Friday, December 30, 2011
I start treatment on day 1 on a Wednesday. I lay around on Thursday. Some times I go into work even that first Friday. That first weekend is usually tougher. Then I almost always make it to work on Monday. I work till Wednesday afternoon on day 8. I make it to my 8:30 meeting on Thursday and I usually don't miss another day of work for the next two and a half weeks, until I start all over again.
Over the course of a four week cycle, I may only miss 1-3 days of work. It's incredible and I praise God that I'm able to be that active. It's is also because of the prayer support from many of you.
However I often get asked why I continue to work so much knowing I may not have much time left. Why do I press so hard to get back just a day or two after chemotherapy?
The answer is I believe I'm a part of something bigger than myself. I work for an organization, Grace Adventures, which exists to provide experiences that live on to those they serve. Grace has a God-sized vision for the next ten years. I get to be a part of it. It's exciting, thrilling, scary, and intimidating. However I KNOW it's God-led.
People's lives are changed through the work done at Grace Adventures. I get to be a part of that. Every moment I spend at Grace Adventures is a moment invested into the Kingdom of God.
If you were told you have a year left to live, how would you live it? Would you go on vacations, buy toys, and check off your bucket list?
I'm choosing to invest my time in ways that have the biggest return on impact. I hope part of the legacy I leave for Colton is to find find something in his life that he would die to do.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Ryan had an excellent checkup yesterday. He met with his oncologist after having had some bloodwork in the morning. That all looked great! Tumor markers are normal as they always have been, and liver enzymes are only slightly elevated in the same categories they were in November. What this means is that he's very stable and healthy, even after an extended break away from chemotherapy.
We count ourselves very blessed to hear this news. It was as good as we had hoped for. Now the next step is scans on January 24-25, and we are praying for excellent news. They will not be as extensive as last time, so we might not get as clear of a picture of what the cancer is doing.
Please pray for healing like no other. One of my good friends and I were talking recently and both of us had been prompted that very morning to pray for a healing that could only be attributed to God. Lord, there is no doubt who would get glory if Ryan is healed; it would be all for your fame.
I also want to thank the many people who commented on Facebook and on the blog here to encourage me. It has helped. In my husband's accurate assessment of my current problems, "It's been too much about Kendra trying to figure out how to control the situation and wriggle out of an impossible situation." He hit it right on the money. Have you noticed the blog posts have slowed down to a trickle? Yeah, that's not a coincidence. I have been a mess lately. Who wants to read something that a mess would write?
Anyway, I know perfectly well what I need to do. I need to humble myself before the Lord (again). I need to surrender the pitiful attempts to wrest control of a situation that is truly beyond anything that I can grasp hold of. I need to be still, and know that my God is ABLE. Somehow I lost sight of that for the past couple of months.
The good news is, at the end of this long struggle, I have a loving God that is waiting for me to come back.
And that is exactly what I choose to do.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
I had to go back on a calendar and count from April to see how many cycles we have done...we literally lost count. We are starting cycle 10 today. Please pray that this is very effective treatment, and that Ryan will feel pretty well afterwards.
I would be a liar if I told you that my spirits are great heading into it. I have been eyeing this date on the calendar for the last few weeks, dreading the day when our little shred of normalcy would come to an end. I am ticked off that cancer hasn't ended yet. I am cool with it so long as there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but there is not a cure in the foreseeable future and that just sucks. Yes, I know that I should be thankful instead of complaining, but wouldn't you rather that I not placate you with fake happiness? All the time the last two weeks I feel like our current state of life, with our hands tied by this cursed cancer, has been exacerbated by various circumstances. I'm not depressed, but I'm very sad. Just sad. And I hurt. Sigh. Okay. You have my express permission to stop reading this depressing manifesto. I know what's truth, but I'm just not feeling it in my heart at the present moment. Do you ever feel like there is a disconnect between your head and your heart?
So I'm going to end this with a call for encouragement from you, dear reader. I need fresh scripture, fresh promises. I am willing to stay in this fight but sometimes I need someone to prop me up. Can you do that?
We love you all and continue to covet your prayers for healing that only a mighty God can provide. Your importance to us cannot be minimized!
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Merry Christmas from the Prudhomme family! The older two of us are very tanned...we just got back from a relaxing vacation in Mexico. The youngest is contentedly playing with the new toys he got from Santa (books, letters for the bathtub, and a holster with two cap guns). I am sipping coffee and wondering how I got to be this blessed. I have a job that I love, I have a beautiful family, and the best friends imaginable. As I thought this morning, it occurred to me that I would have none of this if I did not have Jesus. I have experienced blessings and peace and joy almost constantly for the past eleven years. If you have not the same hope that I have, I suggest that you give your life to Christ. It is incredible to walk in his presence.
Because a little baby was born in Bethlehem many years ago and grew up to give his life for my sins, I am able to live in complete confidence of my salvation. That is the greatest blessing I can have.
Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art:
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child, and yet a king,
born to reign in us for ever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all-sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Have you ever sat still for 3-4 hours on metal mesh? I think I'm going to put it into my house as the seating of choice. It's so comfortable. After about thirty minutes your butt goes completely numb and you cant feel a thing!
It is easily the most uncomfortable seat I've ever had. It used to have padding. It wasn't designed to sit directly on the wire mesh. Where did that pad go? Corey!
There was a benefit though. I was kept constantly alert due to the radiating pain shooting from my rear end and running all through my body. When hunting it's imperative that you stay alert. You may only get a 15 second window to identify a deer, decide whether to shoot, target, and shoot. Out of 3-4 hours you can not miss a 15 second window.
