Friday, October 30, 2009


"When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.“   
Chinese Proverb

Lately, I've had a lot of time to myself - time alone and time to think. Thinking can be good, but sometimes it can lead down roads of discouragement and despair. Occasionally, in order to keep my thinking in the real world, I like to take the time to write down things I am thankful for. And I don't just make a quick short list of the top ten things. That's too easy, and would probably always include the same top ten. No, I challenge myself to make a list of 100 things that I am thankful for! It starts with the usual things - my husband, my family, my friends, my church - but by the time I get to #100, I am listing things that I rarely think of:
  • Thank you God for creating eyelashes to protect my eyes.
  • Thank you God for allowing me to win the spelling bee in 4th grade
  • Thank you God for the hummingbirds that come to our yard every year
  • Thank you God for indoor plumbing
  • Thank you God that the roach crawled on Mark in the night and not on me
So many things to be thankful for, and yet I rarely take the time to express my gratitude. Psychologist Dr. Brenda Shoshanna said the following:

"There is one sure fire medicine which cures all pain and opens the way for your greater good. It allows you to sleep well at night, wake up refreshed and filled with enthusiasm for your daily tasks. This medicine is abundantly available, has no side effects and can be taken in large or small doses regularly. You need no one to prescribe it. The more you take, the sweeter it is. The medicine is the practice of thankfulness." 

Thankfulness changes us. It changes our thinking. It changes our attitude. It changes our outlook on life. The more we practice thankfulness, the deeper is seeps into our being and transforms us.

I've heard thankfulness defined as "the expression of joy Godward," which explains the power of thankfulness perfectly. When we express our gratitude toward God, He uses it to transform our lives.

I challenge you today to sit down and write out 100 things you are thankful for. It will change you. 

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts... And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 "

"Do you see what we've got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you know how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God." Hebrews 12:28

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christmas Shopping!

The Christmas season is fast approaching and I wanted to give you guys a few suggestions as you plan your Christmas shopping. All these fine gifts can be purchased at .


The 2010 "Colondar" features 13 survivors of colorectal cancer. You will be inspired by their stories as you are reminded to be screened for colorectal cancer.

Wipe out Colorectal Cancer Toilet Paper! Who wouldn't want to have this for Christmas?

This blue ribbon represents the fight to find a cure for colorectal cancer. You can wear this pin in honor or memory of those you love whose lives have been forever changed by this disease. 

The Colon Club is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of colorectal cancer in out-of-the-box ways.  Their goals are to "educate as many people as possible, as early as possible, about the risk factors and symptoms of colorectal cancer, and for people to get screened when it's appropriate for them." Your support will help them achieve these goals!

Blood Count Update: I saw the oncologist today and had my blood drawn, again. My blood counts are still low, which was expected as a result of my last chemo treatment. However they have not dropped as low as they did after the first treatment. My total white blood cell count was 2.8 today. It needs to be 3.0 in order for me to safely receive my next chemo treatment on Monday. The neutrophil count was 0.82 today and it needs to get up to 1.0. The doctor is confident that the levels will be where we need them to be by Monday. Please keep praying that they will. In the meantime, I will continue to quarantine myself as much as possible! It's no fun to be home all the time missing my friends, and missing out on so many things! But, on the positive side, my desk is now clean, stacks of paperwork are getting filed, and the kitchen counters have been cleared off. My closet can't be far behind... or... maybe it can! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hair today... gone tomorrow?

Before we started IV chemotherapy the oncologist told me that he didn't expect me to lose my hair. Good, I thought, because I didn't really want to lose my hair. I think if I had no hair I would look like a mouse or a bird...  

Then the oncologist said, "Your hair may thin some." OK, that was the understatement of the year! My hair is coming out all over the place! I am constantly plucking long blonde hairs off of my arms and shoulders. They are all over the couch, of course, and they cover the seat in Mark's car. Every time I wash my hair, or brush my hair, or run my hands through my hair, I come away with handfuls of hair. The last time I spoke at COF I happened to glance down at the stage and saw long blond hairs on the black carpet surrounding my stool. (I'd like to clarify that "stool" in this instance refers to a piece of furniture that you sit on. I know with my diagnosis and the frequent topics of my life that it could have been misinterpreted as another form of "stool".) My hair is everywhere! I guess I have more than I thought I had because I still have a good bit on my head, but if it keeps up like this, I may not have it for long! 

