Friday, March 27, 2015

What cancer does to a family

There are things you don't know about cancer until it strikes your home.

When cancer strikes you wish everything could stop. You wish there was a pause button where you could collect your thoughts and figure things out. But there isn't life marches on.

When cancer strikes you wish you could devote 100% of your time and energy to the person with cancer, but since life marches on you are unable to.

Cancer hurts on so many levels, but one level is it doesn't give people much of a choice.

I know I am not the only who faces this so I write not just from my own personal experience, but I write probably from the experience of thousands of others.

Here is a dark truth about cancer. The bills remain the same. The mortgage still has to be paid at the beginning of the month. The car payment is still due on the 20th. The utilities and water must be paid in order for them to continue to work. The student loan, the internet, the cell phone. Paid, paid, paid. And people still have to eat so groceries must be bought and gas must be put in the car.

And so while one person has cancer and is stuck in the hospital and is getting cycles of chemotherapy, while one person is feeling the horrible effects of the chemotherapy the other person has to work because life marches on . And they are faced with the guilt of not being able to be with their spouse. And that is the cruelty of cancer. Nothing pauses. Nothing stops. The healthy one is faced with the choice of not getting paid but being with their sick spouse or getting paid and letting their spouse spend the days without them. It is a cruel choice. Yet is a choice that thousands face when cancer strikes.

I would want nothing more than to be by the side of my husband as he is getting chemo put into his body. I wish I could be there to hold his hand. I want nothing more than to be there when they draw blood for the 100th time and when the doctor comes in to talk to him about his treatment. I want to be there if he starts to get sick from the chemotherapy. But I can't because life marches on and you are faced with a cruel choice.

I made the choice to take 6 unpaid days off when my husband first started his chemotherapy and I do serve a God who provides and so even though my paycheck was almost nothing God provided and He made a way. And I don't regret that choice. But I now have to choose to work until my summer vacation (thank God I am a teacher) and I will be working while my husband is getting chemotherapy. And that is a choice I fear that I will regret. While my husband is in the hospital, my life marches on. I will have to make phone calls to students and pretend my life is okay. I will have to plan Live Lessons and pretend my life is okay. I will have to attend meetings and state testing and pretend that my life is okay. Because life marches on and you are faced with a cruel choice. And I know I am not the only one sitting in this position right now. I know I am not the only spouse who wishes they could be by the side of the one they love so much, but they know they have to work.And that is why I write this because thousands of people are faced with the reality that they really don't have a choice.

When your spouse is sick and facing the darkest time of their life, you want to be there for them and with them, But you can't because life marches on and you can't push pause.

And the choices continue to be cruel because not only do I have a spouse who is sick, I have a 4 year old and a 3 year old who need their parents. And so I have to make the cruel choice of either spending the night in the hospital to be with my husband or spending the night at home with my children because life marches on, There is no pause button.

And that is why my walk with God is so important. Because cancer can destroy a person. The stresses and the worries are huge when cancer is the diagnosis. But my dependence on God is so important, because I have confidence He will get me through. I may not always have a smile on my face. I might be full of exhaustion. I might cry because the choices I have to make are cruel. But I am confident in the God that I serve. I am confident that He will see me through. I am confident that He will us rest fo our souls.

But cancer is cruel.

 Our life before cancer!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My fears

My fear is that the memories my children have won't be of the trips we used to take the zoo.
My fear is that they won't remember the pancakes I used to make for them in the morning.
My fear is they won't remember the road trips we used to take and the hotel stays.
My fear is they won't remember the summers when I would take them to the park and the children's museum.
My fear is they won't remember the laughter.

 Before cancer!

My fear is their memories will be filled with hospital stays and doctors.
My fear is that they will remember me not from the times we would play outside and run around but they will remember the exhaustion I had.
My fear is that they won't remember the late night cuddles but they would remember the nights when I wasn't at home.
My fear is that their memories will be filled with the effects of chemotherapy on their dad.

My fear is that birthdays and holidays will be spent in hospitals. 
My fear is I won't be able to give my children the attention they need. 
My fear is that I will be so focused on other things that I won't be able to teach Malachi how to read or ride a bike and that Hannah will be almost 4 and not be potty trained.

My fear is that one year of treatment will turn into two years and two years will turn into three years.
My fear is that milestones like the kids starting kindergarten or playing soccer or taking swimming lessons will be overshadowed by cancer treatments. 

My fear is that I will not be the mom that I should be.
My fear is that I will be so overwhelmed and exhausted that I will somehow fail my kids. 
My fear is that I won't be the wife I should be.

My fear is that one year of treatment will turn into a relapse and my children will know more about cancer than they should ever have to.
My fear is that my children will not have the childhood they deserve and that their memories will be of me being preoccupied.

 Before cancer!
My fear is that their memories will be filled with the financial inability to do things. 
My fear is that they will hear phrases like "we can't afford to do that, we don't have money for that and I don't know how we will pay for that."

