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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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Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Luke 18:16 (MSG)

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For the past several months I have been sharing you an awful …but incredible journey that my friend, Tarah Powell is traveling through. She’s a Woman of God, a Wife, a Mom, a Daughter, a Sister, a Missionaries Kid …all these things …but what is consuming her life right now is:

BREAST CANCER

…as I’m typing those words 0ut, even now, the thought makes me cringe inside. She’s so young, she’s so vibrant, she has a beautiful son …how can this be happening.

But then I read her blog post and I am blown away on the peace and joy she has going thru this difficult challenge. She’s honest, it’s pretty tough at times as you can imagine but she is totally relying on God to restore her and to take care of her every step of this journey.

Here are the words from Tarah’s latest blog post – I hope you are uplifted and encouraged …and motivated to pray for her daily.

Well, it’s been WAY too long since my last update; a lot has happened in over a month!  I’m sorry for not getting everyone better informed; and I’m sorry if anyone was worried!

 We went to MD Anderson last month; my doctor there concurred with all that my doctor here has said and done.  He suggested that I continue through my chemo here and go up there for my surgery and radiation once my chemo is done.  My last chemo treatment will be April 13, as long as all goes as planned, and then I’ll have my surgery a few weeks after that and start radiation a few weeks after THAT.  My radiation oncologist is pretty sure I will have to do twice daily radiation treatments for five weeks because of the aggressive nature of my cancer, so that will be hard.  It’s a forty-five minute drive up there with no traffic, and the sessions have to be a minimum of 6 hours apart, so I’d have to go first thing in the morning, come back to work for a while, then go back.  That’s the plan anyway….I’ll need prayer. =)  I had to have a mammogram, ultrasound and MRI to get a “starting point” image for each one.  MD Anderson has a whole clinic specifically for Inflammatory Breast Cancer, so it’s pretty great to gain their knowledge and to contribute to their research, and get a better grasp on what others have gone through.  Even still, only 10 of every 150 of their patients are under the age of 30.

I started my 2nd round of treatment (Taxol/Herceptin) at the end of January, and so far it’s been worse than the first “hard drugs” round.  They say it’s because all of the chemo has just been accumulating in my body – building up more and more, so it can get worse over time.  The hardest things are the nausea and fatigue, but especially the unpredictability of when it’s gonna hit.  It’s different every single day, and every single week, so it’s getting harder and harder to plan for anything…even going to work.  Thankfully, I have the most supportive bosses and co-workers ever!  I know they’re all having to work harder to cover for me, and they’re doing it without complaints.  I wish I could do more, but for now….thank you, ladies.  Besides, God is working with me; I got more hours put in over the last two weeks than I have since I was diagnosed!  So, He’s definitely helping me push through, even if I have to work from home! 

The chemo is really starting to take a toll on my body.  I look more and more like a chemo patient every day, although God uses perfect strangers, wonderful friends on FB, and my awesome family to tell me otherwise every single day. =)

Last week, my White Blood Cell (WBC) count was too low to get my treatment: it was 0.8 on a scale of 3.5-10.0. In order to get it up, they had to give me a fast-acting booster shot called Neupagen, which pulls WBCs directly from my bone marrow, starting at the biggest bones in my body.  This was extremely painful.  It was about 5 or 6 hours of me writhing, crying and screaming out in pain.  We were crying out to God for SOME relief, and finally I was able to fall asleep and woke up in much, MUCH less pain.  But, I was able to get my treatment the next day!!!  That was Wednesday. 

The funny thing is, my mom wasn’t supposed to get here until Wednesday night, but because of the bad weather in Dallas, she came down a day early.  My son and husband had the flu and had to stay away from me, so if it weren’t for the bad weather in Dallas, I wouldn’t have had my mom here to help me through it.  God’s funny like that.

God’s teaching me new levels of faith and trust and new ways to pray.  I call out to Him countless times every day, about every little thing…just seeking his guidance.  In some ways, it’s easier to put all of your faith in Him when you have no choice (there’s a sermon in there, Pastors), but in a lot of ways, it’s harder because I’m surrounded by physical distractions whose sole purpose is to bring me down.  And, let me say, they can be pretty overwhelming!  Not only my own physical issues, but my family’s, too.

