Monday, August 22, 2016

Rare Treasures

Last night I was sitting on the couch when Tanner crawled up next to me and put his head in my lap.  I started rubbing his hair like I did when he was little.   A few minutes later he was sound asleep.  

Donald walked into the room, took one look and got a big smile on his face, "Well, I know we were supposed to leave for Life Group in a few minutes, but that doesn't happen very often.  I am pretty sure you want to enjoy every second."

My sweet husband... he knows me too well!

I sat there and soaked in the rare treasure of my teenage son sleeping in my lap for almost an hour and a half.   And I enjoyed every single second of it. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Home From Houston

Last Sunday we drove to Laurel to get on a plane to fly to Houston.   Really, that was just last Sunday?  It seems like a month ago.   We got on that plane with a group of nurses from MEA who were off to do health fairs.   What a blessing to be able to fly instead of drive the eight hours.  

Bright and early Monday morning we were at the hospital.  Since late June we had been waiting for this moment.  The moment of answers and starting a process of getting Donald well.   First a nurse walked in and asked a lot of questions.  Next a physician's assistant walked in and asked another set of questions.   Finally the doctor walked in and said, "Well, there has been a big problem.   I can't tell you anything without looking at the tumor.  Until I see that there is no reason for you to be here."  

Donald (not me because I was two seconds from being a crying mess) explained how we had gone to the extremes to get everything to them.  We had even brought our own copies of the records to them.   We asked, "Why did you let us come out here if you didn't have what you needed?"   

The doctor said, "I have asked your patient rep to come up here to talk to you."  

When he left the room, as hard as I tried not to, my tears just started streaming down my face.   Disappointment.  Anger.  Frustration.  Helplessness.  Every emotion just seemed to slam me.   Donald reached over to hold my hand and we both prayed.  

When our patient rep walked in she began chattering really fast.   I mean really fast.   She knew she had messed up.  We knew it too.    Then she did the wrong thing.  She lied.  She told us she had a Fed Ex tracking number in her hand and the sample was on the way and would be at the hospital tonight.  What she didn't know was that Donald had already called our doctor at University Medical and they had the sample in their hand, packaged up to send.  They just needed MD Anderson to sign the request form.  

I wish I could say that I just kept my mouth close and extended grace to this lady, but that wouldn't be honest.   I told her that I needed her to know that we were more than a chart.   We had spent gas money,  vacation days, hotel days, meals... and it was all wasted at that moment because she would not answer our phone calls or return our phone calls.   

The rest of the week was slow.  Tuesday Donald had blood work.  Wednesday he had a head and neck scan.   The plan was for us to meet with the specialist on Thursday.    On Wednesday night they called us said all appointments were cancelled since the pathologists wanted to do some additional testing on the samples. 

At this point we have had seven pathologists look at Donald's samples.    Two of the Country's leading sarcoma specialists say they have doubts that this is sarcoma.    Out of a crazy week, this is great news and we give GOD ALL THE GLORY for this. 

We flew home late yesterday.   Seeing our boys and getting hugs from them was good medicine.   Sleeping in our own bed felt so good.    There really is no place like home.

We really have no more answers, but we have been reminded again that these doctors are just men and God is still God.... yesterday, today and forever.

Thy Will Be Done.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Worship As A Lifestyle

My car has always been a sanctuary for me.  It is one of my favorite places to worship.  I love turning up my favorite worship music -- especially hymns -- and singing.  I love turning off the music completely and just pouring my heart to the Lord.   I think it is the freedom of just driving and seeing the open sky and the trees and the beauty of creation.  It is the quiet of the car despite the chaos of the world outside.  It is not caring if someone thinks I am crazy as I pour my heart out in praise as I pass other cars on the road.

I don't hunt.  My husband doesn't hunt.  However, we have friends and family who do hunt.  Some of them say that sometimes they love just sitting out there enjoying the beauty of creation.  They feel the most worshipful and the closest to God  during those times.   I can truly understand that.     (Our disagreement about them missing church to hunt is an entirely different discussion... you know who you are!) 

We had a big dinner time discussion recently about worship.  I told the boys that I knew I was officially old.   (That and I have a serious case of adult ADD.)  I get so distracted by all the bells and whistles that are involved in church worship.  Changing lights.  Covered windows.  Guitar solos.  Whatever....   It distracts me from focusing on God.   Like I said... I am getting old. 

One of my favorite verses on worship is Psalm 96:9...
"O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth."

I am trying to remember that holiness is so much more than the moments I spend in my car or at church, but in the way I live my life.  I am trying to remember that worship is a lifestyle.    A matter of priority of expressing my love for Him through pursuing a standard of holiness.  

"Pursue...holiness, without which no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14)
"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:15-16

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Answered Prayer #3

1.  Once again we cannot say enough about our doctor from University Medical Center.  He has gone above and beyond in making sure Donald is taken care of during this time of waiting before leaving for MD Anderson this Sunday.   He found a 6th pathologist in New York City to look at Donald's case.   This pathologist is a specialist in angiosarcoma.   He is sending his results to MD Anderson so we will have the benefit of six specialists along with the MD Anderson team.   We thank the Lord's guiding hand for giving us Dr. Jordan.

2.  As much as we miss him, we are so thankful for this week of work that the Lord provided Todd in Chattanooga.  It will be such a financial help to him and to us for his sophomore year of school.

3.  As medical bills begin to roll in we know that this is only the tip of iceberg of expenses.  We have seen God provide over and over again in our marriage and we know that this will be no different. 

