Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Down

One year down cancer-free. For those who have followed by blog in the past and lifted me up in prayer, thank you! It is hard to believe that it has been almost 2 years since I was diagnosed. 2009 was a year of treatment and 2010 has been a year of finding the new normal. I have been so grateful to have 3 clear mammograms and a clear MRI this year. Some of you have been so kind to check up on me through email, and I even got to have my first blog friend face-to-face meeting with Kim at Lifesong (so fun). So I am going to give a quick update for those of you who were interested.

I was diagnosed in January 2009 and spent the majority of the year going through treatment, which included surgery, 5 months of chemotherapy, and 6 weeks of radiation. As I mentioned, over the past year I have had clear tests. From here, I will continue to be closely monitored over the next 3-5 years.

Having had some distance from my treatment, I have been able to more clearly reflect how I believe this trial has refined me. I plan on sharing some of those lessons in the months to come. I will say that the James 1 has come to have profound meaning to me. Consider it pure joy...

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I had such good intentions of blogging through this journey of cancer treatment. For me, though, I found that I needed to focus on beating this--and that took most of my energy. I know that I will be "un-packing" the many lessons God has taught me along the way for many years to come. I hope to share them in the days to come.

Since I last posted, I have completed 5 months of chemotherapy, had a lumpectomy to remove my tumor, and am halfway through 6 weeks of radiation. Overall, I have done really well through most of it, keeping a pretty normal schedule. God has been so faithful through it all, bringing a peace and strengthening my support system. Having clear lymph nodes and other good news along the way has certainly been an answer to prayer.

As I look to completing treatment, my biggest issue is trying to prepare myself not to live in fear. I do not want to worry about whether or not my cancer will come back. I want to live in the love of Christ, above the fear that Satan wants to use to keep me distracted. So I guess I will be shifting my focus from surviving to LIVING!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Going, Going, Gone

A couple of weeks ago my hair started shedding more, so I decided to be proactive and have my husband shave it off. I wasn't sure how this part of the journey would be. Since then, I have been pretty okay, since my wonderful husband says I look beautiful bald--he's the greatest! I have not bought a wig yet, and am sticking with hats. This has just been another humbling part of this journey.

On the upside: It will be fun to watch it grow back and try some new hairstyles I never would have tried before. The doctors have told me that hair often grows back different initially. So I might get to try curly, dark hair for awhile:)

Thought I would share a few pics of my transformation. It sure does cut down on getting ready--no hair drying or styling!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Body of Christ

Over the past several weeks, I have begun chemotherapy. With this comes nausea and fatigue in varying degrees of severity. For me, this has meant several days of nausea where I don't feel like eating anything, as well as extreme fatigue. Being young and in pretty good shape has helped, I believe, as I have bounced back pretty well in between treatments, so far.

While no one chooses this road, I continue to be so blessed and learn so much along the way. One particularly powerful blessing has been seeing the Body of Christ in action. My family, friends, and church family have overwhelmed me and my family with calls, cards, notes, messages, meals, baby-sitting offers, gift cards, and PRAYERS. This outpouring of love and support has meant a great deal to our family. We see and feel the love of Christ reflected in so many around us. Until going through this trial, I never realized the power of the Body of Christ to encourage.

This picture of Christ's love made action has changed our family forever. It spurs us on to BE that love in action in the future. I can see more clearly my selfishness in the past, and am convicted to encourage those in need from this point forward. This blessing and lesson is another way God is redeeming this illness in my life.

Monday, February 02, 2009

New Definition

We define ourselves by so many things and in so many ways. Wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend are roles that come to mind. We define ourselves by our personality traits--funny, reflective, stubborn, organized. We label ourselves--athlete, artist, homemaker. All these roles, traits, and labels help us define who we are.

I have acquired a new label--breast cancer patient. In the coming months, I pray that will become breast cancer survivor. This past month has been packed with much prayer and reflection on how this new journey will impact my life and those around me. I will never be the same person I was before January 8th. I have a new urgency in life, a new perspective. What is worthy of my time, my talents, and my efforts? This new label that defines me will change forever my priorities, and for this I can be thankful. It is the first of many blessings that God will give me on this journey, I believe.

We are given such a short time on earth to reach others for the gospel of Christ. I do not want to waste my time with the things of this world. I want the definition of who I am to be hidden in Christ.

