Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Judge Not

10 down and 2 to go!!

Today was my last morning chemo. All of the treatments, since I started in Feb. have been at 9 am. But since I am going back to work next week, I will work til 1 pm and walk over to do chemo at 2 pm. Quite a blessing to be able to walk across the street for treatments and it will really be nice when I start radiation. Hopefully I can go over on my lunch break every day. I just won't tell my babies ahead of time so they won't misbehave while I'm gone :)

Boy, did I get hit with the guilty stick today!

When we went into the infusion room, I didn't recognize my nurse, but I did recognize the nurse named Diane, who was in the room also. Carl and I chatted with Diane about her vacation. My nurse, Leslie, was getting the supplies ready to draw labs from the port. When Leslie came over, I jokingly said to her and Diane, "So do I have enough of a reputation to warrant 2 nurses today?" Leslie smiled and said, "No, I am your nurse today and Diane is with me." I knew exactly what she meant by "she is with me".

Over the years in NICU I have trained and mentored many new nurses. I try to be their advocate and make sure they have a good experience as they learn. I tell parents that my orientee is "with me and I will be right there with them." I feel really bad for the new nurse when parents take offense to someone new taking care of their baby. Though I understand their feelings, I still feel bad for my orientee. And here I was doing the very same thing with Leslie! I had already judged her without knowing anything about her!

But thankfully, I was convicted right away. That still small voice of the Holy Spirit reminded me what it feels like to be judged. I quickly thought back to my new orientees and how they felt in that same circumstance. Immediately words from a scripture came into my head, "You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat." (Romans 14:10)

Wow, talk about a powerful reminder! Well, I got the message and immediately changed my thoughts. I started talking with Leslie as she was drawing the labs and found out she wasn't new at all! She had been an oncology nurse, up north, for years. She was only new to MD Anderson here in Orlando. Her husband's job had transferred them down here and she began working at this hospital. How wrong I was to form a quick opinion! She was an excellent nurse. In fact, I teased her that she was the first person, since chemo started to get the port to draw on the first try. Her experience and expertise served me well today and for that I am thankful. But, I am also humbled that I had been so quick to judge this kind, knowledgeable person.

The morning went well. The room was warm. Not so good for Carl but nice for me:) We chatted with another lady in the room who was there with her sister, receiving her treatments. And George, the volunteer, came and visited. George is amazing! He is 82 years old, as fit as a 30 year old, is retired from two jobs, (30 years in the steel mill and 10 years at Disney) and now he spends every Tuesday blessing the lives of those at the cancer center. We really look forward to our visit each week with him.

Labs were good enough to receive the chemo. White blood cells keep getting lower and lower but that's just part of it. Still praying I won't get sick. Carl got his book finished, I dozed and the treatment was done before we knew it. Guess we're getting to be old pros at this.

I have to go in the morning for a lung CT. Just a follow-up to the pneumonia. I'm praying and expecting it will be good. Ann, e-mailed me some songs by Michael W. Smith and a little note which I printed out to take with me tomorrow. It said, "May the music rest on your heart and speak to you softly and gently of His graces." I put the songs on my ipod to listen to during the CT. Got my quilt so I won't be freezing. And instead of having a stressful experience in the morning, I will be having a worshipful experience!

And now it's off to chemo and Benadryl induced "la-la" land.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Learning to Walk

My little grandson, Logan, is just learning to walk. What a joy my grandchildren bring to my life! I especially love watching them try to master the milestone of walking. When Jayda, my granddaughter, was learning to walk we offered her car keys as an incentive and she wanted nothing to do with it. But when we offered a cookie, she gave it her all to try and get that cookie. Never underestimate the power of a cookie and a baby.

And so I've been watching little Logan learn to walk. I'm amazed at his perserverance. At first he had to work on standing. Day after day he would crawl over to the couch, pull himself up and just stand there holding on.

Once he had that mastered, he was onto the next stage. I think the baby experts call it "cruising". He would make sure that he had hold of something solid and he would walk around never letting go. He was brave as long as he had something to hold on to. And for the next few weeks he cruised.

Soon he would stand at the couch and look around. He knew instinctively that it was time to try take it to the next level, to walk by himself. Standing still was no longer enough. But he had a fear of falling.He needed encouragement. And he found that in the outstretched arms of his mom.

He didn't look any further than those waiting arms. He knew that those arms would protect him. He knew that if he did fall he would be picked back up again. He trusted those arms. And so he was ready to try. He took one step into those arms. Then another. Then another. And soon he was walking. Yes, he fell. At times he cried. But those loving arms were waiting. They picked him up, stood him upright, and he began again.

As I watched him walking, it reminded me of my walk on this journey. It has also been in stages. When I was first diagnosed, my only thought was just to stand still and hold on. But God didn't want me to just stand still. He asks me to trust Him and not be afraid. And He stretches out His loving arms and encourages me to walk to Him. I walk and I fall. And sometimes I cry. But, He picks me up, stands me upright and I begin again.

"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your arms and with your right hand you save me."(Psalms 138:7)

Little Logan is still learning to walk. And you know, so is his grandmother. But we both know that the loving arms that reach out to us, will pick us up each and every time we fall.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Absolutely nothing happens by accident with God's plans.