I also hunted at my uncle's. He was gracious enough to let me sit in his stand. This is a ground blind which is an enclosed tiny little building with plexiglass windows that slide open and closed. The chemo makes it very tough for me to deal with cold, so Uncle Jim let me use his insulated blind which has a heater and a padded office chair to sit in. As I sat there with my coat, gloves, and hat stuffed in the corner and my feet propped up in my padded chair, it was harder to stay awake.
I was too comfortable!
Can I say that we live our lives 99-100% of the time in our comfort zones? Unless something like cancer violently rips us out of our comfort zone, we choose to live our lives the way we want, in safe warm, cozy little blinds.
In Mark 10 Jesus tells the story of the rich young ruler. A wealthy young man approaches Jesus and wants to follow Him and be a disciple. Jesus after a series of questions, tells the man he must go sell everything he owns and then come back. It was the one thing the man could not do. He couldn't sacrifice his wealth. That was his comfort zone. For many of us it is ours too.
Jesus demands total radical obedience in order to follow him. Abraham called to leave his home, Apostles all lost their lives for God, David steps out to face a giant, Joseph in prison. The bible is full of examples of radical obedience, outside people's comfort zones.
If you haven't felt uncomfortable doing something serving God lately, you're not being obedient. It might be giving up something you have a hard time, it might be serving and loving unlovable people. If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.
You can go too far and enter a danger zone. This isn't foolish reckless wanton abandon of all common sense. It is intentionally sacrificing you're own comforts for the Lord.
If you're listening, God is laying something on your heart that will be uncomfortable to do. Are you willing to do it? If so you will be blessed.
FYI - I think I'm done with the hunting stories.
Friday, December 16, 2011
As I walked into the woods under the dark of night, I finally found it tucked back off the trail up in the trees. It's a simple one-person tree stand. I started climbing the stakes and up up I went.
After about twenty five or thirty feet I started feeling a little nervous. I'm not scared of heights, but my coordination and strength isn't 100%, so I was not 100% confident in myself. As I got to the top, it was an awkward transition from climbing stakes to tree stand seat, but I made it.
To call it a seat is a big stretch though. It's metal wire mesh about the size of a dinner plate. I settled in, took a deep breath and started waiting for daylight. Then the wind started. Oh did it blow. I was strapped on a metal dinner plate to a 20 inch tree thirty feet in the air. As it gusted my "foundation" moved with the tree.
As humans we don't like to have our foundations move. When the ground moves it's a big deal. Things that are stable like trees should not move. As the wind howled, we were rocking. It was so disconcerting and unsettling. I physically felt the effects of the nervousness. Remember I'm not afraid of heights. However I am afraid of being blown out of tree stands.
When I was diagnosed I tell people I feel like my life went into auto-pilot for a few weeks. I didn't really think a whole lot, I reacted based on the foundation I had spent my entire life building and being built into by those around me. This foundation was built on the truth and hope of Jesus Christ. When our world is rocked we react. Reactions are based on the habits and disciplines you've created and made into second nature.
If you're foundation is built on something that blows in the wind, it will be viscerally unsettling when you encounter a wind storm and your whole world starts shaking. You don't know when the wind will blow, or what direction it will blow from. However, you can build that foundation on something firm and stable so when the wind blows you are on solid ground.
This isn't my concept. Jesus gave the parable of building your house on a firm foundation in Luke 6:47-49.
"Every person that comes to me and listens to my teachings and obeys--I will show you what he is like: He is like a man building a house. He digs deep and builds his house on rock. The floods come, and the water tries to wash the house away. But the flood cannot move the house, because the house was built well (strong). But the person that hears my words and does not obey is like a man that does not build his house on rock. When the floods come, the house falls down easily. And the house is completely destroyed."
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I mentioned in an earlier blog, that I have been hunting the last couple weeks. Unfortunately, I did not get "the big one". I saw a few does, not many. I saw one tiny spike horned buck and passed him up. I probably spent at least twenty hours in the woods, maybe closer to thirty. I think this was the most successful hunting season I've ever had.
If you're not a hunter, I'll give you some context. You sit there. You sit there and sit there and sit there. You can't move or talk or dance (I know I'm weird). You might be able to read a little but it's tough because most books aren't written on camouflage paper. Can't listen to an iPod, you have to hear. You can't play on a phone, the giant screen doesn't really blend into woods and leaves.
What you can do is pray. Pray constantly and without ceasing. I may pray for the big buck to trot by more often than I should, but I usually spend the majority of my time in constant prayer while in the woods. It's called silence and solitude.
I have a few very heavy thing on my heart over the last couple months and years. Things that keep me up at night, have brought tears and anger. Things that I can't fix but am very affected by. My heart has been broken by this.
The majority of my time in the woods this year was spent praying and listening about this issue alone. I poured my heart out to God. I listened, and pleaded for some direction.
Do you have a serious issue on your heart? Are you trying to fix it on your own? Have you spent time on your knees (or in your stand) laying it before the Lord? Nothing is stopping you from it.
Monday, December 12, 2011
If His grace is an ocean, we're ALL sinking...
Monday, December 5, 2011
Every one of us makes decisions every day. Some bigger than others. What will I wear? What route to go to work? What do to tonight? What car to buy? What vacation to go on and when? Whether to have kids? How many and when? When and where to buy a house? We all make tons of decisions.