**Good news-Thursday I received the word that my lymph node biopsy was negative for malignancy!**

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Going Pink-Updated

On January 8th, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. All indications are that it is in early stages, which is a blessing. I will be going through chemotherapy, surgery, and possibly radiation over the next months. I covet your prayers during this new journey. My prayer is to "consider it pure joy" during this trial, that God may be glorified through my weakness. I hope that I may then be able to minister to other women who experience this disease after my recovery.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:1-4)

**Tuesday Update**
I had surgery yesterday to put in the chemotherapy port and have a lymph node biopsy. I will get my first chemotherapy treatment on Wednesday the 28th. I am anxious to start killing some cancer cells! I hope to be back at the computer by Friday:) Thank you all for your words and encouragement and prayers!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Perpetual Factory of Idols

I am being truly challenged reading Worldliness, a new book edited by C.J. Mahaney. Mahaney opens in the first chapter discussing 1 John 2:15, which states, "Do not love the world or the things in the world." Not much wiggle room there. We are called to reject the things of this world. This verse is not saying that we should not love people, but rather the world system that opposes everything about God. Mahaney states that worldliness is "loving the values and pursuits that stand opposed to God . . . to gratify and exalt oneself to the exclusion of God."

Many of us might say that we do not love the world, but it is so easy to slowly edge toward the world. The church itself is beginning to not be so distinct in its values and priorities. I am reminding of the song by Casting Crowns called "Slow Fade." The words talk about the move away from God is a slow fade, not usually a dramatic rejection. Give a little here, give a little there, and suddenly we are somewhere we did not intend to be.

Mahaney gives the example of Demas in 2 Timothy. Demas was a dedicated friend and traveling companion to Paul. He saw the work of the Lord first hand. Yet, in 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul writes, "Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me." This is a tragic verse, and sobering. We are not above "fading" due to the influence of this world.

How do we combat worldliness? Mahaney points out that the battle is within. The desires of our hearts are not always bad, but are deadly when we "must" have them. He notes that John Calvin says our hearts are a perpetual factory of idols. Ouch! This is so true. Left to our own devices, we tend to create idols, things that compete with God's true place in our hearts.

What captivates us? Are we preoccupied with the temporary and superficial things of this world? Do we have "living affections to dying things" (John Owen)?

I desperately do not want to waste my life on the temporary. I do not want my heart to be a "perpetual factory of idols." I want to live in light of eternity. Mahaney points out that the only antidote to worldliness is the cross of Christ. As we seek Christ with abandon, he notes that "the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." Alleluia!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wielding a Two-Edged Sword

If you are like me, there come days where I feel so helpless. So drained from the challenges. So unequipped to deal with what I face. It is a very vulnerable feeling.

At those times, I can reflect on the lack of preparation on my part to plug into my power source--to seek wisdom and discernment from the One who gives it freely. Our sovereign, holy Lord has given us to power to be more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. We do not have to feel helpless and unequipped. We just have to find our strength in Him. God has given us two specific "weapons" to use each day as we face attacks and challenges--the ministry of the Holy Spirit and His inspired word.

Hebrews 4:12 states, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

How wonderful that His word is living and active! It is an effective weapon to fight "the schemes of the evil one."

II Timothy 3:16-17 states, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

We don't have to feel unequipped and vulnerable to our challenges. Sure, there are tought times we will go through, pain we will experience. But we have the tools to face them and overcome through His power in us!

The key, though, in wielding a two-edged sword is training. "Wielding" is described as "using with skill or ease, or using effectively." To wield His word, we must be familar with it. We must "train" daily to use it effectively.

God has convicted my heart in this area. It is an area that requires surrender and discipline, or the distractions of the world take over. I have found two books that have been encouraging to me in the area of developing and prioritizing a daily Bible study and prayer time.

  • A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss - The BEST book I have read on developing a daily devotional life from an outstanding Bible teacher. It is scripturally based and extremely practical!
  • Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney - This thin book can be read at one sitting and provides wonderful advice on best using your time, including prioritizing to include time with the Lord every day.

My husband and I have recently committed to getting up together at 5am to have time to spend in Bible study and prayer. We do this separately, but it is motivating and encouraging to do the getting up together! Early mornings are harder for me, but I am finding this time to be precious and I feel so much more equipped entering my day. Rather than waiting until later in the day, I "wield the sword" first thing! I will be striving to grow stronger and more effective in using His word.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beginning Again

Autumn. This is absolutely my favorite time of year. In conventional thought, spring represents new beginnings and rebirth, but for me, autumn brings a wonderful sense of anticipation. In many ways, I think I operate on the school year calendar-August is a time of beginnings. There is something refreshing about a clean slate, a new school year, watching the old fall away seen symbolically in the splendid colors of the fall leaves.