Last week when we were visiting Brent and his family in North Carolina, Carl and I went into a Food Lion store to get some bread for lunch. As we walked past the register, I overheard a piece of a conversation that included the words "lung, liver and bones." Those words caught my attention and I turned around to see who was talking. I spotted a familiar face. Her name was Kimberly, a young lady who was a cashier, and she was talking to a customer.
As soon as we saw her, we remembered her. Over the last 3 years, whenever we've been in that Food Lion, Kimberly has (not by accident) been our cashier. ( I'm sure that was part of God's plan). We remembered Kimberly from the previous visits because of her friendliness and warm smile and willingness to ask about our trip. She treated us as though we were everyday customers. Each time, after going through her line, we left with smiles on our faces .

So last week, when it came time to pay for our bread, we made it a point to go through her line.
We said "Hi" and told her how we remembered her from the last visit. Then I said, "I couldn't help overhearing a piece of your conversation with a customer about liver, lung and bones. I have a type of cancer that likes to spread to those areas and it caught my attention."
Her eyes spoke volumes as she began to speak. " It's my daddy", she said. "He is my rock. His cancer is in his lungs, bones and liver. He isn't doing chemo anymore. He is tired. He just wants to enjoy his time left with his family and not be sick from chemo. I try to get him to eat and I bring him Boost but he just doesn't want to anymore." She said, "It's hard for me when he won't eat but I just try to spend as much time with him as I can." Whenever I'm not working, I spend my time with him."

As she spoke, I wondered if she knew how very much, her love and attention meant to her dad. I wondered if her daddy knew what a sweet, caring young woman he had raised. I gave her a slip of paper with my blog address on it and told I would keep her and her dad in my prayers and would keep in touch.

Last night, at 8:27 pm, Kimberly's daddy, her "rock", lost his battle with cancer. And Kimberly's heart is broken. She can no longer throw her arms around his neck and smear his cheeks with little girl kisses. She can no longer sit on his lap and cuddle in his arms. She can no longer ask him for his fatherly advice nor sit on his bed and talk to him.

I wish I could be there to give Kimberly a hug, help to ease her sadness and offer words of comfort. But sometimes human words aren't enough. But, I can pray for her. For I know that only God can bring the kind of comfort and peace that can get her through these difficult days. And so I pray that God would comfort her heart, help her to remember the good times with her daddy, remind her of how much her love meant to him and know that she will see him again one day.

It was no accident that we met Kimberly. It was no accident that she was our cashier each time we went to that store. It was for a reason. God calls us to lift each other up in prayer when they are down. As you read this blog today, I ask that you would lift my friend Kimberly up in your prayers. In the days and weeks ahead when she comes to mind, whisper a little prayer to strengthen her and give her peace. God's peace.

Dear Kimberly, May God Bless and Keep You and give you His Peace!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Til The Storm Passes By

Yesterday I survived a storm.

My day started out with extreme nausea and I was really concerned about how the chemo was going to go. By the time we got to MD Anderson for our 9:00 appointment, I was pretty green. When I got into the treatment room, Mignon from the week before, was my nurse. She always asks me my name and date of birth before she gives any meds or draws labs or any procedures. So when she said "good morning" , I said, all on one breath, "Good morning, I am Roxanne Baggott, date of birth 8/6/54 and I am really nauseous and need something in my IV before I start my chemo." She laughed aloud and said I'll call Dr. Baidas and we'll get it done. It helped somewhat, but I left after chemo still feeling pretty rough.

But the bigger storm I faced yesterday was not the physical storm but an emotional one. I was battling a storm called "fear."

I had learned the night before that three different ladies with TNBC that I knew had been told that their cancer had metastasized to other areas. It brought on the "what if" feelings. Fears of the chemo not working. Fears of the cancer spreading to other organs. How could I hold my breath for 5 years while I waited to be in remission? Fears of not getting to see my grandchildren grow up. I remember telling our Pastor when I got the abnormal mammogram results that "I was afraid of raccoons but I am terrified of cancer!" And yesterday I was terrified.

I looked at Carl and all that he has gone through, and I didn't have the heart to tell him how afraid I was. I didn't want to "bring him down". I didn't want to stir up the fears that I know he deals with also.

And so the storm inside my heart raged on. I cried out to God. "God I need someone to talk to. I am in this boat on the sea and the storm is raging. I am terrified.Where are you?? I am talking to you, but I need you to talk to me!!"

In the quietness of that moment I remembered something that my friend Ann had shared with me on Monday. She was talking of the disciple Mark's account of Peter and the disciples on the boat when a furious storm came up. Peter was a fisherman. He knew about big storms and little boats. He knew about the big waves with the white caps. He also knew about the calm blue water under the crashing wave. The scripture says, "But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. The disciples cried out to Jesus who was asleep in the stern. "Teacher, don't you care if we drown? Jesus got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, "Quiet, Be Still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm." (Mark 4:37-39)

I pictured myself in that little boat crying out to Jesus. "Lord, I am in the middle of a storm, don't you care if I drown?" And then I saw the wind and the waves being quieted by Him. And in my mind's eye I saw Jesus and I, in the little boat, on the calm blue water heading towards the shore.