Kendra and I have to make decisions as well. Many of our decision are the same as yours. However one of the toughest parts about the cancer is making decisions.
We've mentioned before that Kendra and I had plans to start a major addition on our house, which ideally would have been in progress right now. We had just finalized blueprints a couple weeks before we were diagnosed (and then subsequently Kendra was laid off). We do love our place. It's 10 acres with a small house and set up for horses. We are in the country, and can't see any of our neighbors (I ran out to the car the other day in my underwear). However when we bought our tiny house it was just Kendra and I. Now Colton has joined us and our "stuff" has quadrupled. We knew it would't last forever and we began planning and making decisions.
Before cancer it was easy (relatively).
Since diagnosis we have put the plans on hold. However we still like to talk about the addition once in a while. It gives us a tangible thing to look forward to. "When we can build the house, we'll be through this mess." It also represented the fulfillment of many family dreams and goals. A house that would allow us to grow into it with kids, all sorts of children...our own, adopted, foster, whatever the Lord would bless us with. A place to host friends and family and grow deeper in relationships. A house is just sticks and nails. I know that now more than anything. But the dreams that went alongside it, of growing older together, raising a family, and living a normal life, are something we struggle with feeling like it has been violently ripped away from us.
So Kendra and I were driving down the road the other day, and I said something like, "When we build the house then we can..." Kendra replied, "yeah, but if you die..."
And there it was again! Bam, like a gunshot cancer is back in the discussion. I can't get away from it. It permeates my life. It's impossible to make a decision without it playing a factor. We both need to buy different cars, desperately. They have seriously high miles and both of them visit the mechanic more often than a car should. But again, the debilitating question of "what if" torpedoes the whole conversation and pretty much makes it impossible to decide. Should I buy a truck for a bigger family? Should I even get something different at all? But what if I die? Should Kendra buy a car because she commutes so far? But what if I die and she needs something four-wheel drive for herself? What if?
We're held captive by that question. It would be foolish to deny the reality of our situation. Anything involving money is now a major decision, whether it be as minor as a new vehicle, or as major as finishing this property the way we intended to when we bought it. I can't fathom leaving my wife with major expenses to take care of by herself.
BUT WHAT IF I DIE????!!!! I HATE THAT QUESTION!
However it keeps me grounded. I'm a dreamer. So to have my wings grounded from dreaming is so difficult for me. I feel like the wind has been knocked out of me a little bit everytime I hear that statement. I have had to learn to be content with the here and now, and wait on the Lord. What God has provided for me today is sufficient. It's like my own weird sort of manna. I can't collect more than today's. However God will provide for all my needs. If houses or cars are truly needs, then I trust that God will provide. I must be content with that.
The other thing we're learning is at some point we have to take risks sometimes. Kendra and I booked a vacation four months ago for the future not knowing how I would be feeling. Would I even be able to go? This was before our "good" scans and so it was a very real possibility that cancer would be spreading and I would be going downhill.
If we didn't book it until everything lined up perfectly with all our criteria before we planned and made the decision, we'd never be able to pull the trigger. So we took a risk. It worked out. I feel great. When we go on vacation I should be feeling great. It won't always work though. That's okay. God still provides, even when I take a risk and it doesn't work out, God provides.
We should all look at life through the lens of, "what if I die?" It will keep you from selfish, frivolous escapades and endeavors. It will focus you on what is truly important and significant. It is painful, but it is good. When you learn to be content with what you have today, and remove the selfish ambitions from your plans, you will be at peace, and so am I.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Seven and a half months have passed since we got word that he would surely die from cancer very quickly.
And yet here we are, still in the same holding pattern that we have been in forever (or so it seems). Physically, he's not any different than he was eight months and 1 day ago. He is perfectly normal, he's never felt a single symptom from this supposedly deadly cancer, and I still feel like I'm living in a twilight zone.
I know that I kind of railed against complaining in the last post, but I just have to get something off my chest. I'm DONE. I'm DONE with the cancer life. I just want normalcy. I just want to move on. I'm tired of things being weird, unresolved, complicated, sad, uncertain, and heavy. Stop the ride, I want to get off, please.
And yet at the same time, what if this had never happened? What kind of apathetic, lazy, meaningless life would I be living? If things continued the same way that they were, I'd be the epitome of a spiritual slob. Yeah, I knew that I had to clean up my life, but things were comfortable...what was the point? I don't want to go back to being that person.
I wouldn't trade the man that my husband has become throughout this process for ANY healthy, long-living man in the world. His heart for the Lord and His people is astounding. He has always been incredible; that's why I married him (aren't you jealous of me!). But the person that I knew prior to April 1st was half the man that I know now. He's more tender, more compassionate, more filled with faith, more forgiving, stronger, more honorable, more admirable, and a better father and husband than I could have ever imagined him being.
So eight months later, yes, I'm ready to be done and go back to a normal life. I pray continuously that this ends well and my husband defies nearly insurmountable odds. But would I trade this experience and what it has done for us?
Nope. As painful and as gut-wrenching as this has been, I never want to go back to who we were on April 1st.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
First of all, let me just say that God took Ryan and I over His proverbial knee and SPANKED us this morning. Seriously, we both felt like grated cheese when we left church - in a good way. The Lord shredded some serious apathy and entitlement that has been growing in our hearts lately. Since we got our good news, life has been kind of weird. There is a huge sense of relief in our hearts that SOMETHING is going in the right direction for once since April, and we're so pleased. Thanks be to God. But with comfort comes apathy, at least in my spiritual life. I have totally fallen off the wagon in the last three weeks, engrossed in myself and my work and mindless entertainment - oh, and shopping. Ryan has been a bear - as he's already mentioned. I say that with all the love in my heart that I have for that wonderful man, but I nearly booted him in the rear end a couple of times (like, I literally wanted to kick him). So life just hasn't been quite on its normal track.
