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Our Family


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Monday, December 31, 2012

"Good-Bye 2012"

This is the last post for 2012.  Today was a very difficult and emotional day.  Since Thursday, Tony has been taking care of his mom 24/7 and was at her every call of "Tony" every 2 to 2 1/2 hours, day and night.  After the fact of feeding her oranges, she told him they gave her diarrhea.  Too much truth to that statement, especially at Tony's expense.  Someone came out this morning to interview her to see if she would be a threat in the nursing home, since she suffers from bi-polar.  They had to take paper work to her doctor, then send off the info to Little Rock for the final approval.  The minutes and hours clicked by and I have to admit, I lost faith that anything would happen today with getting her moved.  My attitude worsened as the day went on.  It was after 3:00pm before we got word that Tony could move his mom into the nursing home.  I was very disappointed in my attitude today and the extra stress I put on Tony.  I realized apart from God's grace, that could be me having mental issues or be in poor health and be bed ridden.  The bitterness and resentment was taking over my thoughts and I realized that each day we are given sounds minds and health it is an extra undeserved blessing in our lives.  We were able to get her moved in and settled by 6:45pm this evening.  Sad to say, this will be the last move for "Grandma" until she leaves this earth. 

I received a phone call from my mom around 4:45pm letting me know my dad was in the ER.  He had broken his right wrist and she was at the hospital with him.  He was tinkering with his motorcycle and couldn't get up off the floor and somehow put too much pressure on his wrist and broke it.  He proceeded to drive his standard truck home and had her to take him to the ER.  I have no idea how he was able to change gears while driving.

My heart is heavy tonight thinking about leaving Tony for the week going to Atlanta.  I know Satan has tried every way to steal my joy today and the end to my 2012.  He has almost succeeded but I refuse to give him any room in my life and "the joy of the Lord is my strength".   I am thankful for the grace God has given me and my family this year and I know without Him, I would have no hope in anything.  I am trusting that this week will be refreshing to me spiritually and trusting that God will continue to watch over our family in this upcoming year.  Happy New Year!!!

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Help Too"

We have almost survived our weekend and so thankful that this past round of chemo has left no side effects on me.  I actually feel like I didn't receive any treatment.  I don't like talking about how good I've felt, because I feel like Satan waits around looking for opportunities to knock us down if we speak out loud.  I am thankful God is the One in control over my life and for the many prayers He has answered on my behalf.  I truly don't understand His Amazing Grace!

We are praying that someone comes out early in the morning to interview/evaluate Tony's mom in order to get her in the nursing home tomorrow.  His plate was full this weekend but so thankful God gave him the grace to take care of his mom's needs, including giving her a shower.  God even watched over "Grandma" yesterday morning.  Tony had to move around her and for the 2 seconds he let her go, she fell in the floor and hit her head and back on the toilet.  There were no major injuries and she is fine today from the fall.

The below video is priceless of how much Hudson wanted to help out with "Grandma" this weekend.  He always says "help too".   My disclaimer on showing this video,  no one was injured.

I leave tomorrow for the Passion 2013 conference in Atlanta, GA.  This conference is designed for college students and a small portion of high school seniors.  A small percentage of adults can attend and I am one of the few that has been blessed to go.   We will be traveling by charter bus all through the night and arrive in Atlanta on Tuesday around noon.  This is the first year the Georgia Dome will be opened up to full capacity of 70,000 people.  To be with that many people at one time praising and worshiping our Savior seems like what a small glimpse of what Heaven might be like.  In the past you could go to the website and watch a live stream of the large sessions.  It would be a blessing to anyone to see so many in one arena lifting up their hearts to the One that can make a difference in their lives and in this world.   If you are interested in watching you can click on the following link to get more info.  The first live stream will not be until Tuesday evening.

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, December 28, 2012

"Balancing Our Day"

Not sure how to really start my post from today.  I will start by being so thankful for a great nights rest.  I was able to sleep last night with no pain in my side like I've had the past month or so and when I woke up this morning, my lymph nodes in  my neck were not as swollen.  I have felt really good all day and haven't had any side effects from the chemo.  So grateful to have felt so good all day.  On the other hand I have struggled with frustrations and don't like feeling that way, especially for everything God has done for me.  Tony had to bring his mom to our house last night and take care of her.  She is not able to go back into the assisted living and we were waiting all day trying to get her into the nursing home.  The hours clicked by and by 4:00pm we were told it would be Monday before anyone could help us on getting her moved.  This means a weekend of Tony caring for his mom.  Maybe that is why God blessed me with feeling so good today, so he wouldn't have both of us to deal with.  She is unable to do anything by herself, including going to the bathroom.  He has gone above and beyond doing what any son should have to do or see with his mom.