I clung to that picture in my mind and put my ipod on to take a nap. The very first song that came on was one that I believe God had already chosen for me. It was called "Til the Storm Passes By" and I listened to these words over and over again until I fell into a peaceful sleep.

Til the storm passes over,
Til the thunder sounds no more
Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand
in the hollow of thy hand.
Keep me safe til the storm passes by.

In the dark of the midnight, how I often hid my face,
with the storm clouds above me, there's no hiding place.
Hear the crash of the thunder
Precious Lord hear my cry,
keep me safe til the storm passes by.

Many times Satan whispers, there is no need to try
For there's no end of sorrow
There's no hope by and by.
But I know thou art with me and tomorrow I'll rise
where the storms never darken the skies.

Til the storm passes over,
Til the thunder sounds no more
Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand
in the hollow of thy hand.
Keep me safe, keep me Lord,
keep me safe til the storm passes by.

Today Jesus brought me through a storm. The wind is quiet and the water is still. I know that it won't be the last storm that I will go through. But God reminded me that in my storms He is in the boat with me. That the crashing waves may be over my head but he will keep me in the quiet blue water under the wave. He will hold me fast til the storm passes by.

I pray that when you are going through a storm, that He would keep you safe in the hollow of His hand til the storm passes by.

If you would like to listen to the song
"Til The Storm Passes By"
click on the link below:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Strength In Brokenness

The visit with Brent and his family has been enjoyable and restful. We don't get started early in the morning and don't wind up late at night and I have managed to get a nap each afternoon.

We went on to the Marine Corps base with Brent today. I watched the young men and women in uniform all around me. It seems like only yesterday we were at Parris Island for his graduation from Boot camp. I think that any military person, whether it's been 2 years or 60 years, can remember vividly, their boot camp experience. Many would say it marked the beginning of a whole new person.

When these scared young boys and girls board that bus for boot camp, their life as they have known it, is no more. They may have come with preconceived ideas of how it would be or how it would end up, but they quickly find out they were wrong. For the next four months they are tested. They are sleep deprived. They are disoriented. They have no contact with their family. They are yelled at. They are pushed beyond their mental and physical limits. Many wish, they could turn around and walked back off the bus.

But, the military knows something that these young people don't. They know that there is strength in brokenness. In order to use these young people to their fullest extent, they have to be broken, so that they might have a new kind of strength. The strength needed for battle. The drill instructor's job is to break down the "I" and build up the "we" in these young recruits. For 4 long months these recruits go through the process of being broken and rebuilt the "Marine Corps" way. But when graduation comes, they are new people. They are confident. They are strong and they are proud of their accomplishment. They emerge with a strength they never even knew they possessed. And they are now ready to do a job they would have been unable to do, had they not first been "broken".

Sometimes, when we go through big trials in our lives, I think God is putting us through His "boot camp". We come with our preconceived ideas of how it should be and how it should end up. We don't mind the "camp" so much, but we really don't want to be broken. We are tested. We are scared. We are weary. And sometimes, we wish we could just turn around and walk off the bus.

But God knows that in order to use us fully, we must first be broken. For it is only when we are truly broken that we can see how deep our weakness goes. In complete brokenness, we discover we can do nothing on our own.
But Isaiah 40:29 gives us hope and a promise. It says , "He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak."

God has not forced me into His "boot camp." He never forces anyone. And, I need not be afraid of being broken by Him. He gently asks me to trust Him, as He breaks me and remolds me into a new person. And He promises that if I am willing to be broken, He will give me a new strength in Him. A strength that can accomplish all things! (Phillipians 4:13)

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Sometimes watching God at work in our lives is like being a main character in a good book. The author of the book introduces the characters, the plot begins to take shape and the story unfolds. The author has a plan from the beginning of the book to the end. He places people and situations throughout the story for a purpose. We, as the readers, try to figure out how they all fit together and how the story will end.

I imagine each of our lives as God's stories.

Sometimes the author adds a surprising new character in the middle of the book. One the reader would not have imagined as being part of the story. One such character in my story, emerged on the trip up to NC. We stopped at a Hardees in a small little town to get some blueberry biscuits for a snack. As we were standing at the register to order, the cashier, whose name was Danya, looked at me and smiled and said, "I see your scarf, do you mind me asking what kind of cancer you have?" I told her and she said, "I had a cancerous tumor on my spine. I had chemo and it has come back. I don't want to do chemo again but I'm only 37 years old and have 3 kids." My heart went out to her. What a burden to carry with three young children. As we talked, she shared some of what she had endured already. The chemo had been very rough on her. I gave her a slip of paper with my blog address on it and told her that I would be praying for her and would ask for prayer from my friends also. We decided together, to keep in touch with each other's progress through the blog.

And we left that little Hardees with so much more than the biscuits we had come for. We left with a friend that we could lift up in prayer, a friend that would know that she is not alone in her fight.

I believe nothing in our lives happens by accident. Each of our lives is a story, with God being the author. God placed Danya in my story yesterday. He alone knows the plot and He alone knows the ending. I've always been the kind of reader who wanted to skip ahead to the last pages of the story to find out how it ends. But then I would have missed this very special person in my story. Danya, I will be praying for you. Those who are reading this blog will be praying for you.
You are part of our story and together we will see what God has planned for us as we continue this journey.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Chemo day yesterday. 8 down and 4 to go. We ran into a friend and co-worker at the hospital who is a recent survivor of esophageal cancer. He is walking testimony to God's power and it was a great way to start the morning.

