Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Gift of Intimacy

Donald is on a plane on the way home.  We have joked that since he told his bosses that he won't be able to travel after surgery that they have been trying to cram all the trips they can into these last few weeks.  

We have been texting back and forth talking.  Anxious to get back to each other. It is funny how when you get married you are starry eyed and so in love.  Your images of intimacy are skewed by what you see on television and movies. 

However,  the past twenty six years have shown us what intimacy truly means. 

It is clinging to each other when the doctor gives you bad news.

It is holding hands while a doctor tells you that there is no pregnancy.

It is sitting in a parking garage sobbing and unwilling to leave a loved one at the hospital.

It is standing by the graveside absorbing each other's grief.

It is not giving up when the job is gone and the money is running out.

It is crying tears of joy when we see our sons for the first time. 

It is signing the papers as we purchase our first home.

It is laughing hysterically on family game night.

It is sharing victories.  

It is all these things and so much more.

I have discovered that what we have is so incredibly rare in this world of throw away mentality.   Each day I wake up and thank God for the gift of this marriage.   For the amazing man God gave me for a husband.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Throwing Away the "To Do" List

Yesterday I woke up with a big "to do" list. I pretty much had the entire day planned out. However not long after I got up I felt the Lord nudging me to get dressed and head out. Despite the fact I knew I probably sounded like a three year old I asked, "Why Lord? Not one part of my plans for today involve leaving the house." However, the nudging continued so I got dressed and got in the car. As I backed out the driveway I told the Lord, "I have no idea where I am going." I turned the CD player onto some worship music and started driving. A few minutes later a store popped into my mind. I didn't need anything from this store, but I asked the Lord to give me a peace about whether this was where I was supposed to go. To be honest, I didn't feel peaceful or sure, but it was the only thing I knew to do. As I walked in the door the owner of the store walked up to me. We have met and talked a few times in the past months. What he said told me why God had sent me, "You are the first person I have seen since I found out my Dad died. He died on Saturday and I have been hiding in my home since then, but I decided to run by the store to check on things before I have to leave for California tomorrow for his funeral. Do you have a few minutes to talk to me?" We sat and talked for an hour and a half about his Dad, what he was expecting when he arrived, and his fears concerning the strained family relationships. We talked about God and his love for him and prayed peace over the rest of the week. It was a holy appointment and holy meeting.

Today I woke up and told the Lord that I had no "to do" lists. Whatever He had for me today I was ready and willing.

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. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Give Us Your Peace

I have been reading in Mark 4.   Verses 35-41 keep staying with me. 

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!

I love reading about Jesus for obvious reasons.   Sometimes I think we forget that he was fully human when he was here.    With all the obvious messages I have heard on these verses, it is the humanness that has stuck out most.  

"When evening came...." The verses before these tell us Jesus had been standing on that boat all day long preaching to the crowds.   Can you imagine how tired he must have been?  But he couldn't just step off the boat and walk home to sit down on the couch and rest.  First of all, he didn't have a home or a couch.  Plus to step off the boat would mean stepping into the crowd who all wanted just a second to talk to him.   His only option was to just push the boat off and go to the other side.  

I can only imagine that he was asleep within a few minutes of putting his head down.   So when his disciples woke him up about that storm?  I don't know about you, but when someone wakes me up when I am exhausted I am GROUCHY.  (Seriously fam... no comments here.)   I know Jesus handled grouchiness better than I do. 

But really I can't fault the disciples.   I am pretty sure I know why God led me to these verse.  This week has been hard.  Bone weary.  Heart breaking.  Chest crushing.  Hard.  

To put it into perspective for you.   At some moments, Donald's cancer has been small in comparison to some of the other things going on.  Yes, just that hard.

In all of these storms I have found myself crying out, "Jesus!  Do you see that we are sinking?  I trust you.  I believe you.  My hope is in you.  But, I feel like the waves are getting way too high and overwhelming.   Please, Jesus, calm these storms!" 

Then these last verses... "Even the wind and the waves obey Him!"  

Those simple words have brought comfort to me.  

That Jesus in his own moment of human exhaustion stood up and said, "Peace." and the wind and waves obeyed him.  What comfort that is to me. 


The disciples were so slow to understand, but I understand.  I know.  Lord, these waves are high right now.    Gives us your peace. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Anticipation

All this waiting is just so draining.   Each of us are trying to stay busy to keep ourselves distracted.

