Monday, July 30, 2012

Hearing Love

  I've been learning a lot about love lately. It comes in so many forms. Dinners have been cooked, bathrooms cleaned, a lawn mowed, kids watched. I've been visited, given hugs, money, advice, encouragement, cards and personal care packages. A dear sister  in Christ has helped me start my "survival pack" for when I go in for radiation. My dad paid for a manicure and pedicure. My sister let me borrow her Kindle.  My mom and sister in law cleaned my house. I have never before even cared if I owned a I have several in varied colors and styles to protect my healing skin from the sun. Those too far away to give physical gifts have written, sent scripture and prayed.
  Each gift is as unique as the friend who has given it. A variety of blessings, for which I am greatful. Like a complex song, every person has added their own part, creating a masterpiece in my life. And I love to listen to it!
  I'm seeing how I cannot expect every person to show love in the same way. In theory, I have known that for a long time. But in reality, I expect people to act the way I would. If they don't show me that they care the way I expect them to, sometimes I haven't recognized that they are showing me love. But now, as I am flooded with these expressions of concern and affection, I can hear the beautiful symphony of love that I was deaf to before. And I'm so glad for it! From now on, I am determined to recognize love as it is given instead of expecting them to act the way I would. Each person's tune is different, and I am learning to listen.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

So little time...

  So much happens in the little time we have. Yet we squander hours, days, even years. I'm writing for me tonight, because it's the only way I know to process my thoughts, to unburden my heart.
  With all our household has been dealing with, I have had little time or energy to keep up with other people's lives. Facebook is a tool, but it can easily become a snare that creates bitterness and pain...I have backed away from peeking into the virtual windows like I used to, though I still love to see my friends with their growing families and hear the cute things kids say. So when I catch a picture that was just posted, it's great. But for months before I got sick, I had used it for little more than messaging people that I knew would be on.
  But I woke up this morning too uncomfortable to roll over and go to sleep, so I started browsing. I haven't heard from one particular friend through this whole thing, which seemed odd, given her motherly personality.
  Tonight I found out that she is gone. Just like that. I haven't seen her in years. It's been a few months since I even emailed her...but she has been one of my closest confidonts since before I was married. When things got rough, I could always cry to her. She is one of a very small handful of people who has loved me 100% as I came; never trying to change me or adjust my path for me.
  We need people in our lives who mold us and push us out of our comfort zones...but just as much, we need people who love us as we are and don't care if we never change, but are always happy with who we are. Amanda was one of those gems for me.
  Thank you, Lord, for tears! Until this moment, I could not weep for the loss of my friend.

  I lived across the hall from her at college. We worked together at camp. We acted together on stage. We spent hours sitting on eachother's dorm room floor, talking, laughing, crying.
I was a brides maid and I sang in her wedding. It was a beautiful wedding, and she was so happy. At the reception the wedding party had these pretty blue glasses with pewter dragons on them (perfect for her personality). My glass broke years ago in a move, but I kept the dragon. As I write, it is within arm's reach, in my jewelry chest.
  She never quit trying to improve herself. She wanted to help people. So she got all this schooling so she would know how, and then she went into social work instead of a job that would make big bucks.
  She loved her daughter.
  She loved her husband.
  She never gave up on anyone.
  She loved to laugh.
  She was pregnant and excited about another baby.
  She enjoyed theater, music, books, movies...

  I miss my friend. I will miss the comfort of her answering email when I am down. I will miss the funny quips she always had when I was being a bit over emotional or unreasonable. I can't believe I'll never hear her laugh again. I'm so glad I told her often that I loved her. I hope she knew I meant it from the bottom of my heart.

  Once again, I feel the frailty of our flesh. It has been so real to me since I got sick; that a disease could invade my body and turn my whole world upside down while I went day to day unsuspecting. And again in the early hours of this Sunday morning, I hear the difference one car trip makes. One wrong move, one careless moment and our fragile body is undone.

