Friday, April 25, 2014

Focusing On I AM

Today I start chemo again.  I am not looking forward to it.  I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said I was.  But once again I feel at peace. It's not peace knowing that I will be healed. but it's peace knowing that everything is under control.

Yesterday our pastor came over to have a devotion with us.  I always appreciate the time he takes to care for our souls and our faith.  He could have talked with us about many things -- trust in God, don't be afraid, rely on Him -- and the list could go on and on.  But instead he focused on a verse that he had just read from John.

Jesus had just been talking to the Jews who were claiming he was demon-possessed and a Samaritan, two horrible claims for Jews at this time.  They didn't like that he was saying that if anyone keeps God's word they would never taste death.  Abraham and the prophets died and they kept God's word, so how was this even possible.

Jesus answer told them that He knew God, for He is God.  He told them He was around before Abraham was born.

So what does this mean for me and for you?  It means that before we were even thought of, God was there.  It means that before we were born, God was there.  It means that before our major trials in life, He was there.  And it means that during our major trials in life, He will continue to be there.  

God is always with us.  He doesn't change.  Here's what it says in James.

Since God never changes, He will be there for all of us in the way He knows is best.  He will do whatever He has to to keep us close to Him.  We never have to worry about not being good enough for His grace, because Jesus took care of that for us.  And since Jesus took care of our worst problem, He will take care of us in the way He knows is best, and nothing will ever sway Him from that.

There is so much unknown in our lives.  There is much right now with the new chemo I am going to start.  But through that all I will have peace, focusing on God, who is I AM. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I'm Changing My Prayers

This verse comes from the book of James.  It is a verse I have clung to for almost 5 years in my battle with cancer.  I've known that the thousands of prayers that have been prayed by myself, my family and my prayer warriors have been heard.  They have prayed in earnest for my complete healing.  They have prayed in earnest for the peace that passes all understanding.  They have prayed for understanding.  They have prayed unceasingly, but yet God has answered no for some of these prayers. 

When I found out I had to go back on chemo again, I was crushed.  Our family has had an amazing 22 months of, for the most part, feeling like a family without cancer.  I didn't want to let go of that.  I still don't.  But that's not the plan God has for me and my family right now.  And after praying for 5 years for the same things, there are times where you just don't know what to pray for anymore.  It has nothing to do with thinking God doesn't hear me or He doesn't care.  That is the farthest thing from the truth.  It comes more from wondering if my prayers should go in a different direction.

Right after we found out, my pastor left me a message.  I had told him that I just didn't know what to pray for anymore.  He said that we should start with this:
That is such the perfect place to start.  God's will is perfect. He knows what I need to stay close to Him.  He knows what my family needs to stay close to Him.  He knows what others need around me to stay close or even bring them to Him.  So that's where I have started. 

Yet, it still has been hard to know what to pray for without just rambling that phrase over and over again, which I have done often.  Then God reminded me of another one of my favorite passages that I have turned to throughout my life when things have been difficult.
This has been such a comfort these past two weeks.  I truly have not known what to pray for because it just all seems like too much.  Yet this Holy Spirit is interceding for me, asking God for the things that I need when I don't know what it is that I need.

Through all this struggle the past two weeks, God has shown me once again that He is always there for me.  He has led me through some low points, as well as given me some breaks where I could just feel normal one last time.  And through all that, He has shown me how I should pray.

This morning I realized that even though I really don't know how to pray for myself, I can pray for the others around me.  So here is how I'm going to be praying.
  • I'm going to be praying for my oncologist.  I am going to pray that she can continue to find ways to give me a quality of life.   I am going to pray that she never feels defeated, no matter what the outcome. I am going to pray that she continues to see God through me.
  • I'm going to pray for my infusion team.  I am going to pray that my new team will be as perceptive as my old team was.  I am going to pray that God leads them to find ways to help me.  And once again I am going to pray that they see God through me.
  • I'm going to pray for the nurses at the clinic at SCCA.  They have gone through some personal struggles and changes and they need my prayers.  I'm going to pray that they can continue to find ways to help all the patients they see every day.  And I will pray that they see God through me.
  • I'm going to pray for all the friends and family who are helping me.  I'm going to pray prayers of thanksgiving that our family has people who are willing to go the extra mile to help us.  I'm going to pray that they always have hearts of service, not only for me, but for others as well.  And I will pray that they see God through me.
  • I'm going to pray for my family, both the ones that are close and the ones that are far away.  This has been as hard on them as it has on me.  I'm going to pray that they can see God's hand in whatever happens.  I'm going to pray that whatever happens God keeps them close.  And I will pray that they see God through me.
 It's time for me to change my prayers.  It's time for me to see God working in different ways rather than just through my health.  It's time to truly say with complete trust, "Thy Will Be Done".

Friday, April 11, 2014

Falling In His Arms

You will be safe in His arms. You will be safe in His arms
 The hands that hold the world are holding your heart
 This is the promise He made, He will be with you always
 When everything is falling apart, you will be safe in His arms

                                     (Safe by Phil Wickham)

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin tonight.  I just know that I need to put this down so I can move on.

