Tuesday, October 25, 2022
Sunday, October 24, 2021
About a year ago I went to one of our local department stores to pick up some makeup. While I was there I headed to the clearance rack to look for any great deals. If you know me you know I am all about clearance racks and thrift store finds. I found an item I loved and the price was great. I headed to the cashier to check out. In order to receive an additional discount, I needed to use my department store card. I have had this card since I was 18 years old. It was my very first credit card. I kept this card because I have always bought things on my department store cards and then paid them off. (It is the big bank cards that I accumulated a large amount of debt. I guess those are the ones you "do life" on. The department store cards are my splurge and I have always been very disciplined with them.)
Anyway, when I ran the card it said it was declined. I knew something was wrong. I very rarely use the card, so I thought maybe that was the issue. I called the company immediately and inquired about my card's status. The first person couldn't tell me anything, but then I was connected to the main customer service person. The gentleman asked me a series of questions and then we got to the issue. He asked did I know a card through the bank that managed the department store card had not been paid since July. I told him no I did not. I always pay my bills and pride myself on not being late, even when I was struggling the most I would pay something on every bill. He then asked me if by chance had I enrolled in a debt consolidation program. I told him yes. He then went on to explain exactly how these programs work on their end. This is where God shows up big! He was once employed by a debt consolidation company. He could tell I was very distraught that my bill had not been paid. He paused for a moment and said I know this may be difficult to hear, but you are doing the right thing and it will all work out in the end. ( Side note here... he explained to me that even though my debt wouldn't get paid until negotiations took place and until agreements were made no money would be exchanged. I just stood there for a minute realizing what the person from the debt consolidation company had stated about your credit score possibly declining before it would go back up was happening to me.) I was physically sick. I went back to the cashier and told her I couldn't use my card and I would pay cash. She could see I was upset. She smiled and added the discount to my purchase. Then she handed me my bag and said it will all work out. I almost broke into tears right in the store. I could feel God all around me. He had sent people to reassure me at that very moment.
Sunday, October 11, 2020
Ephesians 4:29 NIV Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Words are a powerful thing and today I was reminded how our words can build someone up or tear them down.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
I have patiently waited weeks, months, for God to place on my heart a new post. I sat here this evening emotionally drained. Fighting the enemy is a tough business even when God is standing in front of you because as always I tend to try to trade places with Him several times throughout the battle (old habits are hard to break😩).
We heard whispers weeks ago about possible travel delays from the infamous coronavirus. Hannes was instructed to email spring break travel plans to the academy. We talked about it, prayed about it, and thought nothing else of it. The next week the voice wasn't a whisper anymore. We were now hearing loud and clear the possibility that travel may or may not be approved. We began to pray for God's will in the situation, understanding we were placing our trust in His hands and accepting His answer. Then this week the text felt more like a shout, so loud I think I lost my hearing for a moment. UAE was closing down all schools for four weeks and all travel in and out of the country was restricted. We were being forced to act obediently on our promise to God and accept His will.
As much as I had promised myself I would be strong for him if we received this news, I failed miserably. I tried so hard to say something, to respond, but tears were flowing down my face and my throat had closed tight. If I tried to talk I am sure it would have been something between a loud croak and shrill cry. He knows me well, and knew I needed a minute to recover from the news. As we began to talk and problem solve we were reminded of our prayers. Our trust in our Father. Trusting His will and accepting it.
Our conversation turned from self-pity to our blessings. We are blessed to be in the situation we are in. We could have never met and then we would have never experienced all the happiness we have enjoyed. The blessing of the wonderful job he has in the UAE. Our good health, our faith in God, our love for one another. The list went on and on.
Our conversation then turned to the devastation this virus has already caused so many. Hannes had read earlier that day of an airline in the UK that folded. Thousands of employees were without a job. We thought of the lives lost from the virus and the ones yet to come. We were reminded of the economic impact this virus will have on millions. As we concluded our conversation we agreed we didn't understand any of this, but we trusted God and had to remain faithful and trust Him.
Well, the enemy does NOT like that kind of talk. The enemy doesn't like it when we choose God over fear. He doesn't like it when we choose God over anger. When the enemy sees us turning to God he immediately begins to plot and plan an attack against us.