I have always had long blonde hair. It is a part of me. I'm not sure what I'd do without it. I'm not sure how I feel about wearing a wig, but it could actually be fun to shop for hats! And since it will be the fall/winter season hats would be OK. I doubt it will come to that, but I do know that over the next few months my hair will continue to grow thinner, my roots will continue to grow out, and my gray hairs will start to show themselves. Please be kind to me when you see this happening! It's not that I haven't gone to get my hair touched up, it's just that I can't. Not until I am finished with chemo treatments. In the meantime I will try to keep my chin up, smile, and endure with dull, dry, brittle, thin, two-tone graying hair!

I can only remember cutting my hair off two times in my life. One was before my senior year of high school. Just in time for my senior portrait. What a horrible time to decide to cut your hair off! What was I thinking? I survived, but I cried for days! The second time was when I was newly married and in nursing school. I decided to cut it myself (I'm not kidding!) and I put my long hair in a pony tail on top of my head and I cut it off! Seriously, I did this! Someone probably should have had me psychologically examined at that time! It did not turn out pretty. There have been the random times of layers and bangs and perms. I did finally learn that if God gave you straight hair, He knew best - don't perm it! Those perm days are some scary family photos! 

So, these are the thoughts I am processing today. Just keeping you in the loop! We'll see what happens...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hope of Heaven

The world lost two mighty warriors in the last few days. Roosevelt Savanah and Melissa Cahill. Both fought strong and hard battles against cancer until the end. Both never wavered in their faith or in their conviction that God is good. Their absence is already felt by those who knew and loved them. They will be missed.

I have been reading through the books of Thessalonians in the last few days. As I read these words the other day they made me think of my friends, Roosevelt and Melissa:

"Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you're in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn't just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions. 

You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.

Do you know that all over... believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master's Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don't even have to say anything anymore—you're the message!" (vs. 2-8) 

May we all become "the message," just as these two, through our faithful work, our loving deeds, and the enduring hope we have in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thank you to all of you who have prayed for Roosevelt and Melissa. Please pray now for the Savanah and Cahill families as they grieve the loss of their loved ones.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What a difference a day makes!

What a difference a day makes! I have felt much better today, physically and emotionally. I am still tired but improving. Today I have also experienced tingling of my mouth, lips, and left arm and hand. This is a common and expected side effect of one of my chemo drugs.

I have continued to rest today and to stay out of circulation of the general human population! We are being extra careful to prevent exposure to swine flu or any of the other viruses that are going around Houston. I will have my blood levels checked on Wednesday to see if the Neulasta has done what it's supposed to do. Then maybe I'll venture out to the grocery store! Exciting life, huh?

Ileostomy update: I did give myself a "gold star" today for ileostomy care and maintenance! I was not too excited when the doctor first told me that I would need a temporary ileostomy; but I want you to know that it has not been nearly as dreadful as I first imagined. I am used to having it now and taking care of it has become routine. It's funny how we adjust to new things and then before long they seem to be a normal part of our lives! One of my initial concerns was the possibility of the skin around the stoma breaking down due to leaking digestive enzymes. I am very proud to tell you that my stoma is perfectly healthy, and the skin on my abdomen is intact without a hint of injury! I consider this to be an answer to my fearful prayers and I am thankful that God has taken good care of this!

Faithful Friends: One of the things I am most thankful for is all of you! Your constant prayer and words of encouragement mean the world to me! You give me strength to keep walking this path and I will never be able to repay you. I am trusting that God will bless you for your kindness and faithfulness toward me. Thank you for seeing me through a difficult week. I love and appreciate you all!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pity Party

Thursday. Mark is at the gym. I am resting. Diarrhea and nausea are under control. I am trying to eat, but nothing sounds good or tastes right. My body still aches, even with Motrin, but it seems to be decreasing. I feel very weak and tired. I can fall asleep any time I close my eyes. 

