Mustard Seed Faith

I had a CT scan done last week, and got my results when I saw my oncologist on Wednesday. I was incredibly nervous to find out what was going on with the lesion in my left lung. Back when I was diagnosed last September, it measured approximately 6x6cm (about the size of an egg), and had only shrunk down to 4×4 cm after six rounds of standard chemotherapy.

By standard chemotherapy, I mean using one platinum-based IV drug called carboplatin combined with another kind of chemo called alimta once every three weeks. Carboplatin is very toxic so patients typically only do six rounds, but if you have advanced disease like myself, you may continue using the chemo drug alimta as maintenance therapy. Alimta takes only about 15-20 minutes to get in your system, and is not as harsh on your body.

I was concerned that my lesion wasn’t going to shrink anymore with just the maintenance therapy. All I could hope for was that it didn’t start growing because if that happened, I would move to my last line of defense and try immunotherapy. I technically had already tried one of these drugs (avastin prevents new blood vessels from forming) when I moved to maintenance therapy, but it caused me to be in more pain to the point I needed to start taking pain meds again so I stopped after only two rounds. Having five extra months to live (as the drug promised) was not worth the pain I was going through.

So here I was knowing that I had already said no to one drug that could help prevent any new growths, and I had to face the results of another scan. My husband was with me as he always is for dr visit/chemo days and I think he was a little nervous too. When my doctor came in the room, the first thing he addressed was the good report on the CT scan. No new growth! We were relieved, but as we were trying to find out how big the tumor was now, we were shocked to learn that it wasn’t there.

We didn’t understand what the doctor was saying, not sure we had heard him correctly. We were having him reiterate what he had just said while I was trying to study the report in my lap. He said “there is no measurable mass” in my left lung, the same thing staring back at me in black and white. It had only been six weeks since the last CT scan where the report clearly stated the tumor was 4×4 cm. Somehow, it went from being the size of a walnut to nothing in just two chemo cycles of maintenance therapy.

Now, I know that there is no way that a maintenance drug that only puts 15 minutes of chemo in my body for 2 rounds can make a tumor of that size just disappear when standard chemo with a much stronger drug couldn’t do that in 6 rounds. The math just doesn’t add up. Even the avastin can’t make tumors disappear like that. There was only one explanation. God did that.

I was in shock for quite a bit of that day, not because I didn’t believe God could do it, but because of the amount of favor He poured over me and my situation. Today, I found out that He has done the same thing for another person who had a 11 mm tumor in their left lung and theirs is completely gone now too!

God is definitely still in the business of doing miracles. Things can seem so bleak even when you have faith because you often still don’t know what God’s plan is for your life. We hold on to Him for dear life, praying and hoping that His plans for this life still include us a little bit longer, and it is just pure joy when we finally come to understand His plans for us.

I pray for anyone dealing with a long-term, debilitating illness. There are still plenty of reasons to hope, even if your faith is as small as a mustard seed.

He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

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It’s Not About Me

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I have spent a lot of time these last few months spinning my wheels, doing nothing. The tv is a nice mindless activity to get me through the bulk of my day without requiring a lot of energy out of me. This works because getting around has largely been hard for me to do as my back and hips continue to heal from the cancer. I sit in the nice chair my in-laws brought over for me with two main things in my lap – my dog and the remote. The problem is that it really doesn’t require anything out of me except a commitment to only the tv and nothing else. Ever notice how easily we go from one episode to the next while watching something on Netflix and before we realize it, several hours have passed and we have nothing to show for ourselves? They want this to happen or they never would have created the auto play option. And honestly, the last time I ever spent this much time binge watching tv was before I met my husband, before I got saved. I’ve had more important things to do. So why do I sit here now and consume so much that does so little for me?