Process of getting Grandma up
We have Hudson for the weekend, while his parents traveled to Missouri for Jenna's grandpa's funeral.  He has been extremely sweet and such a blessing all day.  He even joined in on helping with Grandma.

He likes to say "Hudson help too"
We didn't get any snow or ice for Christmas and I know a lot of people were disappointed.  I am thankful God allowed the roads to stay clear this week so I could have my CT scan and chemo.   The snow came in today a little after 2:00pm so hopefully everyone was able to get treated and get home before there were any problems.  Thank you Jesus for watching over those that needed extra care this week, including me.

I don't understand God's ways or timing but that is why He is God and all I have to do is trust and believe He will work all things out for good.  I may not see it as good when I don't get my way but I do know He is sovereign over all things and He will see us through this weekend and give Tony the extra grace and strength he needs to take care of the women in his life.  Hudson is just a bonus for us to have and has made a great balance for our weekend.

Hudson makes GPa happy!!
Psalms 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord,  my rock and my redeemer."   I can honestly say that is not how I lived today and I am sorry for my attitude and actions with how our day went.  I will work on that verse for tomorrow and do better.

" Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Red Kool Aid"

Tony and I began our day with a trip to Krispy Creme then to Highlands for chemo. They started me on my pre-meds around 8:00am and I was told that the pre-medication they gave me should last 3 days and that I shouldn't have to take any nausea meds. When I first started going to Highlands for chemo back in May, I noticed bags of red liquid hanging on the IV poles and thought to myself, that person must really be sick to have that medication. Well guess what color my new chemo is, red. I never like to know the side effects to any drug I am taking. The nurse did tell me that they would have to give me dry ice packs for my feet and hands while taking the chemo. The side effects from this new chemo is blistering on your hands and feet and the dry ice should help out. This kind of news took me and Tony off guard and I was so thankful he was there with me. (I had considered going alone-even though I don't think Tony would ever let that happen) Tony immediately put his hands on my head and put his head next to mine and prayed over me. How grateful I am to have a husband that loves me so much and isn't ashamed to call upon the Lord right in the midst of others watching. Of course he made me cry and he had tears as well. Where would we be without a God that hears and answers our prayers. There were no side effects or complications and the dry ice wasn't bad at all. To God be the glory!!!

The red Kool-aid chemo bag!

Hands and feet on dry ice!!
 I did find out my CA 125 (cancer markers) have gone up more.  I am now at 179.6 from the previous 138.3 and so thankful to have been able to start back up on chemo so soon.  My prayer is that those numbers begin decreasing immediately and to see great results from this first round of chemo.  They are only numbers and I know Who is in control of everything. 

I would like to ask for those that read my blog to please say a special prayer for Tony.  He has a full plate with me and now he is at the ER with his mom.  We have no idea what is going on with her.  On top of dealing with the two of us, his work load has him stretched to the max.  I don't think the spouse gets enough credit or prayers they deserve and I would love to see his plate not so full.  He won't like that I posted anything about him either, so I will have to hurry up and post before he can read this.

 Thank you for continued prayers and support for my family.  We have an awesome God!!!
Psalms 18:30 "This God-his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him."

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"God of Angel Armies"

I went in this morning for a CT scan of my neck and abdomen. I had asked several of my friends to pray due to the fact of my fear of being claustrophobic when they put me in the "donut". By the time I arrived to Highlands, I had a complete peace of Who was in control. Everything went smooth and seemed to go by quickly. So grateful for the prayers of others on my behalf. There is a song by Chris Tomlin that I sang in my head over and over while having the CT and I am believing it is a song for me during this next chapter of my life. The words are perfect for what I need and thankful that I have a God that is on my side. He goes before me and stands behind me. I pray the song will be a blessing to others as well.

I will start my new round of chemo tomorrow. My heart is not excited about starting again, but I also know this is what I need to have continued healing in my body. From the very beginning of this year, I knew this journey was not about me, but was about allowing God to use me to bring Him glory no matter the outcome. I have to admit, I thought I would be completely done by now and figured I could endure the short time I was originally told. I see now that my plans are not God's plan or timing, so I will go in tomorrow in total confidence in the Lord that He has his Angel armies by my side.
"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Happy Birthday Jesus"

I celebrate the birth of Jesus today and so thankful for all He has done for me in my life.  I never want to take away from His birth.  It is because of Him, that I have life today.   I feel especially blessed to be born on His birthday.  