Without thinking, I put a piece of ice in my mouth - it feels like fire, and I spit it out across the kitchen! So many side effects, so many things to remember when I can barely remember my name anymore...

The tears come. I don't feel like I can do this. I'm not strong enough. What if it comes back? I'll never survive that... Dear Jesus, it's just you and me. And I cant do it, so it's really just You. I need you today. 

I know in my mind that it is expected that I will still feel badly for a couple of days after the pump is disconnected as my body is processing and getting rid of the chemicals, but somehow I keep hoping that each new day I will suddenly not feel sick...I guess I set myself up for this...

Friday morning. I slept great. I am laying in bed. I feel good. I don't want to move. I don't want this good feeling to be replaced by something else. Maybe if I just stay in bed all day, just skip Friday, and get up on Saturday...

The tears come again. A full-blown pity party! Lord, please help me to get my eyes on You. I know you are here. 

Geoff Moore's song, He Knows My Name, comes on the radio:

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in His hands

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He’ll never leave me
No matter where I go

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call

I know you are here! Thank you for never leaving. Thank you for carrying me today.

"These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." 1 Peter 1:7

"You are building up an unshakable faith. Be furnishing the quiet places of your soul now. Fill them with all that is harmonious and good, beautiful, and enduring. Home-build in the Spirit now, and the waiting time will be well spent." - God Calling

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two down, Ten to go!

Well, I have officially survived my second round of chemo infusions! Now, I am just dealing with the side effects for a few days and then I should be feeling good again until the next treatment in two weeks. Today they disconnected the pump and gave me an injection of Neulasta. I have been napping off and on all afternoon and evening.

I am thankful to be free from carrying the pump around, and thankful that I have only been slightly queasy.  I am thankful for sweet friends who have been bringing meals to us, running errands for me, and bringing supplies from Target and Kroger! You all are awesome and you'll never really know how much the small things mean to us, especially when we are unable or too tired to do them for ourselves.

The word of the day is "diarrhea"! This is a side-effect of one of my chemo drugs and it has been in full swing since Tuesday night. Please pray that I will be able to control this with medication. I can dehydrate quickly with the ileostomy. I am also sore to the touch around my ribs, my neck, shoulders, back, chest, and arms. This is a result of the Neulasta injections. The ache seems to be spreading. The doctor told me to expect to have this for about 48 hours and to take Motrin for the pain.

Hopefully, I will feel better by the weekend! Thank you for praying!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Round 2 Day 2

Day 2 has gone well. David and Sydneyann hung out with me again in the infusion room before they had to catch a plane home to Los Angeles. It was so good to have them here for a few days!

I will go back Wednesday to have the pump disconnected and get an injection of Neulasta. We'll see what kind of response I have to that!

I received a bracelet the other day with the following words engraved on it. I liked it, so I thought I would share it with you!

What Cancer Cannot Do...
It cannot cripple love. It cannot corrode faith. It cannot shatter hope. It cannot eat away peace. It cannot destroy confidence. It cannot kill friendships. It cannot shut out memories. It cannot silence courage. It cannot reduce eternal life. It cannot quench the spirit.

I have found all these things to be true.

Update on Stacey: to those of you who have been praying for Stacey, she completed her radiation treatments today and rang the bell!! She is finally finished with all her treatments now. She will be facing reconstruction surgery in the future. Please pray for her as she recovers from radiation, gets her strength back and returns to the classroom. Thanks!

I love you all! Thank you so much for your constant prayer and encouragement.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chemo Round 2

Thank you for praying! I had an appointment with the oncologist today. Last week they told me to be ready to stay and receive my chemo treatment if my white blood count had come up to a safe level. I brought my "chemo bag" with me that is full of fun things to read and do as well as foods to snack on to ward off nausea. I also had my "Wyrick" blanket that I take every time. It's cold in that room! But...being full of faith, I just left the bag in the car fully expecting my white count to still be low.