I do have a lot of fears. There are a lot of thoughts that swim through my mind. I am not going to lie or try to hide the thoughts that go through my mind. This has been the longest and hardest three months of my life and I do not look forward to the many more months that are to come.

Yet as I write I talk to God and I pray. And I give my fears to Him. I present my worries to Him.I don't try to hide what I am thinking. God already knows. I lay them at His feet. And I acknowledge that there is nothing that I can do to change the situation we are in and so I trust that He will make a way. And my fears do begin to fade. And the strength begins to rise again.  So for those who are praying for us I ask that you would pray specifically for all of the fears I listed.

 Before cancer!

Psalm  34:4 "I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears."
Psalm 55:22 "Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall."
I Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you."

He is able

Nobody ever thinks cancer is going to strike their home.

In December my husband and I boarded a plane to go on a family vacation to California. We were excited to see my family and to enjoy the time together as a family. I took many pictures and documented our experience on my social media sites.

Getting ready to board our plane for our family vacation to California.

I had no idea that when we returned home a week later than scheduled, our life would be completely different. I am a planner. And I had my life planned out. I had a 6 month savings plan to get a down payment ready for our new house. I had a three month get the house ready to sell plan. I had a plan for my husband's schooling. I had a plan for everything! 

Yet the diagnosis of cancer threw all of my plans out of the window.

We had no idea when we took this family picture that just a few days later we would be in the emergency room and that my husband would be told he had cancer.

And it is so easy when our plans get destroyed to get frustrated and to be upset. It is so easy to question why everything seems to be turned upside down. It is so easy to wonder if you had done anything wrong. While it is easy to do that, it is so important to trust in God and to trust in God's power and ability.

I don't know why cancer struck our family. I don't know why my 29 year old husband has to endure months and months of chemotherapy. I don't know why my 4 year old son and 3 year old daughter have to endure weeks where their daddy is not at home. I don't know. 

But I do know that I serve a God who is capable of doing anything. This has been a very difficult few months and I do dread that we are only in the beginning and that there are many more months to go. I have shed many tears and have been exhausted beyond description. It is hard. It is lonely. 

But my faith in God has never wavered. While I do not understand why cancer struck our home, our feet have been planted and we our trust has remained in the One who created the heavens and the earth. We have declared and we will continue to declare that He is God and He is good. Even though the situation looks bleak in our eyes, we have had so much confidence because we know that God is not worried. We know He is not stressing out about what we are facing. And we know that He was not surprised on December 30th when the doctors told us my husband has cancer.

My husband in the hospital in California.

We can walk in confidence because God is so real in our lives. We know that we serve a God of love. We know we serve a God who gave His own life for humanity. We know we serve a God who loves His children. And so even though the storm is raging in our life, we have confidence in God. 

And we know He is able. We know and we truly believe that good is going to come out of this situation. I don't know the specifics of exactly what God is doing, but I know God is doing something. And I know God is good. I have found no greater joy than the joy that comes with serving God. I am amazed at the love that God has for me. 

There will be times during this journey that I will cry. There will be times when I will be exhausted beyond description. There will be times when I will feel alone. But I will continue to praise God during those times. And I will continue to worship God. 

He is able!

Monday, March 16, 2015

He did it before, He will do it again

About 3 years ago my husband and I made the decision to pay off as many bills as we could. This was a great plan but financially during this time, our paychecks barely covered our everyday expenses. There were many times we wondered whether we would have enough for groceries and gas after we paid our bills. So I wrote down a three year plan in my prayer journal that included everything we owed and how much we would have to increase our payments in order to pay them off within 3 years. I also included in this amount the groceries, gas and other miscellaneous expenses. I added the numbers up and this would be the monthly amount we would have to make. The monthly amount greatly surpassed what we were bringing in. This was an impossible situation for us. Our monthly income would have had to almost triple in order for us become debt free in three years. It was truly an impossible situation for us. But I prayed about it because I knew what was impossible for me was possible for God. And I saw God do what we could not do. At the end of the following year when we got our W-2 our annual salary actually surpassed the amount I had written down. God opened the door for my husband to get an amazing job and his salary increased by almost 4 times what he had been making when I wrote down our expenses in my prayer journal. And within two years we had paid off our credit card bill, one student loan and one car payment and we had a degree of financial stability. It was only God because there was nothing we could to do increase our income.

And now we are faced with another impossible situation. This year I took a job where I am able to work at home, but doing so required me to take a significant pay cut. And I mean a 5 digit significant pay cut. We were able to take this pay cut though because my husband was working.  But then cancer struck at the end of the year. My husband has not worked nor has he had a pay check since December. The health insurance comes from my job so in addition to the pay cut I took, my checks are smaller because of the health insurance deduction. We have medical bills and every day bills. And every day I don’t work I don’t get paid since I ran out of paid time off. Our bills greatly exceed our income at this point. An impossible situation. But I saw God take an impossible financial situation before and turn it around!