After praying for peace for a week, we got peace in a way we weren't hoping for, but one we really were expecting.  The Parp Inhibitor that I've been taking since July of 2012 has seemed to have stopped working. Because this is a study medication, protocol dictates that when it no longer shows that it is keeping the cancer at bay the patient needs to be taken off the medication.

My CT scan showed that even though the cancer spots that they have been watching are still stable, the lymph nodes aren't.  We knew of one that they had been watching, but now there are three.  They are just above my diaphragm.  The second she told me where they were, it all finally made sense.  I have had some breathing issues when walking at times, and when I bend over sometimes I can also have some problems getting dizzy when I stand up.

It is time for me to go back on chemo.  We had the choice to wait a month to see what exactly would happen.  My cancer number could have not jumped that much, or it could have jumped a ton.  Paul and I had about 10 minutes to talk things over while my oncologist was talking with the clinic nurses.  Waiting just never felt right, even though it was an option.  The possibility was there that I could stay off it for many months if I wasn't too symptomatic.  But that didn't feel right to either of us.  We didn't want to be in a situation where I was really sick and then had to start chemo.  So by the time she came back with another option for chemo, we knew we had to start now rather than wait.  The waiting would be more stressful than the chemo.

I will be starting chemo again in two weeks.  I will get it every three weeks.  I will be on a chemo where I have to be careful about touching cold things.  Touching cold things  2-3 days after chemo could lead to neuropathy.  I won't loose my hair, but it might thin.  The steroids are going to be the tough part again.  We do know in general what to expect, so that will be helpful. 

We will need help again.  With all the places our kids need to get to, we will be relying on some of you to help us.  I know I will need people to take me to chemo again.  What else we will need I don't know yet.  We will have the next five days to figure things out since Paul took some vacation time.  Once again this wasn't in our original plan to have him take time off now, but God always knows what is best.  We are grateful for that time now. 

I don't know what the next two weeks will bring as our family gets ready to start the chemo protocol again.  I don't know that this chemo or any chemo will ever kill the cancer.  What we do know is that God has promised to be with us. 

He has promised to hold us up with his righteous hands.  

We will be failing into His Arms very often these next two weeks, learning again how to rely on His strength to get us through these days.  May He help us to fall into His arms and remember all the amazing things he has done, not for our earthly life, but for our heavenly one.

Monday, April 7, 2014

When Peace Seems Far Away

 Hold it all together
 Everybody needs you strong
 But life hits you out of nowhere
 And barely leaves you holding on

(From Just Be Held by Casting Crowns)

That's kind of what my last month has felt like.  It's also why I haven't posted since we found out about the jump in my last cancer number.  We have been so busy between basketball, physical therapy for Melanie, Lent and then just every day life, I haven't had the time to even focus on writing.  But today it's necessary.

By the time many of you read this, I will have had my CT scan.  We decided, with encouragement from my oncologist, that we do my routine CT scan a month early.  Aside from the normal tiredness of a busy life, some things have seemed a bit off from time to time.  So now it's time for another scan, another blood test, another period of waiting to find out what is going to happen next.  And as I pray all I really long for is peace.

When we started this journey almost 5 years ago I had peace.  I woke up from my surgery knowing that I had cancer and I had this incredible sense of peace.  It was that peace that's described in Philippians 4:7

   We knew everything was going to be fine.  I'm sure at that time it was a feeling that I was going to be healed, but it was even more than that.  I was at peace with what was coming.  My heart and my mind felt guarded.  It was what peace was always meant to be.

I'm longing for that type of peace again.  After almost five years of fighting something, I'm tired.  I'm not tired to the point of giving up.  I'm tired of having cancer. 

 And when you're tired of fighting
 Chained by your control
 There's freedom in surrender
 Lay it down and let it go 

That verse is what I need to focus on now.  I need to once again let God show me where to go and what to do.  And I need to focus on where my true peace is: In Christ, In His Sacrifice, In Heaven.

 If your eyes are on the storm
 You'll wonder if I love you still
 But if your eyes are on the cross
 You'll know I always have and I always will

 And not a tear is wasted
 In time, you'll understand
 I'm painting beauty with the ashes
 Your life is in My hands

I know many of you lift me up daily in your prayers.  I know many of you are praying for my healing.  The rest of this week, I ask you to change your prayers for me.  Please storm God's throne with prayers for my peace.  Please storm God's throne with prayers to help me remember where my peace truly lies.  Please storm God's throne with prayers for peace while my family and I wait for the results on Friday.  And finally please storm God's throne with prayers for guidance as we continue this journey.
Because with those prayers and by God's grace I will be able to feel that peace I long for, because I will be held by Him.

 Lift your hands, lift your eyes
 In the storm is where you'll find Me
 And where you are, I'll hold your heart
 I'll hold your heart
 Come to Me, find your rest
 In the arms of the God who wont let go

 So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
 You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
 Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
 I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
 Just be held, just be held