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Archive for the ‘God’s Awesomeness’ Category

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Today is the Memorial Breakfast at General Council 2011 in Phoenix – where they honored great men and women of God. I decided to repost this regarding James K. Bridges… a reflection on when I attended his memorial service:

As I sat in a memorial service this morning, remembering and honoring a very special man of God, the thought kept crossing my mind:

…what will they say about me when I’m gone?

James K. Bridges was  husband, a father, a grandpa, he was a preacher of the Word, an author, he loved to joke and laugh, he was a pastor, a district superintendent, and a general treasurer for the Assemblies of God…

…but first and foremost he was known as a man of God.

I had the utmost respect for James K. Bridges.  Remembering for me …was how he loved being a judge at our annual  GPH chili cook-offs! (One year we failed to plan a cook-off …and yes, I did hear about that from him!) Remembering for me …was how he hated being in my fashion show when we changed up the AGHQ dress code! He so didn’t want to model the new look …but he did so willingly for the employees with a smile on his face (and a tie in his pocket!) He didn’t wear the tie…but he had it with him! Remembering for me …was how he had time to listen to me …on the occasions I would visit his office whether it be work related or personal …he would listen and give me advice from the wealth of wisdom he had acquired from his years of serving his heavenly father. On one occasion, when I so needed someone to talk to I remember walking into his office …and he immediately knew what I was there for and he just cried with me …yes, this leader, this executive in our fellowship …cried with me. That spoke more to me that he would ever know …He just cared.

My hope, my prayer …is that when I’m gone people will know me not as just the wife, the mother, or the fashionista I try to be (and the emphasis is totally on “try!”) …or the baker, or the dog lover, or the girl who loves her coffee, or the one who loves to be crazy and have fun …although I’m sure those are things people may think of

…but

…I want to be remembered first and foremost as a woman of God …not perfect by any means – but I so want to live my life as this man of God did – as non-wavering in my faith – steadfast in my values – and passing on a legacy to my family.

James K. Bridges Memorial Service at headquarters of The General Council of the Assemblies of God – June 8, 2010:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Breast Cancer …Mastectomy …3 Words a Young Mother Never Wants to Hear

…and yet, God is at work…

This is a continuation of Tarah’s fight with Breast Cancer …yep it will inspire you:

 Tomorrow is my mastectomy.  Just the right one.  (I figured you were wondering.) We’ve been working and working toward this day for over seven months.  It’s not going to be the end…but almost. 

Let’s review, shall we?  On November 19, 2010, I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), the most aggressive, and most lethal form of breast cancer.  Tests were run, I got bad news all but one time, and then I started my chemo regimen on December 1, 2010.  Despite a lot of crud, God was smiling on me.  He knew that I was going to suffer more than most physically, so He did what He could to ease my emotional suffering, and He sent word through three completely separate people (in three different countries), that THIS WILL NOT KILL ME.  To a cancer patient, this is the best news you can receive.  Knowing I’m going to survive, I felt as if I could take on whatever was thrown my way.  Come to find out, that was quite a bit. 

But…..God made me quite a bit stronger. 

Once we moved my treatment to MD Anderson to have my chemo treatments, I was supposed to have four treatments.  I’ve had five.  They’ve worked great – my tumor is almost completely gone!! That was the main concern.  A minor concern was the cancer in the breast tissue, which did not respond quite as well to the treatment. 

My oncologist is one of the founders of the VERY FIRST Center for Inflammatory Breast Cancer, which is at MD Anderson.  So, we typically believe whatever he says.  =)  He said that the most recent chemo drug was the strongest available.  There is no other chemo to try; if this didn’t work, nothing would.  And it did work some, but not as much as we originally hoped.  So, the only remaining option is to remove all of the infected tissue with surgery.  So, I met with the surgeon on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011.

He was immediately concerned with the infected tissue, and knew that it was going to be a much more invasive surgery than normal.  He did his examinations and left the room to review his surgical schedule and see when a reconstructive surgeon would be available.  He is very picky about which reconstructive surgeons he will work with, as he will only work with the best, and their first availability is July 20th or later.  My oncologist is immediately concerned because, by then, this aggressive cancer would have fought its way back to a pretty dangerous size.  Another round of chemo would be ineffective on the cancer, and the side effects would be too strong on me.  This last chemo has come with some awful side effects.  The external ones include complete loss of feeling in my hands and toes, a rash that the sun causes to bubble up really gross-like, and my toenails falling off.  My nurse practitioner said, “It’s pointless to try to save your life by causing side effects that might take it.”  So another round of chemo was out of the question. 