And so today I did the only thing I could do. I wrote down every medical bill we owe, the everyday expenses (mortgage, insurance, car payment, groceries, etc) and I added it all up. The amount far exceed what I am bringing in right now. But I know God does not do anything by accident. Three years ago when I wrote down our financial needs, God met them. And I believe that God was showing me then what He is able to do now. At the beginning when my husband was diagnosed with cancer he had a huge mass in his chest. By the time we got  back to Texas after spending a week in the hospital in California the mass disappeared. My husband had only been on steroids and every medical professional told us that they had never seen that before. An impossible situation. I believe God is asking me to remember the mass. "Remember Kimberli what I did to the mass. I took an impossible situation and I turned that situation around."  And so I am putting my trust in God. I am a planner, I like to organize and figure things out. But there is nothing I can do to make our situation change. It is only God who can do it.  I am putting our finances in God's hand because there is nothing I can possibly do. 

I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about the Israelites and when they walked in the Red Sea. Every step they took they had to trust that God was not going to have the waters fall on them. And so God has us walking in the Red Sea right now. I am going to be honest, it is hard. I really don’t like it. I see the waters on each side of us and satan would like to convince me that at any moment they are going to come crashing down. I see the bills. I see income. I see the long road ahead of us with my husband not being able to work for at least a year. I see all of that. But the Bible tells us to Trust in the Lord with ALL our heart and lean NOT to our own understanding. And so I am going to trust in God. I am going to put 100% of my trust in God. I don't know how God is going to make a way, but I am going to trust that He is going to make a way. I am not going to lean to my own understanding, because my own understanding is telling me this is a bad situation. I am going to lean on God. Because there is nothing too hard for him. 

He did it before, I know He will do it again. 

How is your roof?

How is your roof?

Looks like we won't be going home from the hospital today. My husbands WBC is still low. He gets his last dose of chemo today and his second cycle begins at the end of the month. He has about a year of treatment and each cycle requires hospitalization for the duration of the cycle. So far his cycles have been 14 days. So for a year my husband will spend more time in the hospital than at home.

For a year ....

That's why I ask how is your roof? It typically isn't until a leak develops that people notice there's a problem with their roof. But then it's too late, the storm is raging and the water has begun to damage the interior of the house. A wise homeowner will check their roof throughout the year,especially in dry times. This way if they find anything wrong they can fix it before the storm. Because everyone will be faced with a storm in their life.

We need to constantly check our spiritual roof. Have we let leaks developed? Do we pray still? Do we read the Bible? Are we hanging out with the wrong crowd? What condition does our roof look like? Because the storm will come. The rain is going to come. And if you have leaks in your roof, the damage might break you. The storm might destroy you.

And so when the sky is clear, when everything is going well, when you have money in the bank, when you have your health, when you have your security you need to examine your roof. And if you find holes now is the time to work on those. Recommit your time to God. Reevaluate your priorities. Restructure the things you've been doing.

I say all of that because the biggest storm I've ever faced has entered our life. The wind is blowing, the thunder is roaring, the lightening is striking and the rain is pouring. This storm came without warning. One day the sky was clear and the next day blackness had descended. We have a year of chemo, WBC and side effects and a year of hospitalization. A year of exhaustion. A year of separation. A year of financial insecurity. A year of stormy weather. A year of drenching rain.

But my roof is secure. Because when the skies were clear I was praying. When the weather was beautiful I was reading the word of God. Because when life was going the way I wanted I was evaluating my roof.

And the storm came. But the roof is not caving. The water may be pounding but our roof is secure.

There will be many tough days ahead of us. There will be a lot of tears shed. But God is God and regardless of whether a storm has entered our life, I am still going to praise Him. Through the tears, I am still going to praise Him. Through the pain, I will still praise Him. Through the storm, I will praise Him.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When your dreams are shattered

The dream house I fell in love with is pending sale. My heart is a little broken. And I know that given our current situation, some people may not understand why I am heartbroken over a sold house. But this sale represents my shattered dreams. In November of last year my husband and I were beginning to save money and were planning on putting our home up for sale at the beginning of the year.  We were also excited because after 3 years of going to school full time at the community college my husband was applying for admission to 4 year universities. In addition, my husband was given a nice raise at work and I had my dream job of working at home. Everything seemed to be going so well.

Then in December the diagnosis of cancer hit us. And my dreams were shattered. The plans I had devised for our life seem to be falling apart. The dream house that is pending sale. Transferring to a 4 year university in the fall. The financial stability. Shattered. Shattered. Shattered.

Obviously our focus is on my husband's health. But those shattered dreams represent how different our life is going to be for quite some time.

And so we are faced with the question "What do we do when our dreams are shattered?"

We continue to serve God. We continue to live for God. We continue to trust God. We continue to praise God.