Spiritually, I am so thankful for new beginnings. For grace, forgiveness, and a chance to cast off the old and be transformed by the renewing of our minds and hearts. What an amazing and sovereign God we serve! His love is incomprehensible!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Lucky 13

This is one of my favorite pictures of "my guys"--my husband and son. My husband and I celebrated our 13th Wedding Anniversary yesterday! It is been a joy and blessing to have this man life. We have been through wonderful times and times of challenge and struggle, but through it all the Lord has blessed and refined us. I believe that it is only in the past few years that I have come to understand more clearly God's purpose and design for marriage. It is for His glory--we just get to be used and blessed through it.

I can look back and see God's sovereignty in bringing us together. We serve an amazing God! Today, to celebrate the "Lucky 13th," I wanted to list 13 things about my wonderful partner. There are so many more though! Thanks for indulging me:)

1. He loves the Lord and seeks to put Him first in everything. He did this from the moment we started dating 17 years ago.

2. He is a gentleman. He was trained with "old school" manners, which is severely lacking these days in our society.

3. He is my best friend. We talk about everything.

4. He is passionate about missions. He was saved on a mission trip in college before we met that he went on "just for the fun" of a new experience. Since then, he has led trips to Honduras, Brazil, inner-city Memphis, Nicaragua, and Kenya.

5. His willingness to submit to the Lord's leading. When we met, he was a Biology major planning on going to dental school. During his senior year, the Lord called him to seminary. Many people thought he was crazy. We were obedient and he is now a minister and knows he is where the Lord wants him.

6. His commitment to me and our family.

7. He is a great dad and really works at it, takes the responsibility seriously. He adores our kids and spends lots of time with them. They know their dad loves them!

8. He cooks and bakes--homemade bread (not with a machine) and soups are his specialty.

9. He is very "handy." We are remodeling a house we bought, and he is doing virtually everything. He has a knack for it, and I love how he just learns as he goes with new projects.

10. I LOVE his laugh. During movies, I get more tickled at him laughing than at the joke.
11. He is 6'5". For someone who is 5'10", this is great--I can wear heels!

12. I trust him completely.

13. His brown eyes.
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart! I am still head over heels in love!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Do Hard Things

I am a fan of The Rebelution website and its founders Alex & Brett Harris, two 19 year-olds purposing to make a difference and challenge teenagers to rebel against low expectations and serve the Lord in big ways. So I was so excited to see their new book, "Do Hard Things," in Wal-Mart last Friday--yes, Walmart! I snatched it up and plowed through it in a couple of days. I believe that this is a must-read for every teen, tween, parents of teens & tweens, future parents of teens & tweens, or just anybody that works with youth. For that matter, I think that anyone would be challenged by the passion and boldness of this book!

As parents of a 9 year-old son and 6 year-old daughter, my husband desperately seek to fill our children with the Truth and challenge them to know and serve Him intimately and passionately. I never want to fall into having low expectations on how God might use their lives, the gifts and abilities He has given them. In working with college students for over 12 years, I see also in them such a desire to do something meaningful. If that isn't cultivated, stagnation sets in. At 34, I feel that in my own life. We want our lives to be meaningful and purposeful in light of eternity!

This book challenges teens, in particular, to "do hard things"--not to be satisfied with the low expectations that our culture places on them. It gives inspiring examples of past and present-day teens who are choosing hard things--and accomplishing extraordinary things!

They describe 5 kinds of hard things:

  1. Things that take you outside your comfort zone--taking risks to grow

  2. Things that go beyond what's expected or required--pursuing excellence

  3. Things that are too big to accomplish alone--dreaming and daring big

  4. Things that don't earn an immediate payoff--being faithful and choosing integrity

  5. Things that go against the cultural norm--taking a stand for what it right

Then they challenge teens to look critically at their own lives and how they can do these hard things in their own lives.

Receiving praise from people like C.J. Mahaney, Albert Mohler, Randy Alcorn, and Mark Dever, "Do Hard Things" is really a fantastic book that I would recommend to all teens and those who love and work with them. As Christians, may we have higher expectations for teens and challenge them to "do hard things." Ultimately, may we model doing hard things for them! We serve an amazing and sovereign God who limitless in how He can work through willing servants to further His kingdom!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Your Legacy

I am enjoying Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper. It is a collection of short biographies of Christian women. The section on Sarah Edwards, wife of pastor Jonathan Edwards, was powerful and challenging. She was a wife/mother/home educator who glorified God through her home.

She left behind a legacy through her 11 children when she died in 1758 that is quite incredible. In 1900, A. E. Winship researched and wrote of the outstanding contributions made by the descendants of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards. Listed below is some of what he found. Note that this study was done in 1900--I am sure there have been further contributions since that time!