I guess we're getting to be "old hats" because as soon as we walk off the elevators of the 5th floor at MD Anderson, we're greeted by first name and smiles by Elaine and GiGi. I wonder if they know what an impact their kindness makes on us every Tuesday morning. Next week, I'm going to make it a point to tell them.

Our chemo nurse was sweet. Her name was Mignon and I resisted all urges to associate her name with a steak. I'm sure she has had more than her share of that in her lifetime. Labs came back good enough to get treatment. Still anemic, but I have to admit we haven't been pushing the liver and onions. The infection fighting white blood cells are even lower than last week, but I haven't gotten sick yet. Thank you Lord! I always breathe a little prayer of thanks when the labs pass because I don't want any delay in treatment.

Carl had to leave for a doctor appointment but I was in the room with an older couple we had been with before so we had a nice visit. Time for the steroids, then benadryl then the chemo. It was absolutely freezing in the treatment room, and once the benadryl took effect I buried myself in my quilt and went to sleep.

Carl got back and we picked up a big bowl of homemade chicken soup from Ann that her mom had made, then headed straight home. I took something for the nausea and went right back to sleep.

Later that afternoon, I decided that I didn't want another 48hour marathon of no sleep brought on by the steroids. We were planning to go to North Carolina the next day to see my youngest son Brent stationed at Camp Lejuene and his wife Sabrina and our two little grandbabies Lincoln and Ches. So I called my oncologist and told them I was ready for a prescription to sleep. Ellen, his nurse is so sweet. She laughed and said "You are one of the most stubborn patients I have. Most people are asking for something the first week and you held off for 6 months. You need the rest and that's what it's for." So I got a good night's sleep last night despite the steroids.

And today is a NEW day. Lamentations 3:23! The day to see family far away. We picked up Sabrina's great grandmother so she could see her great- great grandbabies. "Nanny" is a spry, happy, fun to be around 84 year young lady. She walks faster than I do and is a joy to have along on the trip. Carl has done all the driving because the nausea was pretty bad and I ended up having to take something. But he and nanny both had large cups of coffee and are busy chatting away. I've been sitting in the back seat reading from the book of Proverbs. I love the book of Proverbs and wanted to share a passage from it today.

"The Lord formed me from the beginning. I was His constant delight, rejoicing always in His presence. And how happy I am with all He created - His wide world and all his human family." (Proverbs 8:22&31).

What a gift He has given us in family! Whether our families are large or small, near or far, He created them to bring us joy. They are one of His gifts to us. Sometimes we get aggravated with them, we squabble, we argue, we take them for granted. But they are still our family and God has given them to us for our "delight."

And I can't wait to delight in my grandbabies today!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

As a Child

My heart is so heavy today. My co-worker and friend died yesterday. She was young. She was
vibrant. She was a wonderful NICU nurse. She was a friend to many. But more than all of that, she was a wife and "mommy" to three, beautiful little boys. She went into the hospital yesterday to have her fourth baby and never got to see him.

She died during childbirth. And today there is a grieving husband with 3 young boys and a brand new baby without their mommy. Why, Why Why? Through our tears we shout, "Why did you let this happen God? Why didn't you stop it? Why are you so mean?"

I think that no matter where we are in our faith journey, we can't help in times like this, but to ask why? Maybe if we can see some reason, it will be easier to accept. Perhaps, we are looking for someone or something to blame. If only we could figure it out, maybe we could accept it. And we keep looking for answers to our whys.

As the little children came up for their children's message in church today, I looked at each of their faces. They were smiling. They were happy. They didn't seem to have a care in the world. They weren't trying to figure out the answers to all the problems in their little world. They were simply being children. And my heavy heart was lightened just a bit.

When the children were leaving, I noticed a father in the back of the church holding a baby. The baby didn't seem the least bit worried that he might be dropped. He just assumed that since he was in his father's arms, everything would be alright. He trusted his father completely. That's all he needed to know.

Later, during the sermon, Carl shared a story about a little boy whose father was a surgeon. One day he was playing with his friends and they began to tease him and say, "your daddy is a mean man. He gets people unconscious where they can't do anything. He lays them on a big table and just cuts them right down the middle. Then he takes things out and throws them away. Then your daddy sews them up and takes them to a room where they cry and cry. Your daddy is a mean man." And the little boy said to his friends "He is not a mean man! I don't know why my daddy does that to people but I know one thing for sure. My daddy is a good and kind man and he loves me." And he went off to play. He had no answers for his friends. He only knew that his daddy loved him. And that was enough.

Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Children have no answers, they can't lean on their own understanding. They simply know that their father is a kind and good man and that He loves them. That is enough for them.

Oh to have the simple trust of a child!

Heavenly Father, I ask this day that you would bring comfort, peace and strength to all who have loved Michelle. That you especially would wrap your arms around her husband and sweet little boys. Help us to trust you, Lord, even when we don't have any answers. Remind us, when bad things happen, that you do love us. Teach us, Father, to become as little children again. Amen

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another Lesson Learned

Ever since I was a teenager, I have been complaining about my hair. My sister Chery had beautiful hair. I was always envious of her long, straight dark hair while I got stuck with the wild, curly, wavy, unruly red hair. She could go straight from the shower to school with her beautiful hair and not have to do a thing. I, on the other hand, had to iron mine with wax paper or roll it on coke cans (not conducive to a good night's sleep). And as soon as it rained, which was everyday in Seattle, all ironing was gone and I looked like little "Orphan Annie" again.