Because although my dreams have been shattered, and although my plans do not seem to be coming to pass the way I want them to, I am confident because the Lord is still in control. I can rest because I know that God has a plan and purpose for my life. Even when my dreams are shattered I have confidence  because God's plans will still be fulfilled. And I guess our dreams should be shattered. As hard as it is when that happens, I would much rather have the plans God has for my life prevail than the plans I have created for myself. 

 (The hospital is not part of my plan, but I know God is able to do all things!)

I don't like the situation that we are facing. I don't like that cancer is a reality for our family. I don't like that my husband has to endure chemotherapy. I don't like any of this, but I take rest in the scriptures. And I know that God knows every day of our life. I know that there is nothing that surprises Him. While we were shocked by the diagnosis and everything that has come with the diagnosis, God is in control.

And so I am content that my dreams have been shattered. I am okay that the plans I have created for my life are not coming to pass. Because I know that God will not leave us during this time. And I know according to scripture, that God's purpose will still be fulfilled. I know that even though my dreams have been shattered, God's plans for my life are still great!

While you may not be faced with the diagnosis of cancer, you may find yourself in the same position that we are, your dreams have been shattered. I want to encourage you to keep your eyes on God. Even if the plans you have created for your life don't seem to be coming to pass, you can have confidence that God is in control and that He will see you through. The things you have imagined for your life might not come to pass, but God's plans and ways are so much better than the things we have designed for ourselves. 

Draw encouragement from these verse just as I have:

Isaiah 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Proverbs 19:21 (NLT) "You can make many plans, but the LORD's purpose will prevail."

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and future."

Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose"

Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding."

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

our children

My husband is an amazing father. He loves Malachi and Hannah so much. From the time they were babies, my husband has been the best father. He would get up in the middle of the night with them. He has changed (and continues to change) many diapers. He runs around with them, throws them in the hair and allows them to climb all over him. Every Sunday he even allows me to take a nap after church and he spends that time playing with them. Even when he worked 60 hour weeks and went to school full time, He always put our children first. He is the best dad!

And because he is the best dad, I know that it is killing him that he is not able to spend much time with them. My husband will continue to be in the hospital for the next couple of weeks and since he has been admitted he has seen them for about 30 minutes every day. And I know that is killing him.

And I know my children do not understand everything that is going on. I wish for a moment that I could see life through their eyes and that I could read their mind. How can a three and four year old understand what cancer and chemotherapy mean? I wish I knew if they were scared, nervous or worried. I wish I knew if they understood even at their level what was going on.  I wish I knew so I could do whatever it took to make things better for them. We have explained to them that daddy is sick and is in the hospital but they are four and three years old. They can’t understand the concept of cancer, chemotherapy, WBC, immune system, etc. They don’t understand what Lymphoblastic Lymphoma means.  
Hannah is a complete daddy's girl

And I know they miss us. I alternate the nights where I spend. And the nights when I am at home, I can tell that my children have missed us so much. Malachi and Hannah cuddle closer to me on the bed than they normally do. They pretty much sleep on top of me. And they ask me who is staying with daddy. I hope they know how much we miss them. I hope they know how much we want to be with them. I hope they understand just how much we love them.
 When Malachi was a newborn baby.

And I know it is hurting my husband so much that he is not with them. I know he would give anything to be able to be at home right now.

But because he is the best dad, I know my children will be okay. Even though they are little, my husband has planted so many seeds in them. He has spent their entire life watering those seeds and I believe they have taken root. He has taught my children what love is. He has taught them what priorities are. He has taught them what family means. He has taught them so much.

And he is teaching my children about the importance of a relationship with God. This is a difficult situation for our family, but just as we believe that God is going to heal my husband, we also believe that God is protecting our children. Not only is God protecting our children, but I believe that my children will see the dependence my husband has on God. This is an important seed that I want planted in the life of my children. I want them to have a foundation based on a dependence on God. I want my children to grow up walking on God’s path. I don’t want them to ever stray from God’s truth.
 He always has time for these two.

And so I know it is killing my husband that he is not home with the kids, but I know this testimony will be one that he shares with the kids as they get older. I can picture Mel telling my children throughout their life how God saw us through an incredibly difficult situation.  I can picture him telling Malachi and Hannah how God gave us peace in the time of a storm. I can picture him telling the children how God gave us the strength we so desperately needed when we were weak and weary. I can picture him telling the children how God was his healer.

And I can picture them growing in a personal relationship with God. 

And I know that because Mel loves the children so much they will be okay.






Can this just be a bad dream?

Can this just be a bad dream?

Can I just wake up and go back to how it used to be?

The life with the sink full of dirty dishes.
The life of toys all over the place.
The life with loads of laundry piled up needing to be put away.

But more importantly can we just wake up and go back to the days where my husband was healthy?The days where he was able to play with the kids. The days where he would throw them in the air, run around with them and cuddle with them.