My doctor came in the room with a big smile and told me that the count had gone up from 2.0 to 3.5, which was now a safe level to receive chemo. They sent me back to the infusion room to get started today! I was so excited to hear that my blood count had recovered that I was happy to get chemo! How weird is that - feeling happy to get chemo??

Why am I still surprised when God answers our prayers? I should have been expecting it!

David, Sydneyann, and Torrey came to sit with me for awhile today. David and I played scrabble. I lost, of course! If only there were a word that had five "i"s in it!

Tonight, I am very tired, I can feel the irritated nerves in my throat, but otherwise I feel pretty good. I was able to eat, my stomach is calm. So far, so good!

Thank you so much for praying specifically for my white blood cell count! Please pray for minimal and manageable side-effects over the next few days! Thank you for "standing in the gap" for us!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Hiding Place

If you have been following this blog then you know that my body has been struggling to produce new white blood cells. As of last Tuesday, they were practically non-existent, and the doctor told me that I need to be very careful. Right now I have very little ability to fight off infection. I was told to stay away from people, to stay out of crowds, to be careful of eating raw fruits or vegetables, and to wash my hands - a lot!

I have been very careful to follow their advice and so far I am doing well. The only catch is that Mark and I had already planned to start our new relationship series at the church this weekend and we were planning to speak together. What was it the doctor said about people and crowds??? So, in order to avoid all hugging, hand-shaking, coughing, sneezing, and germ-infected children, I entered the building through the back door, went straight to Mark's office without talking or touching anyone, and sat alone, waiting, until the time came in the services for the message to be shared. Then I entered the stage from the back, Mark and I shared what God had given us to share, and I left the same way I'd come in. It feels really weird not to be hugging anyone and not to be able to see and talk to everyone. Hopefully this issue will be resolved soon and I will be back out there with the people!

In spite of the fact that I was alone, I had the most amazing experience in worship today! The band started playing the song "I Will Exalt You" by Hillsong and I stepped through the door at the back of the stage waiting to join Mark on stage for the message. Standing in that spot it feels kind of like you are in a closet. It's about the size of a closet. The walls are black and it was dark. The music coming through the monitors on the stage was bouncing off the back of the stage and made for an incredible decibel level where I was waiting. Then I started listening to the words of the song, and I started singing out to my God. 

I will exalt You 

I will exalt You 

I will exalt You 

You are my God 

And God whispered in my ear, "I'm right here with you." Instantly I felt His presence surround me. 

I started thinking about being at home these last couple of weeks in a form of quarantine, and then we sang these words:

My hiding place 
My safe refuge 

My treasure Lord You are 

And it hit me that He IS my safe refuge, He has been protecting me as my blood counts have been so low. He has been my hiding place these weeks. I continued to sing, 

My friend and King 
Anointed One 
Most Holy. 

As I was praising Him, proclaiming His Holiness, I said to him, "You are everything to me." 
And then I heard God whisper back, "YOU are everything to me." 
In that instant I understood like never before that I am his daughter, that I am everything to him, just like my children are to me. Tears clouded my eyes, and unspeakable joy filled my heart and I shouted out to him,

I will exalt You 

I will exalt You 

I will exalt You 

You are my God  

And then we sang the last verse:

Because You're with me

Because You're with me

Because You're with me

I will not fear

What a timely reminder to me during these days! He will be with me, just like He was today. He is my refuge. He is my hiding place. He is Holy and worthy of my praise. I am His.

I hope you get time alone with God this week so that you can worship Him and experience His presence.

Medical Update: I have an appointment with the doctor on Monday morning to re-check my blood levels. We are praying that they will be up to a level that will allow me to receive my next chemo treatment. I'll let you know what happens.