Even as I got older, I was always complaining about how long it took to fix my hair. Eventually I got a really short hair cut thinking that would help. (When you get up at 4:30 in the morning for work, every second counts.) But I still complained.

Yesterday morning I woke up so fatigued I could barely get out of bed. But I really wanted to see my good friend who was in the hospital. It was about 95 degrees outside so the wig was definitely out. Wigs are hot and scratchy and after a couple of hours they leave a dent in your head so you end up with a headache.

So I decided on a scarf. Even after 6 months, I have not gotten the hang of tying these scarves. So I worked and I worked. My arms felt like lead weights trying to hold them up because I was so tired. I just couldn't get it. Finally in my frustration, I ripped off the scarf and got my hairbrush out of the drawer and began to run it over my bald head, crying all the while. How was it I spent so many years complaining about my hair? Was this my payback? Was this another of my life's lessons to be learned?

Luckily, Carl came in just then and rescued me from myself. Seeing my tears, he just pulled me close and held me. And it was okay again. After a few moments, I pulled it together, and was ready to make another attempt at the scarf.

Yes, I guess it was another life lesson I needed to learn. And I got it this time. For, I know that when I do get my hair back, no matter what color it comes in or how straight or curly is, I will never, ever complain about it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Prayer of a Mother's Heart

Two weeks ago, I saw a genetic counselor about the risk of passing this breast cancer on to my children and grandchildren. There is a test out called the BRCA test and it looks for a mutation in the BRCA gene that could be passed on to future generations. If the test is positive for the mutation, there is a significantly higher risk of the cancer being hereditary. I had the test done and proceeded to wait and pray.

The outcome of this test weighed more heavily on my heart than any other test or biopsy result, since this journey began. For I waited with a mother's heart. For a mother, it is one thing to fight a disease yourself and quite another to know you have passed it on to your children or grandchildren. I couldn't bear the fact that I might have been responsible for that.

So I prayed and I prayed. But, this prayer was different. And ashamedly, I knew it.

Throughout this journey, I have truly been open for His will to be done in my life, whatever that meant. When I pray, I ask God for my wishes, but end my prayer with the words that Jesus spoke, "Thy Will Be Done." But I just could not bring myself, this time, to say those words. I asked only for negative results. I felt selfish, but this mother's heart just couldn't ask for anything but good for my children.

But God knows a mother's heart. He knows every heart.

And I prayed. And I asked everyone I knew to pray. And they all prayed.

Last night, I had a hard time getting to sleep, thinking about this morning's appointment. I got up and wrote a scripture on a little piece of paper that was sent to me yesterday by a friend. "I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and fortress where I will not be shaken." (Psalm 62:5-6). I read that scripture over and over again until I fell asleep.

This morning, as Carl and I walked into the office to receive the results, I prayed once more, and whispered a prayer of thanks for all who were praying with me.

And God answered that prayer!! The tests were all negative!! No mutations! This will not be passed on to my children and grandchildren by any bad genes. Thank You, Thank you Lord!!

I don't pretend to know why God answers prayer in the way He does. For His ways are Higher than my ways and His thoughts are Higher than my thoughts. I don't know why He honored my prayer, for I am deserving of nothing. But I do know that I will kneel humbly before Him , giving Him thanks and praise for answering the prayer of a mother's heart.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Needed Boost

I think after yesterday's oncologist visit and chemo, God just seemed to know I needed a little boost, because everywhere I turned He was there to boost me up.

When I got home, I received two beautiful cards in the mail from friends at work. The words inside were reminders of how much I am cared about in the NICU. What a lift those cards brought.

Then, I received a beautiful e-mail from Ann. I had told her about the discouraging visit with the oncologist and I know the words in her note were spoken by God, meant for my heart. Part of her note said, "When you were talking about what the doctor had said - I heard God telling you that He has it in control and what He wants from you is for you to trust Him and live each day to the fullest. He has it under control. I am sure that is the scariest thing to trust Him with, given our profession, but He is saying, "you must - I will take care of you - give me your life and let Me hold it in my hands". I'm praying for you and Carl extra special this evening - to just let go and let God."

Not long after that my little grandson Wyatt called and rambled on and on to me in his little 2 year old language. But the words at the end of his monologue were spoken as clear as a bell as he said "I wuv you Granny." Oh God, how good you are to me!!!

About 30 minutes later, my daughter-in-law Katie called and asked if I wanted to hear something. She put her phone on speakerphone and I heard my little grandbaby Cooper laugh out loud for the first time! Oh God, how good you are to me!!!

When Carl finished teaching he took me over to Eric's game for awhile and I watched him play. As I focused on him on the field, he turned into the little 9 year old boy that used to play little league. Where had the time gone? What a joy he brings to my life now. Dylan and Jayda came running over from the playground and covered me with their sweaty body hugs and kisses. Oh God how good you are to me!!!