Donald is working.  Obviously, he wants to work as long as he can.  It gives him a sense of normalcy in the midst of a lot of uncertainty. 

Both the boys are doing mission work, volunteering at the church, helping both Donald and I with anything we need and spending time with friends. 

I am trying to think ahead and anticipate what our needs might be in the coming weeks.   Cleaning.  Trying to cook some things to put in our freezer.  Making sure that all Tanner's curriculum and lessons are ready for the first semester of school.    Trying to look at all the things that Donald does that I am going to have to handle while he is going through chemo/radiation.  (What a list!)

I am going to admit that today has overwhelmed me a little.  I have looked ahead a little too much.  Allowed myself to think too much.   Long story short... I took my eyes off of Him.  That is never a good idea.   I have had to step back and remind myself that God already knows what is ahead and has it firmly in His control.   I have had to allow myself to put my head in my Father's lap and just cry for a few minutes.    So thankful for Jesus' promise of peace.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  John 14:27

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Not Just One But Two

I woke up at 4am this morning.  Wide awake.  The kind of awake that told me God was telling me to get up and pray.   It was easy to pray because my list is so long:  Donald's health, Tanner's trip to Beautiful Feet, the team going to Belize, my aunt's surgery this morning, my Dad's heart, Nathan in the Dominican Republic, Aaron and Karen at Winshape, my nieces away at the beach, my sister and BIL transition to Memphis, Todd starting his sophomore year of college, etc.... You get the picture.  God and I could talk forever about so many things. 

However, I knew that God was preparing my heart for the doctor's appointment that we had with Donald's urologist that we had planned this morning.  He knew what we were going to hear.  

The words the doctor spoke were:  "Donald has kidney cancer." 

The air didn't seem to leave the room like it did with the first diagnosis.  However, we have decided that if there is a statistic to break, Donald is obviously going to do it.  This cancer is usually found in men who smoke.  Since Donald has never smoked a day in his life, he doesn't fit the normal realms of this cancer. 

However, now we are not dealing with just one cancer, but two. 

The doctor says he wants to make the final confirmation next Wednesday with the biopsy, but he is 90% sure of his diagnosis.   We were so thankful to find out that this kidney cancer is not the same as his other cancer.   The kidney cancer is very slow growing and the mass is small at this point.  

Donald looked at the doctor today and said, "I am going to beat this so just tell us what to do."   So we talked through what that would look like and how it needed to work in relation to his treatment for the other cancer. 

For now we are so thankful for another amazing doctor which God has sent us.   We are thankful that we have a plan for this cancer.   I am thankful for my sweet husband and his continual leadership of our family. 

I am most thankful for our Great Physician.

Thy Will Be Done.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Taste and See

"Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!" 
Psalm 34:8


Can your kitchen be a prayer closet?   I hope so, because it is one of the places for me where I take refuge to pray.   Maybe that is why I like Psalm 34:8 so much.  Any time I see that verse I think of cooking and baking for my family and I also think of taking refuge in my special place. 

Today as I baked batches of chess squares, Mississippi Mud cake, pork loin, summer vegetables, fresh bread and other things, God and I talked.   We talked about all the missionaries that are on our missionary board.  All the friends and family whose pictures are posted inside our cabinet doors.  

We just talked and He nourished my soul while I made the things that I thought would nourish the stomachs of my family and friends who are going through some trying times.

I am always telling my boys: "Whatever you are filled with spills when you are bumped."   Kind of like the gallon of tea that is sitting on my counter right now.  If I bump it, sweet tea will spill out.  Not milk.  Not water.  Not coke.  Sweet tea.   When we go through trials, whatever our heart is filled with is going to spill out.  If it is Jesus, then He will spill out.  If it is not, then that will spill out too. 

Getting bumped is not fun.   I have had a lot of bumps in my life time.   However, I have "tasted" and "seen" that bumps mean learning about God's faithfulness.   It is a way to increase and build on my faith.  If my life had been free from pain and sorrow, my relationship with God would still be so basic.  It would be like some of the relatives that my parents have told me stories about, but I have never met.   I am glad I know about them, but I don't know them.  There is no intimacy.  No relationship.  No friendship.   

I can't imagine my life without this friendship with Jesus.  I am so glad that I have been able to take refuge in Him.  To taste and see that He is GOOD!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Answers to Prayer #2

1.  This week we have received a card, a letter from a Sunday School class in another state, messages, texts and phone calls from people telling us they are praying.  Each and every word brings us comfort.  

