We captured this memory on my phone after a wedding today, and to me it's more than "just" a family picture. It serves as a visual reminder of God's grace because it was four years ago today, on August 30, 2010, that I heard the news that would change my life in so many ways. The "C" word--and all that accompanies it--was definitely not in my agenda. The new set of vocabulary I would learn, the extensive doctor visits, surgeries, tests, blood draws, treatments, weakness, grace, encouragement from many, questions, hospitals, uncertainty, healing, help, blessings, lessons to learn--these have all been a part of the journey.
Tonight I sat with Matthew and Joanna and reminded them of the August 30th when they were 3 and 1 (almost 2) years old. No doubt their lives have been affected in ways beyond what Dan and I have noticed. One of the most precious memories I have of Matthew during my journey occurred the evening after my first chemo treatment at Northwestern. He could tell how weak and sick I was, and he just didn't know how to help. He sweetly came over to where I was sitting, kneeled down next to me, and with much concern in his little voice, prayed that God would help me feel better. It was one of the sweetest prayers I've ever heard! And then there was the time I had to leave Matthew and Joanna (again) at Grandma's house, and I was bit emotional about it. Joanna found a kleenex and, with big eyes, helped wipe away the tears. Now there's also Andrew, our "little" miracle who just turned 1 last month. He's a constant picture to me of God's amazing power and love.
Last week I had the privilege of meeting a friend of our neighbor. As she shared with me a little of her journey which included both spinal bifida and a malignant tumor, I was touched with her kind spirit despite the challenges she's faced. We talked about the comforting truth God gives us in Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." An expected end: "a future and a hope."
Whatever path we find ourselves on, we can rest, assured that God not only thinks of us but has plans that include a future and a hope! I love the words to this hymn by Horatius Bonar "Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord."
Thy way, not mine, O Lord, However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand, Choose out the path for me.
Smooth let it be or rough, It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads Right onward to Thy rest.
I dare not choose my lot; I would not if I might:
Choose Thou for me, my God, So I shall walk aright.
Take Thou my cup, and it With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem; Choose Thou my good and ill.
Choose Thou for me my friends, My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me My poverty or wealth.
The kingdom that I seek is Thine: so let the way
That leads to it be Thine, Else I must surely stray.
Not mine, not mine the choice In things both great or small;
Be Thou my Guide, my Strength, My Wisdom, and my All.
2013 Year in Review
As 2013 comes to a close, I reflect on all the ways God has blessed our family this past year. He has worked in ways we couldn’t have before imagined. Our biggest blessing was the healthy birth of little Andrew in July! This little guy has brought great joy into our lives and is a testimony of God’s grace to us.
Matthew is six and all boy. He loves reading and playing outside. You could probably guess his response on the homework paper today to the question “My favorite part of school is….”--yes, it was recess.
Joanna turned 5 in October and loves to read and sing. She may not let on to this if you are near her, but she adores her little brother and acts like quite the mommy to him.
Dan is keeping pretty busy with Arborworks, especially with the award of a huge municipal contract that has kept things hopping around here! He loves hunting, although opportunities for that this year have been slim.
My health has been good as far as the cancer goes, and recent blood work showed all the cancer markers to be in the normal range! We are praising the Lord for this! I found a framed print of the words “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.” What a great reminder each day!
We rejoice in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who came into this world so that we can have life in Him. Do you know Him as your personal Savior? Do you have a relationship with Him? This is absolutely the most important part of life. Our time on earth is short. In the New Testament book of John, the Bible tells us that Jesus “came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” If you are not sure of your eternal destiny, would you not receive His free gift this Christmas? What better time to turn your life over to Him?!
May God bless you richly this coming year and keep your eyes focused on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Sometimes a Light Surprises
Sometimes a light surprises The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises With healing in His wings...
These words were running through my mind this morning, and I thought, "How perfectly fitting for my next blog entry"--which, for quite some time, I have been trying to decide how to write.
Thanks be to God who gives light for our paths! He answers prayers, and I want to thank you, my friends, for praying.