Today was a long awaited day that I have looked forward to for several years.  I finally turned 50 years old and I am so proud of it!!  I actually thought I was turning 50 several years ago when my friend Deborah Mae helped me realize it wasn't us turning 50 but it was my husband Tony turning 50.  I know people think I'm crazy for loving the fact of getting older.  The way I see it, I've been allowed to live an extra 19 years to enjoy life with my children and family.  My first husband died 19 years ago on December 15th and there is no explanation why I didn't die or receive the disease he died from, AIDS.  I am so blessed to see my children grow up and become young married adults and love the fact that I married into a family that automatically gave me two extra children and from that, I have received blessings of 7 grandchildren total.  God has been with me every step of the way and has never failed me.

We woke up this morning to a little 2 year old crawling in bed with us at 6:30am.  Who says "Empty Nesters" means no more children in your home?  We cherish every minute of our time with Hudson.  He is the only grandchild that lives in town with us and wish the other 6 were here too.  He rubbed on my head and my face this morning and seemed extra sweet.  He and GPa made another "hot" in the fireplace and we were able to watch the Disney Christmas Parade.

Hudson loved the Disney Christmas Parade!

I always save my cards until Christmas morning to open and was so blessed to have received so many.

Jordan had put together a video of some of my family and friends wishing me a Happy 50th birthday.  She did an incredible job of putting music to the video and I cried the whole way through it.

My cell phone started going crazy around 9:00am with text messages from strange phone numbers.  I soon realized my brother David had done something.  He had sent everyone on his phone list a message to text me "Happy 50th Birthday" then to share the message with 5 of their friends to send me a text.  I ended up with over 100 text birthday messages from a lot of people I do not even know.

I checked Facebook and saw that I have over 70 birthday wishes so far today.  You know how I know that Jesus loves me?  He tells me so through all the people that have chosen to bless my day from a phone call, card, text, Facebook or video.  I've never seen such love and I know that it's His reminders to me through so many friends, family and people I have never met.  His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness.  I am so thankful for His goodness and favor over my life.  It's only because of Him that there is good in my life.

Jenna was sent home late in the morning from the hospital and we took Hudson home around noon.  We always have steaks on my birthday but today we did not since our schedules were thrown off.  We shared left over pizza with Bryan and Jenna, then came home and took a nice long nap in front of our fireplace.  We woke up and decided to take part in one of our Christmas traditions and went to the movies.  We saw Les Miserables and LOVED it!

After the movies we went to eat and hang out with our friends, The Frank's and Knipple's.  It is always fun sharing stories and laughing together.  So thankful God has put great friends into our lives.

Tony, Richard,Me, Lisa, Kathryn, Cindy & Tom

Late this evening, I was able to talk to our family from Houston over the phone and Facetime with our family that is in Tennessee.  I could not have asked for a more blessed day and so thankful that God poured down so much love over me today.  I love and appreciate all my family, friends and those that don't even know me, but reach out and pray for me and send me messages.

Psalms 13:6 "I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me."

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Christmas Eve"

"Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."

That will not be the story for our house this Christmas Eve.  Tony and I were planning on attending our church's Christmas Eve service together and come home and enjoy a quiet evening eating pizza and watching Christmas Vacation.  Jordan and David stopped by on their way out of town earlier, driving to be with his family for Christmas and Bryan and Jenna were in Missouri with her family.
David & Jordan's first Christmas together!
 Jenna's family has been through a lot since the holidays began.  On Thanksgiving day, her grandpa was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and as of today, they feel this will be his last day here on earth.  I have met her Grandpa Joe and know from Jenna and her dad, that he is a very Godly man.  He would read the Christmas story every year to the family before they opened up their gifts.  I don't think we will ever understand the pain and heart ache of losing a loved one, especially right before Christmas.  Only God can give the peace and grace we  have of knowing this earth is not our home and we are only passing through if we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and that we can see our loved ones again someday.  I pray God's grace will give this family strength and peace during the many days and years ahead of sadness and grief.

