Friday, February 27, 2009

What 15 minutes Can Do

As I write this moment, I am sitting outside in the swing in awe of the beauty of the day. The sky is a beautiful blue and crystal clear. The azaleas are in full bloom in velvet pinks and reds. The sun is bright and golden, shining on the aromatic orange trees in bloom. Bandit is in his glory sleeping in the grass. The birds are singing a sweet song. A butterfly just settled on the tree leaf. I sit and wonder why I have always been too busy in the past to really sit for a moment and take in the beauty around me. God gives us such a beautiful world but all too often we are too busy to enjoy it, if only for a moment.
As I sit here I am filled with an incredible thankfulness.
I am thankful for my family. For Carl and his unending love. For my children, my grandchildren and the joy they bring to my life. For my sisters. Family is something we so often take for granted.
I am thankful for the many, many good friends God has put in my life. I am incredibly lucky to work in a place where we are not only co-workers but we are friends. We care about each other. We share a common bond. There is not a day goes by that I don't get a card or computer message that lifts my spirits from my friends at work and lets me know I am cared about and missed.
I am thankful for my church family and what their love and support means for both Carl and I. We draw on and rely on the prayers and friendship of our church family. Some say they don't need to go to church to find God. For us we not only find Him, but also His people who love us and pray for us.
I am also thankful that God has put just the right medical professionals in my life. When facing an unfamiliar big illness, no one wants to rely on picking a doctor out of the phone book. God has hand picked the medical team ahead of time for me. Carl and I were commenting on the highly respected reputations and knowledge of all the people involved in my care. But equally important, they are all "caring". Each and every one of my physicians genuinely cares. In this day of hurry in and hurry out it is comforting to know that they do care for you as a person. Earlier today one of my doctors called and said she received the biopsy results and was sorry for what I would have to go through but she wanted me to know that she would be praying for me and lifting me up in her prayer group at her church. After I hung up I thanked God aloud for her, and for His Hand in orchestrating the whole "team".
You know, it's amazing, what taking 15 minutes of our time, to sit out and enjoy God's beautiful world and reflect on the good things in our lives, can do for our mind our body and our spirit.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The valley DOES NOT have you!

I really wish the chemo treatments could be on Thursday because I love my Wednesdays. I wasn't feeling well enough to go to Bible study and that started the day off on a less than positive note. I really enjoy studying and digging deeper to learn more about the bible. And just like Sundays if I allow it I usually receive some information that is just what God wants me to know at this point in time in my life. That's what I love about reading His word. I could have read a verse 10 times before and it didn't have any significant meaning at that time, but when God is ready to use it in your life the words just jump off the paper and talk to you.
About noon time I was really battling the nausea and feeling a bit sorry for myself when I opened up my work e-mail and (in God's perfect timing) read this.
Dear Roxanne,
"I pray that in your darkest times you have somewhere in there the fact that you have cancer BUT cancer DOES NOT have you - our most powerful God does. May God's presence surround you and carry you on."
I felt "Holy Spirit Bumps" as Pastor Steve calls them. What a perfect reminder that God is in control and He is indeed a powerful God. My spirits were immediately lifted. I felt His joy, peace and presence again surrounding me on all sides.
I pray that as you're reading this blog today that if you are going through a valley, that you could know that the valley DOES NOT have you - our most powerful God does and that God's presence will surround you and carry you on.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

God is Good All the Time

Today was the second chemo treatment and though not as anxious as the first time, I was hoping it would be better since I came armed with the "magic pill" to make the nausea better. Because the chemo makes your skin very sensitive they advise not to wear a scarf on your head rather than a scratchy wig. So I donned the scarf on my skinny head and put on a hat. While walking from the parking garage to MD Anderson the wind blew my hat off and left me with only my skinny head. While I was chasing the hat, I was sure all eyes were on me. But of course they weren't. (Isn't that something we are supposed to grow out of by about age 16? :)
We saw Dr. Baidas, the oncologist, first and he answered some questions that I was concerned about. He is such an intelligent man. English is not his first language but many of the things he says reflect a deep understanding of our language. I asked him if the chemotherapy drugs crossed the blood brain barrier and if not what was to stop these "floating cells" from going to the brain. He said though the chemo doesn'nt cross the barrier the cancer cells don't usually "seek sanctuary" in the brain first. Carl and I both commented later at the "seek sanctuary" comment. Many of us who have spoken English all of our lives aren't that descriptive. Dr. Baidas is very soft-spoken man and answers our questions kindly but very honestly. I like that.
Then we went upstairs to start the chemo. They draw labs and we wait for all the results to come back before they start the treatment. I asked when I should take the "magic pill" and she said wait until the labs get back because we don't want to waste it if the labs are bad. This time Carl had a good book to read and was able to take actually relax enough to read it. Guess, we're settling in :)
They came in and said we were good to go. I took the "magic pill" and prayed it would make a difference and the drugs started. About 10:30 my dear friend Ann came over from Winnie Palmer. She spent an hour visiting with Carl and I and it was such a blessing for both of us. It never ceases to amaze me how she can find an hour out of her very busy day and make it seem as though she has nothing else in the world to do. Thank you Ann.
Treatment was finished and I went home to rest. Eric had his play-off game at 6:45 pm and I wanted more than anything to go to it but I also knew how it was at 6:45 after the last treatment.
But 6:00pm came and I was just slightly nauseous. Armed with my Ritz crackers (thank you Jim, Petra and Alyssa) I started off for the game. As I was driving through Winter Garden I was praying aloud in my van. I thanked God that I was feeling good enough to go tonight, I thanked him for blessing me with wonderful doctors and medical facility he had picked for me. I thanked him for the blessings of friends who had called throughout the day to see how we were doing. As I was talking to God, a voice came into my head very clearly. But it wasn't God's voice it was Eric's and he said "if you don't slow down God is going to bless you with a speeding ticket." I looked down and noticed that I was going 52 mph in a 35. I laughed out loud. Guess the next time I pray aloud I'll look at the speedometer a bit more often :)
The game was so exciting and Dylan and Jayda were there so I was double blessed. As it turned out they were scheduled to play a second game at 8:45 but I really felt the nausea coming on stronger so I took Dylan and Jayda home and got to see baby Cooper awake with his eyes open. I think that grandchildren could take the place of any anti-nausea medicine if you could be with them constantly. But they had to go to sleep and I had to get home.
I headed home and prayed along the way (looking at the speedometer regularly). It's funny how 3 months ago I took so for granted being able to go to Eric's games. Tonight I thanked God for allowing me to feel well enough to go to this one.
God is Good all the time and all the time God is Good.

