Thankful

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and everyone was thanking someone or being thankful for something.  And I am no different.  We had a wonderful holiday week in Texas where I got to hug necks of family I hadn’t seen since before (or very early on in) my diagnosis. 

Sometimes we enjoy the holiday, but then forget the day after what and why we celebrated.  So, let me remind you to remember to still be thankful today.

I am thankful for you!  For praying for me this year.  For continuing to read my posts.

I am thankful for my husband!  I have never felt more loved than how he loved me this year.

I am thankful for my boys!  They were so resiliant this year and well, they are just good kids.

I am thankful for my family!  My parents, sister and BIL, in-laws, and extended family all were so selfless and generous with their time and help.

I am thankful for my friends!  Local and out of town.  They supported me so well.

I am thankful for my health and that I can declare that I am CANCER FREE!

I am thankful for Jesus!  Because he gave me all the above that I am thankful for, but he also gave me his life so that I can have mine.

 

Medical Update

I wanted to update you on two things:

  • My foot:  I saw the podiatrist Monday afternoon.  It is healing, but I have to wear the boot for three more weeks.  Starting December 5 I can wear a shoe for 1 hour and then the boot the rest of the day.  If all feels well I can add 1 hour a day in a shoe until I build up to 8 hours.  If I have pain, discomfort, or swelling during this build-up process I am supposed to make an appointment where he will order me to have an MRI to make sure surgery is not needed.  Please pray against the need for surgery and that the Great Physician himself will heal me.  I am annoyed with the boot.  I’m just tired of having limitations at all.  I just want to be done.  I thought I would be done with recoveries, etc. by Thanksgiving, but it looks like I might just have to wait until 2017.  Bring on 2017!!
  • Oncology Follow-up:  I had my first 3-month post-chemo check-up with Dr. Zelnak, my oncologist.  They took a lot of blood work and I got those results back today.  They said all looks well and that all my levels look normal.  She has ordered for me to get a PET scan in December as a new base-line.  I will have my first post-cancer mammogram in February and then see her again after those results come in. (For those of you wondering – the mammogram is on my left side – I only had a right-side mastectomy).  At that time it will be a year since this all started – crazy!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.  You have been so encouraging to me!  I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday this next week!

Jonah

I mentioned in an earlier blog post about my disobedience.  Twice I can recall times in my life where I knew God was telling me to go one direction and I deliberately went the opposite.  Now, before you go assuming that I think I’m some high & holy Christian that has only sinned twice in her life, let me correct you.  I’m not saying sin – I do that everyday.  I’m saying God told me/called me out to do something (in both of my situations to stop doing something) and I deliberately disobeyed.

The first was in 2008 when I know God was calling me to stay at home full-time with Hamilton and quit the job I loved at North Point Ministries.  I remember crying to Mark saying I think God wants me to resign from my job.  I loved working there.  I loved my boss.  They offer on-site childcare which was amazing.  The insurance benefits were awesome.  So I had a plan to sit down with my boss and turn in my resignation.  The weekend before my meeting I got a call from Browns Bridge Church (this is the church we attend – it is a campus of North Point Ministries) asking if I might be interested in interviewing for the Director of Assimilation position.  This position helped facilitate the formation of small groups at the church and coordinated the GroupLink events the church hosted 4x a year.  Would I be interested?  Heck yeah I’d be interested?  Work with GroupLink?  Be promoted to Director?  (Background: Mark and I have served and volunteered at each GroupLink since 2001.  We have totally drunk the small group Kool-Aid and have the mustache to show for it so-to-speak.  I had always told Mark I love what I do, but man, I’d love to work in Groups).  This must be what God was telling me – he didn’t want me to quit.  He had my dream job waiting for me and just wanted me to leave my current position.  (But in my gut I knew it wasn’t right).  I decided I’d interview. And to make a long-story short – I got the job.  And it was wonderful, but it was a struggle, and about a year later I realized why.  I had disobeyed.  I was supposed to be at home doing the dream job God had for me, not the dream job I had for me.  More tears and a different boss – I tweaked my resignation letter and turned it in.  It was almost as if God was saying “Will you trust me?  Even if something better, according to you, comes along, will you trust me in what I’m asking you to do?”  I failed that test, but I learned a lot!

The second time was with social media.  I already posted about why I got off social media.  The part I didn’t tell you was that I felt God was telling me to get off at the beginning of 2016.  Well I had been slow and hadn’t really gotten off, but decided I would Valentine’s Day (why I feel there has to be a significant day I don’t know).  But…then I got diagnosed. And again I thought there’s no way now, God, you’d want me to get off social media.  People are going to want to know what’s happening.  How can I say ‘I have breast cancer’ and ‘I’m getting off social media’ in the same post?  (Ultimately…I wanted to be known.)  I had seen a friend walk through this and she had a FB page with 700+ people that followed her and prayed for her.  I needed the same thing.  Right?  Wrong.  The only person that I needed to know or be known by was Jesus.  I could send out updates without social media and still have people praying for me.  At one of my low points during the last 9 months I was up alone just crying.  I was frustrated.  I was in pain.  I was discouraged.  And I decided to look at social media (read: escape to social media) hoping for something funny to laugh at or something to smile about.  And instead, the first three posts I saw hurt.  They wounded me and I found myself discouraged in a whole new way.  Why wasn’t I invited?  Why wasn’t I included?  How did I not know about that gathering?  God knew.  If I had been off social media I would have never seen those things.  And I wouldn’t have escaped to FaceBook & Instagram, but to Him.  I would’ve allowed him the opportunity to give me something to smile about.  And so, the next day was my birthday and I signed off – went dark – on social media.  Again, I failed that test, but I learned a lot.