2.  So many people have offered to help us however we need.   At this point, we have no idea what we need, but as we listened to the options for treatment I realized that the point for needing help was going to definitely going to come.   Please know that all of your offers for help are SO appreciated. 

3.  Have I mentioned Donald's surgeon, Dr. Jordan?  Still such an amazing answer to prayer.  He calls.  He texts.  He emails.   We are so thankful for him.

4.  Donald feels good.   He is working.  Being able to work and keep his normal schedule is a wonderful blessing.

5.  Although Donald's type of cancer is rare, unfortunately cancer isn't.  People who have walked this journey have given us words of wisdom that have really helped us in knowing best how to plan.  They have contacted our families as well.  We so appreciate that and hope to one day be where we can do the same for someone else. 

6.  Our families are amazing.   Their prayers.  Their encouragement.  Their love.   So thankful for each of them.

7.  Our boys.   You want to have a clue about how amazing Donald is as a Dad?   Look at our boys and how they are  handling all of this.   Their strength and maturity as well as faith in the midst of all of this makes me even more proud to be their Mom. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I Still Do

Happy Anniversary, my sweet husband! 

Twenty six years ago, I walked dragged my Daddy down the aisle to get to you.   Your Uncle Phil told Daddy that I was the happiest bride he had ever married in all his years as a pastor.   There is a reason for that.  I was the happiest bride on the face of that earth.  I am still the happiest bride on the face of the earth to be married to you. 

On that day we took our vows to to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.    We meant those words when we said them.   The last twenty six years of actually living the better  and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health have cemented those vows and made us one in the way God intended.  

You know me like no one else.   You make me laugh every single day.   We finish each others sentences and often don't need words at all.   We would rather be with each other than anyone else. 

Just like that day when we were standing in front of our family and friends, we did not know what our future held, we just knew that we were going to face it together.   Today we do that again.  I don't know what the next weeks, months and years hold for us, but I know that we will do it together, hand in hand with God holding each of us.

I love you with everything I am.  
Thank you for loving me.

I Still Do,
Deanna


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

God Does Not Care About Statistics

We met with the University Hospital Medical team this morning.   I think I insulted the first doctor I met with my questions of "Are you married?" and "Will you call in a plastic reconstructive surgeon to help?" (He WAS the plastic reconstructive surgeon.)   Open mouth.  Insert foot.   Ya'll he just seemed so young.  However, my awkwardness aside, he and the entire team was smart.  Like major overwhelming, studied at John Hopkins and did residencies at some impressive universities smart.  They answered our  questions and even anticipated every scenario we were thinking.   They were blunt and brutally honest.  They said they felt like they owed that to us.   We agreed.  

We have kind of felt like we have been in such a waiting game that it felt good to get some answers and some direction.   They gave us a list of options that are offered here at University Hospital along with a time table.   They also highly encouraged us to go to MD Anderson to hear what they have to say and see what options they offer. 

The hardest part of the day for me was when they started throwing out statistics and numbers.  That is the only thing I cannot handle.   I hate numbers.  I hate statistics.  Hearing them boil my husband's life down to a number just shreds my heart. 

After we talked to our boys, I texted our circle about being home.   The first text I got back was from my brother-in-law.   His words to me were, "God does not care about statistics."   Oh to hug my sweet Taylor at that moment.   He was God's voice to my ears.   Even though Donald and I had said those words to each other on the way home, seeing those words in his text was just what I needed.  

So I am doing what I was reminded by Ron to do yesterday when he sent me 1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you."

I trust in you, Lord.   This decision is yours.  Donald's health and life is yours.   Our marriage is yours.   Thy Will Be Done. 

Yawn

"Have you ever been diagnosed with cancer?  If so, what?"

There is something about answering that question on the dozen of medical forms we have had to fill out that has slammed the hammer of reality down on our hearts and minds.   (Speaking of medical forms... good grief there are so many and all the same.  There has to be a better way!  Maybe this is their way of helping you pass the time in waiting rooms. :-) )

We meet with the University Team in a just a little while.  Donald and I did not sleep well last night.   That feeling you get when you are a little kid excited about Christmas morning?  The opposite of that.   Neither of us seemed really anxious or nervous, we just couldn't sleep.   Really, I think I couldn't sleep and was keeping Donald awake, but he is way too sweet to tell me.