I sat here today allowing the enemy to attack me. Allowing the enemy to celebrate his successes. All the while begging God to take it from me and yet trying to do it myself!! I told you I am hard-headed!
Finally, I picked up the book we are reading in our Bible study group, Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio. I found the chapter we had finished on fear and began reading my highlighted parts again. God knew I would need this later and placed on my heart when I read it to highlight it. Louie states in his chapter on fear:
"Once we identify the culprit and admit that our unrest is tied to this person or circumstance, we can off-load those cares to God. We can figuratively place them in our heavenly Father's hands, and we can trust them to his sovereign care. We don't minimize the situation: we maximize our view of the only One we can totally trust. We don't simply deny the problem we are threatened by; we relocate it to the hands of the only One who can manage it well. And we leave it there as we close our eyes to sleep."
Wow! If I could rewrite that again I would just for effect! Powerful!! I don't have to minimize the situation. I just need to trust the only One who can take care of it. The story only gets better though! I was finishing my chapter on comfort and this jumps out at me: "We remember faith thrives in discomfort." Come again? I thought to myself, I need to read that again. How can this be so? I need to be in discomfort to have faith. I sat for a moment and thought about this statement. It makes sense. When we are content and happy we don't need faith to trust. Then Louie continues by stating in Hebrews chapter 11:1 To have faith is the be sure of the things we hope for, and to be certain of the things we cannot see. (GNT) He says this process is never comfortable. That's true, as humans we want to see the future. We want to know our path. We want to be in control.
I sat here for over an hour in silence just listening to the Lord today. Not really understanding any of this chaos. I can say I haven't watched any news or googled any information. I have no control over the circumstance. I can't make it go away or change the outcome, but I can pray and trust my Heavenly Father. I can know He has not brought me through this desert of my past to leave me deserted. His plans are bigger than I could possibly imagine or hope for. I will trust him and place my faith in Him.
Friend, I don't know what fear you are facing today. Sickness, loss of a job, a marriage, a family member, or a friend, but I do know God has us and He will take care of us. He will comfort us in the chaos. I don't have all the answers and I never will. I just want to trust Him and have faith in the things I cannot see. Our road won't always be easy and smooth, but Hebrews 11:1 is a beautiful reminder of what it looks like to step out in faith and trust our Father. Praying in the uncertain times you will place your faith in Him and not allow the enemy to overpower you with fear.
Monday, September 30, 2019
You are probably asking yourself what is she talking about. I could only make my body swallow certain juices when I was sick and going through chemo. The tastes of many liquids made me so sick I couldn't make myself swallow no matter how hard I tried. This past week I have been fighting my yearly kidney infection (yes I seem to get one a year and they are always heck to get rid of) and I have been drinking lots of cranberry juice. Don't ask me why this particular time and this drink sparked that taste, but it is one you never will forget.
Many have asked me my story so here it is: November 2010 I drank three sips of champagne and had the most horrible pain in my chest and neck. I was positive I was having a heart attack. I was scared to death, but soon the pain subsided and I felt light-headed. (Note: there was no phone service where we were and I didn't want to be left alone to find a phone). The next morning I felt fine but decided to call my sister-in-law, (she is an amazing midwife, but that day she was my angel, the reason I breathe, see my children grow older, and enjoy life today). I told her alcohol tried to kill me and I was never drinking it again. She laughed and said alcohol in that amount won't do that, tell me your symptoms. Well, she is our researcher and she started looking up adverse reactions to alcohol. A crazy thing happened, Hodgkin's Lymphoma popped up.
The few weeks up to my first chemo treatment were a blur. Thanks to my sister-in-law following her gut and advising with doctors who advised a CT, we discovered a mass on my heart. (the reason the pain was so intense on my heart) Now don't go researching my stats because I am not a stat person. If I remember correctly my oncologist said only 2% of patients with Hodgkin's have this reaction and 98% of them are positive for Hodgkin's. We moved like lightening from doctor to doctor, test to test and all I can tell you is our amazing God gave me peace only He could provide.
I had a partial sternotomy (I will talk about this miracle surgery another time), port placed in my chest, and began my six-month journey of 12 rounds of chemotherapy. People asked me, did you have options. Yes, I did...fight like crazy!! That was my option, my only option. I had a Kindergartener and Fourth grader and they needed their Momma.