Can we wake up and go back to those days?


 (Can we go back to this day?)

Can we not be in this reality?

The reality of my husband laying in a hospital bed.
The reality of him having cancer.
The reality of him not being at home with me and the kids.

Our new life consists of me alternating nights between the hospital and home. Our new life consists of our children only seeing their dad for about 30 minutes a day. Our new life consists of watching the chemo begin to affect Mel.

And I wish this was only a dream. I can't believe it is reality. I can't believe that my husband whose only 29 has cancer. I can't believe that my 4 year old son and 3 year old daughter have to have this as a part of their life.

And I wish this could be a bad dream.

This reality is not easy. This reality was never something I thought could happen to us. And I know this is not a bad dream. I know this is our reality. I know this is something that is not going to go away if I just close my eyes hard enough. But I also know that I serve a God who will not leave us during this difficult time. John 15:13 says "Greater love has no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends." That is what Jesus did for me. He laid down his life. He allowed himself to be persecuted. He allowed himself to hang on a cross. He did it because He loves me. He didn't just do it for me, He did it for everyone. That is the greatest form of love.

And I know that in this dark situation, God's light can shine through. I think of Esther in the Bible. She was an orphan and then was forcibly married to a king who had just gotten rid of his first wife. I am sure Esther wished many times that it was just a bad dream. And I am sure she asked God why this was happening to her. But Esther never stopped serving God. And God used that dark situation to save the Jewish people. Joseph also probably wished at times that it was all just a bad dream. He was sold by his brothers and thrown into prison. But Joseph told his brothers "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt." He later told them "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" 

Even in dark times, God still has a plan. He is still in control. He still sits on the throne. We are living in a dark time right now. Our reality is not very pleasant. But I take great comfort from the words of the Bible. I know that this situation will not defeat us. I know that God's plan and purpose for our life will be fulfilled. I do not believe that God gives people cancer, but I do know that God is still our healer. I also know that He died for me. His love for my husband is so great. Just like He used the palace to use Esther and just like He used the prison to use Joseph, I know that God can use this cancer to use my husband and myself.

And as the Bible states "His praises shall continually be in our mouth."

Monday, March 9, 2015

I don't want to...

Today my husband has been sleeping most of the day. Chemotherapy began a few days ago. I have lost track of time since we have been in the hospital. It seems like forever but it hasn’t been a full week yet. There are different types of chemo being administered. One is a 3 hour twice a day chemo that is administered through an IV. Another type was a two hour chemo administered through his spine. And a third time type was administered through the IV and took 30 minutes. He has a couple days of no chemo and then he begins the cycle again. The nurse said within the next few days he will begin to feel the effects of the chemo. One of the side effects of the steroid that he is getting is continual hiccups. He has had hiccups for the past 5 days. In addition, other side effects are nausea, fatigue, mouth sores, loss of appetite, hair loss, and the need for blood transfusions. Those are just a few.

 (The night we started dating)

Everything is different. To think that In December I was happy because our credit card, our Toyota and one of my student loans had been paid off and we were finally going to be able to start really saving money. We were planning on when to put the house up for sale and discussing schooling options for Malachi.  We were excited because Mel was about to start his last semester at the community college before transferring.

Then this…

I am a little more open in my blog because I know less people see my blog than my FB statuses. But our income has been cut in more than half and it will be a year before my husband can work. Because the health insurance is through my job, I have quite a few deductions on my paycheck. My check alone does not cover our every day bills and that doesn’t include groceries, gas and the medical bills we have. I have no paid time off left. I took this week off as unpaid since it is the first week of chemo. Next week is my spring break but after that, regardless of what is going on, I will have to work every day until summer break.

And I know that every day it will literally will be us having to depend on “the manna from heaven.”  And I am going to be honest, I don’t want to. God has been providing for us. Thus far our account has not gone dry. Our bills have remained paid. And I know it is God. But I don’t want to have to deal with any of this. I don’t want to be sitting in a hospital watching my husband sleep because he is sick. I don’t want to know that my 3 and 4 year old probably do not understand what is going on. Hannah is not potty trained yet. Malachi doesn’t know how to write his name. Those were things I was planning on working on but I don’t know when I will be able to teach them. I have no idea how to work a lawn mower. My Ford needs air in the tires. I do not want to have to deal with this for an entire year. I don’t want to…

It seems like there are thousands of things on my plate and I want some of them removed. Maybe I am being too honest. But when I read the story of David I see honesty. He asked God many times why it appeared that his enemies were prospering.  He described being weary and his heart being overwhelmed.

And so I will be honest. I think it is important to be honest. I think it is important for people to know what we are facing. But I also think it is important for people to see even though I am crying, even though I hate the position we are in, I am still looking to the Lord for help. I don’t want our family to be in this situation, but I will continue to place my trust in God.