God has been gracious to give me continued health and strength, and He has blessed my husband and me with a gift that beats the odds! We are expecting child #3, due in July! What a tremendous encouragement and strong evidence to us of a powerful God!
Many have asked what kind of implications pregnancy could have on a history of breast cancer. When I discussed this with my oncologist over a year ago, she was very upbeat and actually encouraged me that the studies show a slightly higher survival rate with breast cancer for those who became pregnant after cancer treatment.
So we looked to the Lord and waited on Him for His direction. Truly He is the giver and taker of life. Since all of life is in His hands, we are not to worry. Not because the doctor gave assurance, but because He chose to give another life. And we praise Him for His perfect working!
The children, now 5 and 4, are thrilled (most of the time) about a brother joining them in July!
Hopefully this child will not be like this blog entry: overdue.
I must close with the complete text of the hymn mentioned above. You may find yourself, like I did, reading through the words more than once to get the full meaning.
Whatever burdens are heavy on your heart or whatever praises are coming from your lips, I pray your gaze will be focused upwards as a result of these words penned nearly 300 years ago by William Cowper.
"Sometimes a Light Surprises"
Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.
In holy contemplation
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God's salvation,
And find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say--
E'en let the unknown morrow
Bring with it what it may.
It can bring with it nothing,
But He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing,
Will clothe His people too:
Beneath the spreading heavens
No creature but is fed;
And He, who feeds the ravens,
Will give His children bread.
Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit shall bear;
Though all the fields should wither
Nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice,
For, while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.
What to Do When God Rewrites Your Life: Review and Giveaway
What to Do When God Rewrites Your Life--that’s the subtitle for Cary Schmidt’s book Off Script. I love it. Off Script. Is your life turning out exactly the way you wrote it? I doubt it. Mine isn’t.
But that’s ok, right? Because God has a way of writing the script differently than we wrote it when we were teens, like my sister blogs about here. I don’t know about you, but I'd rather have my life’s plan written by someone who knows the end from the beginning.
That’s the bottom line of Schmidt’s title. In his book, he offers ten decisions that will transform your perspective in the midst of your trial.
His story rings a bell with me, not only because he was diagnosed with cancer, but also because his news came the same time mine did: fall of 2010.
Following is a brief excerpt that perfectly goes along with the theme of this blog. He wrote:
I believe there must come a moment when you decide to step into your storm with Jesus. You can stay in the boat wishing He would “do something,” but that’s not what He’s commanding.
Step into the storm. This is the moment when you embrace His script and surrender fully to events He has ordained. This is the moment when you see the storm, not as something to be rescued from, but as something to walk through with Him. Suddenly the storm is not your torturous taskmaster, but a tool in the hand of your ultimate Master (p. 36).
Although I found myself having a hard time putting this book down, I tried to read only one chapter each day so I could focus on the topic at hand. One unique aspect of his book is that he writes it while he is going through treatment. He openly shares the good, the bad, and the ugly facts of chemo. Then he reviews the lessons God is teaching him.
Someone at Camp Joy gave me this book a few months ago, and I'm so thankful for it!
The dear folks at Striving Together are offering a free copy of this book to one of my readers. To enter your name in the drawing, complete any of the actions listed below. Each action equals one entry.
- Sign up for my blog updates (upper right corner of the page here) and indiciate you've signed up in the comments below; or leave me a comment that you're already subscribed
- Share this on Facebook, and leave a comment that you've done so
- Share this on Google+
- Tweet about the giveaway
- Send me an email to enter if you don't have a facebok account.
If you have any friends who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, this would be the perfect gift for them. Or maybe it’s not a cancer diagnosis but rather an “off-script” time. Still fitting! I’d encourage you to pick up a copy or two, read it yourself, and share it with a friend. You won’t be disappointed.
Why is This So Hard?
I exercised this morning. And wondered, Why is this so hard? The new chill in the air as I walked to our neighborhood clubhouse was refreshing.
But once I got on the treadmill, I couldn’t figure out why my brief runs interspersed with the walks were so taxing.