Monday, February 23, 2009

On My Heart

I need to share what is on my heart today. Since writing about my low time on Saturday, I have received several e-mail from friends and family saying how sad it made them and how sorry they were that I was having to go through this. When I started writing this blog I thought that I would only share the positive things happening on this journey. But that is not what God wanted me to share. I believe the purpose of my journey is to show people a living, loving, caring God who is personal and real and walks with us no matter where our journey leads.
We all walk through deserts and valleys. Loss of a spouse, loss of a child, broken relationships, troubles with children, illness, financial problems and on and on. Not one of us escapes life without having to walk through a desert. Sometimes we have people to help us walk the desert and sometimes we have to to face the valleys alone. We cry out to God in our despair. We beg God to take away our suffering. We are filled with grief in our desert.
I am reminded of Jesus when he went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He was preparing to die a terrible death through absolutely no fault of his own. As He walked to the Garden,Jesus began to be filled with anguish and deep distress. He said "My soul is crushed with grief too the point of death." He walked a little farther and fell face down on the ground praying "My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me." But the cup of suffering was not taken away. Why? Because God had a much bigger plan in mind. A plan that would change the lives of people for eternity.
You see God doesn't want us to suffer any more than He wanted His son to suffer but He has a bigger plan in place for each of our lives. He doesn't ask us not to cry out, not to beg for the mountain to be moved, not to be angry or confused or even doubt. HE UNDERSTANDS! He's been there! There is no problem that we can face that He won't be there with us if we allow Him.

So it is that I share not only the mountains on this journey but the deep dark valleys as well. I am, by nature, a "positive" person. But I am also human. On this journey I will share the mountaintop experiences and the valleys. But no matter where I am on the journey, my God, who understands, walks with me holding my hand.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Upon The Mountain

Yesterday I walked through the valley. I cried out to God but could not hear His voice. But I knew He was there. I have always known He was there.
Today I heard His voice spoken as loudly as the crashing waves upon the ocean and as gentle as the morning breeze against the flowers. I commented to my dear friend Lori before church about the burdens from the day before. We shared the same feelings, but both agreed that church today was the best place for us to be.
The worship service was a blessing. A wonderful testimony to God's power was shared by our friend Jim.
When Pastor Steve started to speak for the sermon I immediately felt that God was going to speak to me. As I have done in the past in my blogs, I have printed the quoted words of someone else in blue. So the words that I share with you today in blue are from Pastor Steve's mouth but from God's heart.
The message talked of the transfiguration of Jesus upon the mountain from Mark 9:2-9.
Jesus' transfiguration was truly a mountaintop experience for Peter. Jesus' clothes become a dazzling white and Peter sees Moses and Elijah back from the dead. They were in their full glory.
But then it was all over. Jesus told His disciples to go back down the mountain. Is that all? Over so fast? Probably what Peter was thinking. Isn't that the way for us? Our mountain top experiences seem to be over as quick as they came.

However, Jesus knows that we can't stay on the mountain. Jesus said we must go down the mountain and continue ministry in the brokenness of the world. Jesus wanted His disciples to have a faith that was not just a mountain faith but a faith that could endure the mountains in there lives. The same is true for us today. Sometimes the greatest faith is not the mountain moving kind of faith at all. SOMETIMES THE GREATEST TEST OF OUR FAITH COMES WHEN WE SPEAK TO THE MOUNTAIN AND THE MOUNTAIN DOES NOT MOVE. Then if we listen carefully we will hear God say "I'm not going to move that mountain but I will give you the strength to climb it."
Life isn't about living on the mountain. Sometimes we must spend time in the valley.