The answer is really very simple. Call it avoidance of the big and little feelings that I have to still deal with lurking on the back burner of my mind. Or laziness to dive into something that will require a bigger commitment than I feel I can commit to. Maybe a bit of both even. There was a time when I longed to spend my days reading the bible all day instead of working. Now that I am home all day, this couldn’t be further from the reality of my current situation. Before an hour ago, I hadn’t opened my bible in weeks. Sure, I’ve listened to a few sermons but it’s not the same. Before today, I haven’t listened to worship music in weeks. Why? Because being well takes me forward a few steps and being unwell takes me back a few. There have been moments on this journey where I have really seen God’s hand, and then the rest of the time it seems like just deafening silence. And having to deal with things you don’t really want to deal with is sometimes enough of a reason to pull away from someone like Jesus, even when in my heart I know that He is the answer, the solution to everything I am dealing with. I’m not proud saying this but even I am not a person with perfect faith and perfect obedience to Him.

Why am I telling you this? Because the struggle is real. Every day is a battle to get back to Him, to get back to His word. The devil doesn’t want me to rely on Him for strength. In fact, the farther he can get me from the word of God, the more he can try and fill my head with nonsense. I know the truth but it’s still easy to take me away from God when I give in to the bleakness of my situation, when I let go of Him and hold on to the sickness my body is battling. I don’t want to live my life spinning wheels and just taking up space. Yes, there are still a lot of things I can’t do but there is plenty I can still do for the kingdom. Sometimes, it just takes me to wake up from my slumber and remember this isn’t about me. This whole cancer journey is not about whether I live or die, but about whether others live or die knowing Jesus. It’s time I remember my part.

 

 

Tiptoe


Even when you’re going through it,

You’re not going through it;

You’re tiptoeing around,

Careful not to step on

Your own thoughts, your own feelings. 

You don’t really want to talk about it;

You don’t really want to write about it.

You only want to think about, write about 

Nothing at all.

The nothingness that stares you in the face,

The nothingness that will never be nothing again,

The life that will never be the same.

Fighting to Breathe


While sitting here a few minutes ago reading Psalm 143, I endured the most excruciating pain in my side. It caused me to have trouble breathing, and I fought the devil literally to read aloud each word in that Psalm from start to finish until I found peace at the end. 

Some aspects of my pain comes and goes in waves, but while the tides I endure are sometimes scary and seemingly unrelenting, in my heart I know that Jesus is with me every step of the way. He will never fail me. And I will never give up on Him, never give up trusting up with the plan He has for my life. I pray that your faith is able to endure the hardships as well to the point of understanding how you are being used for His kingdom. 

Psalm 143:8 KJV

“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”

How Far Are You Willing To Go For Christ?

football-field

Are you willing to die? Are you willing to die right now, let go of everything in your life…

Your loved ones… Your children… Your family?

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

That’s the question that became so clear to me last night when I lay down to sleep. This question that seemingly came out of nowhere, and yet one that so deeply affects…

EVERY. SINGLE. THING. THAT I DO.

It haunted me. It haunted me so much that I lay awake for hours… wrestling with who I am and where I am going in life, questioning my relationship with God, and if I am truly ready to meet the One that gave me life, that I claim to love so much.

Cue the tears. One by one, they fell into a seamless wave that would later wash over me again and again as I searched, tearing apart every thought that came to the surface.

What am I so scared of? Why do I run away from pain? Who am I to think I should escape suffering, that I can somehow keep myself shielded from having to endure more than I think I can handle? When am I going to trust God? When will I finally surrender EVERYTHING to Him? When will I allow myself to endure the pain? When will I finally accept it? When will I accept the long suffering that comes with life? When, when, when… when, when, when… oh how I here these words echoing, screaming, taunting me, killing me from the inside… tearing me apart… oh God, help me… Help me, please help me. Lord, who am I to deny you? Who am I to deny you everything that you want to do to me? Who am I to take away everything that you have worked so hard to build, to restore, to awaken in my life?

I consulted the bible with my questions, and one by one, they were defeated gracefully by the wisdom and love of God. And in the end, the final wave that came over me was unexpected and beautiful.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Peace, a peace I was not seeking. Sure, I go back and forth with my fears, knowing that God has called me to so much more. But in that moment, ready to fall asleep and put my day to rest, I was content to sit in my fear rather than crawl out of my jail cell. Whether it was me or God that chose that moment to wrestle with the devil himself, I can say that the sleep I lost was worth the peace in my heart right now.