  Don't waste your moments. You don't have a guarantee on the next one. Hold your family. Enjoy your little ones. Live as though today is the last day you can show them that you love them. Love your spouse, hug your best friend. Maybe you will have decades together, but maybe not. Pray for your family. Tell the unbelievers of God's love. Be a light for as long as God allows you to shine. And don't be afraid to say "I love you." Mean it. It's not hard, so tell them. Look right into your daughter's eyes and tell her. If it's the last thing you get to say to her, it will be the right last thing.
  To Amanda's family and  other friends, I am so sorry for your loss. Carl, I will be praying for you and your daughter. I will miss her terribly. Even states apart, I could always count on her...

  Don't waste your moments.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thank you, my praying friends

  I have had so many people say what am encouragement it is to see how positive I have been through all of this. But I know it is not because of my own strength. So tonight I want to thank you. All of you who are praying for me. When I look through notes and emails and comments and see that hundreds of people are praying for me and my family, is it any wonder that we can carry on each day? You have no idea how many times just the right note has reached me at just the right time. And today, when I was expecting more of myself than I aught, God sent just the right friend with the perfect balance of love and chastisement to remind me that "doing great" 2 weeks after major surgery isn't the same as "back to normal." Those are your prayers for me being answered. My husband is handling all of the uncertainty and bombardment of new, difficult news with strength and steadiness not generally found in his nature. He has not been overwhelmed like I would expect him to be. He has been gentle and loving and sensitive even when he has no idea what to do next or how to help me. These are the effects of your prayers for him. My children have been wonderful. Not perfect, of course, but wonderful. My boys are more attentive to what I say (maybe because they have to listen harder to hear it!) and are obeying more quickly. They are trying to think of things for themselves so that I don't have to tell them everything that needs to be done. I have had back rubs, foot rubs, and more hugs and kisses than I ever would have expected. They are showing me love and respect in the best ways they know how. My princess...she amazes me. She checks on me constantly. Am I comfortable, do I need anything, can she help me with whatever it is that I am doing. Let me tell you how your prayers have helped my daughter, because my heart is overflowing! Trin will be 12 on August 5th. Being the only girl, the planner of our family and the most particular of my children, she starts talking about her birthday slumber party ages before I'm ready to think about it. A couple days ago she said she had settled on who to invite and wanted to work on invitations. My stomach dropped. I'm doing great, that's true, but I just don't think I'm going to be up for 5 or 6 giggling girls less than a month after surgery. But with all of my appointments and being in the hospital, we really hadn't had time to talk about it. So, fearing tears and a broken heart, I gently asked if we could do something easier this year. "I don't want to ruin your day just because I'm not 100% yet, but I just don't think I can handle a party like that right now, baby." She didn't cry a bit, and I was so relieved. She doesn't generally deal well with plans being changed...she gets an idea in her head and disappointment just crushes her from head to toe if it doesn't work. We talked about a couple other options that night and ended with, "well, think about it and see if there is something you would enjoy that wouldn't be quite so hectic for me." Tonight she came up to me and have me a big hug. "Mama, do you think instead of a party, you and I could just spend a day together? Just the two of us?" I almost cried right then. Of course, my beautiful baby! 12 years old and a whole day with Mama is as good as a slumber party. How blessed am I!? See how your prayers have helped my children? They are seeing past themselves and into the needs of others...right now, obviously, those are mainly my needs. Oh, Lord, let it continue! May this be a beginning that doesn't end! Teach my children to be servant minded, sacrificial in their relationships and always gracious when faced with the needs of those around them.
  And you, my dear reader, thank you so much for your prayers. I feel them daily; bolstering my faith, soothing my fears, easing my discomfort, changing me, changing my family. Maybe you and I have not met and will not meet face to face this side of heaven, but I want to thank you today for lifting my household up to the One we both serve. Some of you I do know personally. Some of you have joined hands with me and prayed. Your prayers are being answered, I assure you. Even the prayers for healing...maybe I am not being healed instantly as a divine gift, but I am healing with no unforseen consequences. And that is a gift in it's self. Be encouraged: God answers prayer!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A break, for which I am thankful