My surgeon and his team work for almost two hours to try to get ahold of these great plastic surgeons.  They finally do, and, with my surgeon coming in on his day off, get it scheduled for tomorrow: Monday, June 27…five days after my initial consultation with my surgeon.  God hears your prayers.  He hears our prayers.  He hears the prayers that we forget to pray. 

I still have 5 or 6 weeks of twice-daily radiation, which start a month after my surgery, and some injections to continue with until December, but I already feel like a victory has been won in me!  God got me here and He’s holding my hand through this next step. 

My mom told someone today that I have never felt sorry for myself, or gotten angry at God, or even wondered “Why Me?”  I suppose I’m lucky because I don’t have to  ask “Why me?” – I already know….because God says so. 

There are only a few reasons why we would wonder “Why Me?”: 1 – If we’re annoyed because we have better things to do, in which case we need to get to church and check ourselves!  It’s the ultimate honor to be chosen by God to do anything…much less for something so wonderful as this.  2 – If we’re confused because we don’t believe we’re able.  Well….we’re not able.  I’m certainly not able, but God is completely able to do whatever He pleases THROUGH me.  3 – If we think that others are more “qualified”.  God knows what He’s doing.  He puts who He wants where He wants, when He wants to do WHAT He wants.  In each case, all we have to do is say “Okay, I’m in.”  We have to be willing to stand up and fight for Him!  I’m honored that He thinks that I can help, and I surrender my will to His.  I’ve learned SO much already through this, and I’m so excited to see what else God has in store.  I know He’s doing something awesome through me, and I can’t wait to figure it out. 

Thank you all for your prayers as my family and I go through this week – I imagine it’s going to be tough on everyone.  I also request you pray for a good friend of mine, Jennifer Dunn, who is also having a mastectomy on Wednesday of this week.  We’ve been walking together through this fight and I pray that she’s surrounded by His glorious angels, and she’s given the strength she needs to come through this week dancing!

Thank you all so much and I pray His blessings over you all!

Tarah

You may follow Tarah’s story here:

Read Part 1: A PINK CHRISTMAS here…

Read Part 2: Round 1 of Her Fight here…

Read Part 3: A Few Bad Days here…

Read Part 4: My Perfect Life here…

Read Part 5: My Life, The Sermon here…

Read Part 6: The End of Round 1 ….we hope. here…

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BREAST CANCER

…2 words that no young wife/mother wants to hear

…but through her journey, Tarah is holding strong and depending on her savior.

You’ll be so encouraged as you read this part of her journey. 

…and yes, please keep her on your prayer list. The few weeks will be tough ones.

It’s been over two months since I’ve written an in-depth update, and for those that follow my updates closely, I truly do apologize.  The truth is, I don’t like to complain that much.  I don’t want my friends and family hear the incessant whining that so often going ’round and ’round in my head.  And, even now as I’m writing this, I feel guilty.  The last two months haven’t been all torture.  Well, physically, it has been close, but God has done some pretty awesome things that continue to remind me that He’s in the forefront of this battle.  For so long I felt like Satan was all up in my face, staring dead into my eyes, and just daring me to be the one to look away first.  I haven’t yet, but I feel like God kicked him out of my range of sight for a while. 

Well, let me give y’all a physical rundown.  On March 12, we started the new round of chemo at MD Anderson.  Each round was so strong that I could only have it every three weeks.  On top of the intravenously administered chemo, I’ve been taking a pill type of chemo.  Each one has been rearing its ugly head more and more in terms of side effects.  First was the allergic reaction that I have each time, which involves a poison-ivy-like rash that shows up on my arms, then goes away just in time for the next dose. Then my fingers started going numb.  They gradually got worse and worse until the point that they’re at now, which is that my pinky is the only finger that can feel texture.  Obviously my fingers still work, because I’m typing, but it’s little things.  Like, I can’t tell if I’m holding small objects.  Yesterday, I went to hand my mother a bandage that I needed her help putting on, only to realize that I had dropped it several steps back.  It’s really pretty funny.  There are some non-funny ones, too.  Each of my toenails are being held on by good wishes and band-aids.  There are others that I won’t tell you about. 

My chemo was only supposed to be four rounds.  Last week we went in for all of my testing and it all showed that the chemo has worked magnificently!  At one point, I was scared it wasn’t…I asked my doctor about it and he said “It had better work.  Because there isn’t a stronger chemo to put you on – you’re getting the strongest!”  But, it did work.  More specifically, the tumor that was one big orange-sized 9.5cm ball, is now in small pieces, the biggest of which is only 2.4cm!  God worked a miracle right there already!!! 