But anyway, back to this morning. We walked into church, expecting for it to be a normal Sunday - inspirational, but perhaps not exactly life-changing. The Holy Spirit, working through our pastor and the director of Lily of the Valley Orphanage in Chihuahua, Mexico, rained down all sorts of truth on our heads. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy (wow, needed to hear that!). Love orphans. We walked out of church kind of in a daze. I felt completely convicted about my selfish, self-serving attitude lately. I'm going through a really rough time in my life, so I deserve to be selfish about x, y, and z. No, it doesn't work like that. Praise God for a really good, well-timed smack across the face. I also felt reaffirmed in my desire to someday, somehow be some sort of a mother to hurting children. I don't know what that looks like, but I'm pretty certain that the child that I gave birth to in April 2010 is not the only child that I will have a direct impact on. Lord, please take away cancer so that I can fulfill this calling to be a mother with my husband, who is the best father imaginable.
So that's the first thing. I needed a butt-kicking.
The other thing I've learned is that I had to leave Facebook. I'm off it kind of indefinitely. I asked Ryan to change my password and not tell me what it is. So if I don't respond to something, that's why. I don't know for how long, but I do know that there were two definite reasons that Facebook needed to leave my life temporarily. #1, I do not get on Facebook and spend a ton of time on there at one time, but I do check it too often. Sometimes several times a day, for a minute or two. What message does that communicate to my son, when I am constantly looking at my phone or the computer to see what my friends' statuses are? I need to be more concerned about the status of my family and my relationship with God.
#2 reason for the Facebook hiatus: Facebook has caused too much anger for me lately. For the last couple of months, my reaction to people's complaints about inconsequential things has gone from mild irritation to a totally visceral reaction. Complaints about a cold or a flu bug? Thank the Lord that that is the worst sickness that you have to deal with. It's temporary. It's inconsequential. Complaints about morning sickness? Trade places with me, please. I'd love to be in your shoes and puking all over them. Complaints about your naughty children? Discipline them, then hug them and praise God for them. Complaints about your job? Can you please just be thankful that you have one? There are millions of people that envy you. Complaints about your parents or other family members? I believe that there are tens of millions of orphans in our world that would love to be a part of your family.
I am not saying this because I want to be Bitter Betty, although I can veer into that dangerous territory in a quick second and must check myself. I am not saying this because I want to compare my situation and say to you, "Pity me! Look at how sorry my life is! You should feel guilty!" I am saying this because I want everyone, everywhere, including myself, to have an attitude of thankfulness no matter how deep the valley is that they're walking through. The Lord dishes out blessings on a daily basis, and we should be thankful on a daily basis. And until I can get my reactions under control, Facebook is not a healthy place for me to be...because mindless complaining is everywhere. So pray for my attitude, please.
So, there it is. That's what I've been learning lately. This is what I'm conquering at the current time.
Phew. I have rewritten the closing to this like five times because it's just really hard to conclude a blog when I'm really, really honest sometimes. It makes me feel really vulnerable. So I guess I'll just say...
Friday, November 25, 2011
Here is an article on what to do when someone you know gets cancer. This is put out by the same place I get treated at.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
We are not the only ones who are hurting because of cancer.
We have a lot of friends, acquaintances, and family members who are struggling with their own cancer or watching a loved one struggle...or even recently buried a loved one. I can only empathize with people who are going through these things... I will not be arrogant enough to say, "I know exactly how you feel."
If you would choose one or two of these families and pray for them alongside our names, we would be so appreciative.
Dianna is a mom with the same cancer as Ryan and whose symptoms are often debilitating. Pray for her sister, who is her caretaker.
Collin, a young dad with serious cancer who is from our hometown. Praise God for his response to treatment.
Bill is the patriarch of a sweet family from Montague. He was recently diagnosed with cancer. Praise God that his doctors are optimistic about his recovery.
Pray for Marla and her family as they still mourn the loss of her mother just over a year ago.
Pray for Carrie, a very young woman who just lost her fiancé Tom to cancer.
Pray for Anna, the matriarch of a family who was recently diagnosed. Her daughter was very instrumental in the Rodeo. They get results this week from a PET scan.
Pat is a sweet family friend of ours and was my mom's best friend in high school. She has scans coming up in December. She has struggled with cancer for years .., let's pray it away!
Pray for our sister-in-law's mother Melinda, who is fighting another bout with cancer. She has beat this twice and we earnestly hope that she defeats it again, for good!
Pray for Cindy, my friend who lost her husband in April to this same cancer. She is raising two children alone and is so inspirational and encouraging to me!
I know that we are missing people. I'm sorry for that. I know that you know others. Let's commit to praying for the people and families affected, and encouraging them. We have to pray for the eradication of this horrible disease! Kick it out, in Jesus' name!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
This past weekend was really busy. Football, speaking at TIU, and lots of great time spent with my brother Corey (which was awesome). Then Sunday night things seemed to start slowing down and I was confronted with what I would be facing in a few days.