  So I saw the oncologist today. It will be a few months before I do the radiation. I'm really glad for the break. This should give me time to heal from surgery.
  All together, I think I've had 3 CT scans done. Each of them was "with contrast," which is some stuff they put in my system to help them see what they were looking for. Apparently the contrast has high amounts of iodine in it. In order for the radiation to work, my body needs to be starved for iodine. So now I have to wait 2 months for that contrast to get out of my system. During those 2 months, I will be on thyroid replacement medicine. Once my levels are normal, I will be taken off the medicine for 3 weeks to let my iodine levels sink even lower, so that by the time my treatment comes, my body will suck the iodine up quickly, and with it, the radiation. The radiation will kill any microscopic cancer that's left, and that should be the end if the cancer.
  I am so thankful that, since I have been afflicted with cancer, this is the type I have. The treatment is so precise and so effective that there is very little to fear. In addition, since I have little ones at home, and to make monitoring my radiation levels easier, I will spend my few days of radiation isolation in the hospital. It will be a very different stay from what I just left. I will be reading a lot, I'm sure. :-D Drinking lots of water is a must, and also sucking on lemon drops to keep the radiation from gathering in my saliva glands.
  In the mean while, I get to be home with my babies and my husband. Lots of hugs and cuddles. The relief of not having to rush off again after being away so recently is wonderful. So tonight I thank the Lord for this gift of time. Time to heal, time to relax, time to love and to be loved.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What God will do when you have faith

I have been through a lot in the past few weeks. Through it all, I have been held close to my Creator. I have been granted a measure of peace that was never mine to this depth before. I have been shown the loving hand of God as he uses my ugly disease to create beautiful relationships. I have been showered with gifts (both physical and intangible) from the least expected places. I am blessed.
  I am also recovering from 2 surgeries and dealing with very real consequences from those procedures. In addition, I still face radiation treatment. Not to mention that the knowledge that cancer has been in my body will hover forever in the back of my mind. It will tint decisions for my entire household. It will make previously ignored pains and aches something to think twice about. It has made me "grow up" in a very real way.
  Even so, my God is good. Every new thing I face, I am given the strength for it. I am more sober, but I am not without joy. I am more aware of each moment, but I do not fear those moments passing away. I am able to love more deeply...and to realize the value of expressing that love. Most days (as long as I am not exhausted) I have more patience. I pray that will stay, even when my strength grows as I recover. I listen more. Really listen. I can hear heartaches better, and my hugs hold more real compassion. All of these personal gifts I thank my savior for. He has truly been refining me. It is not a pleasant process, but I am so thankful He found me ready to pass through the fire!
  Part of a refiner's job is to remove impurities. A precious metal should not just be liquid ready to be reformed when it comes out, it should have had something removed that was less than absolutely perfect.

  This part is not easy for me...forgive me if I stumble a bit.