By the time we got home, the steroids had kicked in full blast. I knew there was no sleep in site so I got on the computer and started reading some posts from people who had read my blog. Notes telling me that they had been blessed by reading the blog. They were uplifting and encouraging, some from people who were fighting the same battle. A reminder from God that He has a purpose in all of this.

Then a little e-mail from Alyssa, a sweet young girl at church, saying I was in her thought and prayers. One blessing right after another, all day long!!

God indeed reminded me yesterday of how close He is and how much He desires to give me joy in my life. And I wonder. Was it more evident yesterday because I was in need? Or has it been evident every day, but I have just failed to recognize it because things were going my way. Sadly, I think it is the latter.

But this morning when I woke up, in spite of the day after chemo symptoms, my heart is filled with trust in Him and a desire to live this day to the fullest. And after yesterday, I can't wait to see what that will bring!!

Great is His Faithfulness. He gives me new mercies fresh Every Morning!! (Lamentations 3:23)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

All That We Need

Seven down and five to go!

I honestly don't know how anyone could travel this journey without God. Before the chemo today, I had my appointment with my oncologist. He is an incredibly intelligent man and in fact is the head of the education of all the residents and fellows at MD Anderson. He is also a bit on the conservative side in his approach to treatment. My anemia was actually worse than last week. (So much for the liver and onions). I told him I had to go back to work full time in a couple of weeks and asked if he had a magic pill for the fatigue and shortness of breath. He said the iron takes awhile to show some effect and he didn't want to transfuse blood or give iron infusions just yet. So we will see how it goes when it comes time to go back to work. Infection fighting cells are still down, but I have been very blessed in not getting sick. Thank you, Lord!

I asked him about follow up CT scans when we were finished with treatment. He then spent quite a long time telling us about this type of cancer. He said that many people spend their time after treatment going from one CT scan to another worrying over the results. It dominates their life and often causes emotional problems. When in fact with TNBC, if it comes back somewhere else it is not curable. The survival rate is no different if the cancer is found earlier or later. So basically, when treatment is finished, I wait. If I experience any unusual symptoms, such as a headache that doesn't want to go away or a cough that lasts for an unusual amount of time or unusual bone pain, then they would do a CT or bone scan to see if it's back. That was very difficult to hear. I think I knew that in the back recesses of my mind, but hearing it from him, spelled out so clearly, was really hard. Neither Carl nor I spoke as we headed up to the 5th floor for chemo as I am sure both of our minds were reeling from the doctor's conversation.

But God, never lets us journey through a desert without providing us exactly what we need along the way!

When we got to the 5th floor, GiGi and Elaine both greeted us with warm smiles as they always do and handed me a note. It was from my friend Ann, who had walked over to see me, but had an emergency back at the hospital and had to leave. Written on the note were the words to a hymn. The words were perfect. Of all the hymns in the hymn book, God led her to that one because He knew I needed to hear just those words. It was His way of saying, "You will not walk this journey alone. I will provide all that you need."

We walked into the chemo infusion room and my very favorite nurse Myra (Maggie as she likes to be called) was to be my nurse for the day. Carl and I were both happy. And God said "I will provide you exactly what you need for this journey."

Carl sat right there with me as he does week after week. The conversation from earlier was hard for him also. He watches all that goes on. He listens to all that the nurse has to say. He looks at all the labs. He helps with whatever I need. His presence says a thousand words without uttering a sound. And God said, "I will provide all that you need for the journey."

Ann, came back over for a few minutes, in spite of the many things she had to do, just to offer a hug and her prayers and encouragement. And God said ."I will meet all of your needs on this journey."

When we got home our pastor and good friend, Steve, called to check on us and see how our day went. To offer a listening ear and to lift us up in prayer. And God said "I will give you all that you need for the journey."

Sometimes, when the mountains before us seem extremely high, it is difficult to keep moving in faith, for the human spirit is weak. Sometimes we let our feelings take over instead of trusting in His promises. But I know that God walks the journey with us. He will provide all of our needs along the way for Isaiah 58:11 says, "The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."

"Thank you Lord, for walking with us. When the mountain seems too high, the path seems unclear, when it is dark, when we stumble, when we are afraid, you are there. You provide all that we need. We never have to journey alone. Help us to put our hope in you. Amen"

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Recital Weekend Part 2

What a wonderful weekend of piano recitals! I had just enough energy to get through. Thank you for the prayers. They did help.

Carl has been a piano teacher for almost 50 years. I couldn't even begin to count the number of children he has taught in those 50 years. Yet he teaches each student as if they were his only one. To him, they are each special, needing nurturing and encouragement as he teaches them to love music. As I watched Carl with his students during the recitals, I saw example after example of God's love for us, His children.

Carl is an awesome teacher because he has a passion for teaching and a love for his students. He sees the best in them. Not what they are now, but what he knows they can be.

It take a tremendous amount of courage for those children to walk up the steps to the piano in front of an audience and play music from memory. It is a big difference from playing in the comfort of their living room with no one paying attention. Many were nervous, some were afraid, but almost all of them would look over at Carl as they played, resting in the comfort that he was there and believed in them.

