Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Sheets household

Dear Friends and Family,
Merry Christmas from our house to yours! We hope you all are enjoying this season. Many of you know how our year has been so we will not bore you with the details. Our capstone statement will be... We learned so much about our weaknesses but, thankfully, far more about God's might and grace towards us. Jon and I have been reflecting over our year and how much God has blessed us with life, healing, jobs, and daily provision. However, His greatest gift is what we celebrate at this time, His Son. Through him we have salvation and an all-satisfying relationship with God. Our Christmas prayer is this, "Gift of Gifts" from the Valley of Vision. We hope you enjoy and have a wonderful Christmas!

Gift of Gifts
O Source of all Good,
What shall I render to Thee for the gift of gifts,
Thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, Proxy, Surety, Substitute,
His self-emptying incomprehensible,
His infinity of love beyond the heart's grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders:
He came below to raise me above,
He was born like me that I might become like Him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to Him He draws near on wings of grace,
to raise me to Himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
He united them in indissoluble unity, the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to Him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
He came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father,
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer's face,
and in Him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born Child to my heart,
embrace Him with undying faith,
exulting that He is mine and I am His.

In Him Thou hast given me so much that heaven can give no more.

Arthur Bennett, ed. Valley of Vision (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 16.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The death march to the copier...

I have been student teaching for almost three months now. I love the school. I love the schedule. I love the kids. I sincerely look forward to going to work each day. However, there is one thing that I dread… the copier.

Copiers have always made me nervous. They are huge, complicated beings with a fickleness that can make anyone’s day a bad one. Sometimes they work without a problem and they glide fluidly throughout their task. Sometimes they even seem joyful about their assignment and the papers seem to shoot out with excitement. However, there are days when the copiers wake up on the wrong side of whatever they wake up on. They gobble things up and spit things out not at all how you asked. They throw things off center just to be spiteful. And, if they really are repulsed, they scarf up the paper and hide it deep in their mechanical abyss never to be seen again. It is on such occasions that the light flashes in announcement that something has gone dreadfully wrong. It is then that one must perform surgery on this creature, opening up its belly and pulling out its internal organs in search of the lost document. The process is terrifying and complex.

Because of this vacillating nature, I always approach with trepidation. If there was a monster in my closet, I am pretty sure that it would have an odd resemblance of a copier. It can make my day continue on without a problem or it can create a havoc.

Sometimes humans are like copiers; or, perhaps, it is the other way around. We are fickle as well as we allow our moods to determine our interactions with the world around us. Some days we are jovial with others. Some days we are passive. Some days we are gruff and impatient. We can make the days of those around us cloud with the shadows of our sarcastic or curt remarks. Or, we can encourage others with our compassion and willingness to help.

As I walk slowly to the copier, I remember how I dread this temperamental contraption. I do not want to be a person who is dreaded like this copier. Yes, as humans, we are emotional beings. However, I want to approachable and consistent in my love and caring attitude to others. I want to demonstrate a rejoicing spirit.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In honor of those who are still fighting