  In a previous post, I mentioned that I might lose something dear to me. And in one after that, I mentioned that my voice has changed. Now my desire is to be perfectly open and blunt about what was sacrificed in that second surgery. My voice has not just changed. It is almost gone. When I talk, I am recognizable...if you can hear me. My speech is low in volume and low in tone. I cannot reach the higher pitch people usually reserve for pets and babies. Since I usually speak in a lower tone anyway, volume is the most notable loss when you first speak to me. This is annoying, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I am incredibly greatful that my voice is not entirely different from what my husband and children are used to hearing, though they do notice a difference.
  What is entirely gone is my singing voice. For me, this is huge. If you don't know me, if this blog has been passed on to you, you have no way of knowing...this is huge. My whole identity has been summed up in my voice and my hair: "Do you know Rachel?" "Who?" "You know, the girl in choir with the long hair." "Oh, the soprano? Yeah, I know who you mean..." From singing in school choirs to specials in front of the church, it's been part of my entire life. Then I met Brad. My wonderful husband, formed to be perfect for me. And one of those perfections was that he sang! Played guitar, wrote his own I listened to him write, I would hear the harmony that would fill out his song. Before we were even married, I was singing with him. For thirteen years, we literally made music together.
  Now, that part of us is over. And it's sad. And we've cried a bit...maybe more than a bit. There is a feeling of lostness floating around that area of my heart.
  I'm not telling you so you will feel sorry for me, though I assume you will. I want you to know that I have lost something. In case you have lost something you will know it's ok to be sad. What do we do in these times colored by a "little" death?
  We have faith. Faith that God knows what He is doing, even if we have no idea. But I've heard that word applied in other ways too, and it frustrates me. I have to share, lest you fall into this mindset.
  Lots of people know by now that I've lost my voice. And I get so many responses...a very common one is, "Well, God can heal just have to have faith."  Or, "I just know God will restore your voice; you have so much faith!"
  I do have faith. I could not endure what has happened if it weren't for my faith. I have faith in my Creator, that He can heal me. I have faith in my Savior, that He has a plan for me. I have faith in my heavenly Father, that He will protect me from what I cannot handle. But my faith does not obligate God to do anything.
  You see, we've got it backward. We think of those who have faith as having this key to bending God's ear (and will) to their desires. But that's not what the Bible says about faith. Here is a brief overview from Hebrews 11 (ESV):

  By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God...
  By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain...
  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death...
  By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household...
  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
  By faith he went to live in the land of promise...
  By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive...
  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac...
  By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.
  By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.
  By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.
  By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents...
  By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter...
  By faith he left Egypt...
  By faith he kept the Passover...
  By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land...
  By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
  By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies...
  And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

  Do you see the pattern? God sets a plan in motion, and calls His faithful to execute that plan. Abraham didn't offer up Isaac just because he had faith that God would raise his son from the dead. He was told to offer Isaac, and the faith he had in the Almighty gave him the strength to obey. Noah didn't build an ark because he had faith that God would save him from a flood. God told him he would send a flood, and Noah's faith pushed him to build the ark in the midst of persecution and ridicule from everyone around him.
  God will not heal my voice simply because I have faith that He can. Make no mistake, I do have faith that my God can heal me completely! I have been too well blessed in the past month alone to doubt Him one bit. Rather, my faith is giving me the strength to walk the path He has chosen for me.
  I don't know why this thing that has been so dear to me is being asked for. But, unlike Abraham, I do not expect God to restore it to me. You see, Abraham had been told his descendents would be innumerable. Isaac was the only son, and if God were to keep His own promise, Isaac would have to be restored to Abraham. I have no such promise. God has never once in my life told me He was going to do great things with my voice. But He has been preparing me. I didn't know for what, I just knew I needed to be ready.
  And I am. My faith has given me all that I need...and I find that what I need is not complete healing, but rather complete dependence on the wisdom of my heavenly Father.
  If you find yourself without something you have held dear, have faith, my friend! Faith that God has a plan, that He is clearing the way for something greater, that He knows your hurts and counts your tears...that He will give you the strength (and even moments of pure joy) to survive this trial. This is faith. Knowing that you don't have all the answers, but He does, and choosing to trust Him when you cannot see the road.

  I have faith...and because of it I offer my voice as a sacrifice to His perfect will. One day He will make me perfect, and I will sing before His throne. But while I wait here on earth, my faith eases my loss.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Encouragement comes at just the right time. My great aunt sent me a card (thank you, by the way, to everyone who has sent cards and emails. I read them and re-read them, and they constantly bring me joy). I thought this card was particularly appropriate, and so I am sharing it with you:

The Oak Tree

A mighty wind blew night and day.
It stole the oak tree's leaves away,
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak tree was tired and stark.
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
"How can you still be standing, Oak?"
The oak tree said, "I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two,
Carry every leaf away,
Shake my limbs, and make me sway.
But I have roots stretched in the earth,
Growing stronger since my birth.
You'll never touch them, for you see,
They are the deepest part of me.
Until today, I wasn't sure
Of just how much I could endure.
But now I've found, with thanks to you,
I'm stronger than I ever knew."