Monday my scans didn't start until two pm. So there was more waiting all morning. I distracted myself with a book, and the Internet, but my nerves were quickly rising, and I started to feel myself getting quiet and tense. My first scan was a pet scan. I'd never had one so I didn't know what to expect. They give you radio-active sugar water through an IV. No big deal I'm getting used to IV's at this point. However then they make you sit still for 45 minutes. No reading, no phone, no distractions.
Wow! That was worse than any needles or other tests. You really expect me to sit still with nothing other than my thoughts? I tried praying, singing songs, but my mind kept coming back to "what if's" and "could be's". This was brutal.
Then the test began. I was on a bench that slides into a MRI looking machine, with my arms strapped to my side. The test takes about 45 minutes. More sitting perfectly still with nothing but my thoughts! Only now it got worse!
I got an itch on my nose after about 15 minutes. Couldn't scratch it, couldn't touch it, and all I could do was to focus on it and squish my nose hoping it will go away.
That itch is like cancer. The more you focus on it, the more you feel it. Our arms are tied down, for the most part we can't control who gets it, where it comes, and whether it stays or goes.
Then as I settled more into a groove praying and singing some old hymns, the intensity of the itch started to diminish. The more I take my eyes off cancer and put my focus onto God, the less significant the cancer becomes. It becomes a matter of perspective. Life is a matter of perspective. I was anxious heading into the scans because my perspective was on myself and not on the God of the universe whom I serve.
What is your perspective focused on?
Yourself, a pursuit of money, protecting what feels comfortable, big houses, promotions?
Hebrews 12:2 - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.
First, Praise God. Wow, what an incredible blessing and surprise. I have never doubted that God was always able to shrink tumors, but I have wondered if he would choose to. Quite honestly as I waited in that tiny room I was hoping and praying for the status quo, that things wouldn't have progressed. I was very doubtful that shrinking might be an option. After the last scans which showed no change, our doctor said if things were going to shrink they probably would have by then. That was hard to hear.
I still knew God could do anything, the options just seemed to be getting more limited. So when the doctor came in and told us that things were shrinking we were totally caught off guard. It's a fine line between making your requests known to God and praying in confidence, and trusting in God's sovereignty.
For the tumors to start shrinking now defy medical logic. However it completely is within God's logic. His ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts higher than our thoughts. So as I often pray Lord help my unbelief.
This is great news, incredible. We're partying like it's __________ (fill in the blank with some random year ending in nine). God has answered our prayers in a physical tangible way. This is nothing short of a modern day miracle in my mind. I'm still not sure how to handle it. Things had been so apprehensive for a couple days and especially the few hours before the appointment, that when we got this news, it was such a surprise. It took a while for it to sink in, it's still sinking in.
But this is also just a first step. As I told Kendra so many times before the appointment, "Bad news doesn't mean we have no hope, and good news doesn't mean I'm cured". No matter what news we got it is still going to be an up and down battle with setbacks and progress. There is still so many things that have to go right and so many things that could go wrong between now and a transplant. It would be years away.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't, aren't, or won't celebrate God's goodness for today. He has chosen to bless us with a period of wonderful news. Heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas we will have a new miracle to praise Him for.
We will maintain treatment as long as it is working. Let's pray for a long, long time of that, unless God should choose to shrink things even faster.
I believe there are two reasons God has blessed us this way;
1. God's Sovereignty. Only He knows ultimately why things have started to turn around. It is a part of His plan and He is still in control.
2. The prayers of the saints. There are so many people praying for us that it is overwhelming. People literally all across the world, organized prayer chains, intercessory prayer teams, friends, family, strangers, and so many people that we'll never hear from. I've met so many new friends that introduced themselves as, "hello, I'm so and so and I've been praying for you!". What an incredible blessing and gift all this prayer is. God hears our prayers. Today He has answered. Please keep it up.
Here is a scientific graph of the last seven months (click on it to enlarge):
As you can see, our emotions have not really hit a significant peak since March. We needed this. Badly.
I am in such a mood for worship today. I am looking forward to my drive home to be able to cry, sing, shout, and have other drivers give me weird looks. I don't care. My God is big. He is worthy of praise.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
The results of the scans show that both tumors and one of the two lymph nodes have SHRUNK (I double-checked that participle online and it still doesn't sound correct). This is only since late August...truthfully, we were not expecting this. This is almost too much to hope for when he has been doing chemo for six months already with no change. The amount of shrinking is roughly ten to twenty percent, and that is HUGE!
So back to the same routine because it is WORKING! Keep praying, friends, God is doing big things here and around us!
Monday, November 7, 2011
- Country Dairy
- Psalms, number 46 in particular
- a certain playlist on my iPhone
Saturday, November 5, 2011
This afternoon we'll watch the Trinity football game. Then we'll hang out here at Deerfield IL today and tomorrow. Monday I have medical scans all day. Petscan, MRI, and Catscan. It will be a long day. It will be an even longer night as we wait for the results. Tuesday we'll get the results and hopefully things will be shrinking, or at the least still holding with no growth.
Things have been going so well and I've been feeling so well that I don't have any reason to believe anything has changed. God is sovereign and as I told the football players today, none of us can control what happens to us, but all of us can control how we respond. I choose to honor God no matter what. That doesn't mean it's not scary and difficult. Please pray for Kendra, Colton, our parents, and our families. This will be a tough and difficult weekend. I'm so thankful for an incredible family to walk through this with.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
This is pretty much the opposite of what my life has been the last couple months. Why do I do it? Why are Kendra and I choosing to walk through this journey in such a public matter? The answer is we're hoping and praying that by us sharing what God is doing in our lives we might encourage, inspire, challenge, or lead to Christ someone else.