My mind came up with lots of possibilities: maybe I’m looking at the display time on the treadmill too much; maybe this treadmill is harder than the one I usually use (it is a newer one); maybe I need to look out the window; maybe I should concentrate more on what’s playing through my earbuds; maybe I should have eaten less for dinner last night.
Then I realized the culprit. After 17 long minutes. This new treadmill’s incline apparently doesn’t reset to “0” when you start a new workout. And the overhead fluorescent lights were casting a glare on the screen, making it harder to see the incline number. I was running on an incline much steeper than I’d ever attempted.
You know what I did next? I changed that incline to “zero” so I could finish my workout with greater ease.
Are you discouraged today? Did you just receive a disturbing phone call? Are you wondering how you’re going to make it through these next 24 hours? Do you feel defeated? Are you disappointed with how little you’ve accomplished and find yourself trying to come up with all the reasons why you’re so unproductive? Are you hurting for someone you love?
Take a closer look at the screen. Shield it from the reflections of the world just for a few moments.
Do you see you're in a spiritual battle?
Say “Goodbye” to discouragement and defeat. What good are they in battling the enemy?
Welcome joy and peace. Through Christ, we are on the winning side. You’ll get through this time of steep incline with your eyes focused on Him.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Giveaway and Review
If there's one blog I visit almost daily, it's Crystal Paine's Money Saving Mom. I love her practical tips, honest transparency, and conversational writing style.
I enjoy the deals she blogs about, but her posts on home organization, goal setting, and discipline are particularly inspiring. So when she offered bloggers a preview of her new ebook 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life, I was thrilled.
I've been doing a quick, overview read and am starting a 21-day read on Monday, October 29, implementing her plan. Would you like to join me?
Here's what you can expect:
- Read about 2 pages each day
- Complete a "mega-project" to work on throughout those 21 days. You'll be picking one on Day 1. You know, that project that could be accomplished if you worked on it consistently for a short bit of time? (i.e. arranging a song, organizing the garage, cleaning the basement, etc.)
- Get inspired and motivated!
- Learn how to implement more discipline into a busy life.
- Finish the 21 days with a sense of satisfaction!
Through Thursday, you can download the book for $0.99 in two ways:
If you'd like to enter to win a free copy, leave a comment below, and I'll choose a winner by Thursday, October 25, at 3:00 p.m. CST. If you don't have a facebook account, send me an email, and I'll include you in the drawing.
3 Reasons for Smiling in the Rain
It’s raining today and dreary outside, but I’m smiling anyway! Three reasons I can rejoice today:
1. Chemo is in the past.
Sixteen months ago I received my last dose of chemo drugs. I'm so glad it's over. If you've been through it, you know what I mean. And if you haven't, you can imagine.
Although chemo is a nasty experience, I will say that it's an amazing time to experience God's grace in a personal way. In fact, whatever weakness or difficulty we experience is simply a perfect time to experience God's ample grace and strengthening.
2. I’m on a six-month follow-up schedule with my oncologist.
As far as my health goes, I see my oncologist every six months, and there are always plenty of tests in between. Hey, this is better than seeing your oncologist every two weeks, like during treatment.
I had a couple MRI's which were supposed to be annual. The last two, they've wanted me to return in six months to keep an eye on a couple suspicious areas. The first follow-up MRI showed the questionable area to be fine, but then they spotted another area they want to check on in 6 months (which will be early 2013).
Cancer is a tricky thing. You want it to stay away and hope it's doing so, but you (and the doctors) don't really know what's happening in all those hidden cells. So it's a waiting game, like I wrote about last year here.
3. My new doctor at Northwestern is encouraging.
In addition to the oncologist visits and MRI's, I see a pretty interesting doctor at Northwestern who specializes in the whole BRCA gene mutation field. I was assigned to him since I'm positive for the BRCA2 mutation. My last visit with him was actually quite encouraging. Upbeat and knowledgable at the same time, his positive outlook put a lightness to my step as I walked out of his office. Why is it that words from doctors can be so powerful?
There are many more reasons to be smiling today! And when I first wrote this blog post, it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t about smiling. But I want you to know that God is good. He is answering your prayers. He continues to give strength and healing. And He puts the smile on my face!