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.

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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

The Need For Rest Will Just Have To Do For Now

The last time I was sick on Christmas was five years ago… before my life was drastically altered after meeting my husband and embracing the Christian faith wholeheartedly for the first time. I had traveled to Colorado via Greyhound to spend the holiday with my best friend and her kids. Taking the bus was a great way to get out of the city to venture the beaten path with my camera after the end of a six-year relationship I never should have been in, and the end of a disillusionment for an affair that would never be more than a roll in the hay. 

Yeah, I’d had better days and the opportunity to run away from home was enchanting. The road to freedom was a little more traveled than I wanted it to be though; it took three days to get to Colorado and five to get home. I remember getting stuck in the Dallas bus station for a day and a half while a snowstorm wrecked havoc just north of us. I was still trying to get to Colorado, and I was completely at the mercy of a storm I couldn’t even see. It wasn’t snowing in Dallas where I was, but all around me it was coming down so heavy that travel all the way up to Denver was at a halt. I just wanted to get where I was going, and I wanted answers. There was no way out and nowhere to feel safe. 

I think it took a good 12 hours before they finally brought a bus out for us weary-eyed travelers to sleep on. I was so thankful… all I wanted was answers and rest, but I would settle at the moment for just some rest. It’s how I’m feeling again after all these years.

Cancer has a way of eating away at your soul… if you’ll let it. Sometimes I do, I won’t lie. Sometimes, I give in and let the cancer take a bite or two out of me. Sometimes it takes a few days, weeks, or months for me to wake up out of the chokehold-slumber that cancer is and stumble again onto my faith. On Christmas Day, it was just a reminder staring back at me that reads “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Yesterday, it was a complete meltdown on the living room sofa where I begged God to help me over and over again. Today, it might look like something completely different but I’m not giving up. 

The answers may come another day but for today, I’m going to take the rest that comes with knowing Him. 

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.

It’s Not About Me

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I’m not the best singer. I have to work really hard to get my notes clean and to not tremble. I have to work really hard to make sure I don’t run out of breath and to not forget the words. Singing can look so effortless but it’s really not. There is so much technical stuff going on.

As a singer, I want to get it right. I strive for perfection. And when I get it right, I rejoice. Sometimes, maybe I rejoice in myself a little too much. Humble little me can sometimes be not so humble. When you don’t think you’re good enough, it’s easy to hide in the shadows and run from the limelight. But when everything is lining up the way you want it to, it’s easy to think of the next few lyrics and “hey, look at me” simultaneously. But guess what? It’s not about me.

Being on stage can be a dangerous catch 22. It’s a vulnerable place to be because you have all of these people looking at you, judging you… and yet you know your place is to serve God. You are not there for yourself or for their attention. You are there solely to lead and encourage them to forget you are even standing there so they can have a moment with Jesus.

My microphone is not a gateway to seek approval but to humbly worship and lead others to do the same. It’s to let them know it’s ok to forget about all of the troubles in the world and to just focus on Him. It’s an opportunity for the church to collectively thank Jesus together for all of the blessings He has bestowed upon us. And honestly, it’s not even about singing. Not really. The best worship experiences I have ever had were in those moments when I actually stopped singing and just started praising God with prayer in the middle of a song. We can get so caught up just singing words sometimes that we completely miss the point of allowing the thankfulness in our hearts to come to the surface and give it to God. 

When I’m worshiping, I really only have one goal and that is to meet Jesus myself. I want to spend time with Him, and I want others to have a safe place to do that as well. I know that the enemy will continue to try to interfere and prevent me from truly connecting because he doesn’t want people to know Jesus, but I can’t let him. There will always be technical stuff going on and yes, I want to be prepared as best as possible before hitting the stage but in the end, the outcome is really up to God. I lay it all at His feet… every word, every note, and every prayer to bring Him alone the glory.

 

Walking In Fear

Isn’t it funny how we often don’t want to do what God calls us to do. I think that’s the difference between those that do things because they want to rather than because He wants us to. He never makes it easy for us. So many times on my journey, He has asked me to do things that terrify me. Honestly, these things still terrify me but I know that He is still with me, still working on me and sometimes that is the only thing that gives me the courage to move from a stationary position. If it were up to me, if it were up to a lot of us, we would just stay where we are, all cozy in our fear. God has a plan that must be carried out, even when we don’t feel equipped to do the job. He will teach us all we need to know, all we need to get through. Trusting Him to hold our hand as we walk though our deepest fears is a challenge but the reward is a closer relationship with the one who loves us. He is our safety net, our comfort through all things.

Be Ye Steadfast

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This past weekend, my husband and I took some of the youth from our church to love on other kids at a church five hours away. They sacrificed sleep and an entire Saturday so that we could make the drive down south and come back the same night to be back at our church on Sunday. For our youth, I would say that it was more than just a sacrifice of time and energy though; they just lost their own youth pastor a few weeks ago and kept the commitment to do the event regardless. At a time in their lives when they have watched their friends leave the church in large numbers, they kept their hearts on fire for Him. At a time when they are questioning God’s plan, they went out of their way to minister to another group of youth that is in desperate need of answers and healing.

When we arrived at the other church, we learned that they have been trying to break ground and reach the youth in that community for the last two years, that the event we put on was the first in a series of events they plan on doing to help the kids. We learned that the church has suffered major losses in the last month, and that the devil continued to attack the staff personally up until the day of the event. As a matter of fact, the pastor that helped us coordinate the event had a family emergency and had to leave five minutes before the event was about to start. I am thankful that it was a false alarm, but we will still be praying for her mother.

When you try to do something for God, the enemy will attack. Everything that could go wrong that night did. We had everything from bad weather and low attendance to sound system issues and forgotten lyrics. Did this distract us from praying for revival? No. Did we give up and go home when it looked like we would fail? No. As a matter of fact, it allowed everyone to go after God even harder.

It may be sometime before we fully understand what was accomplished last night. It may be sometime before our youth fully understands the rewards for keeping the faith in such trying times. Still, I know hearts were moved last night. I know hearts were encouraged, including mine, to watch a generation put God first when everything around them is falling apart. I get chills just thinking about it, and revel in the knowledge that His love endures, that His goodness covers everything at all times, regardless of the rain that comes our way and the temptation to run when things get hard and confusing. Lord Jesus, thank you for your faithfulness and reminding us to be steadfast when doing the work of the Lord.

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:5

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

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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.

Renewed Purpose

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I’ve learned that part of surrendering myself to God is writing songs that praise Him rather than as an afterthought prayer to make the pain go away. When I was a baby Christian, I didn’t know any other way to approach Him but I see Him working in me now.

I feel the difference. I trust Him more, and from that trust, I can praise Him in even my darkest hour because His ways are better than mine. I can praise Him and truly rejoice in everything that He is. Thank you Jesus for saving me, for giving me new life, for continuing to convict me, and for calling me to worship.

Today I sing a new song, a song of renewed purpose to bring you glory.