Monday, October 24, 2016

The Lover of My Soul (Redux)

(This post originally published on October 1, 2012, during the time I was receiving treatment for breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.)

A week from today, I will return to Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, IL, and if all goes well, I will begin my chemotherapy treatment. Within a few days after that, I will lose all my hair. It won't all fall out at once, but when it starts to get sparse, I'm going to shave it off. And I'm okay with that.

My body image has not always been so great. When I was a teenager, I had a lot of self-loathing. I thought my legs were so fat, at 105 pounds, that I refused to wear shorts during the summer. Even in my 20's, after my first brush with cancer, I covered the large scar on my right arm on the hottest July days in Kansas.

I am 50 years old now, and overweight, scarred, stretch marked, gray haired and wrinkled. Losing weight, gaining weight, short haired or long haired, I am still me. With the last surgery I endured, I lost my right breast to cancer, but I know I have the love of my husband, my family and my Savior. No matter how many body parts I lose, I possess a complete soul.

Here's something to hold on to: you are not the sum of your parts. You are more; a precious child of God, that He loves and treasures above all others. Jesus is the lover of my soul, and yours, too.  Laughingly, I always said The Hubster loved my guts. What I really meant was, he loves me, not the package I came in.

Appearances are temporary and shallow. We may not always look the same, but God will always have enduring love for us, that will not fail.


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I never want anyone else I care about to be scared, unsure, or ignorant of symptoms, the latest treatments, or self-care. Please take time to educate yourself. You deserve it! Here's a link with great information.


Notable Quote:

 Psalm 66:16 (KJV) Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Breast Cancer: Living Beyond My Circumstances

(I am showing a few "re-runs" this month, in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This post originally ran on October 14, 2013.)

Female in Motion at the Arkansas City Relay for Life 2013
 John 10:10 (NKJV) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

When my doctor told me I had breast cancer, I went into battle mode, full force. The Hubster and I prayed about it, then got a plan together. I went from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital, until I found the best fit for me. Here's the interesting part...I kept right on with my life. I still worked, grocery shopped, did my laundry and paid my bills.

Cancer was part of my life, but it didn't take over. What are your circumstances? Is there something that makes you want to stop trying?

I wish I could whisper this truth in your ear.

                                                       You. Can. Live. Abundantly.

You are not alone. There is significance and joy to be had in every day, good or bad. God will be in every one of those moments. Be secure in His presence, no matter what you face.

I've said it before, my faith simply wraps itself around everything I write and I consider it my mission to encourage women around me to seek God's will for their lives.

 This is my time. I was born to be on earth at this moment; to walk through a cancer journey and write these words to you. Take them...and walk on.


Notable Quote:

"Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start."--Nido Qubein, motivational speaker

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cancer: It's Tough to Break the News

  (This is a rerun from March 12, 2012, when I had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.)

I got my hair cut last week. Funny thing about cancer. Your life doesn't stop. You get up, go to work, clean your house and grocery shop. When you're sitting in the doctor's office and in the quiet puddles of midnight, that's the time when cancer is real and dangerous.

While shampooing my hair, my stylist recounted the tale of her son's bicycle accident, which sent him to the emergency room (and sent his mother through the roof!). At the end of the story, she jokingly added, "Beat that!"

And that's when I told her I had breast cancer. Boy, that's a conversation killer. Erica's eyes filled with tears. "No, no, not you!" she cried, as I hugged her tight. This is the ritual I go through every time I have to tell someone in my life that I have breast cancer.

The hardest people to tell have been my mom and daughters. It cuts to the bone when you have to hurt loved ones. I feel so bad for them; that they have to go through this. When you're a mother, your focus is never on yourself. It's on how your children are affected. In this fight, I will be strong and show them comfort.

Before Jesus finished His time walking this planet, He told the disciples that they weren't going to be alone. God was sending a Comforter to dwell in their hearts. This Holy Spirit would guide and protect them in their lives, helping them to make wise decisions and stay close to the Father. As we journey, the Holy Spirit will do for us today what He did for Jesus' disciples. We are never alone.


Notable Quote:

John 14:16 (KJV)
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Change Coming

I woke up this morning, and pulled on my hoodie. It's the first time I've done that this fall. It felt so comfy and warm on this cool morning. There's a change coming, in the weather.

The first presidential debate is today. Whoever gets elected, we will have a new leader next year. There's a change coming, in the government.

People are staying away from churches. They don't want to have anything to do with God. Children are growing up with no knowledge of the Bible. There's a change coming, in the church.

We don't spend time with our families any more. It's not a priority. We've turned into roommates and strangers. There's a change coming, in our homes.

It's foolish to think we're fine as we are. We have no need for a Savior; we believe we can manage our own lives. There's a change coming, in our hearts.


Notable Quote:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (KJV) To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bravely Onward

The day I started work at Rainbows United, I took the exit ramp onto K96 and encountered this billboard. Somehow, I felt that God had placed it there just for me.

I know that Fidelity Bank in Wichita has a publicity campaign that encourages business owners and citizens to fight back against the perilous economic times we are facing.

Our business had closed three months before, and I really needed a job. The billing specialist position at RUI came as a complete surprise. I knew their reputation and jumped in with both feet. Still, I was nervous. Could I do it? Was I strong enough?

The billboard is still there, and I ask myself the same question every morning.

What will I do?


Notable Quote:

"To go back is nothing but death; to go forward is fear of death, and life everlasting beyond it. I will yet go forward."--John Bunyan

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Shepherd

The Shepherd by the uber-talented Danice Sweet
The Shepherd was meant to be a gift for my 50th birthday, but it ended up being so much more.

I found the painting while visiting a friend in our new local hospital. They have a small gallery of local artists' work. When I rounded a corner and saw it for the first time, I was mesmerized. A small flock of sheep were led down a tree-lined path by their shepherd, while a sneaky fox peeked out from behind a nearby tree.

Never leaving my memory for long, I contemplated the painting and its meaning. I even dreamt of walking down that tree-lined pathway. The price was very dear, so I knew it was not meant for me to own this beautiful work of art.

When February 2012 came, I had my usual well-woman exam and mammogram. However, the breast exam showed abnormalities, so I had to have a follow-up needle biopsy. Being diagnosed with breast cancer on my 50th birthday was a bit of a cruel joke. Honestly, I can't remember much about the rest of that day. There was definitely no party.

Soon there were many doctor's appointments and tests and surgeries to set up. One day, while driving home from an appointment in Wichita, the Hubster and I discussed how I really didn't have a birthday and that there was no present from him. He said, "I wanted to give you that painting you love."

It had been months since I had seen the painting at the hospital, so I felt sure it was already sold. The Hubster suggested we stop by on the drive home and check it out. It was still there, and within minutes, it was on the way home with us.

We hung the painting on the wall next to our bed. Every time I got in or out of the covers, The Shepherd was there to greet me. When the steroids didn't allow me to sleep, I lay and looked at this scene, praying that God my Shepherd give me grace and mercy to get through this season of healing.

Over the next 14 months, I went through multiple grueling medical tests, three major surgeries, six rounds of chemo, 35 doses of radiation and countless flights from Wichita to Chicago. 

I treasure the presence of The Shepherd in my home and all the symbolism it holds. What a privilege to daily view a representation of how much God loves and protects His children.


Notable Quote:

 Psalm 23:1-6 (KJV) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.