Prayer Update: Many of you have been praying for my friend, Debbie, and her husband, Jack. Debbie is a breast cancer survivor, but during her battle with cancer last year her husband lost his job. They have been diligently seeking jobs since that time, struggling to trust that God is in control, and grieved as they have watched their home edge closer to foreclosure. Well...Debbie called me on Saturday to tell me that Jack finally has a new job! After a series of interviews over the course of several weeks, he finally receive the job offer they were praying for! Thank you for praying for employment for Jack! They will meet with a financial counselor this week to discuss the possibility of reworking their mortgage and hopefully be able to save their house. Please thank God for providing Jack's new job and pray that God will work out the details of their mortgage and that they won't lose their home. Thank you!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Classic Love

This weekend starts our new message series at Community of Faith entitled "Classic Love." It is all about making relationships last. It should be a fun series as we include some classic love songs from the 60's, 70's, and 80's. 

Mark and I have been studying for the series this week, but just today I witnessed a couple of examples of "classic love" in my own family. These are not examples of love in a marriage, but they are extreme examples of love in relationships.

Classic Love #1:  David and Sydneyann on a plane flying home to hang out with mom since she will have to skip COF's 3rd Annual Tailgate party this weekend. They are wearing masks to keep from bringing germs home to mom who has a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy. Now that's classic love!

Classic Love #2: Mark returns from the grocery store with a massive bag of grapefruit. I give him a questioning look, and he says, "You know how much David likes grapefruit." I double over with laughter. David will have to stay for a month to eat all those grapefruit! Daddy is glad his boy is coming to visit! That's classic love!

I hope you have witnessed some examples of classic love this week!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Good Day!


         Like mother, like daughter.

Today I made banana bread in honor of my mom's birthday. Somehow mine never turns out as good as her's. Mom's banana bread is always perfect - moist and delicious! Today's turned out good, but still not as good as mom's. But it didn't stop Mark and I from eating half the loaf in honor of mom's birthday!

Sweet friends brought me supplies from Wallmart and dinner from Chik-fil-a! 

My good friend, Dr. B. brought me a new air filter to use in our house while my white blood count is so low! 

Some of our missionary friends who  worked with us in Mexico City were in Houston today and came by to visit. We hadn't seen them in years. It was so nice to catch up after so long! Thanks, Jim and Janna, for taking the time to hang out with us!

And then, I chatted for a while with a very special friend who has been clean and sober for one week! It made my heart so happy to hear how he has decided to make positive changes in his life! You know who you are - I love you!

For a little while today I forgot that I have an ileostomy. I forgot that I have an IV port in my chest. I forgot that I am fighting cancer. For a little while today, I felt like Laura. The pre-cancer Laura. It was a good day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Every good and perfect gift

One of my favorite authors on Christianity is John Piper. Most people either love his writings or hate them. For me, they have always challenged my thinking and opened my mind up to new ideas, and I like that! Of his books that I have read, "Desiring God" is my favorite. 

Today a good friend called and told me that John Piper has written about cancer and recommended that I read "Don't Waste Your Cancer." Several years ago Piper was diagnosed with prostate cancer and he wrote the article the night before he had surgery.

So, of course, I went straight to the internet and found it. He lists ten ways to make sure you don't wast your cancer. It was a good reminder of what's important and how God is working even in difficult circumstances. One of the things he says is that "you will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift." This is something that God showed me early in this journey, but it was good to be reminded today.

With Piper's thoughts in my head I sat down to read my Bible, journal, and pray. Without really realizing it, my writing took on a life of it's own and suddenly became a "Thank You" note to God:

Thank you for cancer.
Thank you for what you are doing in my life, and in my family's life, and in my church. 
Thank you for the beauty I've seen - in the human body, in people, in your church, and in you. 
Thank you for the lessons I am learning. 
Thank you for the relationship with You that continues to grow. 
Thank you for the new relationships and renewed relationships I am developing with family and friends. 
Thank you for the compassion for others who are hurting that you have given me.
Thank you for the release of the need to judge people that I have experienced.
Thank you for the strength you are forming in me.
Thank you for an even deeper and stronger relationship with Mark.
Thank you for the freedom and peace that I feel.
Thank you for the freedom from "doing".
Thank you for a life out of control and that's OK.
Thank you for time to spend with you - to think, to question, to pray, to meditate.
Thank you for a new understanding that I never had before.
Thank you for the glimpses of your goodness.
Thank you for the life I've found in your words.
Thank you for your presence.
Thank you for the deep knowing - the unshakeable knowledge of the truth of You.