It was miserable seeing my son so sick last week.  Any parent can agree that it is just the worst feeling in the world when your child is sick and you’re practically useless to make it go away.  I can’t imagine what my parents must be going through; how frustrated and useless they must be feeling that they can’t fix me and make it all go away.  As a family….no-as a missionary family, we have had our faith tested over and over and over.  We stood strong through death threats and going into hiding, through stalking and repeated break-ins, through getting stones thrown at us and churches lit on fire that we were in, through death and loneliness.  And, then, in my adult life, they were with me through scarlet fever, depression, car accidents (yes, plural), a very difficult pregnancy, gallstones, financial troubles…..and breast cancer.  God is my Rock and my Light, but my family is my foundation. 

I AM ONLY ABLE TO FACE THIS BECAUSE OF THE PERSON MY PARENTS HAVE SHAPED ME TO BE AND BECAUSE OF THE EXAMPLE THEY’VE SHOWN ME ON HOW TO HAVE FAITH IN THE WORST OF CIRCUMSTANCES….TO LOOK TO GOD AND FOR HIS PLAN IN EVERYTHING.

It also helps that I have such an awesome support system.  I know that God would not have chosen me to go through this if He didn’t think I could handle it.  For SOME reason, He deems me worthy enough to live the awesome miracle that He’s going to do…and I’m honored.  Its hard, it’s VERY hard to stay positive 24/7, but I’m doing pretty good at looking to God in the really hard times.  And when I’m not, my wonderful husband, or my wonderful parents, or my wonderful sister or brother, or my wonderful friends point me in the right direction.

I am surrounded by the best people who love me and love God!  My parents, my sister, my brother, my couldn’t-ask-for-better-in-laws, my wonderful co-workers, my wonderful FB family…and my perfect husband who gave me the perfect son!

 And my Perfect God has control over my not-so-perfect cancer, and THAT is what makes my life….pretty perfect! 

SPECIAL NOTE:  Thank you all SO SO SO SO much for your endless words of encouragement, prayers, thoughts, and love!  Even though I may be too sick or tired to answer, please know that I read them almost immediately from my phone and they ALWAYS, without fail, make me smile.  So, thank you for sending me smiles!  I love you all so much and I promise not to take so long to write again.

Read Part 1: A PINK CHRISTMAS here…

Read Part 2: Round 1 of Her Fight here…

Read Part 3: A Few Bad Days here…

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PRAY

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A Few Bad Days…

…and the fight rages on. 

Some good days, some bad days, but all “God” days!

Tarah shares more of her journey …and more encouragement!

I hate this.  There, I said it.  I’ve been scared to say it.  I’ve been scared to feel it.

I’m a positive person, by nature.  I have just never seen the point in moping around and complaining about things.  If you’re not happy with something, change it.  End of story.  The last few days, I have been a very negative person.  I have actually been making a conscious effort to be positive so that I would have something to write on here, and it’s SO frustrating that I can’t.  I try to keep busy and think about non-cancer things, but then I get tired or my pain increases and I’m reminded that I can’t keep busy or think about non-cancer things.

I went to work on Monday and had such an awesome day! I felt so great when I got home that I went grocery shopping with Justin and Noah.  Then, the next morning (yesterday), I work up determined to have another awesome day, even though I didn’t get hardly any sleep.  My body pretty much broke down after only two hours there.  I rushed home, got sick, and simply collapsed into a coma-like sleep on the couch.  I woke up tired and frustrated that my awesome days seemed to be limited to one-at-a-time.  I had an awesome time last week building a table and benches with my dad! It was fantastic to feel productive and energetic again! But, all that work came back to bite me in the butt and caused several days of severe pain and fatigue. 

I hate feeling like this.  I hate this negativity! I hate the fact that this is just the way it’s gonna be for a while.  Everything now revolved around how I’m feeling, my chemo treatments, my doctor’s visits, etc. I can’t even plan a birthday party for Noah this month without worrying about when it’s going to fall in my treatment cycle!

Today, I was reading about God’s Grace with Noah (Ark Noah, not my Noah). I read about how Noah was on the Ark and probably feeling very lonely and completely overwhelmed by what was ahead.  I mean, he had to re-populate the Earth! But, then, God comforted him with a rainbow.  That rainbow, that promise, was exactly what Noah needed right then. 

Yesterday, I had a really bad day.  I surrounded myself with so much self-pity and, therefore, self-disgust that it literally took me all day to realize what God had done.  I was in almost no pain all day!!!! I mean, it was dialed down so much that I even forgot to change my super-narcotic pain patch!

Aside from that, at my doctor’s appointment yesterday, my doc was doing an exam and she was checking on one of the smaller tumors in a lymph node under my arm that was walnut-size when I started my chemo. She couldn’t find it! She dug all up in my armpit and could not feel it at all!! She said, “Amazing!”