That amazing sister-in-law I spoke about stayed out of work and drug me from doctor to doctor. Holding my hand, as I almost broke hers, while the oncologist performed a bone marrow biopsy, sat with me during my first chemos, talking me through each step, all the way to the end. I can't tell you what ABVD stands for, but she can. I can't tell you their side effects, but she knew. I didn't know they made numbing cream for my port, but she did.
Every step became a fight, a competition for me. If I am honest I didn't think I could ever recover from the initial surgery, but I did. Did you know you use your sternum when you pee? (just a humorous, or painful, sidenote there) I spent days pacing my hallway repeating, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." I know I said that verse thousands of times over the 6 months. I am just a bit stubborn and hard-headed(ha!ha!) and don't like pain meds. Well, I would sometimes wait until the pain was crazy before I would take meds and that never turned out good. I was so proud when ibuprofen became my friend and nothing stronger was needed. (TAKE YOUR PAIN MEDS AS NEEDED!!)
So to the chemo....it saved my life for sure, but I am sure the after-effects of it harmed parts of me too. I can only imagine what is in that stuff. My first few chemos were rough. I lost 16 pounds in a little over two weeks (I am not a person that needed to lose that much weight) and truthfully told God this task is going to be impossible and I can't do it! Chemo is calibrated to your weight and they don't like to have to redo it. I was told to eat anything and everything I could keep down. I did too on my good days, but somewhere after my third or fourth chemo I became severely constipated. I BIG no-no with chemo!! I literally could feel the poison burning my insides. The pain was crazy!! (Note to anyone out there reading this and going through chemo now, take the Miralax or whatever they give you). I ended up with my precious second Momma taking me to the chemo lab where they hooked me up to a morphine drip all day and the pain barely subsided. I woke up to see her on her knees praying and crying as I was near screams from the pain. Anyone who knows me knows my pain tolerance is very high. This was a crazy kind of pain, pits of hell kind of pain. (If you are having stomach pains with chemo talk to your doctor. Nexium truly saved my life!!)
I was determined to work during my treatments. I truly think we as humans must have a purpose in life. For me, my purpose was my students. I missed them so much when I wasn't teaching. They gave me joy. The wonder and pure love from them were healing. After chemo number two my hair was falling out in clumps. That is a very emotional time or it was for me. I remember being in the bath and my second Momma coming in to check on me and I was sobbing. There was literally hair floating all in the bathtub and stuck all over me. She knelt and begin scooping up handfuls and taking a washcloth and removing the stuck pieces of hair from my body (by the way modesty goes out the door when you are experiencing the wrath of cancer). She took care of me and reassured me my hair would come back. My hair had always been one of my best assets and the emotional aspect of losing it was more difficult than I imagined. The following day we decided to have a shaving party and shave my head. It was so liberating!! I think I could totally rock being bald! My showers were cut in half, no clogged drains, no nicks from razors, and no 20-minute blow-drying. The greatest gift was the day a student asked me to go bald at school and not wear a scarf. I said I would think about it. I am only human and was nervous about being bald. Do you know the following day those sweet babies went all morning and never even realized I was without a scarf? One student raised his hand and said you look good with no hair. The others were oohing and aaahing over the fact they had just realized I was bald! It was such a beautiful gift from God! I started only wearing scarves out and not at home and sometimes I even went out without one:)
I could literally write a book on my experiences (who knows maybe I will one day), but I can tell you this: whether you are facing cancer, another health issue, lost job, broken marriage, disobedient child, or just a tough life, know the one truth, the one constant is our Lord and Savior. Without Him, we are nothing and can accomplish nothing without Him. Cancer was a season, it was a chapter of my life that I am honored to have walked through. I am the person I am today because of it. Do I want to do it again? Absolutely not!! Would I? Of course, as many others have. Cancer is like anything else we face in life, it allows us to lean into God and trust Him to get us through. Don't give up! Know He loves you and no matter what you are facing, you can and WILL get through it!
"I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
**sidenote: There is so much I haven't touched on. If you are going through cancer and I can help in anyway please reach out to me. I am praying for each of you in your fight! You CAN do ALL things through Christ!