My coffee is getting cold.   Better get moving before we have to leave!

Thy Will Be Done.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Smile

After we began discussing Donald's cancer journey, I began thinking that I really wanted to have family pictures made.   We have not have family pictures made in a long time.   That is primarily my fault.  I love photos as long as they are not of me.   I would rather go to the dentist than have my photo made.  Seriously... I just don't like having my photo taken.  Maybe if I were photogenic, but I am not.   You should see my nieces -- all three of them.  You can catch them off guard and they still look like they should be on the cover of a magazine.  If I didn't love them so much, I would have to be envious of that kind of ability.   Anyway, you get the picture (see what I did there?). 

I immediately knew that there was only one person I wanted to take our pictures.  She has taken the boys portraits.  We are friends and I trust her.   I sent her a vague text about photos and found out that her schedule was packed.   She was working VBS, going on a mission trip, and had a plate overflowing.   I just didn't think it was in the cards.   I wasn't sure where to go because I could not imagine anyone else taking our photos, but I knew she could help me find someone.  I called and asked her to help me find another photographer who would be willing to help us on July 4th weekend.  

Being the sweet, generous and thoughtful friend that she is, she offered to take our pictures for us despite the crazy hectic schedule he has.   I immediately started crying.   Over pictures.  I haven't cried over anything else in this process, but knowing that she would be willing to do this for us meant to much to me.  

This morning we met and tried our best to get photos.  It was hot!  Taking family photos in Mississippi in July is not exactly ideal.  However, if anybody can make us look good I know that my friend can do it.   She promised she put on her extra skinny lens for me.  :-)    We will see.  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Answers to Prayer

I worry if I don't start listing all the ways God has provided for us and answered prayers during this journey, I will forget something.  So this is the first installment in "Answered Prayer"...

*  The doctors tell us finding the tumor so soon is rare.  We believe this was God's hand!

*  Our surgeon, Dr. Jordan, has been a gift to us.   He has been on top of Donald's case.  Researching.  Giving us his personal phone number.  Getting us test results within hours instead of days.  Calling/texting/emailing us almost every day. 

*  Todd was working a summer internship in Chattanooga.  He had a slow down in his work load so he decided to come home to visit two days before we found out the news.   Such a God thing to be able to tell him face to face instead of over the phone.

* Logging into a medical website to pay a bill and finding a $1,450 bill suddenly at $0.

* The surgeon told us that Donald would have redness and swelling for about three months after his surgery.   It is two weeks after the surgery and you cannot even tell he had surgery.  No swelling.  No redness.  Only those of us who know where the incision was made can tell he had surgery. 

*  Peace... constant, abiding, overwhelming, perfect peace. 

How This All Started

"Honey, do you feel this in my face?" was the question that Donald asked one morning after shaving.    That was the question that started us on this journey.  

After he noticed a knot in his cheek, he went to see our family doctor.  She looked at it and said, "I have no idea what that is.  It is up to you, you can leave it in or take it out, but  I am going to send you to see a ENT."  

A few days later we went to see the ENT.  He looked at it and said, "I have no idea what that is.  It is up to you.  You can leave it in or take it out, but I am going to send you to an otolaryngologist (yea.. say that five times fast!) 

We went to see him and he said, "I have no idea what that is, but let's biopsy it."   After 4-5 needle aspirations, he picked up the phone and said, "Call University and have them send a pathologist over here right now.  We are going to look at this before he leaves the office."   After a little while a pathologist walks in with his handy dandy microscope and equipment where they evaluate the cells and declare that everything is fine.   He says, "It is up to you.  You can leave it in or take it out.  If you want to take it out you can see the plastic surgeon."   

In my mind there was no option,  God didn't give him that little knot so let's get rid of it.  We went to see the plastic surgeon specializing in otolaryngology.   Dr. Jordan.... we cannot say enough about how amazing he is and what a gift from God he has been.   He scheduled the surgery.  My family came over and sat with me and we took a groggy Donald home expecting to sit on him during the recovery period.  (Sit on him because they told him not to do any lifting, strenuous or even sweat during the three weeks following surgery.  Almost impossible for my husband who our friends nicknamed the "Energizer Bunny".)   We still are not sure who was more shocked, Dr. Jordan or us, when the pathology report came back as cancer.  Dr. Jordan had multiple pathologist read the results.  He consulted multiple experts.   He presented our case before the head and neck tumor board of University Medical Center.   He wanted to be 200% sure that what he was seeing before he let us settle in on the diagnosis.  Donald has a rare and aggressive cancer.    They have dug through fifty years of medical documents trying to find another case like his and it simply does not exist. 