Jenna's Grandparents-Jeda and Joe reading the Christmas story
Jenna and Bryan had to make an unexpected trip back home.  Jenna became sick the day they left for Missouri and she has continued to get worse.  They dropped Hudson off before going to the hospital and discovered her potassium was dangerously low.  She will be staying over night in the hospital trying to get her levels back up.  We are thankful that our baby Rhett is doing good and for God's protection over them both.
Hudson will be spending the night with us on this Christmas Eve and that is how I know everything will not be quiet for our evening.  This is an unexpected blessing for us to have Hudson and the joy he brings into our lives.  We made a last minute trip over to Wal-Mart on foot with Hudson.  This is something he loves to do.

GMa, GPa & Hudson 

One of Hudson's favorite things to do besides going to Wal-Mart is making a "hot" in the fireplace with GPa.  We promised him after his nap, this would take place.  After his long 3 hour nap, he did not forget the promise made to him.

GPa & Hudson watching the "hot" get bigger.

Hudson helped me make cookies tonight to get ready for Santa.  Or should I say Wal-Mart helped us. :)

As I was writing this blog post, we found out that Jenna's grandpa passed away tonight.  We never know the number of days that God has for us but He knows before we were ever born.  Psalm 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."  From knowing Jenna and her family, I'm sure Joe Kerby heard these words immediately; "Well done good and faithful servant".  Prayers and blessings to the Kerby family on this Christmas Eve.  The words my kids and I heard 19 years ago at the death of their dad, are true for Mr. Joe Kerby.  Mr. Kerby received  an early Christmas present and received a brand new body and gets to finally experience what he lived for and taught his children and grandchildren to live for. 

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, December 21, 2012

"Another Chapter Begins"

I went to Highlands  Oncology this  morning and met with the doctor.  After explaining my symptoms and knowing what my cancer markers are, the decision was made to start me back on chemo.  I will be on a completely different chemo drug than before and it will take 1/3 of the time to administer than what I previously took.  I didn't want to know side effects but they had to tell me that there's a good chance my feet and hands will get dry and peel, so I need to start using Utter cream right away.   I also had to have an ultrasound of my heart to get a baseline marking in case of any future issues with this new chemo drug.  They plan on having me on chemo every 4 weeks, for 6 months.  My hair has really been growing back quickly and I was prepared to have to shave it again,  however, I was told that with this chemo drug, I shouldn't lose my hair.  They also drew blood work today and rechecked my cancer markers and I will be having another CT scan next Wednesday.

It was absolutely amazing having an ultrasound on my heart.  Laying there and watching your heart pump and knowing how fearfully and wonderfully we are made by God.  I don't understand how someone cannot believe in our Creator and think everything just "happened".  He has a purpose and plan for everything.
Several have asked me how I feel about starting chemo again.  I feel blessed to be in a place where I can have chemo treatments and do not have to travel.  I am also thankful for the wisdom and knowledge God has given man to treat patients with cancer.  He never promised us this life would be easy but He did promise to never leave us or forsake us.  If I can't praise Him in the storms of life, what good would my praise be for only the good?   Psalms 150:6 "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!"
I have breath today and I will chose to praise Him!

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

"The Best Birthday Gift Ever! "

Our youth hosted an event last night for single moms to help provide fun for their Christmas.  We have 2 separate organizations we invite and our youth did a great job of playing with the little kids and telling the Christmas story.  We gave all the little kids a gift and the moms get a gift along with a gift card to Wal-Mart.  The youth take up a collection to help with this event.  We were able to provide gifts for 29 children and 24 single moms. 

Youth telling the Christmas Story

Santa, aka Hutch, even showed up to surprise everyone.  Luckily he didn't scare off his own children. 
Korbyn, Hutch's oldest daughter told a few of the other little kids that he wasn't the real Santa.  I'm not sure how I never figured things out when I was a little kid, about "Santa". 

Maegan, Me, Jordan, Santa (Hutch) Heather, Korbyn & Kampbell

I heard from the doctor's office this morning and they have decided to send me back to Highlands, the place I go for chemo treatments.  I had waited all week for the phone call and this morning I realized maybe I should pray about them calling me.  Within 10-15 minutes my phone rang it is was the doctor's office.  I'm not sure why it takes me so long to figure out that God hears our prayers and is concerned with every detail of our lives.  I was also told I would probably hear from Highlands either later in the day or tomorrow, but within 30 minutes they called.  I have an  appointment tomorrow morning to discuss my future treatment plans.  I am so thankful for the peace that I have and I will continue to trust that God's plan is much better than my own. 