I am so ashamed that I was so completely buried in self-pity that I didn’t even realize what God was doing! He was trying to comfort me and I was ignoring Him. 

Last night, I read some of my messages on FB, and my friend, Jennifer’s message to me that she was woken up the night before to pray for me, and it all just hit me at once!

People everywhere are praying for me and God is answering those prayers! He is with me every day through this; even the crappy ones! And, even when….no ESPECIALLY when I’m lost in despair, He will do whatever needs to be done to bring me out of it so that I can see Him surrounding me!  I am so grateful that He loves the ungrateful!!

I felt His love and His comfort last night as I prayed with my husband.  All of the pain left my body as we prayed and I got a good night’s sleep for the first time in weeks.  Today, I’m in a little pain, I’m a lot nauseous, and I’m tired. But, for the first time in DAYS, I’m feeling positive again!

Tarah

Read Part 1: A PINK CHRISTMAS here…

Read Part 2: Round 1 of Her Fight here…

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Round 1 of Her Fight…

Last month I posted the start of Tarah’s battle with Breast Cancer (A PINK CHRISTMAS)

…today we’re continuing her journey:

Last night, as I was reading my devotional in my new “Breast Cancer Awareness” Bible that my mom got for me, I was drawn to a Scripture on the page next to the devotional that I was reading.  It was completely unrelated to my devotional, and I just know that God directed my eyes toward it.  It was Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Now, this principle is nothing new to me; it’s a pretty basic Christian philosophy.  It ties in with a lot of other basic Christian philosophies: “Love your neighbor”, “Turn the other cheek”, “Don’t let Satan bring you down”, (Obviously paraphrasing a little.) etc.  But, over the course of the last month or so, I’ve learned that there are many forms of evil.  Or, more accurately, that evil comes at you in many forms.  It comes at you emotionally, mentally, spiritually and, of course, physically.  Evil can come at you through people – people who Satan uses to bring you down.  I work at the Lake Jackson Municipal Court.  If you have ever gotten a speeding ticket, you know that you have 10 days to contact the court to let them know if you’re going to pay the ticket or take defensive driving….well, I’m one of the people you would come to.  Last Monday, I tried going back to work.  I even almost made it a full day before I got so dizzy that I had to have my husband come and pick me up.  Right before I left for my lunch hour, a man came in who must have been in his mid-sixties.  He handed me his defensive driving certificate and started to walk out.  I told him to give me a minute, as I needed to make sure he was within his deadline before I could accept it.  It turns out that he wasn’t within his deadline.  The judge had even granted him an extension, but he didn’t complete the course until two days after his deadline.  I told him that I was sorry, but that after the judge grants an extension, there’s nothing I can do.  He started yelling (which is not unusual) about how he has been in and out of the hospital with emphysema and simply couldn’t get it done in time.   I apologized again and told him that I was sure that the judge took that into consideration when he was granted the extension.  The man then said, “I pray to God that he gives you an incurable disease and you have to take this stupid class so that you have to go through what I’ve had to go through!”  I responded, “Well, Sir, it just so happens that I’ve just been diagnosed with an incurable breast cancer, and I DO have to take defensive driving next month, so I guess I will have to go through what you’ve been through.”  He answered, “Good.” before he turned and left.   I was so angry that I was literally shaking on my way home on my lunch break.  I was just so MAD that there are some people in this world who can be so utterly cruel over something as simple as a speeding ticket!  Once I calmed down, I realized that Satan through this man in my path to try to bring down the joy that God had already given me that day, through a HUGE act of kindness from my co-workers.  It shames me that it worked, even for a few minutes.  But, believe that I’ll be ready the next time Satan tries to steal my joy! 

Aside from the evil, I’ve also learned in the last month or so that good comes in many more forms.  Good comes from people you barely know showing you humbling amounts of love and generosity, or people you don’t know at all sending you a card just to say that they’re praying.  Good comes from random strangers telling you that you’re beautiful or from your son rubbing your cheek and saying “I love you, Mommy!”  Good comes from a sympathetic smile, an understanding nod, an “I’ll pray for you.” or just from a hug.  God has surrounded me with overwhelming acts of love and kindness and generosity and goodness that it has been really hard to pay the evil any mind.

I owe that to all of the people who God has surrounded me with.  I thank Him every single day for giving me those people, because they are going to play a huge part in my day-to-day attitude.