Just because the outcomes are desirable, doesn't make the process easier. Recently we had an article published about us in the local paper. This is the second article the paper ran on us, the first one was after I spoke at a large Christian concert this summer. Something about what I said connected with the photographer and reporter and they approached the editor to do a follow up feature article.
Greg, the photographer asked if he could follow Kendra and I around for a couple of weeks. He wanted to document our lives. The boring stuff, the cancer stuff, the exciting stuff, and the high definition stuff. I didn't know how I felt about it at first. I knew it would be awkward to have a camera follow me to work, to treatment, at home, and other places. More so I knew this article would be read by 10's of thousands.
Why did I agree to it? Because the benefits outweighed the deficits. Yes it was uncomfortable, but if just one person drew closer to God because they read this article it would be worth it.
Too often we let our comfort determine our behavior. If it is hard or makes me feel awkward we tend to shy away from it. Or maybe we judge how well our faith is going by how comfortable we are. Do we have money in the bank? Nice clothes? Are we all healthy? Then things must be going well.
Unfortunately God doesn't promise that things will be easy, actually He promises that things will be tough, difficult, and that there will be trials. If we never get outside our comfort zone, I don't know if we can be completely obedient to what God is calling us to do. Abraham had to leave his home land, then sacrifice his son. David had to fight a giant. Moses had to go before Pharaoh. Paul was beaten, shipwrecked, and imprisoned. Every one of those people chose obedience over comfort.
What area's of our lives do we need to get outside our comfort zone? It's too easy to never do anything that makes us nervous. Do you need to have a conversation with someone about your faith? Do you need to serve those who don't like you? Do you need to minister to someone who is dirty and difficult to love? Only you know what God is calling you to do.
I can promise you as you're obedient, God will bless. I have been overwhelmed time and time again by the people who approach me to tell me that this blog, or a speech I gave, or a video they saw blessed and inspired them.
Monday, October 31, 2011
One week from today, Ryan will undergo PET, CT, and MRI scans in Zion. We will get the results in approximately 184 hours (noon CST on Tuesday, Nov. 8th). My stomach is returning to that familiar flip-flop state, where I go between taking comfort in the fact that Ryan has seemed absolutely normal and healthy lately, and fearing the worst that could happen. It's a weird place to be, not knowing what the near future looks like. I don't like it. I don't even know for sure how many days to plan to be gone from school. I'm planning for three, and hoping for only two. If anything significant happens with Ryan's progress, then it's entirely possible that we might stay some extra time. (Gosh, I hope not...)
I had the thought the other day on the way to work, "This really is just the beginning." I know that things are going to get worse before they get better. It just isn't feasible that we are going to continue to stay in this lulling, comfortable rhythm of Ryan having treatment, a short recovery time, and then two weeks of feeling completely normal. Even if miracles come about, there would be serious, debilitating, life-altering surgery before Ryan is healed. If the worst happens, then things would get very, very ugly. I have had some people share with me what "the end" is like, and it makes me want to throw up and then punch a wall when I hear those stories. I love my husband so intensely, and sometimes I go crazy with worry and sadness even when he has a bad reaction to chemo. I can't imagine what it is like to go through what some people have already been through. I just can't enter into that.
But I was thinking about these things, and how there are tough times ahead, and I felt overwhelming peace in spite of these scary thoughts. I contemplated how I have been able to move from a shaking, sobbing mess in April as I sat at a friend's kitchen island and declared that I would not be able to handle getting more bad news if Mayo didn't say things that we wanted to hear, to someone that by October can think about the toughest of times while being accompanied by a peace that transcends understanding. And it struck me.
It's as simple as making a choice that I made.
"I am going to do this well. I am going to trust."
And then you have to stick to that choice. Sometimes you have to remind yourself of your choice 10 times a day.
I am a very emotional person by nature. I love big, I can cry at the drop of a hat, and I have a seriously quick temper. But somewhere along the way, emotions have been (somewhat) overruled by logic. I learned an equation this summer, thanks to Beth Moore and beautiful, soul-penetrating Scripture.
If "x" happens, then God will still be good. Solve for x. Answers will vary.
(That is the most helpful equation I've ever learned. I never really had much use for math class.)
I knew last week as I was driving to work, that even if God takes us through the valley of the shadow of death, His goodness will not change. His provision will not falter. He will give us grace for THAT moment. And I just knew very, very deep in my heart that no matter what happens, I was going to be okay. Leaning on Him is what I will choose to do at that time, and therefore I. Will. Be. Okay. This is a wonderful feeling, and unlike anything I have experienced in my life.
Lest I come across as some sort of superhero again, this is not by anything of Kendra that this assurance has come. This is a result of the heart surgery God has performed on me for the last seven months, prayer from thousands of people, and a strength and resolve that is completely not characteristic of me - that's how I know that it's not my own power. Additionally, this is not something that I'm even close to perfect at. I still have my moments of weakness where my focus wanes and I panic. But in my moments of greatest clarity, I know the truth. And it sets me free.
Free from worry.
Free from anxiety.
Free from reliance on Kendra (who is decidedly unreliable).
Your will be done, Lord. And help me be okay with that.
Monday, October 24, 2011
By the way, this is post #100. Isn't that crazy?