God has given me a mountain to climb. Though in my humanness I ask for the mountain to be moved, I know He has a greater purpose. He has a purpose for the mountaintop experiences and a purpose for the valleys. He who is able to do ALL things will give me the strength to climb the mountain and walk in the valley. It is my prayer that I can share in ministry to a broken world through the mountains and valleys upon this journey.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Face to Face with Cancer

Next to the day I read my ultrasound reports, today has been the hardest day for me since this journey started.
Carl had to teach at the church from 8am to 4pm today. I had a 10:00 appointment to pick up my wig. I still had my hair though it was very thin and coming out in large handfuls. My plan had been to wear the wig until my hair had gotten so thin that Eric would shave it. I thought that it would be easier if Eric did it than someone else. But when I got to the wig shop, the wig could not be fitted correctly with my hair because it kept slipping off. Sarah recommended that I shave it all off then so she could fit it for me. I really was not prepared for that. I didn't think I couldn't bring myself to do it. I didn't want to go to church tomorrow with a new wig. I knew that if I drove to Eric's house and he shaved it, I would have to drive back to the wig shop with no hair at all. I felt like a caged animal with no where to go. Sarah tried to make light of it. "It is only hair" she said, "You still have your life." I knew that but it didn't help. Why was this such a difficult thing for me?
Feeling like I was trapped and taking too much of her time with my indecision, I told her to just shave it. The sound of the clippers made me nauseous. My hair all over the floor brought tears to my eyes. I purposely made myself think of the last few days with Brent coming home and the birth of two new grandbabies to try to drown out the sound of the clippers.
When she finished shaving, she put the wig on before she turned me to face the mirror. I left with a new style and a new color (the remnants of my red hair lying all over the floor).
Although I wanted to be in Carl's arms, I was thankful that he was'nt home. After about an hour of walking mindlessly around the house I stood in front of the mirror and forced myself to take off the wig. I looked like my Marine son, Brent.
It was then that I fell apart. I cried out from the depths of my heart. Why was I having to go through this. I have tried to live a good life. Did I deserve this? I felt total despair. I wondered how I would ever be able to let Carl see. I thought of Job and all that he went through.
After several minutes, I whispered a silent plea for God to get me through this. I didn't hear His voice like I have so many times before, but I knew He was there and He felt my pain. He understood.
In the quietness, it came to me why this was such an overwhelming step for me. I have really never been a vain person. Not into a lot of make up or fancy clothes. I believe beauty comes from the inside out but, I do think that it is hard for any woman to lose her hair. For me though, looking at my bald head was a stark slap in the face reminder that I had Cancer. So far this disease had not consumed me. Yes, I had surgery. Yes, I got my chemo treatment. Yes, I had been nauseous for six days. But I feel good and I don't look sick. Now as I look in the mirror, it is a stark slap in the face reminder that I have Cancer! I don't think I had been in denial, just chose to try not to think about it all the time. Now, there would be no denying it, to myself or anyone else. I was face to face with this disease.
I drove to the church and met Carl and he said I was beautiful. He hugged me and held me as I cried. He is so good to me. Carl and I went to Eric and Katie's. We watched Eric and his friends laughing and playing horse shoes. We watched Dylan and Jayda laughing as they jumped on the trampoline. I held sweet baby Cooper and silently thanked God for this moment in time that I was enjoying. I had a wonderful husband, beautiful supportive children and sweet grandchildren. When I got home, there was a valentine card in the mail from baby John whom I had taken care of in the NICU and his brother Anthony who I came to love. It said "You are the best nurce". Love Baby John and Anthony. What a a delight! Yes, I had my life and my life is good.
I also have my favorite promise Lamentations 3:23. He gives me" fresh new mercies every morning."
Tonight as I go to sleep, I will thank God for giving me this day, hard as it was, and for the fresh new morning and blessings He will give me when I awake.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Welcome Baby Ches !

We had a wonderful day yesterday listening to Brent
share his pictures and stories with us of his
experiences in Iraq. I still couldn't believe that he was
home. I was still in awe at how God had answered my
prayers so completely for his safe return. We went to
the base exchange and walked around with Brent,
Sabrina and Lincoln. Holly and the boys joined us and
we all had a family dinner at a Chinese Buffet. Brent
was enjoying each American meal he had. Sabrina
(who is 8 months pregnant said that her back was
hurting). I said it looks like maybe the baby is trying to
get in position. With a month still to go, I hoped the
back pains would continue on for long.
After dinner Brent was so tired he could barely see
straight. (He had pretty much been awake since they
left Kuwait several days earlier). They headed home
and we headed back to our hotel room to all get a
good night's sleep.
At 2:15 am the phone rang. It was Brent telling us
that Sabrina's water had broken and they were
headed to the hospital. I couldn't believe what I was
hearing! I said to Carl "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we
were here when Ches was born?"
When we got to the hospital Sabrina was in active
labor and about an hour and a half later I heard a
sound that fills a heart like no other sound can do. The sound
of my newest grandchild's first cry.
Ches Alan came into the world at 6lbs 2 oz 18 inches
long with a loud lusty cry.
As soon as I heard his cry I knew that this well
orchestrated plan could only have been conducted by
God. If left to chance, what would the chances have
been for us to be up there for this birth? We had
planned to leave just a few hours later. Certainly God
made it all possible for us to be there.
As I sat in the nursery and held this new life for the
first time I was overwhelmed with gratitude once
again. I looked into the eyes of this tiny baby and saw
God's deep and abiding love.
For the first time ever, it didn't matter that I was
losing all my hair, that I was fighting an aggressive cancer, that I would undergo chemotherapy for year or face radiation and surgery.
All of these worries were extinguished as I saw God's
light through the eyes of this new baby.
This is the light that sustains us through the hard times. It is my prayer that I can let His light shine before men so that all will know from whence my joy comes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our American Soldier