Thank you, Lord, for being my roots, my rock, my foundation. I know I could never do this on my own. You have sent me people and songs and verses and letters that have given just the right encouragement and love and laughter at just the right times. You know me better than I know myself and You have prepared my way and provided for my weaknesses. I love You, Lord, and I pray I can glorify Your name no matter what I may face next.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. - Psalm 73:25-26

"I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages." ~Spurgeon

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A long, slow road

  My first surgery on Friday was a walk in the park. I was in church Sunday morning and felt great. I suppose I expected to bounce back from this one just as quickly, but it has not happened. Tuesday morning there were no delays getting started. I barely had time to say hello to our dear friends who had driven hours to sit with Brad. They called my name and whisked me off to the long, dreamless sleep. Surgery went well, but recovery is slow. They keep saying how well I am doing...I'm just taking their word for it because I am worn out!
  I have had so many wonderful people visiting me and caring for me. It's been incredible to see the outpouring of love that has happened over the past week or so.  It's Thursday evening now, and I'm alone for the moment. Brad is having a game night with the kids. Kay spent the afternoon with me (I mainly slept, which I think is exactly what she came here to make sure I did) and my mother will be here in a little while so I'm not alone all evening.
  They disconnected my fluids a little while ago, so now I am able to move around quite a bit more easily. I still have an IV in, mainly "just in case," I think. I have 2 drainage tubes that well be removed in the morning. It's hard for me to breathe...but I am walking on my own, I don't need help in the bathroom and I had a really good nap this afternoon. For these things I am very thankful. We are hoping I will be able to go home on Saturday.
  So much has happened in so little time. And now I have adjustments to make that will take quite a while. I am numb from my jawline to my collar bone. Moving my head, neck and shoulders requires some thought now. My breath is shallow and quick. My body only has 90% of the oxygen that it used doesn't sound like a big difference, but I can feel it! The breathing will get better as long as I stay active (which I am). The nerves may take years to repair themselves, but there is hope that one day they too will be back to normal.
  One of the two nerves that control my vocal chords is gone. This has changed my voice. For those of you who know me, you will understand how big this is for me. My voice isn't as different as I thought it would be. But I don't know if I will be able to sing again. And if I do, it will never be the same.
  Even in this God is merciful. There is a raspy, breathy sound when I speak...but I can still tell it's me. The louder I try to talk, the worse the difference. Maybe this is just God's way of cultivating a meek and quiet spirit in me! :-) None of my kids mentioned a difference at all, and I am thankful that this hadn't changed beyond recognition.
  I can already see good coming from my illness. God is allowing me to be a tool used to reconcile relationships, to encourage others and to show the love His people have for one another. So even though this recovery is going to be a long, slow road, I am choosing to enjoy the drive. Each new turn reveals something beautiful.

Monday, July 9, 2012


So far in my journey, I've only shared the good I've seen. And there is SO much good, SO MUCH that I am thankful for. It is my first reaction (and it is a proper reaction) for me to be thankful. But there are other emotions. I would be wrong to ignore them our pretend they don't exist. Jesus cried when He was here on earth. He knows what it is to feel loss and pain. He does not expect me (or anyone else) to be emotionless or only joyful no matter what comes our way. So, to be honest with you, today was hard.

  There are circumstances that I'm not ready to share with the general public yet. What I will share is that today, the day before this second, more aggressive surgery, was a possible "last day" for me in some regards. The probability is that after tomorrow, one area is my life will never be the same. And it's so much smaller than facing death, so much less than it could moments I feel silly for being sad. But I am sad. And I did cry. And I did do things once more, just in case it will be "never again." And I did my best to honor God while doing it.