I am not a fanatic when it comes to American football. I like it, but I don't adore it. I am related to some people that REALLY, REALLY love football, but I'm just not quite as passionate as they are. (*cough cough *Steve*Corey*Jeremy* cough cough*)
However, I do really like the MSU Spartans. This is probably because a.) I lived in Lansing for three years when we were engaged/newly married, b.) Ryan is an alum, so I spent a lot of time on campus, c.) I like the fact that they're always kind of the underdog, and d.) one of my former students plays for them. #22 RB Larry Caper was in my Spanish 2 class at Battle Creek Central High School. He was an AWESOME student - very polite, Christian, and extremely smart.
|Larry Caper, AP Photo|
So this past Saturday night, I was watching the MSU Spartans take on the Wisconsin Badgers. In typical MSU fashion, their win came at the very last second, on a play that needed to be reviewed after Kirk Cousins lofted a 44-yard Hail Mary to BJ Cunningham, which bounced off Cunningham, was caught by Keith Nichol, and the ball BARELY crossed the goal line as Wisconsin players struggled to push Nichol back. At first it was not ruled a touchdown. After a couple of tense minutes, the call was reversed, a touchdown was declared, and I celebrated exuberantly as Spartan Stadium erupted in excitement on the television.
|Al Goldis/Associated Press|
Then I remarked to Ryan, who had been snoozing on the couch next to me until I started shouting at the TV, "MSU football and basketball just always bring things down to the wire. I think that they have taken years off of their fans' lives." Ryan, who is an avid fan of Spartan basketball, heartily agreed. He has spent many winter nights glued to the TV as his favorite college basketball team repeatedly toys with his heart. Some nights they win, sometimes they fall short, but they almost always make it interesting (read: stressful). However, those wins are so much sweeter when they come in dramatic fashion, aren't they?
Okay, now what does this have to do with the parting of the Red Sea? Well, I also recently reread the story of the Israelites escaping from Egypt in similarly dramatic fashion. In case you're unfamiliar with the story, the nation of Israel was bound in slavery to Egyptians, and a man named Moses was prompted by God to go to Pharaoh and ask him to set the Israelites free. Pharaoh refused time and time again, despite many different plagues being sent to Egypt. It wasn't until the Passover happened that Pharaoh finally relented and allowed the Israelites to leave, and they start heading towards the Red Sea.
However, in Exodus 14, Pharaoh decides that he's not quite done with them yet. In verse 4, God said that he was going to harden Pharaoh's heart and consequently, Pharaoh sent his army after the fleeing Israelites. Now at first, you may wonder to yourself, "Why? Here they are, finally set free after all of these years of slavery and mistreatment. Why can't they just be let go in peace, without having to worry about an army coming after them?"
Or similarly, "God, I was really content living my life in a quiet manner. I'd like to just go to work, talk about you to my friends once in a while (of course, in a really non-offensive way), and raise my kids in relative peace and quiet. Isn't it that good enough? Can't I just fade into the background? Why can't I just be in peace, instead of having to deal with this tough situation?"
If you read the entire verse of Exodus 14:4, God declares, "I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and all the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." At the end of the story, the Lord allows the Red Sea to part, the Israelites cross the Red Sea, and Pharaoh's army attempts to cross the same dry path that the Israelites did, but are swept away when the sea rushes back and drowns them. Later on in the same chapter, in verse 31 it says that the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD and that they feared him. There would be a dearth of moments like this in the ensuing years, so good thing that the Israelites recognized it at least this one time.
A situation that you wouldn't have chosen is unfolding, and it's uncertain how it will turn out. Will they drop that pass? Will they make those free throws? Will God's people escape?
Will my husband be healed?
Just like the unpredictable MSU Spartans, sometimes these situations turn out the way we'd like, and sometimes they don't. But God is a master at producing big finishes, and we can remain hopeful in His miracles and His provision.
And regardless of the outcome in the end, there is glory. God is good, all the time. In all situations, no matter the outcome, God must be glorified.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Sorry about that, if anything, it is because the last month or so have been fairly normal. I've been going about life and dealing with everyday stuff.
This is a difficult topic for me to write about but it is something I've been wrestling through for a while.
You see Kendra and I have been blessed beyond belief by having Colton in our lives during this process. I'm thankful he's so young that hey may not remember most of it. I hope he will remember me if things don't go well. We didn't plan on having a child at this stage in our marriage when we got married. We were going to wait a while longer and "get settled" before we took that step. Then for whatever reason I got the itch to try for a baby. About a year later Colton was born.
A year after that on Coltons birthday, when we were told I had less than a year to live. We had always planned on having more children. Three maybe four or more, we weren't sure but a decent sized family was in our plans. The hard reality is right now it would be as much a miracle for us to have our own children as for me to get healed. The chemo is wicked stuff and it messes with every part of your body.
So according to my eyes and a man's perspective the door to future children is closed. One of the hardest parts about this process is feeling like you have lost some of the dreams you've had for so long. Children, vacations, ministry opportunities, anything you imagine and dream about doing in the future. For Kendra and I this children loss is hard to swallow.
Kendra has always had a heart for adoption. I was never nearly as passionate about it. I think it's a great opportunity and there are so many worthy children who deserve a family. I just didn't feel led or passionate about it. I've said that being diagnosed changed a lot of things in an instant in my heart. One of those things is adoption. I would love to adopt a child now. To add to our family a child who is hopeless and doesn't see many options to a future would be incredible. To learn more intimately what it means to be adopted into God's family through adoption one of His children into my family is something I'd be anxious to grow in.