The end of October is nearing. It has been three months since I was told that I am cancer free. Life seems to be moving on. The plans that were derailed are back on their tracks and chugging along. My body is feeling better. My hair is growing back. Even the foods that I abhorred so much because of the chemo are slightly tempting for me. (Except for the Taco Bell. Those commercials still make me nauseous.) However, for as much of me is moving on, I feel like it has been during these last few months that I have really had to reflect on what the Lord brought me through. It comes to me in spurts. During those hard six months, we just had to keep going, sometimes moving from one hard thing to the next without having the chance to contemplate all that was occurring. Now is the time of contemplation. This does not been a constant dwelling on myself or my story and certainly not a pity party. These few months have been a great contemplation, reflection, and perhaps new realization. There have been moments of repentance, humility, and, most certainly, praise.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. There is pink everywhere. I went through a quirky pink phase as a senior in high school and I am afraid that it is not completely gone. I am attracted to the pink t-shirts, the pink ribbons, the pink icings, and especially the pink Swiffer. However, this month holds more meaning for me beyond my lingering affinity for pink. It reminds me that, although I did not face breast cancer, I have faced cancer. I remember what it was like to be scared in the doctor's examining room. I remember what it felt like to sit on the examining table and feel cold and fragile. I remember the dripping of the chemo medications. I remember the weakness and forgetfulness. I remember the hairs falling. I remember the radiation. I remember.
I remember. However, there are those who are still living this reality. For those that are still fighting, I am praying for you. I am praying for comfort. I am praying that you will hear the doctors say the same words that were said to me, "you are cancer free." Most of all, I am praying that, even though it may feel like you are living a nightmare, you will see that there is a God who provides grace and eternal salvation. He provides comfort. He gives healing, if not in this life than in the eternal life that is to follow before his throne in heaven. He loves you and wants you to have a relationship with Him so that you may be truly satisfied in Him.
I remember staring at myself in the mirror, looking at the lump that was lying below my skin. It amazed me that something inside was my greatest danger. And I could not eradicate it on my own. If left unchecked and unaltered, it would lead to death. Cancer gave me a picture of sin. Like my cancer, it was my greatest danger and would lead to death. I was helpless on my own. But how great the impact of my doctor's words that there was a cure. Suddenly I realized what a great gift I had been given. Your cancer may not have a set and definite cure. However, Christ's death on the cross was the definite cure for our sin. With Him there is surety. We must repent of our sin and turn and surrender to Him out of trust and thankfulness for this great gift. Hearing that there was a cure for my cancer was good news. However, the power of the Gospel, that there is salvation from sin, is truly Good News.
October is about to pass. Soon there will no longer be as many pink labels on the store shelves. Soon I will not cry every time I cut out all of the pink ribbon coupons. However, there will still be those fighting. I will continue to think about you all. I will continue to pray. I will continue to marvel how God can use even a disease as horrible as this for His own purposes and glory.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back in January, I would have never thought this day would come. Sure, I still planned and prepared, however, part of me thought that I would never be here, walking down the aisle to the most amazing man. Little girls often dream about their wedding day. They dream of the dress, the flowers, the colors of the bridesmaids' dresses, and their Prince Charming awaiting them. Most anticipate perfection and bliss. All anticipate the happily ever-after.
Most do not think about cancer.
When I was first diagnosed, I wanted to get married right then and there before all of the treatment happened. Jon was ready too. My parents even gave their blessing. We all thought that undergoing treatment would be somewhat easier if Jon and I were married. I, selfishly, just wanted to look the way I had always dreamed on my wedding day, with hair and all. We made that decision on the night before I was to have my small surgery to insert my port through which I would receive the chemotherapy drugs. The next morning, after the surgery, I woke up to find that the surgery had not worked and they would have to keep me in the hospital to give me my first chemo. When my doctor asked about the wedding decision, I burst into tears. I told her that we had wanted to get married before all of this chemo mess began. She looked at me and said, "Well, we do have a chapel in the downstairs of the hospital." That only made me cry more. It seemed that my wedding was not going to be anything like what I had dreamed of.
My wedding dress hung in my room those six months. My friends came one weekend and asked if I would put it on and show them. I remember putting it on and being disappointed. I did not have my long hair to curl and pull to the side. Instead, I had very little hair and two scars on my neck. I was dreading having to walk down the aisle. I recall praying to God to change my heart from dwelling on the outward appearance. Cancer was doing nothing to bolster my pride about my body; however, God was using it to shape my heart.
Seven months later...here I was on my wedding day. Mom helped me to get in my dress. As I looked in the full length mirror I remarked, "Mom, this is not what I had planned, but this is better." I would walk down the aisle realizing all that I did not deserve but what God was so graciously giving me, a clean bill of health, a chance to move forward, a wonderful husband. My wedding day was not what I had planned. However, it was infinitely better because I realized that this is what God had planned from the beginning of time. Instead of rejoicing at how I had brilliantly pulled off an amazing ceremony and reception, I stood beside Jon at the front of the church, in awe of our God.
The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Jeremiah 31:3

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Almost there...but I don't know yet

Sorry for not posting in so long. Life has been much busier since treatment ended. Yes, treatment has ended! Radiation is done. I am still waiting for my final scan and doctor's appointment on July 14th. I am praying they say that the scan is clear and this period of life is over. Meanwhile, I am busy tutoring, preparing for the wedding, and watching my hair grow back. (I am thrilled about the hair on my head growing but not so thrilled about the leg hair coming back as well.)
With treatments coming to a close and with an end to all of this in sight, I have been reflecting on the last few months. Many times people say that trials are good. They show you how strong you really are and they make you even stronger. But they don't mention that they expose sin, those deeply entrenched sins. Those sins that even you did not realize had such a grip on you. They don't mention how trials cause you to question or become angry. Or that there will be just as many moments of fear as there are moments of faith. The truth is you come out humbled. Job did. Sometimes you come through it, ending that race in tears or in a desperate collapse. This is no glory moment for you. We are not superheros here.
I remember climbing a mountain in Ecuador called Illinizas. Going up was tough. Next to battling cancer, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. I was trying to cling to the side of this mountain when every rock was falling around me. Nothing seemed safe and I was praying so hard. All of a sudden my "big talk" about scaling this thing had ended and I was praying just to survive. Almost to the very top, I stopped and just clung to the side of the mountain. I thought that I would never make it down. But I did make it down the mountain...on my butt. Talk about not-so-graceful. I scooted down the dusty side of the mountain on my rear end. When I finally got down to where I could walk, I had a huge red dust mark on the back of my jeans.
Sometimes I feel like this is how my journey through cancer has been. I would not change the experience because the Lord has taught me so much about clinging and depending. However, I have been humbled. It has not always been pretty. But God is faithful. There are still marks on my body, like the red mark on my pants, that will remind me of the journey and the struggle. They will always remind me of how small I am and how infinitely loving God is to have guided me through.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Radiation, running, and...ice cream

