Friday, December 30, 2011

Would you die to do what you're doing?

It's been a little over 8 months since I was diagnosed. I've had highs and lows since then. My routine has been disrupted and messed up, but I have a new routine.

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

Well, here's the story!

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

Cycle 10

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!

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.

Sore butt keen eyes

As I mentioned earlier my brother and I share hunting stands. I have hunted out of "Corey's stand" a couple times last week. This is the tiny stand hung thirty feet in the air. It also has another awesome trait. It's seat is a dinner plate sized piece of metal mesh.

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

Swaying tree and a small seat

My younger brother Corey and I both enjoy hunting. We share many tools and things back and forth. One is a tree stand. It's technically mine I think (he'll probably argue) but Corey has used it and set it up and down a lot more lately, so it's referred to as "Corey's stand". I had been sitting in a nice two person ladder stand. However with no luck, I decided to change my venue and go sit in Corey's stand.

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

Got skunked this deer season, but that's okay!

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

Definitely defiant, but still lovable.

Our son is not perfect.

My whole parenting world came to a screeching halt about three weeks ago when I picked up Colton from daycare and April, our wonderful daycare lady, told me that Colton had in fact bitten another child.  I FREAKED out.  MY CHILD?  Yes, I knew already that he bites occasionally, but I had been the only person that he's ever bitten...and only when he was super tired.  For a while, he was more accurately telling me that he was tired by attempting to bite me than yawning or rubbing his eyes (I'm thankful that he's over that stage).  When April told me the unfortunate news, I kind of understood how my mom felt when a police officer told her that my brother had stolen a stop sign.  I will not say which brother, in order to protect the ... um, innocent?  That phrase doesn't seem to fit here.  Anyway, I was very upset with Colton.

The biting episode was a stand-alone event, thank goodness.  However, that day it seemed like my son realized that being naughty was something that he should try more often.  THIS IS AWESOME!  BITING, HITTING, WHINING, DISOBEYING - yeah!  My docile, compliant, even-tempered toddler has quickly degenerated into a screaming, completely irrational, angry child.  Last Tuesday, after he went in timeout after timeout after timeout for not letting me brush his teeth, I sat down on my bathroom floor and sobbed along with him.  I don't know what I'm doing. This parenting stuff doesn't come with a manual, at least not a comprehensive one.  (Chapter 335: What to do when your 19-month-old tries to boss you around and won't brush his teeth).

Last night after the house was quiet, picked up, and I could begin to reflect on the last few hellish days with Colton, I came to the conclusion that he could even ramp up the naughtiness tenfold and I'd still love him with every fiber in my body.  He is my flesh and blood.  I'm not going to stop loving him even though I briefly thought about enrolling him in toddler boarding school.  I would keep extending him grace time and time again, because he is my son and I love him so much.

Our heavenly father, our most perfect parent, loves us intensely even though not a one of us deserves it. Imagine what we, adult humans, must look like in the eyes of a righteous God.  It's easy for me to look at Colton, shake my head, and remark, "What a toddler!" because I am much more mature than he is.  Imagine what our petty remarks, anger, selfishness and negative attitudes look like to our perfect God.  And yet he loves us so.

And you know what really strikes me?  God loves the wretch right next to you like that, too.  There are a few people in this world that really rub me the wrong way (but only a few...I'm pretty easygoing).  I have to check my attitude sometimes when I start to think that God has to love me more than the irrational, tantrum-throwing adults that I come into contact with.  Not true, Kendra, not true.  So if God is my father and their father, too, it's time to start treating others like the brothers and sisters that they are. (Can you tell that I've been convicted of this recently?)

If His grace is an ocean, we're ALL sinking...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Yeah but if you die...

Kendra and I have a life. I know it's hard to believe but we really do, or we did... before cancer.

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.


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

Eight Month Anniversary

Eight months have passed since the day that we got a phone call that my husband had spots on his liver that showed up on a CT scan.

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.