At Dr. Jordan's recommendation, we are working to get an appointment with another hospital (most likely MD Anderson in Houston, Texas).   Until that appointment happens, we are meeting again with University Medical Center's team to discuss all their treatment plans that are available here so we have a full understand of what they offer.  They want us to be fully educated before we go somewhere else.    Again, so impressed and truly thankful for Dr. Jordan and how amazing they have been since day one.  

We continue this journey knowing God walks beside us and before us.... Thy Will Be Done!

Thy Will Be Done

At the beginning of each year, God and I usually settle on a theme for our time together.   I don't know if that is just our relationship or not, but that is how it is with us.   When the phrase "Thy Will Be Done" kept popping up as the theme for 2016, I must admit I wasn't sure what to think. 

My first thought was, "Why is this the theme, God?  Is there something I am doing out of your will?  What is it?  Show it to me."  Like normal, I was talking to much and asking too many questions.   I kind of felt like God gave me the same look that I have sometimes given my own boys.  The same one when I say, "Asked and answered." 

I settled into the theme and began to pray this as He asked.   However, every situation that came up I would ask Him.  "Is this it, God?  Is this why you picked "They Will Be Done"?   One day I felt Him asking, "If it is or if it isn't, what is your answer?"  Seriously, some days I think I have grown so much in my relationship/friendship with Him and other days I realize that God has serious patience with me. 


The past months I studied Scripture and really settled into God's challenge of "Thy Will Be Done".  I felt His peace and presence.   He even directed me back to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace and their statement of "...and if not, He is still God!"  (Daniel 3:17-18)

When the call came telling us about Donald's cancer, that could have been a terrifying moment, but it wasn't.   It definitely took us by surprise.  After all, he had a biopsy before surgery that did not show any cancer.  However, when they called and told us the first thought that came into my mind was, "Thy Will Be Done" and a complete peace washed over me.  

That peace has permeated our family as we have faced surgery, every test, waited for the tumor boards and multiple pathologists and consultations.  

To God Be the Glory!  Great Things He Has Done... Is Doing... and Will Do! 


"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!"  Isaiah 26:3

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The "c" Word

If you are friends with me on Facebook you saw the following post:

After having some time to pray and process with our immediate family and boys, we wanted to share with you some news that we received recently. Donald had surgery two weeks ago to remove a tumor from his face. When the pathology came back, we were told that he has a rare and aggressive form of cancer (rare as in there is not another documented case). We have been on a several week journey of tests, tumor boards, multiple pathologists and consultations. While no one ever wants to hear the “c” word, we can honestly say that God has given us His perfect peace since the first day of discovering this tumor. We already have a growing list of ways that God has answered prayers and provided for us in this journey. While Donald’s treatment plan has not been finalized we do know that it will be aggressive. Our next step will be to travel to another hospital (most likely MD Anderson in Houston, Texas) for a consultation with their team. For all the prayers that have been prayed by our “circle”, we thank you. For all the prayers that will be prayed, we thank you.

“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.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Have you tried FishFlix?

FishFlix contacted me and asked if I would like to review one of the movies.   I am picky about what I will watch -- big surprise, huh?!? -- so I was surprised to find quite a few things on their website which I was really interested in watching. 

They let me decide which category I wanted a movie from and we chose comedy.  Any time we travel we love to put in a comedian and listen to him as a family.  Tim Hawkins, Bob Smiley, John Branyan, Kenn Kington, etc... we love driving down the road laughing hysterically.   So we were kind of hoping to find that kind of laughter when we received "God's Comic".  



We all sat down to watch together.  Fifteen minutes in my husband said, "Are we supposed to be laughing?"    Brad Stine likes the employ the method of picking on and humiliating the audience as part of his comedy routine.  He also uses a lot of derogatory humor.   We appreciated what he was trying to do - talk about God while using come, but he just wasn't funny to us.  He also used some explanations that just weren't on target.  Kind of like the awkward moment when he referred to Adam eating the animals.   Ummmm.... that was pretty weird since God didn't give permission for the animals to be eaten until after Noah came off the ark. 