This morning I awoke to the sound of little voices. We got to North Carolina late last night after a long 12 hour drive. We shared a hotel room with Holly and the boys and fell into bed. I awoke to see Wyatt standing in the Pack and Play with a sweet smile and a little hand waving good morning. Every day should start that way. I have been anticipating this day for last 7 months since Brent left. How would he look? How would he act? Would he be distant like he was when he came back from Boot Camp? All of the questions ran through my head and the minutes of the morning seemed like hours until we could go to the Base and wait for the buses. We made "Welcome Home" signs to wave when we saw the buses. We bundled up the babies and ourselves as the high was only to be 48 degrees. I suppose it seems selfish to admit, but I had been asking God to let me keep my hair until Brent came home.Today was day 14 since starting chemo and the hair loss is supposed to start on day 10-14. I didn't know what Brent had been thinking over in Iraq since hearing about my diagnosis but I didn't want him to step off of the bus and see me with no hair. It was important to me for him to see that I looked and felt well. As we headed off to the base, I silently thanked God for the full head of hair I had today.
The fences along the road leading to the base were lined with large banners welcoming home the Marines of Weapons Company 1/2. The streets were lined with anxious families all waiting to see their Marine. News reporters were there from all the TV stations. Wives with tiny babies in their arms waiting to meet their Daddy for the first time. Grandparents with canes and silver hair sitting in chairs waiting for their grandchild. Cars decorated with Welcome Home graffiti. I remembered, as if it were yesterday, the heavy sadness I felt as the buses pulled onto the base ready to pick up our Marine children who would leave for 7 months. Many of these young boys had never even been out of their hometown and now would be leaving for a country far away that they knew nothing about.
But today the emotions were high. As the buses rounded the corner, Toby Keith was singing "An American Soldier". As they got closer cheers and applause rang out from the crowd and Lee Greenwood began singing "I'm proud to be an American". The Marines got off of the buses and stood at Full attention for at least 5 minutes. I commented at how disciplined they were because we knew that it was the desire of every Marine in that formation line to run to their waiting family members . But they are first and foremost Marines. Finally, they were released. Tears of joy, hugs and kisses was the universal language here. Brent looked wonderful. He was thinner than when he left but he was smiling and happy. A news reporter came up to Brent with a microphone and asked Brent what he was feeling right now. He said "America is the best country in the world and I'm glad to be home".
We asked him what his first choice of food was and he chose a steak at Texas Roadhouse. Carl asked him what time zone he was on and Brent said he hadn't slept in so long he had no idea. But as soon as he finished dinner he was exhausted. He went home to enjoy a full night's sleep in a bed, in a house, in a country that was free.
I was so thankful for the blessings of the day. God had surrounded Brent with His angels as I had prayed each and every day while he was gone.We went back to the hotel room tired but happy. As I lay on the bed I began to play with little Logan. I whispered a short prayer for God to Bless this child as he grows and keep him in his care. Logan then looked straight into my eyes with his big brown eyes and reached up for my hair. When I looked down he had large handful of my hair in his tiny hand. I cried. Yes, I cried because I knew that God had granted my wish for hair for this day. I cried also because God knew that if I had to see large clumps of hair come out, it would be easier in the hands of my baby grandson.
God didn't promise that each day on our journey would be easy. What He did promise was to fill the difficult days with His love, His peace and, yes, His joy. The pride and joy that I felt watching my son step off of that bus today came only from God. The peace that I felt knowing he was home safe came only from God.
Thank you Brent for your service to America!
Thank you Lord for your faithful promises !

Friday, February 13, 2009

To Take Your Mind Off Of Yourself

There is nothing better to take your mind off of yourself than to take care of others. I woke up this morning excited about my first day back at work since my diagnosis and surgery. I gently washed my hair praying that this would not be the morning it would start falling out. Once I realized I wouldn't have to go in with bald spots, I couldn't wait to get there. It was wonderful to see all my friends at work and even more wonderful to take care of my babies again. As adults we whine and complain about our colds and sore throats and achy bones while these tiny babies quietly and innocently fight for their lives. For 6 hours I forgot about everything but how blessed I was to have a profession that I love just as much now as I did 18 years ago. I went in to see little Addie. Looks like she will go home for Valentine's day just like Mom and Dad had hoped for. What a fulfilling feeling to know I had a part in her little life.
When I left after six hours I was exhausted (I used to do 12hrs. ?) but it was an exhaustion that left me feeling exhilarated mentally.
I went home to rest but before falling asleep, I whispered a prayer of thanks for the abundant life that He gives to me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Attitude Is Everything

"ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!" My father's words
echoed over and over again in my head. As a small
child I didn't understand the words. As a teenager I
refused to understand the words. Now as a grown
woman I do understand the words.
For the last 10 days I have had an "attitude" towards
buying a wig. I was mad because my insurance
wouldn't pay anything. Every place I went into, I
found some reason that I didn't like the way I was
treated. I thought the people were insensitive. I
thought they were uncaring. I found fault with
everything they said. But with my father's words
speaking loudly to my conscience, I realized it wasn't
them at all, but me. I didn't want to face the fact that
I would have to lose my hair and wear a wig and so it
became everyone else's fault.
After a prayer for forgiveness last night and an "attitude"
adjustment, I started out this morning ready to find a wig. Trouble was,
now that I had wasted the last 10 days and my hair
would likely start coming out in the next couple of
days, I was in a time crunch. (We do reap the
consequences of our misbehavior even as adults).
Carl and I went to three different places. We got a
consultation at Eden Spa and tried on wigs and
scarves and hats. Then we went to the American
Cancer Society. What a nice experience that was. The
lady that helped us was a breast cancer survivor who
had been through chemo and radiation and 8
surgeries. She could definitely relate. She also had a
son serving in the armed forces in Iraq. As I was
talking to her, I looked over onto a table and there lay
a book. It was called "Laughing through the tears of
Breast Cancer" and it was written by Carla Chesser. I
said to the lady, "I know the lady who wrote that
book. Actually I have never met her but feel as
though I know her well as I have had many
conversations with her on the phone. She is a friend of
my friend, Nadine". What a coincidence that her book
was right there. Cindy ( the lady working for the
Cancer society) handed me the book and said here it's
yours. Read it and enjoy. She also gave me a t-shirt
that said "I'm a survivor" on it. I asked her if I
qualified as a survivor yet since I just started. She
said "You are a survivor the day after you are
diagnosed". I was so encouraged to hear that. I am a
survivor! Because each day I wake up is another day
that I have overcome cancer! We left there with
smiles on our faces rather than frowns as in the week
before. (Attitude)
Then I went to the same wig shop near my house that
I "didn't like" last week. But today was so different.
Sarah the owner was so helpful and when I was
finished I had ordered a wig and come out with a
smile. (Attitude)
I came home and tried on the scarves and hat we had
gotten and didn't cry. (Attitude)
Some will call it "conscience". I call it conviction by the
Holy Spirit but no matter what it is called, we are
never to old to learn that our attitude can make a
world of difference in the way we view and react to
situations. I'm thankful for my earthly father's words
and my heavenly Father's convictions that


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Song In My Heart

The warm sun, the cloudless blue skies and the gentle breeze gave me a little glimpse of heaven today. After many days of Florida cold (60's :) I was glad for the warm change.
Baby Cooper is home from the hospital but still very jaundiced. He stays under a phototherapy light and only comes out for feedings. I went over to see him today and got to sit outside and hold him for an hour while he soaked up the rays of the sun, a natural type of phototherapy. For me it was another glimpse of heaven. I sat and visited with Eric and Katie as I held Cooper and silently thanked God for what they mean to me.
As I drove home I played my ipod on the car radio and had a real worship service through the music. Anyone driving next to me must have thought I was "high" as I sang and lifted my hand towards heaven. I guess I was "high" for there is no other feeling like that.
Funny sometimes how just the little things can enter in to "rain on your parade". I stopped by another wig shop to get an idea. The girl was nice but I think a place like that needs to go way beyond "nice" and try to be sensitive. I know I'm not the only chemo patient who walks into a wig shop with fear, sadness and trepidation. When I asked about the wigs she said. "I have them but I have a 7 year old leukemia patient with a bigger head than you and I would definitely have to have it custom made. " I asked how long it would take and she said "your hair will probably start coming out in a week so I need to get started right away." My bubble, that was so full an hour ago, just burst. I left and drove home but wasn't singing this time.
But again, God puts someone in your path to bring you up. My good friend Nadine called and I went outside and sat in the swing, soaking up more of the beautiful sun, and talked to her. By the time I finished I felt much better. I'm thankful for her friendship
When Carl finished teaching we went to dinner with Laurie, Pat and Deloris and then went to choir. Though I battled waves of nausea throuh choir, it was good to sing. I paid special attention to the words as we sang to bring my focus off of me and back to HIM and went home once again with a song in my heart.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sowing In Tears

It is early as I write this morning. The house is quiet. The sun has yet to rise for this new day. I had a disturbing dream last night that I had gone to a C-section delivery. The mom was asleep and I did all I was to do for the baby but I forgot to footprint and band him. I wandered aimlessly around the hospital trying to figure out which of the many moms this baby could possibly belong to. Could this dream have come about from the turmoil of yesterday? I sat in my chair and thought about the hurt and tears of my day yesterday. I quietly asked God to remind me of His new mercies this morning.
Then I checked my e-mail. This is the first thing that popped onto the screen!

Sowing In Tears
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
Monday, February 09 2009

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." - Psalm 126:5

Psalm 126 describes an interesting process that goes against our natural tendencies when we are taken into a difficult period in our lives. Whenever we are hurled into a crisis that brings tears, our tendency is to retreat or recoil in fear and hurt. However, there is a better way that God tells us to handle such times of travail.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. "He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him" (Ps. 126:5-6). God is telling us that if we will do what is unnatural for us in these circumstances, He will make sure that what we sow in tears will return in joy. This is one of the most important lessons I have learned when faced with difficult circumstances. Rather than sit back and allow self-pity and discouragement to consume us, we should plant seed during this time. Reach out to a person who needs a friend. Invest in the life of another. See where you can be a blessing to someone. Give of yourself.

The psalmist acknowledges that we are doing this while we are in our pain. However, during this time we are to sow seed. That seed will return to us in another form. Here is what will happen when we do this. "He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." We will receive joy and fruit from the seed that we plant during this time. Sheaves represent the fruit of a harvest. We will actually get a harvest from this seed.

"You must not let the circumstances destroy you! Too many in the Kingdom are counting on you to come through this because of the calling on your life!" Those were the words spoken to me by a friend one time when personal circumstance was threatening to destroy me emotionally. This person saw what God was doing and the fruit that God wanted to bring from these circumstances. Sometimes we need others around us to push us through the difficult times. If you find yourself in a difficult place today, see where you can sow some seed. Soon you will be reaping songs of joy.