  Here's the thing...death comes to this fallen, sinful world. My cancer is a direct result of sin and the curse upon the earth because of sin. The Bible tells us that rain falls on the just and the unjust. So I don't expect to escape life unscathed. I have seen comments people I don't even know are making because they've read my blog. "Incredible faith," "amazing woman," "sweet christian..." I take those compliments as a reflection of the peace that God has given me. But I am not as perfect as this makes me sound...however, God IS growing my faith, and He is allowing you to see it. So there must be a purpose in all of this. Without the cancer, how would my faith be shown? If there were no trials, would you know I trusted God? No, of course not...there would be no way you could see it in my life. But today I cried. Today I felt loss. Today I said goodbye to something that has been part of my identity for my entire life.

  And I can still tell you tonight that my God is good.

  He is perfectly able to protect me from loss...but He may ask me to die this little death for Him.

  To show His strength growing in me more perfectly.

  Maybe to remove one thing in my life that generates personal pride.

  To allow me to worship Him more perfectly.

  Maybe so I can really identify with someone who has lost an important part of themselves.

Whatever His plan, I pray:

"Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone and live so all might see the strength to follow Your commands could never come from me. Oh, Father, use my ransomed life in any way you choose, and let my song forever be, "my only boast is You!" Hallelujah, all I have is Christ, hallelujah, Jesus is my life!"

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 16:24-25

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My many blessings

  As much as I think I should feel bad for myself, all I can feel at the moment is blessed. I'm going to list the blessings God has given me as I face cancer.
  My wonderful husband. Even though I know he feels lost and helpless, he is with me every step. Sometimes it seems as though I'm comforting him, but just having him near comforts me. Knowing that the one who knows me better than anyone (and loves me anyway!) will hold my hand before I fall asleep and be waiting to tell me he loves me when I wake up gives me strength. It makes me smile my best for him. I can face this with him by my side.
  My beautiful children. Last night Trin had set out our plates with dinner, put salad in our bowls and even lit a candle. The boys did the dishes and the house was wonderfully clean. I've had hugs and cards from all four of them (Nana and sissy helped Michael with his card). They are worried about me, but I am happy to see them trust God in spite of their natural fear. All it takes to calm their tears is a hug and a reminder that God is in complete control. Last night we stopped at church and my two "adopted" children were immediately at my side. One getting me water, one bringing me food, both within reach the whole time I was there. I thought God brought Jazzy and Gordon to us so we could help them, but I was so thankful for the love they showed me last night. Now I know these relationships are as much for my benefit as for theirs. I am so blessed.
  My church family. This has two parts. The first part is a little white church across from Walmart full of loving people. From here meals have been organized for my family. My pastor's wife made sure she was there to be with Brad while I was in surgery. A young lady had volunteered to stay in my home to take care of my house, my kids and even my babysitting kids so that we don't lose income. The second part is all the people who don't attend my church but are still my brothers and sisters in Christ. The meals are being organized from my church, but as close as I can count, they are coming from 5 different church bodies. Thus is truly the body of Christ caring for one member that is in need.
  My doctors. I have had so many assurances that the people caring for me are knowledgeable and competent. They are also thoughtful and patient. And at least one of them is a believer, which is better than all the rest!
  Family. My in laws have cared for my children. My sister lent me her Kindle so I would be "connected" while I was in the hospital. Everyone has visited and loved on me in their own ways.
  Preparation. From the beginning, I have felt like God was preparing me for something big. I won't say, "I knew it was cancer, God told me." But I did have a sense of being prepared. Other than the first moment when they told me they saw "something" on my lung that needed a closer look, nothing has surprised me. I have just felt God gently saying, "be ready." Before I even had the stomach bug I had set up a meeting with Blue Ribbon Foods to get organic, natural meals in place. This one of the best ways I can help my body fight cancer, and God provided the means before I knew I had a need.
I'm sure there are more, but these are the big blessings that jump out at me right now. I pray they are an encouragement to you. God surely provides our every need!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Now that I know