While we were not impressed with this movie, we are excited about trying FishFlix again.

I would love to give you an incentive to try it also.  How about $5 coupon?  If you join their email list they will send you a coupon!   All you have to do is visit this link:  www.fishflix.com/5gift or by texting 5-GIFT to 44222.




Thanks to FishFlix for providing this video for review! 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Rules

Rules.   We seem to all have a problem with following them.   It isn't like this is a new thing.   From day one even Adam and Eve couldn't follow one simple little rule.  Don't eat from that one little tree.  One.  Sounds so simple.  Obviously the rest of human history proves that it wasn't. 

Every day I watch the news and I see some other event where a simple rule was ignored and something that could have been avoided ended up in tragedy.

"Don't text in drive."
"No swimming allowed."
"Do not trespass."
Speed limit signs....
Colored flags at the beach...
Yellow lights about to turn red...

You get the idea.  The list goes on and on.  Without even mentioning a specific thing I am sure you are thinking about things that have happened recently.  

This isn't a judgement or condemnation.  I have broken quite a few rules in my life.  As I have thought about this trend of bending, flexing and flat out breaking rules, I can't help but apply it to my spiritual life. 

Those rules that God has given are often just as short and simple as some that are posted in our day to day life.  However, we think bending God's rules aren't any bigger deal than speeding or texting or driving.  

I was just reading some posts of a pretty popular women's Christian author.  In one of her posts she used curse words.   I have noticed it more and more among Christians.   Like it isn't a big deal.  However, God's Word is pretty clear on this.  James says our tongue is to be the rutter to the ships of our thought life.  Ephesians 4:29, says “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”  Even 1 Peter 3:10 says, “For He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.”

Anyway, I have been doing a lot of looking at rules.   Not legalistic rules, but the boundaries that God has given us to bring us closer to him.   The ones that allow me to stay out of the snatches of evil and safely in His arms. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Trail of Honor

Have you been to the trail of honor?  I think it is one of the best events hosted here in Mississippi.   It covers every American war starting with the French & Indian wars to today's military involvement.  There are demonstration of guns, cannons, tanks, planes, and any other type of military equipment you an imagine.   People come to share their experiences and talk with people about what it was to fight in battle.






Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"Time Flies" Is Not Just An Idiom

“Albert Einstein was never clear if he believed in time travel, but had he raised a toddler, 
he certainly would have.”  Michael R. French "Once Upon A Lie"



Motherhood is an endless series of letting go.    I should have realized that from the very first day, but I guess I was still in a blur from the endless hours of labor and the new reality of the doctor saying, "It's a boy!" to fully realize it.   They placed this sweet bundle in my arms and our eyes met.   We bonded instantly and the rest of the world faded away.  It felt like a scene from a movie to me.   No sounds.  No hospital room.  Nothing, but the two of us finally seeing each other after a long nine month wait.  However, when the nurse said she needed to take him to get weighed and measured and all those things they do after a baby is born all I could think was....

I am not ready to let him go.

When he used my shoulder to stand up and started tottering across the living room towards my husband, we were mesmerized because he was walking.   The first thought that crossed my mind as I cheered him on was....


I am not ready to let him go.

When I dropped him off in the classroom for his first day of kindergarten I realized that the majority of his day would be spent being influenced by people I didn't even know. As I cried all the way home I realized...

I am not ready to let him go.

Every time he said, "Mom, I can do this by myself now." from reading to riding his bike to building his computer to washing his clothes was a triumph of independence, but it also meant that he needed me less and less.   I knew I was doing my job, but yet again...

I am not ready to let him go.

When he walked across the stage and graduated high school.   I was so proud of him.  Ending this chapter and getting ready for the next one.  But yet again...

I am not ready to let him go.

He just finished his freshman year of college.  He finished with a 4.0 GPA and was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.   He did everything on his own and never asked us for any money.  In just a few days he will be leaving to work an internship in Chattanooga.   I am so proud of him.  I wouldn't stop him for anything in the world, but yet again...

I am not ready to let him go.
And it is not just him.   I know that in just another couple of years my other sweet guy will be right behind him.   Both of my sweet guys that God has given me will be out pursuing His will for their lives. 
There is a song that is on the radio right now that gets to me every time I hear it.   It says exactly how my heart feels right now.... SLOW DOWN!