  • 13 college presidents
  • 65 professors
  • 100 lawyers and dean of a law school
  • 30 judges
  • 66 physicians and a dean of a medical school
  • 80 holders of public office ( including 3 US Senators, 3 state governors, and a vice president of the US)
  • entered ministry "in platoons"
  • sent 100 missionaries overseas

Amazing right? It truly is amazing what God can do through "ordinary" women when they choose to faithfully submit to their husbands and bring their children up "in the admonition of the Lord." I was so challenged in reading her story. All mothers have such an opportunity and responsibility to pour the love and knowledge of Christ into their children and prepare them to serve God in mighty ways.

What will my legacy be as a mother? What will yours be? Will our legacy be one that brings honor and glory to our Savior? Our legacy is made in those small, everyday moments as we reflect Christ to those around us!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Keeping It Real

You know her. You know the perfect gal who has it all together--she is the model wife and mother, intelligent & wise, witty & fun. She can whip up a wonderful home-cooked meal in her pristinely kept home and host guests at the drop of a hat. She does all of this while maintaining her toned figure and manicured nails. You know her--a crazy figment of our very overactive and distorted imaginations!

The perfect woman. What does this mean? Unfortunately, I believe that we have taken the Proverbs 31 woman and morphed her into something that is far from the goal to be striving for. The focus has become much more on being "perfect," than bringing glory to God and honoring Him.

In her new book co-written with Stacey MacDonald (Passionate Housewives Desperate for God), Jennie Chancey writes about he bondage of perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the false idea that a righteous man never falls- or when he does, he certainly doesn't admit it, lest he discourage everyone who is watching him run!

Where do we get this crazy idea? We are sinners, saved only by the grace of God. We are going to fall. We are not going to be perfect. While this realization is not an excuse to "embrace our inner slob," as Chancey states, we must not try to put on the perfect persona. We must be real and authentic is our pursuit of holiness, submitting humbly to the process of sanctification--which is sometimes a bumpy and painful process as He refines us.

Jennie also writes:

At its heart, perfectionism is sinful pride. We want others to think well of us, to admire us, and to desire to follow our example.

Too many times, we can rationalize all the efforts we put forth, saying we are seeking to honor Him. I know I must aways make sure my motives are focused on Him and not on what I may get out of it. I think it can be so tempting to present ourselves as "having it all together." This can be particularly easy on our blogs!

As we seek to encourage one another in our spiritual walks, may we remember that "His strength is made perfect in weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). He uses us to minister to others when our motives are pure and we are real with others. No one likes a "fake" person.

Jennie writes:

You know how we can encourage each other best? It's not by playing the role of Have-It All Hannah or Do-It All Doris. It's by loving others enough to meet them where they are while being what we are: fellow sinners in need.

Instead of worrying what others think about us, we need to care about what God thinks of us, measuring ourselves by the unchanging standard of God's word rather than comparing ourselves to others. Instead of looking to modern-day "experts" for answers, we need to return to the "old paths" of Scripture, where there is "rest for our souls" (Jeremiah 6:16). Instead of seeking to make a name for ourselves or be "important," we need to thankfully embrace the fact that God works through humble people, small steps, and what the world considers insignificant and often thankless work.

So as you go through your day, be real. While passionately pursuing Christ and holiness, don't fall into Satan's trap of pursuing perfectionism. Allow God to redeem our failures and weaknesses for His Glory. Submit your will and pride to Him--He can use you to minister and encourage others.

So many of you out there have ministered to me with your struggles and "realness." Let's keep it real!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Do the Next Thing

I don't know about you guys, but I like to be in control and know what is coming next. I love my planner and the comfort of knowing what is ahead. I have had to grow in the areas of submission and trust. The Lord has stretched me through unexpected trials and challenges.

I have always said that I wish I had a huge spotlight showing me what is down the road in my journey, but have learned to accept that most of the time God gives me a small flashlight--only shining light on the next step on my path. I must submit my desire to know what is ahead and trust and obey for that one step forward.

A wonderful poem quoted often by Elisabeth Elliot captures this:

Do the Next Thing

At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven that,
as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, "do the next thing."

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons, do the next thing.
So, dear friend, as you face each day, trust that He is Sovereign and in control. He is Creator of all and knows each step of the path intimately--He fashioned it! Concentrate on Him. Seek passionate to follow closely after Him. Don't worry at what the journey will bring, just do the next thing. Do not be overwhelmed at the tasks ahead, do the one directly in front of you.