My kids surprised me tonight with the most incredible birthday gift I could have ever imagined.  They had all my blog post from the very beginning put into a book.  Words cannot express what this book means to me.  Thank you Bryan, Jenna, Jordan and David for making my birthday so special with this precious gift.  I will cherish it for ever!!

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Early Birthday/Christmas Celebrations"

Today was a great day of celebration with family and friends.  Some of my friends took me out for lunch and we had a great time of celebrating my upcoming 50th birthday.  They each gave me a card and together went in and gave me a Promenade gift card to spend.  I'm not sure how people make it in life without Godly, loving, supportive friends that pray for you, lift you up and encourage you. 

Shonda, Lyn, Me, Cindy, Linda, Susan G, Susan B, Laurie, Jordan, Cathy & Lisa
After lunch Maegan and Hutch blessed me, Jordan and Heather with Christmas gifts and a birthday gift for me.  Maegan always does a great job with providing us with gifts that we love.

Heather, Me & Jordan

Heather, Me, Jordan & Maegan
 Both Bryan and Jordan's families will be leaving town at different times for Christmas and  tonight was the only time that we could get together as a family and celebrate.  I made hot ham and cheese sandwiches (thank you Julie for the recipe), Jenna made homemade corn dip and Jordan made homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Hudson was our entertainment opening the presents. 

Jenna, Hudson & Bryan

David & Jordan
 Jordan helped me display my pictured Christmas cards on the cabinets.  I think everyone seems to love Pinterest and maybe I should get online to get some great ideas.

I did not hear from the doctor's office today.  I know they will call tomorrow and we will be able to discuss my upcoming treatment plan.  We did find out that my car is fixed and ready to come back to Arkansas.  I was told it was only the radiator and there seems to be no damage to the engine.  I never knew I could be grateful for a busted radiator. 

So thankful for this season of life to spend with family and friends and the blessings of another day. 

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Hope in the Lord"

I do not know all the details about my car or the next plan of treatment for myself.  I do know that my hope is in the Lord and will trust Him to give us wisdom for what is best in both areas.  We do know my car has a busted radiator and it should be repaired sometime tomorrow.  They do not know if further damage was done to the engine until the radiator is replaced.  So thankful for my brother David for allowing us to drive his car back to Arkansas for the week. 

I read this morning, Psalms 130:5-8 "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.  O Israel (Janet), hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.  And he will redeem Israel (Janet) from all his (her) iniquities."  

 I waited most of the day to hear from my doctor and when 3:00pm rolled around and I hadn't heard anything, I decided it was time to make a phone call.  The receptionist said the doctor's assistant had called the office to get my cell number and would be calling me before the day was over with.  After work, I went to work out and took my phone with me.  I never heard it ring and by 5:30pm I saw there was a voice mail from the doctor's office, but no missed call.  Dr. Ivy's assistant had left me a message and informed me that since my cancer markers had gone up and if I was having any symptoms, the doctor would want to restart treatment on me.  If I was not having any symptoms, he would retest me in a month and see how my numbers looked.  My only symptoms I am having is in my stomach.  Not painful, I just know something isn't right.  I could convince myself that everything is great because I don't feel bad at all.  I will explain the way I feel tomorrow when Dr. Ivy's assistant calls me back and trust that God will give the doctor wisdom on what the best thing will be for my body.  I'm not afraid of chemo because I have seen the results and how it has helped heal my body.  I am so blessed that God has led me to a doctor that seems to have great knowledge on his treatment plans for his patients.  After the last round of chemo Dr. Ivy sent tumor samples from my surgery to be tested to determine the most effective chemo therapy to take for this particular type of cancer if I had to have future chemo.  The testing showed that the original chemo that he put me on was no longer working for my body and there are other formulas that work better.  My soul will wait and hope in the Lord and trust that He will guide my doctor to do what is best for me.  I am thankful God has a purpose and a plan for all things and there is no reason to be fearful or afraid.  God has the "bigger" picture already planned out for me, so I will continue to find rest in Him.