Radiation... I am now going into my third week of radiation. Only five more treatments to go. I have already been through 10 and I must admit that this experience has been much more pleasant that chemo. After a few doctor's appointments to set me up with a mold of my upper body (I got to feel like Han Solo when they were making this thing) and to line me up underneath the laser, I was ready to go. My routine is that I go in, scan my card, go to the dressing room, get dressed in a gown, the nurses come and get me, put me in my mold (I really do not know how a claustrophobic person would be able to handle that one), and zap me! I am in and out within 10 minutes usually. That is way better than six hours of chemotherapy.
Radiation does make you think though. It was such a surreal experience the first time I went in. You do not feel a things, however, all I could think was, "How in the world did I get here?" I would have never guessed that I would be doing this at the age of twenty-two during my last summer at home. Yet, here I am laying underneath a laser. Thank you, God, for medical technology and please let this take it all away.
Running... I am back to running and working out now. It is a slow process of getting back into shape but I am thoroughly enjoying it. Running makes me feel like I am doing something, that I am fighting something. It is hard to feel like you are fighting a disease when you are horizontal on the couch all of the time. Running is active. It is a struggle. And it makes you feel like you are battling. Exercise is also one of the only things that seems to ward off some of the fatigue that comes with radiation.
Ice cream... Radiation is a cake walk until it comes to the radiation sore throat. Because of where I am receiving radiation (on my neck) it makes my throat feel very sore. The only way I know how to describe it is like swallowing two ping pong balls but they are stuck in the upper part of your throat. It hurts really bad to swallow, so I have been doing soft foods like Jello, pudding, protein shakes, and lots and lots of ice cream. Thankfully, Janie, my sister, works at an ice cream parlor and brings me home ice cream all the time. The throat thing really stinks, but I may never have the opportunity to eat ice cream like this again. Just take joy in the small things!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reflections of a graduate

This past weekend I graduated from college. As I went to graduation practice, met up with friends, and finally walked in commencement, I mulled over what the last four years have been like. Here are some of the lessons I have learned.

* Sometimes, you know where you are going but you do not know exactly why you are going there and that is okay. I could not put my finger on why I was going to High Point University; all I knew is that God was saying "go" and I could not resist.
* Living with someone who is unlike you can be difficult, but you will grow a lot.
* Having good girl friends is essential. Girls, thanks for so many laughs and great conversations.
* We must never think that at any particular moment "we finally got it" or "we arrived at perfection." You will always look back on your freshmen year with fondness but also with the thought that "Man, I was an idiot back then."
* Change happens! and in reference to the above lesson...this is a good thing.
* Creativity in life is a must. In classes, in projects, in entertaining yourself on the weekends, and in reforming dining hall food to look more appealing.
* Spontaneity can be a wonderful thing.
* Late night milk shake runs are a must. Loud music on the car ride there is preferable.
* Studying with someone else leads to great conversations on class material and on life.
* Taking classes with the "crazy" professors is always best. They have more zeal for the subject matter and you will learn in this environment.
* People will enter and exit. Treasure the moments.
* God changes hearts, not you. He calls you to be faithful and He does the work.
* There are moments when you will feel panicked. Whether those moments happen during a late night study session or in having to do something you have never done before. Trust. Not yourself or your abilities. But the Lord.
* Alone time is good.
* Take a fun class every once in a while, something not in your major. At what other time in your life are you going to be able to take a film class.
* Do not sign up for a class just because it sounds challenging. If you do not like Economics or Greek and Roman history, do not sign up for Honors History: the study of the economics of Greek and Roman societies. Poor life choice!
* Encourage one another.
* Grades are not everything.
* Sometimes, things just build up and then the breaking point may be something little and seemingly insignificant like a green bean on your pizza from the dining hall. Prayerfully deal with things as they occur. Do not think you can handle it all.
* College kids like to dress up. Dances always seem to have themes. Therefore, it is important to find a good local thrift store.
* Coffee is necessary. Make friends with the baristas.
* Exam time will always remind you that you are human and not all-knowing.
* Life does not happen just like you visualized or planned. And that is okay.
* There are moments when you realize how awesome God is. It might be on the drive home for fall break as you get to see how the leaves have changed colors. It might be as you study astronomy. It might be as you stand on the side of a volcano during study abroad. It might be while you are alone in your dorm room and you feel small compared to all that is going on around you.

