What Shingles Looks Like

My husband, Nick, mentioned that I forgot to add something to my last post. Pictures. You know, of what shingles looks like. Oops.

For those interested, here you go. This is how it looks when the rash first starts…

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It wrapped around my right side between my breasts to the middle of my back. It’s right under my bra line so wearing bras is completely out of the question until I’m healed.

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Of course, it’s gotten much worse. This is what it looks like when the blisters start bursting.

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I pray none of you have to deal with this, but even more, I pray that you know Jesus like I do. That you put your whole heart and your whole body at His feet. He truly can bring a peace that you will never quite understand.

May peace be with you.

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Peace Can Only Come From Jesus

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I’ve been quiet lately. There’s always a reason.

I spend so much time just trying to be okay. Just trying to feel okay. You can’t really make your body feel better though even with the pain medicine and other things meant to help you feel better, to help you get through the day. Medicine is just not enough.

My battle lately? Shingles. Starts as a rash and then turns into a ton of blisters that burst and then crust over. It is extremely painful, stressful, and takes weeks to recover. You can learn more about it here. I had it for a good week before we knew what it was.

To make matters worse, I can’t have chemo while recovering from shingles. And with a fast moving cancer, I can feel the difference when I don’t have treatment for a week or two. I’m coughing a lot more which makes mobility difficult. Coughing more means throwing up more. I sat in the car yesterday puking after being stationary for a good thirty minutes. It’s not just moving that causes me to puke more. Needless to say, I am really hoping I am cleared to have chemo next Thursday when I see my doctor again.

But here’s the thing… in the midst of all this suffering, I have peace and am virtually pain free. I can’t explain it. I walked in the doctor’s office last Monday with level 8 pain, barely being able to move without screaming on the inside. I left with pain killers that only toned it down to a level 6-7. So how did I go from that level of pain, to virtually no pain the next day? To the point that I stopped taking pain medicine way too early. The blisters started bursting days later, and yet still no pain.

You have to understand the amount of stress, sorrow, and shock I was under when I found out I had shingles. That I couldn’t get the chemo I desperately need. I went to bed early. My husband went to bed early. It was just all too much for all of us. So what was the turning point?

I prayed that night, and something changed. I wrote that poem and just felt a great release. I felt at peace. That was at 2 o’clock in the morning, and I woke up pain-free. During this whole trial from the beginning of 2017 to now, I haven’t quite felt this level of peace since first getting diagnosed with cancer. It’s also the first time that I have been virtually pain free in an area that doesn’t make sense.

On my own, I can’t do anything. I can’t take away my own pain and I can’t take away my own stress. I just don’t have the power BUT I know the one that does. Peace can only come from Jesus.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16. 

Fallen State

I stand and then fall;

On my own, I have nothing.

I am nothing.

I fall and then stand;

With you, I have everything.

You are my everything.

I’m not afraid to fall.

I’m not afraid to suffer.

Surrendered at Your feet is

The only way to truly live.

I May Not Be A Pastor But…

There are a lot of books and study materials on the market geared toward Christians but not all of them are based on biblical truths. As a small group leader, I feel that I have a responsibility to ensure that the materials I share with others supports biblical truths. I don’t want to unknowingly give out false doctrine.

I go through the proper channels, making sure my pastor approves the Bible studies chosen for my small group. But I also allow my own discernment to steer me in the right direction. I have to do my own due process by prescreening material for appropriateness, just like I do for my kids before I let them watch a movie.

Still, one area I haven’t really thought about prescreening before is my own personal library. I’ve acquired many Christian books over the last six years, most of which I have not read. I’m just now getting around to reading some of these books.

I opened one last night, read the introduction and thought, “this would be a great book for my friend Jennifer. I need to get her a copy.” Jennifer is a girl that I’ve been having 3-hour weekly lunches with in the spirit of discipleship. She knows the Bible pretty well but has been working on her prayer life. I thought maybe this book on developing a better prayer life might be a good fit. I asked Nick to remind me to get in touch with the author this week so that I can get another copy. Then I continued reading.

While reading the first chapter, I became very uncomfortable. I kind of stopped reading the words and started to glaze over them. I wanted to keep reading but it was beginning to be a struggle. Something about the material didn’t feel like it added up to God’s word. I closed the book and immediately started praying, “Lord, show me the truth. Tell me if I should be reading this, if I should be sharing this with Jennifer.”

I opened my eyes, and found my husband looking over me. I told him my concerns with the book, and he agreed with what I knew to be the truth. I couldn’t share the book with my friend. I put the book back on my nightstand, making a mental note to throw it in the trash later.