So…Jonah.  Remember Jonah and the whale story in Sunday school growing up?  Or maybe it’s one of those stories you have always heard about and never really thought could be true (a man living in the belly of a fish…really?!?).  I’m one of those people that just believes that everything in the Bible is true.  Jesus even references Jonah and the great fish as told by Matthew in the 12th chapter of his gospel.

So here’s a quick synopsis:  Jonah lives in a town called Gath-hepher.  God calls him to go to Ninevah to basically be a missionary.  He decides, “Nope, not gonna do it.  I’m gonna go down to Joppa where I can catch a boat to Tarshish instead.”  Look at the map below.

Ha!  Jonah was going 2,000 (yes thousand) miles in the opposite direction.  He wasn’t just saying “No!”, he was saying, “Hell, No!”.  (Is it bad I just said hell in telling the story of Jonah?  Oh well…).  So God sends a big storm and the boat starts to capsize and the sailors ask Jonah if he brought them bad luck.  He says yes and asks them to throw him over board.  As soon as they do the storm calms and “the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah.  And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17)  Jonah prays to God and “the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.” (Jonah 2:10)  Jonah then goes to Nineveh and guides the people to turn from their wicked ways and trust God.

So in my study of this story I came to a certain conclusion.  I’ve never (call me stupid) looked at this story as the whale being sent to SAVE Jonah.  Just to SWALLOW him.  “The fish swallowed up Jonah, not to devour him, but to protect him.”  Isn’t that amazing?  When we disobey, God isn’t out to swallow us, he’s out to save us!  That’s a HUGE difference!  “God could have rescued Jonah in any number of ways.  He chose this specific way because of the effect it would have on Jonah’s heart.”  Three days by myself in the belly of a stinky fish – I think my heart would’ve been humbled too.  Ultimately, “Jonah shows us that God has a way of bringing us to the place where we want what He wants.”  God didn’t swallow me when I disobeyed and took another job.  God still used me in that roll to connect 100s of people into life-changing small groups.  But he still brought me to the place of wanting what He wanted more than what I wanted.  God didn’t swallow me when I disobeyed and didn’t get off social media.  He saved me from it that night I finally surrendered and gave it up bringing me to the place of wanting what He wanted more than what I wanted.

So I ask, Is there an area in your life where God asked you to go to Ninevah, but you are experiencing the storms of going to Tarshish?  Would you choose to allow him to save you, even if it means feeling like you are being swallowed? The result in the turning from your Tarshish is true peace, because you will be smack dab in the middle of what He wants for you; His will.

 

 

Quotations taken from commentaries on BlueLetterBible.com.

Results and Release

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and asking how I am doing.  I wanted to update you on two things.

First, I officially got discharged from physical therapy.  My cording issues are gone which is a huge praise.  I can go in for follow-ups as I feel that it is needed.  There is always a chance that cording can come back, but I don’t feel any of it currently.  I have mentioned before my physical therapy practice is called Turning Point and solely serves breast cancer patients.  They are a non-profit organization and so their love, support, and service to their patients is just more personal and real.  My sweet therapists (Grayson and Anita) have become friends and are very dear to me now.  If you are local to Atlanta, they are having a fantastic fund-raiser event called The Pink Affair (<– Click for details) in March.  We will be attending and would love to have you at our table.  I also was asked to write a patient perspective article for their monthly newsletter.  You can read it by clicking here.

Second, I got a call last Friday from Dr. Howard’s nurse (my GYN who did my latest surgery).  I assumed since it was a week after the surgery she was calling as a courtesy to check in on me.  Nope.  This is what she said, “I wanted to let you know that everything came back benign and negative.”  Insert chin drop and confusion here.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  I inquired.  She responded, “Well, since you are a breast cancer patient we check for traces of ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, cancer of the uterus, and even traces of carcinoma (my breast cancer).”  Ok, well that’s good to know.  I had no idea anything was even being tested.  I’m sorta glad I wasn’t anxiously awaiting results all week.  I guess this is something I should have assumed or known, but nothing was ever mentioned to me.  I thanked her.  Hung up the phone and sat down sorta in a stunned shock.  These are the things that still make me swallow hard.  It is still surreal that I am a cancer patient.  That my answer to the question, “Have you had any changes in your medical history in the last year?” is, “Yes, fought breast cancer this year.”  Or when the form asks, “Have you ever been diagnosed with cancer?” that I now check “Yes”.  It’s all a part of the new normal that 2016 has brought to our family.

Lastly, I have lots of follow-up appointments over the next two weeks.  Today, I had my annual dermatology check (they removed one small mole).  If you do not go to the dermatologist at least every 18 months (or have never gone) I would highly recommend it be something you schedule!  Tomorrow morning I have my 3-month check-up with my plastic surgeon from my reconstruction surgery.  Then in a couple weeks I have my 3-month check-up with my oncologist, my post-op appointment with Dr. Howard from this last surgery, and my follow-up with the podiatrist regarding my foot and if I get the boot off.  (I am able to walk on it now without pain, but too much movement or pressure is still painful).

I will let you know how the appointments go and if there is anything interesting that come from them.  I’m praying for them to be as boring and routine as possible!

This was a lot of boring news, so I’ll end with fun Halloween pictures of the fam.  Garrett refused to put his costume on so he wore Skeleton PJs.  Hamilton was Commander Cody and Luke was Captain Rex.  I have no idea who those characters are or which Star Wars episode they are in, but they both loved their costumes.  I hope you had a fun Halloween weekend whether you dressed up, trick-or-treated, passed out candy, or just stayed home and turned the front porch light off.  The weather here was beautiful (I wore shorts) and was an etched memory for our family.

Until next time…

AJ


And just to show my boys faces…