Carl doesn't demand perfection from his students. He desires only that they try and do their best. If they made a mistake this weekend, they just picked up and played on. One student, played a piece less than what Carl knew she was capable of. She is the type of student who sets high standards for herself. Carl quietly walked over to her and whispered something. When he was finished, he told the audience that he had heard her play this song at her lesson. He knew what she was capable of and that she was going to play her piece once more. And play she did! Beautifully! Carl believes in second chances and third chances for his students. Whatever it takes for them to succeed.

One by one, as each student went up to play, I watched Carl quietly cheering them on in his seat. As if he could will them into playing well. And when every one of them finished, they immediately looked over to Carl for a smile, a thumbs up or to hear the words "good job." Then, they would smile knowing they had pleased their teacher.

This weekend, I witnessed God's love in action. The lessons that these children learn from Carl will stay with them for a lifetime. His love for them brings out the best that they can be.

And so it is with God's love for us. He teaches us because He loves us. He sees not what we are now, but what we can become with His help. When we are afraid, we need only to keep our eyes on him and know that He is there, wanting only the best for us. He doesn't demand perfection, for His grace covers our mistakes. He is a God of second chances and third chances.

And one day we will look into His face and hear the words we have longed to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Recital Weekend Part 1

This is the weekend of Carl's Piano Recitals. It is the most special time of the year for a piano teacher. It is the culmination of a year of hard work, both by Carl and all of his students. There is much to be done to prepare for this special event. Cakes and balloons to be picked up, rooms to be set up, programs to print... Carl's day started out at 7:15 this morning with rehearsals all day, followed by the recitals on Sat. afternoon, Sat. night and Sunday afternoon. While he is rehearsing, I have always gotten everything ready. I love doing that for him, because it is such a help to him and I love being a vital part of his special day.

But, this year I am running on about 1/8 of a tank. It is Sat. morning and I am just getting started and wondering where my energy will come from.

I say all of this to ask for your help. I believe in the power of prayer and I would like to ask for prayers from you for this weekend. Prayers for Carl, that his students do well, prayers for calm hearts for nervous children and prayers for energy for a proud wife. If you are a praying person, could you whisper a little prayer? And even if you are not, could you whisper one anyway because God always listens.

Have a Blessed Weekend!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Tribute To John

Today I wanted to take moment to pay tribute to someone very special. His name was John Clinger. John was my daughter-in-law Katie's, dad. He was Noni's beloved husband. He was an adored "Popi" to all the grandchildren. He was a mentor to my son Eric. He was a friend to more people than I can count. And though I didn't know it at the time, he was, and continues to be an example of strength and courage in my life.

John fought an incredible battle with pancreatic cancer. He lost that fight two years ago, but he continues to live on in the lives of many people. John was diagnosed with cancer several years before he died. He way outlived the doctor's predictions. But the way he lived during those years set examples that continue to live on today.

He was a quiet man yet wise. When he did speak, you knew it would be worth listening to. He spent more than one occasion having a "kitchen table" talk with Eric for which I am truly grateful.

As I fight this battle called cancer, I have thought about John many times. I never once heard him utter a complaint about being sick or tired, though I know he had many.
No matter how bad he felt, he went to work every day. He never missed ball games or family picnics with his family because he was too sick. He took every opportunity, even up to the end, to make each person he spoke to feel important and respected and loved. Nothing mattered more to John than his family and friends. He refused to let anyone cry or say anything negative about his battle. He wanted his time with them to be spent positively. He had no time for tears. Cancer did not control his life!

Today, John was honored in the community with a dedication of a street named after him. For some, when they drive by that street, they will be reminded of John. For many more, including myself, his memory lives on in my heart, as I remember him for his example of strength and courage.

Many of us go through our life not even realizing that we are leaving some kind of an impression on those around us. I pray that as I fight this fight, that I can leave a positive example for others to remember. Thank you John, for being one of those examples or me!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Pray You Enough

Yesterday we had lunch with Eric and Katy and baby Cooper. When they came in they hugged and kissed me. Do they know how much that brings me joy? Do they know it is my "enough"? I wasn't much into eating but little Cooper was and they handed him to me to feed. I held him close, took in his sweet smell, dropped a tear on his soft hair as I kissed him and it was my "enough."

We talked about family. Holly, Brent each of the grandkids. How big they are, how they are doing in school. How their sports are coming. When they would come for a visit. There is nothing I like more than talking about our family. And it was my "enough."

When we left we hugged again, and I held on for an extra moment. And it was my "enough."

Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure. Standing near the security gate, they hugged, and the mother said, 'I love you, and I pray you enough.'

The daughter replied, 'Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I pray you enough, too, Mom.'

They kissed, and the daughter left. The mother walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, 'Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?'

Yes, I have,' I replied. 'Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?'

'Well...I'm not as young as I once was, she lives so far away & has her own busy life. I have some challenges ahead, and the reality is - her next trip back will be for my funeral,' she said. 'When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I pray you enough.' May I ask what that means?'

She began to smile. 'That's a prayer that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.' She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she smiled even more. 'When we said, 'I pray you enough,' we wanted the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.'

Then, turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory.

I pray you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I pray you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

I pray you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I pray you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I pray you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I pray you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I pray you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

Then, she began to cry, and walked away.

God has given me a new day and it is "enough."
To my precious family and friends I pray you enough!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Looking Up

It is a new morning and as He is faithful. He "grants me new mercies fresh every morning." (Lamentations 3:23).