The day-to-day part has already started getting kind of tough.  My first chemo treatment was on December 1st.  Afterward, the first few days were just some random nausea and dizziness – kind of like morning sickness, but I never actually vomited. Around the 4th or 5th day, it was mainly just dizziness and fatigue, but it’d come on so suddenly without any warning! I would literally be sitting, playing with my son on the floor, and lay my head down on the couch and be asleep! I’d wake up 30 seconds later, feeling completely refreshed and ready to go! I started losing my taste for stuff almost immediately, but it’s gotten progressively worse every day. I got some V8 fruit drinks and Ensure shakes to make sure I at least have something in my stomach when I can’t force anything else down. The 2nd treatment was worse, but kicked in a little later. The first couple days after the 2nd treatment were totally fine! Hardly any symptoms at all except for fatigue. When the dizziness and nausea hit, they hit hard! I actually DID vomit that time, and I’ve had to start taking daily naps. I tried to keep working, at least a few hours from home, but between the symptoms and the stress of not getting any work done because of the symptoms, I was causing myself too much stress and pain that my doc told me to take a couple of weeks off. Since then, all of my symptoms have toned down except for the pain.  When I saw my doctor last, on December 21st, she said that a lot of the pain is coming from the tumor “nucrosing” or liquefying as it dies, and all of the excess fluid builds up and swells.  So, I’m in pain because my tumor is dying!  This is awesome news, but I have to force myself to be happy about being in so much pain.  Honestly, a small part of me wishes it were some kind of infection that we could treat and then move on pain-free.   But, the bigger part of me is extremely grateful that I am able to have this pain, because it’s a confirmation that the chemo is working!  Other types of breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, have no way to indicate whether or not the chemo is working. They just have to go through their treatments hoping and praying, and then have another PET scan at the end to see how much, if any, of their cancer was killed.  So, I THANK GOD that I’m in pain, and I THANK GOD that I have a rare, painful kind of cancer. 

My hair started falling out last Monday, December 20th, which was exactly 2 1/2 weeks after my first chemo treatment. As you may know, I had already gotten rid of most of it, but I didn’t want to look like I had mange, so I asked my hubby to shave the rest of it. And, you know what? It wasn’t sad! I thank God for my husband and my sister for helping me make a sad thing into a fun group shaving party!

The worst thing about all of this is the frustration. I hate not knowing what’s coming. I hate being up and cleaning the house and have to sit down every few minutes to steady myself. I hate not being able to look at the computer for too long, because it makes me wanna hurl. I HATE not being able to work; regardless of how awesome and understanding the women are that I work with, I was raised to do my job and do it to the best of my ability and it irks me that my ability has been diminished. I’m not quite a control freak, but I like being in control nonetheless, so the hardest part of this for me has been to remind myself over and over and over that it’s okay that I’m not in control,….because God is!

God has given me the Scripture Isaiah 55:8-9 through two different sources; it says “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways…”  This reminds me that God’s Will, thoughts, plans, and love are completely out of our world!  We try so hard to see and understand God’s Plan and purpose for us, but we just can’t!  There is no way we could ever understand the intricate steps He’s always planned for us, or the ones He has in store.  So, why try?  He’ll show me what I need to see when I need to see it.  I just have to pray that I’m ready and able to recognize it when it comes and act on it in pure, courageous faith!

Tomorrow, I have my 3rd chemo treatment.  I’m learning that it doesn’t matter what I expect, because every day is different.  I just pray that I have a good day full of laughs and smiles!  THANK YOU ALL for your continual prayer and support!  I love hearing from everyone about what God’s doing in your life, so please keep the messages coming!  They bring me so much joy and comfort!  Thank you all again for keeping me in your hearts and God bless you all throughout the New Year!!!

Tarah

Please take time today to pray for Tarah and all those you know fighting this disease.

Read Part 1: A PINK CHRISTMAS here…

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We all remember too well where we were when we heard the news on September 11, 2001.

The thought still shakes me to the core. The images still so vivid in my mind.

In the weeks that followed it seemed like the pews of our churches were full across America. We heard people talk about God more than we had in decades. The song “God Bless America” was definitely the theme over the next year.

…but what about now? What about the state that America is in right now?

There is a 1 hour prayer gathering at courthouses around the country to CRY OUT and pray for a powerful CHRIST Awakening that will change the Church and the culture of America. We desperately need God’s help in these challenging times.

Cry Out America ~ Saturday, September 11, 2010 ~ Noon

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