The issue that remains is that the cancer in the breast tissue is still pretty bad.  That’s why I have to have at least one more chemo.  I couldn’t have it last week because my side effects were getting too severe they were worried about serious damage, so I have to wait a week (until this Thursday, June 9th), to have my next chemo.  After that, I meet with my surgeon on the 22nd, who will then schedule the surgery for the following week.  If he doesn’t schedule it by the 30th, I will have to have another chemo then. 

It’s pretty amazing to see what God’s doing through me and my situation.  There have already been so many people who have been touched one way or another by the way God’s taking care of me and my family.  I don’t know if you all remember my first posts or if you’ve googled “Inflammatory Breast Cancer”, but I think that it’s the furthest thing from fun that ever existed.  It’s really hard not to complain sometimes.  Heck, it’s hard not to burst into tears sometimes.  But, God’s working on something.  The lesson He’s teaching me: Just keep looking forward.  It doesn’t matter how I was diagnosed or how rare this is or how spectacular that is; that’s just the more spectacular God’s show is going to be in the end. 

I’m getting really tired now (which is beyond normal lately), so I’ll try to update more often. I apologize that I haven’t.  I pray every day that God blesses every one of you as much as He will.  I love y’all!!!

God bless!!

Tarah

You may follow Tarah’s story here:

Read Part 1: A PINK CHRISTMAS here…

Read Part 2: Round 1 of Her Fight here…

Read Part 3: A Few Bad Days here…

Read Part 4: My Perfect Life here…

Read Part 5: My Life, The Sermon here…

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Faith over Cancer!

Positive Attitude over Cancer!

I have been adding posts about my friend, Tarah.

This morning she so inspired me …this was her facebook post this morning after a long day of tests yesterday:

On my way to MD Anderson to see how much cancer is left and to get my last chemo. I’m not gonna pray that the cancer be gone. I pray that, no matter what, God’s will be done. If it’s His will that all the cancer be gone, that’s the awesomest thing!! If it’s His Will that I continue to fight, I’m in.

Tarah

Would you take some time to pray for this young mother, Tarah, today? 

You may follow Tarah’s story here:

Read Part 1: A PINK CHRISTMAS here…

Read Part 2: Round 1 of Her Fight here…

Read Part 3: A Few Bad Days here…

Read Part 4: My Perfect Life here…

Read Part 5: My Life, The Sermon here…

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Cardboard Testimonies

…every time I watch one of these presentations of Cardboard Testimonies my eyes fill with tears.

…tears of gratitude

…tears of hope

…tears of thankfulness

God has taken my life and turned it upside down

…and even when I fail …by the way is QUITE often

Oh How He Loves Me!

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I am continuing to share Tarah’s testimony as she fighing BREAST CANCER…

Her words, her attitude, her love for her family and dependence of her Saviour inspires me:

If God isn’t in your life, you need to find Him.  And, if God IS in your life, you need to make sure that he is the center of your life.  When we make God the Center of our lives that means that we do nothing, get nothing, give nothing, want nothing, see nothing, produce nothing and say nothing without talking to Him first.  Believe me; I know that this is easier said than done. 

Think about it: most of us, at one time or another, have made a boy/girlfriend, spouse, mom/dad….someone the center of our lives.  Don’t deny it.  I know that it’s something I struggle with on a daily basis and usually don’t even realize I am.  God has blessed me with a fantastic husband.  He is absolutely perfect for me and I’m SO lucky to have him….especially in regards to his cooking skills. 🙂  I’m thankful to say that we have a pretty great marriage.  We hardly ever fight, we play together, we laugh together, we pray together.  His strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa, so we balance out pretty well.  He’s my best friend, and I rely on him for almost everything.  He can, and does, make everything that’s happening to me easier.  He can make me laugh when I’m crying, he can calm me down when I’m upset.  He can love me, support me and stand by me as we face everything that Satan throws our way together.  But he can’t heal me.  He can’t do miracles and ease my pain, help me sleep, soothe my depressed states, or tell me what my purpose is in life.  And he can’t physically be there with me, on a daily basis, 24/7, to listen to my inner cries, dry my tears that I hide from my family, comfort my worries that I’m scared to vocalize, or give me wisdom and strength that I don’t know I need.  God can…..ONLY God can. 