On this new morning I cry tears of joy, for my God knows and understands my hurts. And He will always be faithful to speak to me if I will just turn my eyes towards Him.

Great is Thy Faithfulness!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

In His Word I Put My Hope

This day has been one of the hardest days so far on the journey. Holly and the boys came in last night for a visit. Both of them are sick with colds and runny noses. I know that I am not supposed to be around sick people but how can I not hug my grandchildren? How will these babies know why Granny isn't picking them up?
We woke Sunday morning to the chaos and busiyness of little ones in the house. Normally not a problem. But because they were sick I wasn't able to help Holly. We went to church and out to lunch for Greg's birthday. I was too tired to help Holly with the boys at the restaurant. Eric and Katie needed to be at the hospital with baby Cooper who is still under the photo therapy lights. Eric had asked if we might keep Dylan and Jayda for awhile this afternoon to give Noni a little break but I was exhausted and knew Jayda was still not feeling well. Carl said he would take them out to his friends resort and play with them since it was such a pretty day and I could go home and rest.
I DON"T WANT TO REST! I DON"T WANT TO BE SICK! I want to be around my grandchildren sick or well, hold them, hug them, wipe their noses and take them to the park. I have never had anything dictate my life like this before and I had a meltdown. I cried to Carl. I was upset with God for seemingly taking things that are so important to me. The pslams came to my mind and I began to read: "Out of the depths I cry to you , O Lord. Oh Lord, hear my voice. Let you ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. (Ps 130:1-2). The grandchildren went home.
I rested and I prayed. I was again led to the Pslams. I continued to read where I had left off before I went to God in prayer. "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. (Ps 130:5)
And so for now, I will wait for the Lord and in His word I will put my hope. Trusting that He knows the desires of my heart and in His great faithfulness will provide all that I need.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Little Eric Named Cooper

Today was a great day! First day after chemo to wake up with no nausea! I went to a baby shower for Dr. Phung and had a wonderful time. Dr. Brown and Dr. Albertini hosted it and there were many people that were there. We laughed and joked and teased Dr. Phung as she opened her gifts especially her NICU gifts. Pati was there but not feeling well and I told her I had plenty of Zofran if she needed. One benefit of chemo :) .
Then I came home and slept for 2 hours. (In the middle of the day? I never do that) Then Carl and I went down to see Eric and Katie and Cooper. Cooper is under the bili lights for jaundice and only gets to come out for a feeding. But we were there while he was out and got to see him up close and personal. He is Eric made over. Just with a very laid back personality (Katie's side ?) Eric is so good with him. When they took him back to the nursery to put him back under the lights, I took a picture from outside the window. It only ended up being a photo of glass as the light caught it, but the nurse in the nursery gave me this long scolding about not taking pictures. Uh-Oh.Granny's causing trouble already :)
We went home and Holly was there visiting. The boys are sleeping. Can't wait to see them in the morning.
Thank you Lord for the blessings of this day!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Welcome Baby Cooper!

What a wonderful day! Woke up early to be down at the hospital for baby Cooper to be induced. Beth brought Jayda by because she was sick and she stayed with Granpops. Armed with my days supply of Ritz crackers :) Beth and I headed down to the hospital. The excitement of the day ahead helped to fight off the waves of nausea. Katie is absolutely one of the strongest women I know. She went in at 7 am and never uttered a complaint throughout her entire labor. I told her that if more moms labored like her there would be more labor and delivery nurses :) Cooper had his moments during the labor process when his heart rate dropped and Katie had to be on oxygen. Laura and Karla long time friends of mine were the baby nurse and the Respiratory therapist. Cooper decided he wanted to be vacuumed out but he only required a little suction since Katie was such a strong pusher.
With a tear in his eye, Eric cut the cord and welcomed his new son. Cooper entered the world weighing in at 8 lbs. 4 oz. and 21 inches long. (Even though Eric told some people he was 6 inches long taking after his daddy :)
As I held this tiny gift from God for the very first time all I could think of was my favorite scripture in the entire bible "Great is the Faithfulness" Lamentations 3:23 and cried tears of joy for Baby Cooper was born this day at 3:23!
God is Good.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Go To Sleep Praying

Well, I ended up having to miss bible study, children's choir and adult choir yesterday(the things in my week I most look forward to) because the nausea would never go away. So I went to sleep crying and woke up with a headache. Lesson learned: Go to sleep praying instead of crying and you won't wake up with a headache :)
This morning I had to go into the hospital to renew my NRP certification. It was cold and I was afraid that this cough would turn into pneumonia. I hope at some point every thing I do doesn't revolve around the repercussions of this cancer.
But it was good to go in. Especially to see the babies. Oh. how I miss them! Got to visit with my friends and the doctors. It was uplifting.
Ann gave me ritz crackers (my food of choice now) and 2 books to read during chemo and Lenny said that in the Navy whenever the guys got nauseous they sniffed an alcohol swab and it helped. So I picked up a bunch of alcohol swabs.
I'm sure this won't be the last time I say this. But, I am sooo blessed to have sooo many friends. Another of God's gifts!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obedience With A Cost

Lamentations 3:23! New Mercies Fresh this Morning.

I usually post at the end of the day but felt like I need to share how the new morning has started. Woke up still felling nauseous but a little less. Thank You Carl and Zofran :)

I opened my TGIF devotional on my E-Mail and felt like God was saying "Good Morning, Roxanne. Here are my words to you today. Ponder them and keep them in your heart."