The scriptures say:

Psalm 125: 1

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forever.

And so I am placing my trust in the Lord. I know that God surrounds us in this storm. I know that He will get us through.

Another verse states:

Psalm 121:1-6

I will lift up my eyes to the hills- from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and the earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber…The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night.

God is our help. He will give us the strength we need. He sees every single one of our needs and I know He will take care of us. He will not allow this situation to defeat us. He will see us through. When the angel appeared to Mary and told her that her relative Elizabeth conceived in her old age, the angel said “For with God nothing will be impossible.” And I know that God is speaking that to us as well. With him there is nothing that is impossible. I know that His hand is upon us. And I know it is He who wipes our tears. The Bible also says “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who have a crushed spirit.” Our hearts are aching, but God is near.
So although I don't want to have to deal with any of this, I know God is right there besides us. I know He will get us through. I know His strength will sustain us.

 He is my best friend. I hate seeing him sick.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

He answers prayers

Cancer. Chemotherapy. Blood counts. Transfusions.

Those are all words we've heard the last few days. Everything is new to us but we serve a God who remains the same. Since he remains the same I have so much confidence that He answers prayers.

Some might ask "where was God? When you first prayed for Mel's healing." And I will tell you that. God has never left us. I reflect on all the prayers God had answered and the specific needs he has met in the past and I know He will heal Mel and fulfill every single one of our other needs. There have been  so many needs God has answered and met over my lifetime . There have been times he's provided an abundance and times we've had to trust in our daily manna. There have been times the need has been met immediately and other times we've had to wait. But God has heard our prayers every time we've prayed.

And so  Mel does have to get chemo but God is still our healer. And there will be dark days ahead but God reminded me of so many needs He has met in my life this morning. God confirmed that  He will continue to meet our needs and heal Mel.

I have no idea why my husband has cancer. But I know God can turn a bad situation around.  I know God is in control. Satan would like nothing more but for us to throw our hands up in defeat. But I know satan is the one whose been defeated. This might be a dark season but I know the fruit that are coming after this season will be amazing. God is drawing us closer to Him and our foundation has not been shaken. God is going to get the glory and we will not stop praising Him.

David had to walk in the wilderness before he took the throne. Joseph had to be in prison before the dream came to pass. Elizabeth spent many years barren before John the Baptist was conceived. The  road may be bumpy right now but we know something great is coming out of this. The page may say cancer but I know that the story ends with a greater anointing upon my husbands life. Gods light will shine through this entire time. His promises and purpose will be fulfilled.

We don't just live for God when everything is going well. We don't just praise him when we are in abundance. We praise Him and serve Him even in our dark times. Even when it's storming we sing of His goodness. God is so good. He is amazing. He is love!

And He still answers prayers!

Friday, March 6, 2015

One step at at a time

A number of years ago I went to Oregon with some friends and we went on a hike up a mini mountain. At this time I was incredibly in shape. I worked out sometimes twice a day. However the hike was really difficult. It seemed like every step I took it got harder. There were times that I wondered if I would make it up the mountain. But as I walked, people who had been to the top of the mountain, were encouraging us to keep on going. They let us know that the difficult journey was worth it once we go to the top of the mountain. This encouragement was so nice and uplifting, but I had to take the steps. I was the one who had to lift my feet to climb the mountain and the journey was difficult.

I thought of that this last night. It is so easy to use words like “we are climbing mountains or walking through valleys or going in the desert.” But when you think of those words journeying through the valley and in the desert and up the mountain is hard. In the spiritual, there is a tall mountain in front of us. Our faith is rooted and we trust in God. Our foundation has not been shaken. Doubt has not set in. God is real and we know this. We know that God gives us strength. And we can literally feel the peace that God gives.

But Mel has to take the steps. Even though I am his wife and I am here supporting him and encouraging him, Mel still has to take the steps. He is climbing the mountain. He is walking this difficult journey. And it is a difficult journey. The chemotherapy is rough. The side effects are harsh. He will be hospitalized for 3 weeks and continue treatment for about a year. There are going to be tougher days ahead of him. And it is Mel that has to take the steps up the mountain.

I think of the mountain I climbed and how difficult it was. I was determined to make it to the top to the mountain, I wasn’t going to give up. But it was hard climbing the mountain. Every step was a difficult step and the higher I got, the more difficult it became. My legs burned from the climb. I was tired and exhausted but I kept climbing. 

This is a tall mountain that Mel faces. There are difficult days ahead for Mel. But we can gain so much strength from looking at others in the Bible who also had to climb mountains. David was anointed king, but climbed a tall mountain, before he was placed on the throne. He never stopped believing in God. He never threw in the towel. He never stated that he quit. But David had to climb that mountain before he became king. And David was the one who climbed it. No one else could climb the mountain for David. And the journey was difficult.