The problem is adoption agency's don't like to give children to stage four cancer patients or even survivors. I get it. I'm seriously struggling about whether it would be wise for us to add a child right now facing the opportunity that I might not be around to be their father. There are so many factors to consider. Either way though it feels like for now the decisions have already been made for us, and it's hard not to grieve that loss.
I can't always see God's specific plan or the why behind it through this journey. Some things don't make sense to me. So when my mind is struggling I have to rely on my will, which I have set firmly on the truth that God is perfect, in control, and all wise. I'm also 100% confident that God is completely able to bless Kendra and I with a child naturally or adopted if that is his plan. He already blessed us with Colton who if we stayed with our plans would never had been born. How much we would have missed out on.
I'm sharing this with you not because we're looking for advice on how to have or adopt a child. We've done diligent research and the point of the blog isn't really about having a child, it's about trusting in God even when it feels like things are being stripped away. I don't want to be like Abram and Tamar and show my lack of faith that God's in control and try to fix things according to how it works in my mind. I want to trust God completely, with my present, future, and dreams.
We would love for you to continue to pray for us, and if you're able to add family members to your family please please know how incredibly blessed you are.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Wednesday morning, I woke up at five a.m. like normal (have I yet mentioned how much I despise waking up so early? I need to advocate for school starting at 10 a.m.), and when I checked to see what the score was of the Tigers game the night before on my iPhone, Ryan popped up on Facebook Messenger and asked me what I was doing up so early. Now mind you, he was awake at FOUR a.m. Central Time (he was already in Chicago at this point). So then he told me that he had barely slept the night before because he was itchy and uncomfortable. This totally scared me, because itching is one of the #1 symptoms of liver problems. However, when he got bloodwork done that day, everything was the same as always (pretty much completely normal - Praise the Lord!). Ryan has always struggled with dry skin, especially in the months of October & November when the weather is changing and becoming drier. It seems as if the symptoms have gone away once he started using really good moisturizing lotion.
So the appointment on Wednesday went great - no new symptoms, his bloodwork was really good, and he has had decreased side effects since he went on his new drugs. Now we all need to start PRAYING,
that his scans on November 7th go really, really well. I'm not sure if we will be in Chicago for 2 days or 3 days, but we will probably get results on the 8th or the 9th.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Monday, October 3, 2011
I know. You're shocked.
Either you sensed my sarcasm in that last line because you know Ryan and I well enough, or maybe I might have actually surprised you. You see, just because we are now living life in high definition, does NOT mean that we are perfect or that we have learned all of our lessons. We didn't fight for about a month and a half after diagnosis, but different situations (including going back to work, adjusting to new rhythms in life, figuring out how to divvy up household responsibilities now, and just the plain stress of cancer life) can really make us edgy.
So here's what it was about. Basically, Ryan wanted to go for a horseback ride with Colton and I. That sounds innocuous enough, but it made this mother's blood run cold. HORSES?! Those wild beasts. What if the horse bucked? What if Colton was thrown from Ryan's arms and he drowned in a pond? What if a deer jumped out and Colton and Ryan were thrown off from a rearing horse and Ryan broke his back and Colton broke a bone too? What if Colton got too cold? What if he cried? What if the Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot all converged on our hapless little riding party and the Snowman ate Ryan, Nessy ate Colton, and Bigfoot ran away with me and forced me to marry him? What if? What if? What if?
Now that you've seen the crazy side of me for a second, let's go back to reality. Ryan was asking to go on a horseback ride with two completely trained, well-broke camp horses from Grace Adventures that routinely carry tiny children around with no incidents. In all reality, there was about zero reason to worry. He had the situation handled. But I lacked trust in my husband, whom I know and love with all of my heart. In my head, I know that he always has my son's best interests at heart. But for a minute, I doubted. And HOO BOY, it created an argument. :)
I know that I've written on this before, but I have had to work on overcoming worry and fear almost every day. This is something that is on my heart constantly. I also know for a fact that I have some friends that struggle with worrying even worse than I do, and I'm ninety-nine percent certain that they read this blog.
"Worry is the result of a lack of trust in God's care and providence." This quote, just read recently, really sums up the lesson I've been learning. My worrying about our future is directly related to the amount of control that I'm trying to wield over the situation and my lack of faith in God's care of my family.
None of us have the assurance that our lives are going to be easy. I see lots of my friends around me with stable, comfortable lives and I wish two things for them: #1, that they thank God for that blessing, and #2, that they practice living out their trust in God in the midst of a lulling peace. Nobody knows when their lives will be flipped upside down, when God is going to call them on a horseback ride through a dark, scary forest. When God calls your family into danger, are you going to trust that He really does desire for you to live lives of peace? Jeremiah 29:11 does not promise us that our earthly lives will be devoid of problems. But it does give us assurance that there is a future of hope, even though the current situation sucks. The Israelites were being called to wait, and to have faith that at the end of their captivity, there would still be a blessing. Even if they (I) lose everything, God will still be God and He will still be good.
Beth Moore's Esther study summed it up like this: "If _________ happens, God will still be faithful." You can fill in the blank with any of your worst nightmares.
I would like to happily report that we went on a great horseback ride and we had a fabulous time. Ryan was right. Things were just fine. I'm so glad that we didn't miss the blessing of a great afternoon because I was too scared to allow us to enjoy it.
Live in the moment and do not worry for tomorrow. Count your blessings. They are so numerous, my friends. We are so blessed. We are so blessed.