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, December 14, 2012

"Road Trip, Results & Rest"

Our day (me, Jordan and David) began at 6:00am leaving Northwest Arkansas headed to West Texas.  The trip normally takes 8-9 hours, ended up taking 12 hours.  We stopped about 3 hours into the trip to get gas and have a driver change.  Shortly after the pit stop we were back on the road but noticed some problems with my car.  I thought David was messing around but quickly noticed lights appearing on the dashboard that didn't normally light up and then quickly noticed that the temperature gauge was in the over-heat stage.  We immediatley pulled over and turned the car off.  The car was in no condition to continue driving.  We called AAA service and had a tow truck dispatched to us, thanks to David having a membership with this service.  As we were sitting on the side of the road, watching for the tow truck, we kept noticing cars coming around the curve that looked like they were going to hit us.  It didn't take long for the 3 of us to get out of the car and stand in the grass for our safety.  Needless to say, it was cold and we were blessed to have blankets in the car.  The blankets didn't keep us warm long and the decision was made to push the car off the road into the grass and then get back in the car to wait.  The tow truck arrived 1 1/2 hours later and we were all on our way to the Texas/Oklahoma border to the Honda dealership. 
Standing outside the car in the grass freezing
You can see how close we were to the highway
David & Jordan took the waiting time to write post-wedding thank you notes

Playing with Panoramic photo on new iPhone

Tow Truck Arrived!!!
State Trooper making sure we were okay
Thankful to be in the tow truck headed to Texas!

My brother David lives in Denison, Texas and met us at the dealership.  He was kind enough to let us borrow his car for the weekend while I left mine to be worked on.  I have not heard what is wrong with my car and praying it is nothing major and that it can be fixed tomorrow. 

Me and my brother, David

We were held up in traffic between Denton and Fort Worth for about an hour.  We are not sure what all the delays were about today, but trusted that God was Soveriegn in everything and was directing our path.  We were pleased to find out that the two tow truck drivers (the first one that picked us up was not licensed to drive into Texas so he had to pass our car off to another driver and truck about 30 minutes outside of Texas) both had personal relationships with the Lord. 

I called my doctor's office to get the results from my CA 125 (cancer markers).  I was believing and trusting that they were at least the same or better than last month's number of 65.1.  For some reason that wasn't the case.  My numbers are back up to 138.3.  The doctor was already gone for the day, so I will find out Monday what his plans will be for me.  His assistant thinks he will recheck me again in the next week or so and make a decision from there.  I began this journey in February and was praying that my birthday/Christmas present would be all clear of everything.  God has other plans and I completely trust in Him to continue to show me His faithfulness and strength for whatever lies ahead.  I've told several people I would have never asked for this journey, but I also wouldn't change anything about it either.  God has carried me every step of the way and I have no doubt He will continue. 

We are safely in West Texas with my parents and are so grateful for safe travels.  We will rest tomorrow and be back on the road Sunday heading to Arkansas.  Lamentations 3:22-24 "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in him."

"Today is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Workout Friend"

My friend Susan and I have been work out buddies for 5 years.  Neither one of us had a workout routine or a desire to workout, until we started a routine together.  She has always kept me going and it is a blessing having someone to fellowship with and also motivates you.  We even signed up to have a trainer once a week.  Susan has been an inspiration to many, including me and my daughter, on the transformation her body has made.  She has taken part in marathons and even did a triathlon.  We both had very small part time jobs with Wal-Mart in order to workout at the Walton Life Fitness Center.  Our jobs sadly came to an end and we had to go elsewhere for our workouts.  Susan was motivated enough to train hard enough to become a life guard in order to keep her membership at the gym, but I didn't have the drive to become a life guard, since swimming is not on my "favorite" things to do list.   We began slowing down with our workouts about this time last year.  I was having some stomach issues and had know idea what was going on with my pain.  After my diagnosis in February our workout time together came to a halt. 

My good friend Lisa contacted me a month or so ago and told me about a possible opening at the Walton gym.  The opening would be on Monday evenings, so it wouldn't interfere with my job at the church.  I pursued the opening and I'm waiting on my background check to clear before knowing if I have a job or not.   While waiting on the okay for the job, I have been observing a few classes that I will either be subbing for or actually teaching.  The great news is that I have been allowed back into the Walton Life Fitness Center and have started working out with my friend Susan again.  She has waited patiently for me and we are both so happy to begin our routine of working out together.  

Thank you Susan for being such a faithful friend & workout buddy!