Thank you. Cancer is a gift.

"So, my very dear friends, don't get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures." James 1:16-18

"So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?" Romans 8:31-32

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Just another frustrating day! My blood count was even lower today than last week, so no treatment again! This is not unheard of, but the doctor had expected that it would bounce back up more quickly since I am young. Apparently the chemo and radiation that I had back in June and July had a big impact on my bone marrow's ability to produce new blood cells. So, we are WAITING again! I will see the doctor next Monday and we will check the blood counts again. He is hoping that I will be able to receive my chemo treatment then. But if the numbers haven't increased then he will give me a series of daily shots that will help boost production and then they will be able to give me the treatment. Then each treatment will be followed with the Neulasta injection that will help keep my blood cell production where it needs to be between treatments. At least that's my understanding of the plans.

The nurse said today that it is completely out of our control. My body will eventually replace the blood cells, we just have to wait. When she said those words, "it is completely out of our control," I just had to laugh. If I've learned one thing through this whole experience, that's it! No truer words have been spoken!

Between now and next Monday I will have to continue to protect myself from exposure to infections since my body has very little resources to defend itself right now.  More couch time for me! I heard a TV character say this today, "Great. Another exciting adventure in sitting." and that's exactly how I feel!

Mark and I came home very frustrated and disappointed. It is hard to get emotionally geared up to go have chemotherapy and then not actually receive it! We came home, cried, fussed at each other because we were frustrated, and then collapsed in exhaustion! It's amazing what a good nap can do for the spirit!

I talked to my oncologist this afternoon and in his cute peruvian accent he said to me, "Don't worry. You are going to be fine. You are OK. Don't worry. Don't worry." So I am choosing not to worry.

I read these words the other day in "Jesus Calling" and they have stuck with me:

"Trust me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them... When you project yourself into the future rehearsing what you will do or say, you are seeking to be self-sufficient: to be adequate without My help. This is a subtle sin - so common that it usually slips by unnoticed." - Sarah Young

Lord, please help me not to be self-sufficient but to recognize that everything I need is found in you. And with that recognition, help me to wait for you and rely on you today.

"I pray to God—my life a prayer— and wait for what he'll say and do. My life's on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning." Psalm 130:5-6

"The LORD favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness." Psalm 147:11

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Barter System

My son, David, lives with his wife, Sydneyann, in Los Angeles. They are very active in their local community of Silver Lake, leading out in an effort to connect with their neighbors and the local businesses. Not too long ago David called and told me that he had decided to talk to the local hair salon and see if he could barter for a hair cut. I laughed out loud, but David was serious! It's not cheap to live in southern California, so he thought this would be a good way to save some money. He would offer them something he had in exchange for a haircut.

So, David emailed the local salon and offered to write them a poem in exchange for a hair cut. They could keep the poem and display it on their wall, and he told them that one day when he was a famous poet it would be worth something. Much to my surprise, the owner of the hair salon liked the idea of the barter and agreed. David got his hair cut for free, and he is now the Poet Laureate of The Hive hair salon in Silver Lake! This was the beginning of a great relationship between David, Sydneyann, the owners of the Hive, and many of the people in their neighborhood. The barter system, alive and well in Silver Lake!

I am finding that the barter system is alive and well in Houston as well. My cancer treatment has seemed something like a barter system to me:

"Give us six weeks of radiation and we'll give you diarrhea."
"Give us ten inches of your rectum and colon and we'll give you an ileostomy."
"Give us six months of your life and we'll give you six years."

Somehow something went wrong with my barter system! Maybe I should be writing poems!

But then I remember the real trades that have been made in the last four months:

"Give me your trust and I will walk with you daily."
"Give me your fears and I will give you My peace."
"Give up control and I will write your story."
"Give me your life and I will give you Mine."

I got a good deal!