Here is what it said:

Obedience With a Cost
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
Wednesday, February 04 2009

Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all. - Exodus 5:23

Have you ever felt like you have been obedient to the Lord for something He called you to do and all you get are more roadblocks? This is the way Moses felt. When Moses went to tell Pharaoh to release the people because God said so, Pharaoh simply got angry and made the people make bricks without straw. Moses caught the blame for this from the people. Moses was just learning what obedience really means in God's Kingdom. You see Moses had not even begun to release plagues upon Egypt. He hadn't even gotten started yet in his calling, and he was complaining about his circumstances. There were many more encounters with Pharaoh to come, and many more plagues with no deliverances in sight. Why would God tell Moses that He is going to deliver them and not do it?

It was all in timing. God never said when He was going to deliver. He just said He would. In the next chapter, we find Moses arguing with God about not being capable of the job God had called him to:

But Moses said to the Lord, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?" Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and He commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 6:12-13).

Do you get the feeling God was losing His patience?

God had a good reason for His delays. He said, "And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it" (Ex. 7:5). God not only wanted the people of Israel but also the Egyptians to know Him. It would be the greatest show of God's power on earth.

God often causes delays in our lives that we cannot understand. Sometimes it seems our obedience is not getting rewarded. Jesus said He learned obedience through the things He suffered (see Heb. 5:8). Imagine that - Jesus having to learn obedience. What does that say for you and me? Sometimes God's delays are simply because He wants more glory in the situation, more recognition, more Christ-likeness in you and me through greater patience and obedience. Faint not, for the promise may yet come.

Thank You, Lord for your unending faithfulness to me!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Fear Of The Unknown

The fear of the unknown is always worse than the unknown itself. Maybe that’s why scripture tells us that “Not even the birds worry about tomorrow”. We woke up very early after not having slept well last night. I asked God to calm my butterflies and be with us through the day to give us the strength to face whatever it would bring. My appointment was at 7:00am. For some reason I thought it would be one big room with chairs all lined up filled with sick looking people receiving the “dreaded chemo”. But there were many small rooms and each room held 4 chairs with a TV and an extra chair for one person to sit with you. I knew Carl was on edge because he didn’t wan’t to watch “Good Morning America” :) . I brought a blanket but they had warm blankets there. YEAH! The RN named Lucy was very kind, calm and soft spoken always with a smile on her face. She explained what she was doing before she did it. I was most impressed by the sterile environment she worked in. With the NICU being a very high risk to infection area we are always aware of sterile fields and aseptic technique and foaming our hands before and after everything we do. It is very frustrating to be a patient in a regular hospital floor and the caregivers not washing or foaming their hands first. This oncology unit is more like ours. YEAH!
I was leary about putting a needle into the port because it is still tender from being put in. Lucy had some freezing spray and put it on my hand to try it. It felt good but when she put it on the skin over the port it burned like crazy. Oh well, lesson learned. At least it wasn’t 7 sticks looking for a vein. She drew the lab work and sent it off. We waited for it to come back before the chemo was sent for.
I was given a prescription for an anti nausea drug last week to take on day 1,2 and 3 of the chemo. Lucy asked me if I brought it with me to take when the chemo was running. I didn’t know that was how it worked. Uh- Oh. She said just take it as soon as you get home and it should be OK. Wrong.
When the labs came back she said it was OK to start the chemo but my hemoglobin was 9 and if it got less than 8 they would have to transfuse but for today it was acceptable.
The first drug was decadron, a steroid, followed by the first chemo drug called adriamycin for 30 minutes and then cytoxan for 60 minutes. Other than a headache I would have never known that there were poisons running through my veins.
We left there and I felt great except for a nagging headache. We decided to stop by a wig store to start getting educated. The lady was really nice and started telling us about all the types of hair, human hair, synthetic, monofilament. Another world we knew nothing about. She brought out one for me to try on but it was dark brown hair and didn’t look anything like mine. The bangs were so long I couldn’t see. I sat there with tears in my eyes as she said what pretty hair it was. Soon she came out with one that was closer to my color and style and it was better. We left with the info and I went home to take the anti-nausea medicine that I didn’t really think I needed because I felt so good.
We met Eric and Katie for lunch. Cooper looks like he will be here anytime and Katie looks like she’s “over it.” We had a nice visit though. That is always a treat. Hope I can get to Eric’s game tonight. They are such fun. When we got home, Carla ( our daughter in New Orleans) , the most beautiful necklace that says "Do not be afraid of tomorrow for God is already there". She had a card in there with my very favorite scripture Lamentations 3:23. When I called her and asked her how she knew that was my favorite scripture she said "I didn't but God did." :)
On the way home I started getting nauseous and a worsening headache. By the time I got home I took another anti-nausea medication and went right to bed. I slept off and on for 6 hours as the nausea would allow. Finally, it got so bad I got up and called the on-call doctor and asked if there was anything else I could do. He called in another prescription and Carl is up filling it now. It’s 10:30 at night and he’s exhausted but he’s waiting anyway. I know I don’t deserve him. He’s awesome! I sure hope it this drug works.
Well ,tomorrow is a new morning. My favorite scripture is Lamentations 3:23 that says “he gives me new mericies fresh every morning”. I pray for new mercies and a new stomach tomorrow :).