I’m willing to die. I am willing to die. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. All day I have heard these words ringing in my head, not as a silly mantra I hope to believe one day, but instead with the resolve of a faith-filled Christian that finally, FINALLY is ready to take up the sword and not just sit scared in the corner, hoping God won’t call on me to once and for all, finally fight my fears for a chance to sit at His table. How far am I willing to go for Him? I’ve decided. I’m not sitting on the sidelines anymore hoping I’ll finally muster the courage to play in the game, knowing I’m going to get tackled, knowing… knowing… knowing… that my life is completely out of my control. I’m gonna get knocked down, and I’ve always let my fears keep me out of the game because I don’t want to feel the pain… but no more. NO MORE.

We have to be willing to die to truly live. We fear pain, but renewal requires letting go. We have to embrace the change by facing the pain of fear. If we allow ourselves to stay stuck in fear, we deny something that rightfully belongs to God: every part of ourselves. Give God your fear & let God use you for His glory. With God, we can do all things. That includes letting go of everything we know about ourselves, and letting go of the only self we know.

We have to accept the pain. We have to accept the challenge that He has put before us. We have to accept all of those things we keep trying to deny out of fear. God is with you and me. Let’s be willing to walk with Him.

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

 

 

 

 

My Calling Is Higher Than A Slot On TV

Hey there. Not sure what you’re working on right now but I was hoping to bug you for a minute. Is that ok? I need to vent. Sometimes I just need to talk to someone that understands what I’m trying to do, someone that knows this isn’t about me.

You know what I’m trying to do right? You, another Christian like myself, should know that I’m not after fame. I could care less about fortune. At the end of the day, all I really care about is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

There are people out there still trying to take advantage of me. They see my love for God and think that surely I want to spend money to make myself famous singing for my Savior. Nothing could be further from the truth. I wish they understood like you do that saving people is more important than my music. This music thing is a part-time gig; my full-time job is ministry.

I don’t want to sell my soul for fame. And I surely don’t want to sell my God for fame either.

Ok, vent over.

10 Things I’ve Learned Being On Crutches

Crutches

One day soon I will sit down and write about the little accident I had last week that has caused me to start using crutches. Hoping it’s just temporary. BUT… I couldn’t help come up with a little list about some things I’ve learned these last few days being on them. Here’s what I came up…

 

1. There are two steps to get into my front door. Who put those there?

2. I can’t jump very high.

3. There are too many closed doors in this world.

4. I can get a cup of coffee to the table BUT

5. I can’t clean up the mess I leave behind.

6. Handbags are just a bad idea.

7. The dog can hold my wallet but then she thinks it’s hers.

8. Teenagers will do anything for a higher allowance.

9. I can still tuck the little one into bed.

10. God is walking with me every step of the way.

The Long Road Ahead

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Sometimes, God reveals a plan to you so big that you don’t know how to comprehend it. You know it’s real. You know it’s true. And yet, you fumble. You fumble with the magnitude. You fumble with understanding.

The end result is everything you have ever wanted. The end result has been your silent prayer to God for a long time, but it won’t be without a cost.  You don’t know when, but you know that something bad has to happen for the plan to be carried out. You know that that something bad means someone has to die, and so there are more tears than moments of joy. How do you proceed? How do you do anything but cry out to Jesus for strength, for prayers for everyone involved?

Lord, hear my prayer.

Life After Death

You left the light on for me. I remember thinking maybe you had died when I didn’t see you in the morning, and there you appeared, alive and well in my dream. You were even wearing my bedtime shirt. I kissed you on your forehead and you made a comment about my bracelet. It was such a simple and comforting moment before I woke up. 
I’m not sad this morning. If anything, I am reminded and encouraged that there is life after death. Mom, I love you dearly and I miss you everyday, but I also know that you are happy in the arms of your Savior. Thank you for leaving the light on. I can’t wait to see you again!