These past couple weeks have been filled with some significant milestones. The first milestone was celebrating 15 amazing years of marriage to my incredible husband Eric on August 15th! We have been so blessed by the Lord and have grown to love each other more and more each day as we seek to submit to and love each other following Christ’s example of love for the church:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
-Ephesians 5:22-25, 28-30, 33
God has brought us on an amazing journey together to many places we never, never imagined, including 4 wonderful blessings-Faith, Adam, Ethan, and Asher, becoming Missionary Church Planters in Nebraska (we never thought we would be pastor and wife when we got married!), and now through an amazing cancer journey that has seen many, many blessings for our family and touched many lives with the hope, encouragement, and joy that only Christ can bring!-just to name a few. 😉 All this along side my best friend and love of my life! Wow! God is so good!
Our next milestone was Asher’s 4 month birthday on August 17th! It’s hard to believe our little miracle is already 4 months old! Our pediatrician was very happy that he has gained in weight, height, and head circumference and is now on the growth charts in all 3 categories! He is catching up after starting out at 5lbs 5 ounces and is now up to 12 lbs 9 1/2 ounces!
Asher is my constant reminder of my amazing God that can and does work miracles even today! Every time I hold him in my arms or watch him sleeping peacefully or see his amazing smile, I can’t help but be reminded that he wouldn’t be here today without a miracle or many miracles from God. He worked out so many things as we battled the cancer in my body as best we could as we tried to make it to term with Asher. God’s timing and control were perfect every step of the way. He made all our medical choices so clear to us, and held the cancer at bay just enough to get far enough along to deliver Asher at 34 weeks. And after 40 days in the NICU we brought our precious, perfect little miracle home! You would never even know he was in the NICU if you see him today. And then hearing the miracle that the cancer had not spread anywhere else, being able to start aggressive chemo treatments and now seeing the cancer in remission with no active cancer cells in my body just a few months later! Miracles upon miracles! What an amazing and powerful God we serve!
My final milestone was just today with my 5th round of 6 chemotherapy treatments. I am so close to the end of my time on my dreaded Taxotere! I will get to drop it after the 6th treatment, but continue on with my targeted chemotherapies (Perjeta and Herceptin) most likely indefinitely at this point. We don’t want any inactive cancer cells becoming active in my body again, especially with my history of aggressive, fast-growing cancer in the past. These targeted chemotherapies have many less side effects to deal with as they attack only the HER2 positive cancer cells and not the rest of my healthy cells!
My previous round of chemo 3 weeks ago was probably one of my worst as far as side effects go. I had some new side effects, including a migraine that lasted for a couple days and swollen, achy joints, along with the usual light, sound, and touch sensitivities and severe fatigue. I spent about 48 hours hiding out in my bedroom with all the light shut out and sunglasses on, as little sound as possible, hurting just to move in the bed. Thankfully this lasts only a short time from Monday evening through Wednesday evening. Once again I felt my symptoms lifting during the time many prayer warriors would be lifting me up at prayer meetings across the country Wednesday evening. The power of prayer is so amazing! After those 48 hours, my GI issues hit, but were a bit easier this time around. And I still have my fatigue and wear out very easily like always, but I am amazingly blessed that I can then hold my sweet baby again and be with my family and friends! I am so thankful that I only have this short time of severe effects and then I am able to enjoy a couple weeks of feeling fairly good and enjoying many of my normal activities. Life is so precious; don’t miss out on the blessings right in front of you that are so easy to take for granted!
Thank you to all who are bringing us meals on these “hard” weeks-they are a life-saver! Thanks to all who have given us gift cards for essentials and special treats, like eating out when we don’t have the energy to cook that day or just need a special outing as a family. And most of all thank you to my faithful prayer warriors who make such a huge difference in my journey. You are a huge encouragement to me as I think of all those that are prayerfully supporting me.
Please pray that this next week will be less overwhelming for our family and for my side effects to be less severe, specifically with no migraine or touch sensitivity, so I might be able to help out with the kids a little bit. My wonderful husband Eric is taking on a huge task in caring for me and all the kids, especially Asher’s needs 24 hours a day, including those night feedings (he doesn’t function well on interrupted or little sleep), when I can’t during those 48 hours I’m out of commission. This time around should be a little easier with the older 3 kids all in school during the day now, and Eric pulling back on some pastoral responsibilities for the week. Pray that we will continually turn to God for strength in our “overwhelmed” moments and seek his peace and guidance in whatever situations may arise.
Through a wonderful, practical bible study I just finished entitled Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst, God has been teaching me to respond to those challenging situations in a Christ-like, wise way instead of letting my emotions control my responses and becoming “unglued”. This is definitely a huge challenge, but becomes much easier when I can take a moment to step back before responding and look at any given situation from God’s point of view. I can turn to the truths of His word for guidance in dealing with overwhelming circumstances or normal, everyday challenges. Many times following our emotions causes us to overreact to a situation that, in the grand scheme of things, is not really a big deal or is out of our control. These situations can be an opportunity for us to grow, as well as to teach or model God’s love to those around us. God’s perspective and perfect example of unfailing love for all of us shows us the need to react in a loving way to those around us no matter what they may be doing. Life is so much easier when we don’t listen to and respond to the lies Satan plants in our minds, but only let things into our mind that God recommends:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
What we put into our minds is what will come out of our mouths, so we need to guard our hearts and minds fiercely from many things in this world. This will help our response in challenging situations to be God-honoring, kind, and loving to those around us. I am once again reminded of the previous verses in Philippians that are a road map to how to guard our hearts and minds and rest in God’s peace when challenges arise, responding in a reasonable, not “uglued”, way:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7