During the climb, David relied on God to give him strength. He relied on God to give him peace. He relied on God. But David had to make that climb. It is so easy to want someone to make the climb for you. My little Hannah loves to be carried. She does not like walking if she doesn’t have to. She is a wise little 3 year old, who understands that when someone carries you, you don’t have to do the work. You can just go along for the ride.

Yet there are times when God calls us to make the journey up the mountain. There will be tears. There will be difficulty. He tells us in a loving way that He can't carry us up the mountain. He gently tells us that He has to put us down. He tells us that we need to walk. He isn't leaving us. He will continue to be with us. But He says, "You need to climb this mountain." But God knows when we make it to the top of the mountain the view will be amazing. And we will be a different person.
 I don’t know exactly what God is going to do through this situation with my husband, but I know that there will be a greater anointing upon my husband’s life when he reaches the top of this mountain. Satan would like this journey to destroy us but it will not. We will continue to serve God and we will continue to climb this mountain.
Because the view from the top will be amazing.

 This was on our way home from a weekend in Dallas. We took the kids to the zoo. I love looking at pictures of Mel with the kids. The love he has for them is so apparent.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

I don't know what to do...

I don’t know what to do….

Sometimes writing comes very easy to me. And there are times like today when it doesn’t.

I just don’t know what to do.

We got some not so good health news today.

And I don’t know what to do.

I have a 4 year old and a 3 year old at home missing their daddy.

And I don’t know what to do.

I am looking at my husband sitting in a hospital bed

And I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know. I am a planner. I am a thinker. I am an organizer. I am always on top of every responsibility.

But I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know if I am supposed to go left or if I am supposed to go right.

I just don’t know….

I have absolutely always hated not knowing. I like to have everything lined up with my nice little to-do lists. I like to know.

But I don’t know what to do…

But then God whispers, “I have not asked you to figure this out on your own. I have not asked you to drive the car you are in. I have not asked you….But I have asked you to trust in me with your whole heart. I have asked you not to lean to your own understanding. I have asked you to call upon me when you are weary and I have declared that I will give you rest. I have asked you to pray. I have asked you be strong. I have asked you to be courageous. I have said that I will never forsake you. I have asked you to believe that my ways are higher than your ways. I have asked you to believe that those who wait on me will have their strength renewed. I have asked you not to grow weary in well doing because in due season you will reap. I have asked you to believe that every day of your life has already been ordained by me. But I have never asked for you to figure it out on your own.”

And so while I don’t know, God knows.
We are not expected to figure things out. God is in control. And so I will stop trying to figure things out and just let God...

 Every Sunday we take an "off to church picture." This road we take is going to be a difficult one, but I am glad that we have Jesus by our side!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Our life has changed but God remains the same.

Tomorrow will be the first time since I've been married that I will have to take the trash out for trash day. And while pulling a trash can down to the street may not seem like a big deal too many, it symbolizes everything that's changing in my life.

Tomorrow my husband is supposed to begin chemotherapy. The doctor described the aggressive form of treatment my husband will be receiving. The doctor described all the negative effects of  the chemo and there are many. He essentially told my husband that he shouldn't expect to work for at least a year.

And so our life has changed dramatically. Last night my 4 year old and 3 year old fell asleep cuddled next to me on my bed while my husband slept in the hospital. For awhile I will be sitting by myself at church and I won't be able to see my husband playing the bass guitar on the platform. My husband won't be able to play with my kids like he usually does. We lost more than half our income and every day I don't work I don't get paid. I don't even know how to mow a lawn and my grass is soon going to warrant a friendly letter from the HOA. And I now I have to take the trash out myself.

So our life is going to be incredibly different. A lot has changed.

But God hasn't changed. I gain so much encouragement from the verse that says "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever." The same God who rained down manna from heaven, delivered Daniel from the lion's pit, and and who spoke life into existence is the same God that will be with us during this incredible journey. He was a healer, deliverer, giver of peace and strength during the. Bible and he does those same things today.

Our life has changed but I know God is holding our hand. I know in the middle of the night if I wake up crying, God will be there for me. I know when the worries of this situation begin to overwhelm me, God will be there to give me strength. I know that when the fear begins to creep into my mind, God will be there to give me peace.

And I know that the story God is writing has a great ending. I know Gods purpose in our life will be fulfilled. And so our life has changed but I will still trust in God and lean not to my own understanding.

 This was taken in 2010 when my Malachi was just a little baby boy. Love this picture though because Malachi is looking up at Mel with such love. Both of my children love their daddy so much!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I wish...

I wish

I wish I was on the beach in Hawaii right now.

I wish my house was sold and I was moving into my dream house.

I wish...

But I'm not...

Instead I'm sitting in a hospital again.

I can see the mountain in front of me. The mountain of no paid leave off left. The mountain of an oil change and low air pressure in my tires. The mountain of hospital bills. The mountain of no money in my bank account. And the mountain of having to explain to my 4 year old and 3 year old that daddy is sick. Because the biggest mountain is the mountain of cancer.