I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon to have my CA125 (cancer marker) checked.  I will not know until Thursday or Friday what my numbers are.  It has been 3 months since my last chemo treatment and my body feels good.  When I had my markers checked last month, I was at 65.1.  Dr. Ivy said if I stay at 65 there should be know reason for treatment.  My prayer is that I will be at 50 or below.  Tony dreamed a few nights ago that my numbers were down in the teens.  No matter what the numbers are, I know Who is in control and will continue to keep my faith and hope in Him.  Psalms 109:26&27 "Help me, O Lord my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!  Let them know that this is your hand; you, O Lord, have done it!"

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"Christmas Store 2012"

Our annual Christmas store took place today at our church.  This is our 10th year for this event.  We had over 3,000 toys and over 300 bikes that were given to our church by church members, other organizations and individuals that do not even attend our church.  We were able to minister to over 500 families.  Invitations are given out to the local area elementary schools through the school counselors, women's homes and a few other local organizations.  All the toys and bikes are divided evenly among the 6 separate hours that are printed on the invitations, so that no matter if you have an invitation for the first hour or last hour, families have the same chance to pick out great toys for their children.  If people came to the store without an invitation, they were told to come back at 2:00pm and would have a chance to receive toys.  Every family that came through the store were able to receive at least 4 toys each and some were able to receive more.  Their children were taken to our Chapel, made crafts and could pick out gifts for the parents while the parents shopped. All the gifts were wrapped and carried to their cars before they picked their kids back up.  The first 400 families also received a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to make a Christmas dinner.  After the dinners ran out, every family received a $25 Wal-Mart gift card in order to purchase their meal or other needs that they might have.  Again, everything given out was given by individuals that God has blessed and were allowing Him to use them to bless others. 

Over 3,000 Toys!!!!

Entry leading to the children's area

Over 300 Bikes-not all are shown in this picture.
There is no way an event like this could happen without many volunteers.  Some of the people that give and volunteer are individuals that had been blessed by this ministry in the past and wanted to give back.  The gospel is shared at the beginning to every person that comes to the Christmas store.  Over 20 individuals made decisions today to make Jesus their Lord and Saviour.  If it weren't for Jesus, this event would not be possible or even worth having.  He is the greatest gift that has ever been given.  There is nothing you can do to earn or even deserve a gift like Him.  He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, died on the cross for all our sins, was buried in tomb and in 3 days He arose.  He left His Holy Spirit to dwell in us and among us, but never forces Himself upon us.  We have to believe and receive that gift.  I am so grateful for eternal salvation because I have received His gift of life in my own life.  My prayer is that others will believe and realize apart from Him there is no hope or security in life.  There were so many unbelievably sad stories of hurt, loneliness, hopelessness, despair, loss of jobs, loss of homes, etc. that were shared today with many of us that volunteered.  I realize apart from God's grace, I too could be one of the individuals that were at the store today on the other side of the spectrum.  We could not meet every need today or provide every toy that was needed, but my prayer is that people left our "Christmas store" today with Hope in their lives. 
A small glimpse of volunteers that helped today.
"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"The Big 50 Month"

I celebrated my upcoming 50th birthday this evening with 3 friends from church.  We all are turning 50 this month.  We did the same thing on our 40th birthday.  It really doesn't seem like it was 10 years ago.  Leanna's birthday was the 5th, Carolyn's is the 15th, Cheryl's is the 23rd and mine is on the 25th.   The first change we noticed from our first celebration, we all had to put on our reading glasses to read the menus.  Our waiter brought us a dessert to share in honor of our birthdays.  I tried to get him to sing for us, but he wouldn't.   It was nice to sit and visit and share our lives with each other.  We see each other at church and we all have busy lives, but never take the time to hang out or catch up.   Even though we are the same age, we are at different stages of life.   Two of us no longer have kids in high school, while the other two do.  Two of us have married children, while one is getting ready for her first to marry.  I am thankful for the time we were able to sit, relax, visit and catch up with each others lives.  It is a blessing having friends that share the same faith and beliefs.  God has allowed our paths to cross during this season of our lives and I am thankful for the opportunity He has given me to know these 3 ladies.  Who knows where we will all be at the age of 60 but thankful for this evening and pray it doesn't take 10 more years for us to meet together again to catch up.  We did notice on the back of the menu, we could order the lunch menu for dinner when we turn 60.