Yesterday morning my labs showed that my iron count was up by .02%. Not sure that was enough of an increase to make Carl turn green again from the liver and onions. My white blood cells (the infection fighters) are really low so I'll have to be extra careful not to catch anything. But I was able to receive the chemo. After a difficult morning with discouragement, I went home and slept. When I woke up, my friends Petra and Alyssa called just to give me a hug over the phone. God's timing is always "just the right time." What a blessing friends are in our lives!!

Later in the afternoon, the steroids kicked in and I have been wired ever since. Finally fell asleep at 3:30am and woke up at 6:30 wide awake and ready to go, but without the dampened spirit of yesterday morning.

As soon as I opened my eyes a scripture verse came to my mind. "I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help." (Psalm 121:1) I haven't thought of that one in a very long time but it must have been the one the Lord had chosen for me today.

As if He wanted to reinforce His message to me, I received this e-mail from my friend Pat. She felt like the Holy Spirit had led her to share it with me. (Yes Pat, He did!) I wanted to share it with you in hopes that it will bring you encouragement at "just the right time."

The Buzzard, The Bat and The Bumblebee

If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once it takes off like a flash.

A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides
near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up!

Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, But faith looks up!
Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and trust in our Creator who loves us.

And today, I will look up and "lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help".

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Carl and I are sitting here at MD Anderson and I am trying so hard not to break down. I don't exactly know why. Today marks the half way point for chemo and I should be happy. But when I walked in the room, I just had this overwhelming down feeling. I don't like it here anymore and really don't want to be here. I don't want to be sick or tired or have bone pain, anymore. But in the back of my mind I think that as long as I am receiving chemo, there is less chance of the cancer coming back somewhere.

The nurse didn't look up or speak to us when we came in. I asked what chair we should take and she said "just pick any one". When she came over, I so hoped for a smile or a "How are you today?" but she only asked me my date of birth and if I wanted the spray for my port. And for some reason the tears started to flow. I just couldn't stop them.

She accessed the port, OUCH! and left. Carl said to me "your disappointment is kind of obvious." So I went into the restroom to pray and ask God to lift my spirits and help me pull myself together.

A few minutes after I came out of the restroom, my friend Ann's secretary walked into the room and she was holding a small bag. She said, "Ann couldn't get away because she was busy with a very sick baby, but she asked me to bring this over to you. Inside the bag was a bowl of chicken noodle soup, some chocolate chip cookies and a card. The outside of the card said, "A Hug from God's heart." Inside the card, Ann had written this scripture. "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say Rejoice."

Oh how thankful I am that God answered my prayer so quickly this morning! He not only provided nourishment for my body but the much needed nourishment for my soul today. Of all the scriptures that Ann could have chosen, this is the one that God knew I need to hear today!!
He is so good to me!

So now I am in a better frame of mind. We are waiting on the lab work to come back to see if I am moving away from an Olive Oil and closer to a Popeye. They should be better because last night we finally made liver and onions. It did smell up the house and Carl looked a bit green. But for me, it wasn't too bad because I have lost all my taste buds. So I just told myself I was eating chocolate cake! Yum.

So I sit here and wait for the labs and receive the chemo. But I will wait without tears for I know my God waits with me. He knows my feelings and He cares and I will Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!

Monday, June 1, 2009

I Saw God!

I saw God! Seriously. I saw Him, not just once but, several times. And He even spoke to me!

This weekend we went to a couple of dance recitals for some of Carl's students. I watched the children as they came out onto the stage all dressed up in their dance costumes, glitter on their little faces and their hair fixed just perfectly. Radiant smiles on their faces. I watched as they came out and danced as if they were totally enveloped in the music. They danced with their hearts and my heart danced. And as I watched them I saw God. He was in the form of those little dancers. And he said to me, "Here I am."

Sunday morning, during church, the children came up for their children's time. When they saw the balloons, their little eyes lit up. Their eyes sparkled as they told me about their favorite balloon games and widened with excitement when the I blew up the balloon in front of them. And as they bowed their little heads to pray, I saw God. He was in the closed eyes and little folded hands of those children. And He said, "Here I am."

This morning, as I walked into the hospital at 6:00, I looked up and saw the most beautiful orange and yellow glow on the horizon. I stopped for a moment to try to take in the beauty of the sunrise and at that moment, I saw God. He was in the beauty of the new day. And He said to me, "Here I am."

Our hospital has glass windows all around the perimeter. The NICU is on the third floor. About 10:00 am, I looked out the window and saw the brilliant blue sky with the pillow white clouds that looked as though you could blow them away with just one small breath. My co-worker Judy and I both paused to admire the beauty and there, once again, I saw God. His handiwork decorated the sky. And He said, "Here I am."

A couple of hours later a brand new baby came in. Just minutes old. I watched as his proud daddy looked on with tears in his eyes. I listened as this new life cried with protest at having to leave his warm, quiet home of the past several months. And soon, he stopped crying. He opened his eyes and stared at me as if he was looking into my soul. And I SAW GOD!! This new life that was created perfectly and unique to any other one in the entire universe. He was beautiful. And God said to me, "Here I am."

I saw God! I heard His voice. He is here! Can you seen Him?