That is what it means to make God the center of your life.  To know, accept and glory in the fact that HE is the only One that I can count on for any-and-everything unconditionally…..forever!  He is carrying me through this.  I certainly couldn’t do it myself; not even with Justin standing beside me.  Not even with my parents, sister & brother, other family, friends, or the hundreds (literally) of churches around the world (my parents are missionaries) that are constantly praying for and supporting me.  It’s hard to admit when we can’t do something, but honestly, there’s not much that we can do without Him. 

Like I said, it’s easier said than done.  Like the saying goes: “When you’re at rock bottom, the only way to look is up.”  Often, God will let us get ourselves into a position where we have no choice but to put everything in His hands.  And that’s what I’m learning to do (or try to) every day.

Three weeks ago, I started my new chemo regimen at MD Anderson.  As I explained in my last note, I had a treatment via IV with one drug, and then took 7 pills daily for 14 days of another drug.  Each of these new drugs, individually, are at least as strong as, if not stronger than, my first round of chemo, so combined, they are that much stronger.  Naturally, the last few weeks have been harder than anything my family and I have faced so far.  Aside from the ever-present pain, the nausea and dizziness has worsened and comes in completely random waves.  The fatigue is borderline intolerable.  For a person who’s relatively active, hates to nap and loves to work, this has been pretty miserable.  Some sort of extremely irritating rash appeared shortly after the treatment and we are still unsure as to what caused it.  We are waiting to see if it happens again after my next treatment.  After taking even more pills for several days, I started to get some relief.  While my rash healed, I had a couple of extremely strong pains in my chest that completely doubled me over and lasted several minutes.  Thank God that my brother and sister were here because I was practically incapacitated.  The doctors say that pains like that aren’t unheard of with large tumors, but they’re not sure what causes them.  Then Noah got a cold, which was followed by Pink Eye.  The Pink Eye passed to Justin and the cold passed on to both of us.  The cold led to my blood pressure dropping and I became severely dehydrated.  I slept over 40 hours in a 48-hour period, while Justin (with a nasty goopy eye and a cold) took care of Noah.  Since then, I’ve been chugging Gatorade and water as if I were Jillian Michaels, just to be able to function. And, as we expected, my hair started falling out again a few days ago.

That was all in the last 3 weeks, and I start it all over again tomorrow, with another treatment.  I think it’s safe to say that Satan has increased his efforts to bring me and my family down.  But, you know what?  It makes me so proud that Satan is so scared of me and what God is doing through me that he’s working overtime trying to destroy it.  Well, we can all rest assured that it’s not working and it’s not going  to work.  I imagine that he’ll try harder, so things may get even tougher here and there, but we know that God is stronger.  And I have God in my corner, so I am stronger.  I’M NOT SCARED.

God gave me a Scripture last week that has become my “Words to Live By”.  It’s Romans 5:3-5: “…We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint…”  In other words, our tribulations (or struggles), and how we deal with them, forms our character.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I want to have strong, godly character.  I want people to look at me and see God’s kindness, and mercy, and faithfulness, and strength, and His Light in everything I do and say.  Like every other person in the World, I’m not perfect….far from it!  But I like to think that God is proud of the effort I’m making on a daily basis.  And, I know that I will continue to make that effort every day of my life.

So, in summary, cancer sucks.  🙂  But, like every other trial we all face in life, it is making me and my family stronger.  It’s bringing us closer to God and closer to each other.  My entire family that is spread all over Texas (and a cousin in Hawaii) is doing everything they can to help me, Justin and Noah through this seemingly endless uphill battle.  My parents, brother, sister, and even my Granny, have been taking turns coming down every few days to babysit me, and make sure that I’m not alone with Noah while Justin’s at work.  I’ve had a few bouts with temporary depression because the pain and fatigue can come on so suddenly and so strongly that I’m not able to take care of him.  It makes me sad to know that, but God has helped me accept it and I know that He would protect Noah at all costs. 

I say it every time…I am so blessed with my family, as well as my work family and my community in general.  Together they are holding numerous fund-raisers to help us with the kazillions of medical bills that we’ve already received, not even halfway through my treatment. I love getting cards from friends and family in the mail, but I love even more that I only seem to get them when God knows that I need a little emotional pick-me-up.  Or I have to pay for a prescription, and someone sends us a gift card for that amount!  His timing is awesome and perfect!   I thank God every day for all of them and all the ways that He is supplying for our needs. But, mainly, I thank God for making it really easy to find things in my life to be thankful for. 🙂

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all and pray abundant blessings on you and your families.

With Love,

Tarah

Read Part 1: A PINK CHRISTMAS here…

Read Part 2: Round 1 of Her Fight here…

Read Part 3: A Few Bad Days here…

Read Part 4: My Perfect Life here…

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