The doctors have told my husband the cancer has returned. It's so easy when we are in a situation to look at the mountain. It's easy to grow weary. It's easy to get upset. It's easy to get mad. But it's so important to keep our eyes on the one who gives us strength to climb that mountain.

Because the mountain will not defeat us. The mountain will not destroy us.

Some might ask "where is your God?" I want to let you know God is so real in my life.

God healed my husband the first time. Every medical professional told us they hadn't seen that before. Do I understand why I am sitting in the admitting room of a hospital today? Absolutely not, but I'm sure Joseph didn't understand being thrown into a pit, elevated to a position in the palace only to be thrown into prison. I'm sure hannah didn't understand the years of being barren. I'm sure david didn't understand being anointed king just to spend years on the run.

They may not have understood the mountain in front of them but they never took their eyes off God. They understood that God had a purpose and a plan. My feet are planted. The wind may be blowing, the storm may be raging but God is still God and He is in control.

I absolutely don't want to have to go through this. I don't want to see my husband have to receive chemo. I don't want my children to have to experience this. But I know God has a plan and a purpose. I know God will see us through.

I'm sure I will cry many tears. I'm sure this road is going to be difficult. But God is God.

 This was taken in 2008 when we first started dating

Monday, March 2, 2015

Do I have any volunteers?

I teach high school and whenever I ask for volunteers, the first thing my student's ask is "What do I have to do?" They are unwilling to blindly volunteer for a task because they want to make sure that the task is not too hard for them. I love Isaiah 6:8 "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" Isaiah was very different than my high school students. Isaiah did not respond "God what is it that you want me to do?" He said "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah made himself available to God before the details of the task were revealed.

Isaiah was more like elementary school students. When an elementary teacher asks for volunteers, almost every hand shoots up wanting to be chosen by the teacher. It doesn't matter what the task is they are willing to help.

I am sure if I were to take a poll from those who read this blog, most of us would identify more with the high school students. We want to be like Isaiah and declare "Here am I. Send me!" But we are cautious because we are unsure what the task is going to be. We know from reading the Bible those who were used by God, those who made themselves available to God did not journey down an easy road. The prophets were ostracized. The early believers were persecuted. There was a lion's den and a fiery pit. There was hiding in caves. There was loneliness. There were prisons. But when God asked them "Do I have any volunteers?" They raised their hands without questions.

God is asking us today "Do I have any volunteers?" And He is asking us to trust in Him with all of our heart. He is asking us to be like the elementary school students who raise their hand not needing to know the task.

In December I declared to God that I was willing to volunteer. I had no idea the task He was going to present to me. We jump and shout when we hear about the miracles that God does. And we often state that we want to see more signs and wonders. Yet in order to see those signs and wonders there needs to be a vessel that God can use. It is really easy being on the side that gets to shout when they hear about the miracle, but when you are the vessel that needs a miracle that is a difficult place to be.

I never imagined that my husband would be diagnosed with cancer. I never thought that would be something we would have to experience. And there have been times I have felt as though I wasn't ready for this task. There have been times that I have felt that my strength was going to fail me. But even as the tears fell, I kept my hand up and declared "I still want to volunteer."

I am pretty sure that if God would have presented the task before asking for volunteers, I would have kept my hand down. I would have thought within myself, "I will let someone else do that job." I would have saw the mountain and probably wouldn't have wanted to make that climb. This has been the hardest thing I have ever faced. And even though the mass is gone, our journey is not over.

Yet my hand is still up. I am still volunteering. I am not asking to sit back down. Because even though this mountain is high and this journey is difficult, I have felt the hand of God guide us. Even though tears have been shed, I have felt the embrace that only God can give.

And I understand that there is a purpose. The 3 Hebrew Boys volunteered. And they were thrown into a fiery pit. They declared that whatever happened, God was still God. And the fire did not scorch them. In fact, Nebuchadnezzar shouted "I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed. And the fourth looks like the Son of God." Nebuchadnezzar then praised the God of Shadrach, Meschach and Adednego.

I realize that in order for there to be a miracle, there needs to be a vessel. And I strongly believe that the story did not end with the lines "And God removed Mel's mass." I believe that was the beginning of the story. Tears have been shed on my part. But I know that through this God is ministering to those who believe. He is showing us His power and He is showing us that there is nothing too hard for Him. In addition, I believe that God is using this situation to reach those who do not believe. He is showing them that He is real.

And so while it has been difficult. And there have been tears shed. I have not put my hand down. I am still declaring "Here am I send me."

God is asking "Do I have any volunteers?" And He is looking for Isaiah's who will say "Here am I. Send me!" I encourage you today to raise your hand and declare to God that you are wiling to volunteer. Declare to Him that you trust whatever task He has for you, that He will be the one guiding you and directing your path. Believe that there is a purpose behind the journey.