Me, Carolyn, Cheryl and Leanna

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

"70's Christmas"

Not sure how the 70's and Christmas fit together, but Hutch, our youth pastor decided that he wanted to combine the two and make our monthly FUEL a 70's Christmas. Heather is our intern that is working with us and made Jordan, hers and my pants. The pants are Christmas fabric made into "bell bottoms". Hutch and Ed purchased the "Dumb & Dumber" tuxedos. Great night of fun with our youth. Ed always shares God's word in simple practical ways that adults and students can understand. He shared Philippians 4 tonight. Verse 6 "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." If we truly believe this verse, why do we worry about things in our lives? God is in every detail and if we could only see what He sees, our lives would be so much more free to live in victory through Him!! Verse 13 "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." He is my strength and I chose to believe and trust Him for everything. The secret to true joy in Christ is being fulling content and satisfied in Him. No one can satisfy our souls like Jesus. I love this quote that I have heard several times, "Jesus is never all you need, until He is ALL you need!"
Hutch, Me, Jordan, Heather & Ed
Ever since we've known Ed, he has had long hair with highlights. I guess he decided to grow up and cut his hair and let it be all natural. I thought a picture with our new do's would be good.  I'm old enough to be his mom, and the outfit didn't help any. 
Me & Ed

 Rejoicing and praising Him for His goodness of today!!

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Security Blanket"

Today was the first day since I shaved my head that I did not wear a hat out in public.  Talking about a weird feeling, almost felt naked without something on my head.  I felt like I lost my "security blanket".  My hair came back at first with a lot of white/gray hairs, then the black started following.  We had our weekly staff meeting this morning and the ladies assured me I could pull off the "no hat" needed look. 

I told the ladies about a new place Tony and I ate at on Saturday, called Lucy's Diner.  The location is in Rogers and they are open 24 hours and serve great hamburgers and homemade fries.  Several of the staff ladies, Jordan and I ventured over for lunch today. 

Sandra, Jordan, Me, Susan and Carol-Love these sweet ladies!!!

We had our annual staff Christmas party tonight.  Tammy, Carole and Jane did an amazing job with the food, games and entertainment.  Randy even joined in with some fun doing a rap song written by Laurie.  They had stage names but I can't remember what they were.  I am so blessed to work at a church with an amazing pastoral and support staff. 

Randy, Jane, Carole and Tammy

Thankful for this day and the many blessings God continues to pour out over me.  I am so grateful for my best friend, Tony, that gives of himself daily to so many but always has enough love to share with  me everyday.

If we were doing Christmas cards, this would be our picture!

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Immanuel-God With Us"

So thankful that we have a God that is always with us.  Life changes around us daily and with that can come fear and uneasiness.  The evil of the world is getting worse, the uncertainties of our tomorrow seems to be growing dimmer and life in general is passing by so quickly.  I remember being a little girl and thinking it took forever for Christmas to get here.  Now days, I feel it comes so quickly, that we celebrate it every 3 months.  The commercialism of this time of the year makes me wonder how Jesus really feels about the way we celebrate His birth.  Do we really stop and give any account of what it took for Him to be born of a virgin and that He lived a perfect sinless life but allowed Himself to be crucified on a cross for our lives?  Why do we put so much time, money and effort into giving to others that we forget or pass over the greatest gift ever given to us?

Ever since my diagnosis of "cancer", God has brought so many into my life that have a family member or friend that are struggling with the disease.  I'm sure it's been all around me, but now my eyes have been open to it so much more.  The sadness that families and friends face when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer can be so paralyzing.  I'm not sure what my tomorrow holds, but I do know Who holds my tomorrow and I am so thankful for His promises.  He said He would never leave me or forsake me.  He works ALL things out for good!!

I have been blessed beyond my wildest thoughts or dreams knowing people pray for me.   When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I had some amazing friends have bracelets made for me for others to wear to remind them to pray for me.  Even though that was 10 months ago, I still see people wearing my bracelets, and the hope that brings to my soul and spirit is unexplainable.  How many times have I prayed for others but 10 months later, am I still praying for them?  My brother called me today and said many people asked him after church how I was doing.  People I don't even know continue to care and pray for me.  God has shown me so much grace! 

It's been a little over 2 1/2 months since I have had any treatment and have basically been almost free from blood work and doctors.  I never want to take for granted each day I am blessed to wake up and enjoy life.  My hair continues to grow and Tony calls me "S&P" for salt and pepper hair.  I'm really to a point I could stop wearing hats and put a little gel in my hair and be good with it.  I do know that any second of any day my life could change, whether with myself or with my family.  That is why I have a peace that God is always with me and He never changes.  He's the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and I will continue to put my hope and trust in Him. 

"Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."