Monday, February 2, 2009

God's Perfect Timing

I never cease to be amazed at God’s timing. I have had butterflies all day. I hate not knowing what this chemo will do. Not knowing what it will be like. How long until my hair falls out? Will I be sick? Will I look sick? Will I be tired? Will I have a fat face from the steroids? Part of me wants to say forget it, I’ll just live my life like it is and take my chances. But I know better. But the butterflies still won’t go away. Then I called to ask about insurance and the wig. They pay nothing for a wig. And they are expensive. This has just put me into a down mood. Ann is supposed to be coming over at 4:00 and I am worried that I will break down in front of her and drag her down.
Carl called some wig places and got some information. He is so good. How could I do this without him?
I resisted the urge to call Ann and ask her not to come by. I know now that was on a nudge from the Holy Spirit. She came over and I shared with her how scared I was. She is so caring and understanding. We talked about scriptures this year as we have in years past to learn during the Lenton season. As we talked we found that we both wanted scriptures that would help us to know and recognize how to Glorify God more in our lives. EVERY DAY! She said she was moved by a few words from the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” that said “All Thy works shall praise Thy Name” . We shared our burdens with each other. Though they are somewhat different they are the same because they are trial in our lives and we have a choice: To glorify Him or ignore the opportunity and try to make a go of it ourselves. After our visit she prayed and as we held hands I felt the Holy Spirit flow in her words and her touch. I felt lifted above the place where I had been 45 minutes before that. As we finished we both said Can you imagine how empty our lives would be without Him? I can’t imagine it and am so thankful that I don’t have to.
And to think without the nudging of the Spirit I would have missed out on this wonderful time with my friend in Christ. Thank You, Lord!
Then, Lori called to wish me well tomorrow. We got to chat for a few minutes which is always a pleasure when she has a few minutes without the girls just to talk.
Later in the day Eric called to ask about tomorrow. He wanted me to know that if it ran late and I needed to be picked up to be taken home he wanted to do that. It meant so much to me for him to offer because I know how crazy busy he is right now. I am thankful for him and his love for me.
We ended this day by sharing a fun pre-chemo dinner/party with our great friends the Zabels. We laughed and ate and fellowshipped together.
Tomorrow is a new day. But this day has again been filled with God showing me that His blessings far outweigh my trials. We just have to be willing to see it through His eyes.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Purpose Of The Desert

I woke up this morning, feeling the same way I went to bed. Panicked. Wednesday, is usually a good day for me. I love going to bible study. I love the children's choir and I love adult choir. But today, I wanted to crawl back into bed and sleep until the dream was over. My heart wasn't into any of it. I kept reading the report from the day before over and over again. Before I left for bible study, I checked my work e-mail as I always do in the mornings. I receive a daily devotional by Os Hilman called TGIF (Today God is First). It is a devotional designed for workplace believers but really applies to all areas of our lives. On the mornings I work, I always go into the hospital early, find a quiet computer somewhere, read my devotional and pray. Then I am ready to start my day. Most days I find the devotional relevant to my daily situation and some days it doesn't speak to me as well as others. But this day was different than any other I had ever experienced! I have posted it below.

The Purpose of the Desert
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
Wednesday, January 07 2009

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. - Hosea 2:14
If you have an important message to convey to someone, what is the best means of getting the message through? Have you ever tried to talk with someone who was so busy you could not get him to hear you? Distractions prevent us from giving our undivided attention to the messenger. So too, God has His way of taking us aside to get our undivided attention. For Paul, it was Arabia for three years; for Moses, it was 40 years in the desert; for Joseph, it was 13 years in Egypt; for David, it was many years of fleeing from King Saul.
God knows the stubborn human heart. He knows that if He is to accomplish His deepest work, He must take us into the desert in order to give us the privilege to be used in His Kingdom. In the desert God changes us and removes things that hinder us. He forces us to draw deep upon His grace. The desert is only a season in our life. When He has accomplished what He wants in our lives in the desert, He will bring us out. He has given us a mission to fulfill that can only be fulfilled after we have spent adequate time in preparation in the desert. Fear not the desert, for it is here you will hear God's voice like never before. It is here you become His bride. It is here you will have the idols of your life removed. It is here you begin to experience the reality of a living God like never before. Someone once said, "God uses enlarged trials to produce enlarged saints so He can put them in enlarged places!"
He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me (2 Samuel 22:20).

As I was reading this I felt as though God Himself was standing beside me speaking. My first thought was "Oh no. This really is true. God couldn't get my attention because I was so busy with the "things of the world" that he is going to lead me into the desert and it would be called Cancer. But as I read it over and over each word told me of His plan for my life. He wants to accomplish a deep work in me. He will take me into the desert. He will change me. He will remove things in my life that are more important than Him. He will tame my stubborn heart. But I need not be afraid. It is only for a season and during this season I will hear His voice like I have never heard it before! I will journey through this desert with a real, living God!
I am no longer panic stricken. I have a peace that I didn't have an hour ago. I know that the Living God has spoken to me and I need to tell anyone who will listen!!

I went to church and was able to share with Pastor Steve how God had spoken to me. We had prayer. I went to bible study and was enlightened by the lesson. I went to children’s choir and had a wonderful time with the children. I enjoyed adult choir and singing and praying with our choir family.
The very things that I had dreaded doing this morning were the things that gave me the most pleasure at the end of the day. Oh how often we see these as obligations; prayer, devotionals, study of the Word, children, choir practice. When they are in reality God’s way of making our life more abundant .