Tuesday morning I go back to the doctor's office to begin my second round of chemo. Hopefully they will be able to administer it this time. Please continue to pray for my body to produce new blood cells!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our Hope

When I was first diagnosed with cancer I found myself having very vivid dreams at night as my brain was processing all the information being thrown at it so suddenly. In the last few days, those vivid dreams are back; or at least I am aware of them right now. For several nights in a row I have dreamed that I am preparing my family for my death in some way. I guess my brain is now beginning to process some of the fears I've felt along the way. It is weird to wake up and start the day after dreaming of your impending death! 

In one of the more interesting dreams I was actually helping prepare a lady to go on a date with Mark! She wanted my advice on what to wear and what to talk about. I calmly gave her my advice and then sent them off on their date, as if I were their mother or something. And in one dream I kicked Mark in the stomach, I'm not sure why (maybe because he had gone on that date?), but I actually physically kicked my leg out while I was sleeping and woke myself up! We both had some good laughs about those two dreams!

Death is not a subject that most of us like to talk about. When we lived in Mexico City people spoke more often and more openly about the subject. They actually take the first few days of November to remember and celebrate the lives of their loved ones who have been lost. In some weird way it seems to make death seem a little less scary. 

Saturday morning death became very real. We received the news that a very dear friend had been killed in a car accident on Friday night. David Edwards and his wife, Lyndy, were some of our best friends when we were newly married. Mark and David attended seminary together, we enjoyed lots of fun times together as young couples and new parents. David was our Sunday School teacher, they were at the hospital when our son was born, they prayed for us and sent us off as we went to our first full-time ministry position. David went on to earn his doctorate and to pastor several churches across Texas. He was currently the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Corsicana, Texas. He has impacted so many lives here and around the world. David and Lyndy have three children, Kate, Emily and Evan. David will be deeply missed by everyone who knew and loved him.  

As I was crying for Lyndy on Saturday and thinking about the loss of David, I suddenly felt very happy - happy that David was ready. He knew who his Savior was and he was ready at any moment to meet Him face to face. I felt happy that Lyndy has hope and comfort in knowing without a doubt that she and her children will see David again one day. And I felt so thankful that my husband and my children are ready. We all hope and plan to live long, productive lives; but should God's plans be different, we are ready. 

The song, "He Is", by Mark Schultz brings some comfort to me. Here are part of the lyrics:

Even when it feels like there is no one holding me
Be still, my soul
Through every fear, and every doubt, and every tear I shed, 

down every road, I’m not alone no matter where I am 

He is, He was, and He always will be
He lives, He loves, He’s always with me
Even when it feels like there is no one holding me
Be still, my soul, be still, and know
Be still, my soul
He is

Thank you, Lord, for the chance to know David Edwards. Thank you that you will walk with Lyndy, their children, their extended families, and their church through these difficult days.

"I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, 'Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.' And the one sitting on the throne said, 'Look, I am making everything new!' And then he said to me, 'Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.'” Revelation 21:3-5

This is our hope. Be ready.

Friday, October 9, 2009

All grown up!

Sarah and Ashley were home last weekend. We had lots of laughter, hugs, and "I love you momma"s. I have the sweetest girls in the world!

While they were here, I had the privilege of shopping with Sarah for "interview" clothes! She will be graduating from college in December and is in the process of applying and interviewing for a job. We had fun shopping together and we found a couple of awesome outfits! I know she will do well in her interviews, and now she will look amazing too! : )

I'm not sure where the time has gone. Just the other day Sarah was a WILD three year old with crazy curls all over her head, running around the house, laughing, with a red plastic bucket on her head. She adored her big brother and was thrilled to have a new baby sister. Only a few years later she was hiding in El Bosque Park in Costa Rica, having run away from home with her friend, Brittany. Not long after that her life was consumed with Beanie Babies, Barbies, and Boys (in that order!) and before we knew it she was crowned the Homecoming Queen of her high school.

