say, " is good for you to be in pain and greatly distressed."

There is a much bigger picture. A picture that is rooted in eternal perspective and pursuit.

He says, "it is good for you to be humbled..... and if that means you need to experience some pain and discomfort so that you may learn to receive My truths and allow them to sink into your soul, then the affliction is good. I want you to learn about Me. I want you to see Me. I am faithful. I am merciful. I have an intended purpose. Trust Me.

And again, God brought me right back into His arms reminding me that this cancer is to teach me. This cancer is to grow me. This cancer is for my good. Can I receive that?

I can because His word is Truth and that means He is Truth.

And yesterday.....He showed me His faithfulness again and again. "Trust Me Stacy. I've got you covered."

Let me explain.

Back in June, our neck of the woods got hit quite badly with hurricane force winds, hail and rain. We were in Florida at the time, but came home to a bit of a mess. Power had been out for about three days and we had to empty out 2 fridges and our deep freeze. Dumpsters were brought into the neighborhood for the cleanup efforts and damage was widespread. Several of the houses along our side of the road were hit badly with hail damage to their roofs. We called our insurance company, having never used our home owners insurance, this was a bit new to us and we didn't know what to expect. Well, yesterday morning, the roofer came with our insurance adjuster and we found out that a new roof was in order due to the damage and our food loss was covered.

These things just don't typically happen. Our house was in need of a new roof soon. It was something we knew was in our financial future. God took care of the need in a way we never imagined. I praise Him for His provision.

I went on to my last filling of the Betties yesterday and as I traveled the 30 minutes to that appointment, God ministered this song to my heart. I spent that time just praising God for who He is and for His grace along this journey. This song came up on my ipod and I listened to it over and over again. "Lord, use me however you desire. I will walk this valley, Lord, to be closer to You."

My appointment went well. Yeah.....last filling!! Now I can settle into my new size at least for the next 6 months. :) At my appointment, I learned that there may be another avenue God may use for me to share His testimony of my breast cancer journey. Time will tell. I'll share more if it becomes a reality, but I'm excited of the possibility.

And then I came home, went to the mailbox and laying inside was an envelope filled with another generous, totally unexpected, financial gift. The emotion of the morning was more than I could bear and tears just began to fall as I marveled at God. At His provision. At His timing. At His faithfulness made evident to me in such tangible ways. I am humbled beyond measure. I had just finished another week with medical bills over $300. God provided for these needs, and more.... once again in His perfect way.

I go back to a verse in Jeremiah that often God recalls to my heart....."Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." 33:3 and Ephesians 3:20,21 "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above ALL that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

To Him be the glory......

.....and so this affliction. I receive it, because He is good. My eyes rest on Him alone, not the pain, not the discomfort....but God, alone. And I pray that as I walk this road, I learn all that He desires to teach me in my affliction.

I pray in your own journey, in your affliction, you, too, will see the hand and heart of God and humbly say, It is good, because He is good.

On a side note.....we are in the car right now having just got off the Winchester, Va exit of 81. Heading back to our hometown for our 20 year high school reunion today and tonight. Being high school sweethearts, it is fun to share this history with my beloved. So this afternoon we head to a high school football game and then out tonight meeting up with all of our high school classmates. It has been a long time. Not exactly the way I thought I would be going to my high school reunion....breast cancer surrounding me.....but thankful this is an off chemo week and I am back to feeling "normal." Can't wait to see everyone!

Wishing you all a blessed and beautiful weekend.

Much love,