I have cancer. I've stared at that sentence for a very long time now. Seeing it in print makes things much more real. Cancer is something that always happens to someone else... until you ARE the someone else. Please bear with me if I ramble a bit; this is the first time I've been alone with my thoughts all day. I'm writing tonight to tell you about the love of God. It may sound strange to you, considering that I am sending this out from a hospital bed. But as I said in my last blog, I have lost my ability to worry about this health issue. What I have been through today is proof that I do not need to worry. So I am going to share with you my testimony of this journey, and God's loving triumph over my fear. You may not know how I discovered that there was something abnormal going on, so I will start at the beginning. A little more than a month ago, I woke up with an upset stomach. As the day progressed, I had intense waves of pain in my abdomen. I also had a persistent fever. My dear friend, Kim, was concerned that I might have a tubal pregnancy. This was on a Monday. Of course, like most moms, I brushed it off and assumed I would get better. Tuesday I woke up fine, but by ten the pains and the fever were back. Kim called to check on me (always a nurse, even when she's off the clock!) and made me promise to call my doctor as soon as she hung up. So Tuesday afternoon found me getting blood drawn and peeing in a cup. The pregnancy test came back negative, my bladder and urinary tract were not infected. But my bloodwork showed signs of infection. I was told to come back the next day for a CT on my abdomen. Wednesday's CT preliminary results showed that my gall bladder and appendix were fine. I just had a virus! I remember telling the ladies at Bible study that night that I was thankful for my virus. I still am, but now for a different reason. By this late in the week, I was feeling almost back to normal. So the call on Thursday was a complete surprise. As my scan was examined more closely, they saw a nodule on my lower left lung. Since the scan was of my abdomen, they wanted a closer look. So a CT was ordered for my chest. On Monday we I had the chest CT done. I was going to wait (I can't think of why, now), but Brad told me to get it done as soon as I could. This time spots were found on my thyroid. A biopsy was done a week later on my thyroid (the spots on my lung are too small to worry about), but they were unable to get enough cells to make a diagnosis. I could have had a second biopsy, but the chances of surgery regardless of another biopsy were high enough that I decided to just do the surgery. The surgery happened yesterday (I started writing last this last night but got too tired to finish.). Surgery discovered that I do have thyroid cancer, and that it has spread to the nearby lymphnodes. Now I will need a more aggressive surgery to remove the rest of the thyroid and the lymphnodes. That will happen Tuesday. Now let me tell you how wonderful my Lord is! I have been protected throughout thi entire ordeal. I can look back and see the blessings that I didn't know were there when they were happening. I am so thankful for my virus! At first I was thankful because it meant I didn't have appendix or gall bladder issues. Now I am thankful because that virus led to the cancer being found. Do you see the insanely disconnected road that God led me down to show the doctors that something was wrong? There were no indications that I was sick. I would never have found the cancer without that virus. It would have been too late by the time I had any symptoms to have checked out. Not only did I get a virus that resulted in a CT, but that CT found spots that caused the second CT. And my wonderful husband was there, not letting me put it off. The decision to skip a second biopsy was a gut feeling. All along I felt that I was being prepared for something serious. Surgery was going to be needed, in my mind, so we just went ahead with it. I had perfect peace with that decision (though Brad was a bit overwhelmb,y the thought). As I was being prepared yesterday morning, the anesthesiologist told me what a wonderful surgeon I had. He went so far as to say that everyone on his team would want her, if they ever needed surgery. I was thankful for that reassurance, but it was nothing compared to what came next. When my doctor came in, she went over everything one more time, and then she asked if she could pray with me. What a blessing! She prayed for me, for my health, for herself as she operated, for her team as they helped her, and for my healing. It was heartfelt, and she was comfortable praying in front of others...I was thrilled to hear the confidence in her voice as she trusted our heavenly Father before she trusted her own skill. Again, I felt protected. I didn't choose my surgeon (I had no idea who to choose!) but I know God did. Over and over I see His hand guiding me, guiding decisions that are being made, guiding my doctors...and giving me peace every step of the way. I don't know what tomorrow holds. But I know that God has given me grace to endure each day as it comes.