When I woke up this morning, the situation was still heavy on my mind. Jennifer has borrowed two books from me recently, two books that I haven’t read. As someone that I’ve been discipling, she’s likely thinking on some level that these books are good because I own them. She probably thinks that I’ve already read them and it never occurred to me to tell her that I haven’t.

Perhaps moving forward I should read a book first before I lend it out, much like I prescreen our small group material, the movies that my kids watch, and the books that they read. Taking some responsibility as a Christian friend is just as important as taking responsibility as a parent. I’m hoping that in doing so, I can protect her from falling victim to false beliefs during a vulnerable period where she is rebuilding her faith. It also challenges me even more as a Christian to stay abreast to the current trends and delivery methods of false doctrine.

I may not be a pastor, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do my part in helping protect the next group of Christian leaders. We all have a role to play. I hope that you’ll join me in sharing only verified biblically sound teachings, and stand with me in prayer for all of us to have the spiritual discernment to know the difference. God bless you all.

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:8

“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” Proverbs 18:15

 

One Year Later

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When I got diagnosed with cancer a year ago today, I didn’t think I would see the day when I had hope again. I didn’t think I would see the day when I believed I’d be okay again. I had spent so much time suffering up until the point I was diagnosed, and knew that having cancer meant suffering even more. But more than anything, it meant that I may be losing my life too. Losing everyone that I loved and everything that I had worked for. I can’t believe that I’m still here.

As much as I feared the end, I also knew that my life would never be the same. I was not prepared for the normal activities of life that I would no longer be able to do… like cooking, cleaning, taking a walk, or buying groceries. I was not prepared for the humility I would need in allowing others to care for me instead of me taking care of them.

I haven’t been able to serve others the way that I used to. I’ve spent my days just surviving, and trying to deal with everyday setbacks with my health because of treatment side effects. It’s taken a long time to get to a point where I can be a little more self-sufficient, like walking to the fridge on my own to get a drink without feeling like I’m going to pass out. And when I say a long time, I mean like I have only been able to do that in the last three weeks. My prayer is that I will get to a point where I’m able to start doing more for others, and give back to the heroes that have been there for me through this journey. In the meantime, I’m going to try to focus more on accepting the fact that I am a survivor instead of just merely surviving. I know that God will continue to lead the way.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

 

When Life Is Too Short

An old coworker of mine lost her son last night to cancer. Bone cancer. He was 14 years old.

He won’t live to finish high school. He won’t live to fall in love and marry his sweetheart. He won’t bring kids into this world or work hard to provide for his family. There will be no growing old with his wife and hugging his grandchildren. His life is no more.

I don’t know how God makes these decisions. How a child can die but I’m still here. I’ve been able to do so much with my life that Kristian will no longer even be able to dream of doing. My prayers go out to his family.

Lord, make my life meaningful. Help me make my life mean more than the hours that seem to just pass by. If I’m still here, than it must be for a purpose I can only hope to understand. There must be more God is calling on me to do. Help me succeed so that this life is not held in vain. Amen.

Fear of the Living Will

Crying. Just sitting crying. The first time it was because thinking about how fast my mom died in the end. Now, it’s because I’m thinking of my husband. No, he’s not on his way to dying but I may very well be.

It’s not that the cancer is in a bad state. It’s actually stable right now. But up until this point, I have refused to do a living will. The questions… the decisions you have to make and put on paper. Not everyone is able to face the hard task it is about your own death.

I don’t know what I should do if I wind up in a vegetable state, or be in a bed on a breathing machine for the rest of my life. When I think of these questions, my first thought is to preserve myself; I don’t want to die. But I don’t want to burden my husband either.

I would want him to be able to grieve properly so he can move on when the time is right. If I’m on a ventilator for a year, he would be hurting seeing me in that condition. So what do I do?

I’m gonna fill out the paperwork now. I’m not going to put it aside again. I can handle this, I can handle the hard questions.

I want to leave room for God in my decisions. I want Him to have all opportunity to save me in the end. You know, how I asked God to save my mom in the end. Well, the will of God will definitely trump any decisions I make.

Can I Have A Real Moment With You?

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Lately I have been asked even more, “how is your wife doing?” Overall the fact that she is still here with us has been the biggest blessing ever. I thank God daily for each day and even each moment that I get to spend with her.

We used to love going on long walks together. We would talk about the future, share stories of our past, and even share thoughts about growing our family. So much has changed in such a short time.

Yesterday I had to explain to a coworker that my wife has a hard time just letting the dogs outside. God has done an amazing thing by healing Kristeen enough to get her off of the oxygen, but the battle she still faces today is her heart rate jumps up to 140 bpm anytime she gets up to walk or even standing to brush her teeth.

At…

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