4.  I am a compulsive plan ahead person.  That has worked in our favor as 90% of Tanner's sophomore year was planned and taken care of before summer started.   The few things that I needed to finish up we have been able to handle easily during the last two weeks.  

5.  Speaking of Tanner,  I am so thankful for Tanner's organized and responsible work ethic in his schoolwork.   Homeschooling is such a privilege and joy for me, but I know that this is going to be a challenging one for all of us. 

6.  Such a supportive team at Donald's job.   Love, love, love them.

7.  The "been there done that" team of friends who have stepped in and given us support.  These are friends who have either gone through or are going through cancer.   They have given us words of encouragement.  Sent us notes.  Invaluable advice.  Dropped by gifts.  Sent gift cards.  We are all members of a club we never wanted to join. 

8.  Our great, big, amazing God who has been our strength.  Our shield.   Our hiding place.  Our constant source of breath when we felt breathless.    He is good all the time.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Be Still and Know

My Mom told me last night I have been very quiet.  She wanted to know if I was OK.  

I hadn't really thought about how quiet I have been.   I think I am just tired.  Really, really tired.  All this waiting has finally caught up with me.  I have tried so hard to stay busy and not think about things that my batteries finally wore out and I just crashed.  

On top of that I find myself wanting my guys close to me.   Just lots of family time.  So that means when Todd got the call from his boss to come back to Chattanooga I wasn't very excited.  Like always, he was so thoughtful.   He came and sat down and told me about the job.  His first words were, "Mom, I know that this is a really inconvenient time.  I won't go if you don't want me to go."   How could I be so selfish?   When he drove out the driveway I cried a lot of tears.  

So as I sit down this morning to drink my coffee and pray and pull myself back together the first thing I see is the sign on my bookshelf that says, "Be still and know."   I kind of inwardly grown.  "Lord, being still means waiting.  Waiting seems like all we have been doing and I am getting tired of waiting.  Frankly, I am getting.... impatient."   There it was.  Impatience.  The opposite of patience which is the fruit of the Spirit.  That is what He was trying to point out to me. 


So I go to that section in Psalms and read:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46:10-11

Wow!  Those two tiny verses just exude the power of God.  His authority and protection over our lives.  Reading them gave me such peace.  No wonder He tells us to be still and know.  Is there anything I could possibly say to explain what an amazing, awesome, almighty, incredible God I serve?  Mere words could not begin to touch his majesty.  

In just a few minutes in His presence I am reminded of how small my problems truly are and how big my God truly is.   We have seven more days until we get on the plane to go to MD Anderson.  Each one is a gift from Him. 

Thy Will Be Done.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pride Brings A Person Low

Some of our family came to visit this weekend.   It was such a wonderful weekend full of laughter, eating, shopping, and just relaxing.  The only thing that would have made it even more perfect would have been if Tanner would have been there.  However, we knew he was content because he was serving at his favorite place - Beautiful Feet Mission in Fort Worth, Texas. 

As amazing as this weekend was I have to make a confession.  The days leading up to their arrival revealed a terrible character trait in me:  pride.   I didn't realize just how big and ugly it was until God pointed it out. 

As I was cleaning the bathroom I was frustrated that our tub has this ugly stain that will not come out. No matter what I try.  It makes me look like a horrible house keeper.  It is just nasty.   So embarrassing.  Then I started thinking that I really needed to go buy new towels because ours are not really the nicest for company.   That made me start thinking about how half of my dinner dishes are chipped because my boys are not always the most careful when unloading the dishwasher so maybe I should go get a few dishes.   Then I started noticing other things that I wished I could make "just so" before their arrival and God just said, "STOP!" 

He reminded me of exactly where Tanner was at that moment.  Serving homeless people in Fort Worth.   People I love so very much.   People who have absolutely nothing when I have absolutely everything.  And I had let my pride take priority over what was important which was welcoming our family into our home.  Spending time with them.   Making memories during the time we were going to share.  

Psalm 29:23 says "pride brings a person low" and I believe it, because it focuses on me-me-me instead of others like it is intended.  Once God convinced me to let go of everything and just focus on the weekend I felt free. 

Even free to ignore my home and that little spider web I noticed in the corner as we ate supper because we were all laughing at another funny story that was being told. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Goliath

I have named Donald's cancer, "Goliath".  

For any of you who are not aware of Goliath, he was a giant warrior in the Philistine army.  I think there is some arguments about exactly how tall he was.  I have heard he was 6 foot 9 inches and I have heard he was 9 foot 9 inches.  In any case, he was HUGE and mean and fierce. 

But he was on the wrong side because David was on God's side.  That is who fought and conquered Goliath.  Fought him with his slingshot and five smooth stones.   That part of the story still amazes me.  David went to a creek and picked out five stones.  It only took one stone to kill Goliath, but he had five.   He had a plan and a faith in God.   

So, you see why I have named Donald's cancer Goliath.   It is on the wrong side of God.   We are being given a lot of stones (treatment options) to choose from right now.  We are asking God to guide our hearts and minds as to which one to put in our slingshot.  

Right before David killed Goliath he said, "This is the Lord's battle, and he will give you to us!" (1 Samuel 17:47 NLT).    That is another reason I call this Goliath.  This battle is the Lord's.  It is His.  Every mountain and valley.  Every decision.  Every day of treatment.  Every day.  

This battle is yours, Lord.   Thy Will Be Done.