In 2006 she drove off to the University of Oklahoma and hasn't looked back! She has grown into such a beautiful young woman! She has proven to herself and to the world that she is capable, strong, and compassionate. She has led efforts to help the "Invisible Children" of Africa, to free hospital prisoners in Burundi, to raise money to help educate children in Burundi, to encourage young teenage girls in Costa Rica, to mentor "at risk" students in her community, and to raise money to fight poverty around the globe. She amazes me!

She has done all these things while fighting chronic staph infections, enduring four surgeries, and coping with panic disorder. She doesn't give up. She doesn't feel sorry for herself, she doesn't whine. She just keeps going, knowing that God will walk her through. She has learned endurance, perseverance, and hard work. She is strong.

Sarah, daddy and I love you so much! We are proud to be your parents! We can't wait to see all the things God has in store for you as you graduate!
Boomer Sooner!

Ashley and Sarah

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Preventable, Treatable, Beatable

"Your health is in your hands!"

This is a sign that is displayed all over Memorial Hermann Hospital; and I like it. I like it because it's true. Like I've said before, we are not in control of our lives, God is, but we do have some responsibilities that He has given to us. One of those responsibilities is to take care of our physical bodies.

When I was in the hospital after my surgery the nurses told me that I needed to get out of bed and walk the hallways every two hours. I was not too excited about this because I knew I would experience pain, but I knew it was important for my recovery, so I did it. The nurses didn't necessarily come back every two hours to make me go walk, I made myself walk. My health was in my hands. The respiratory therapist brought me a breathing device called a spirometer and told me to use it every hour to prevent my lungs from collecting fluid after surgery. They didn't come do it with me, I watched the clock and exercised my lungs. My health was in my hands.

October is national Breast Cancer Awareness month. I don't have breast cancer but I know many women who have had it, who are battling breast cancer now, and who will have it at some point in their lives. I saw an interview of a young woman today who developed breast cancer at the age of 20. Two doctors told her not to worry about the changes in her breast. She just felt like something wasn't right so she kept pursuing the issue. She was finally diagnosed with the early stage of an aggressive type of breast cancer. She was treated and is thankfully doing well, but the point is, she took responsibility for her health and that's why she is alive today.

The American Cancer Society reports that half of all men will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime and one third of all women. You can be diagnosed at any age. Cancer isn't just for "old" people anymore. The incidence of many forms of cancer is increasing in young adults.

Only 5% of all cancers are hereditary, meaning that the rest can be prevented with lifestyle changes or early detection and treatment. Breast, Colon, Rectal, Oral, Skin, Cervical, Lung, Prostate, and Testicular cancer are all either preventable or very treatable when caught early. So, take charge! Your health is in your hands!

Eat well. Be active. Don't smoke. Get screened.

If you are a woman:

  • Do monthly self breast exams
  • Get an annual physical and pap smear
  • If you are over 40 get a mammogram
  • If you are over 50 get a colonoscopy
  • Use sunscreen daily
If you are a man:
  • Do monthly testicular exams
  • Get an annual physical
  • Remember men get breast cancer too
  • If you are over 50 get a colonoscopy
  • Use sunscreen daily
If you notice changes in your health, trust your instincts, see your doctor, keep pursuing the issue until it is resolved. You know your body best.

Your health is in your hands!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

And this is love...

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples" John 13:35

You know you are loved when...
  • A friend makes you homemade ginger bread to help combat nausea!
  • A friend sends you a box of Godiva chocolates!
  • A friend surprises you (almost) with pots of fall flowers on your front porch!
  • A friend makes you homemade biscotti to eat when nothing else will stay down!
  • A friend gives you new pajama pants and slippers!
  • A friend sends you beautiful photos of nature every week to remind you of God's beauty!
  • A friend brings you a bag of crossword puzzles and magazines to keep busy during long days of chemotherapy infusion.
  • A friend comes all the way from Mexico to see you.
  • A friend listens and lets you cry.
  • A friend spends a day fasting and praying for your healing.
  • Friends gather around, lay their hands on you, and pray for your healing.
  • A friend emails just to remind you that 6 months isn't that long and you can do it!
  • Your husband still calls you his "smokin' hot wife"!
"But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!" 1 John 4:11