These are just a few lessons. Above all, I realized what Paul said in Philippians; knowing Christ is the highest pursuit. All else changes and fades.
Congratulations graduates!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Reactions to Change

On Tuesday afternoon I went to the doctor. I thought that it would be the routine check over and hoped that the doctor would tell me what she and the other board of doctors had decided regarding my case. I was prepared to hear that they would give me 5 more doses of chemo and that would be that. However, I was not prepared to have my doctor tell me that I had only one more chemo and then radiation! It shocked me and that shock sent a wave of thoughts and emotions through my body.

Hold on! Radiation? I thought we were trying to avoid this because of data that shows that it could cause cancers later in life. Are you sure about radiation? How did we reach this decision?

My doctor said that some of the radiation technology has improved and that she felt comfortable with this route.

Woohoo! Last chemo on Friday! I'm done! Done with those drugs! Will I get my picc line out of my arm? What? On Friday? Right after chemo? YES! The worlds longest and most relaxing shower is about to happen! I can go lift weights! I can go out without feeling self-conscious about the tubes coming out my arm!

You will meet with the radiation oncologist next week.

What does radiation hold? Are we making the right decision? What if it does produce cancer later in life? What will radiation be like? Radiation or chemo? Suddenly it all seems like pick your poison.

You will be done with chemo!

Done? That's great! It's so easy to rejoice, especially with others and my family. But, in the alone moments, it's harder. What about others who are not done? What about the girl who is only one chemo behind me and has a very similar case? Will she be done? What about the other patients who seem to see no end to the cycles of chemo? I feel guilty for being so blessed. When I walk out of this cancer center, I will be viewed as the unlucky one, the one who has cancer. However, in the cancer center, I am the lucky one; I am the fortunate one. Why me? How do I go to my last chemo and look at the others who might be there off and on for a year more? Thank you, Jesus, for letting me done; but, what about the others? As you can see, Lord, I still wrestle with your sovereignty.

Alright, that will be all. Congratulations!

Thank You, Lord. Like salvation from sin, I am undeserving. Thank You for your grace. Please, continue to sustain me. I am nothing without You.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dear fellow patient and friend

I know exactly where you are right now. You, like me, are sitting in a reclining chair hooked up to the medicine that drives your body crazy but is slowly healing. I am thinking of you. We are buddies now. There is something about facing a similar hardship that drives you together. There is a bond.
I am praying for you. I know that we were both not expecting this. We were both planning on being done with this sooner. But God is sovereign and we are both learning to lean on His grace. We are learning lots of lessons about our Lord. Many times there are questions. Sometimes there are answers. Always there is the peace that we are not alone in this. I am praying that God heals your body quickly. I am praying that this treatment goes well. I am praying that you will have joy in all things.
They are walking and running in honor of us today, in honor of all who are fighting a similar battle. I feel humbled and grateful and honored all at the same time. They have named the team after me. However, all I could think of when I woke up today was you. They are doing this for you and for me. They are doing this so that you and I will have more birthdays. More birthdays, not just to enjoy life on earth, but to tell others about our Sovereign Lord and His glorious Gospel. How profound...we have more time. Time to do what with our lives? I am convicted by the idea.
I hope you are doing well. It is chilly in my treatment room; is it chilly in yours? Are you staring out a window like I am? We will get through this, I know. God will get us through the moments that make up days and the days that make up the long months ahead. Just know, I am thinking and praying...for you.
Your friend

(this post is in honor of Don Callahan, a man from my church in High Point who is going through chemotherapy treatment as well)

Friday, April 1, 2011


On Saturday evening Mom, Dad, and I went to a Isle of Wight Humane Society function. We were off to see the doggies. I had seen some puppies online and knew of one that I was specifically interested in adopting. On the drive over I prayed she would be there.
And she was! There in a pen was a small Australian Shepherd mix pup. They called her Bobbie because she had a slight vision/balance problem and looked like a bobble head. I picked her up and held her and knew that she was the one I wanted.
Yes, Mom and Dad allowed me to adopt a puppy! And I am so thankful. She has helped to take my mind off of so many overwhelming things. She has given me a playmate and friend.
I named her Pichincha after a volcano in Ecuador. Mount Pichincha sits right by Quito and I used to see it every morning when I looked out the kitchen window. It was such a pretty mountain. So her name is Pichincha and we call her Chincha for short, or if you are dad, Chichi.
She is just a little bit quirky, but we like that. We love that she is quite content to take naps in between our feet as we work at the kitchen table during the day. And we think it is quite comical that she often walks right into us when we are taking her for walks.
I was thinking this morning as I did my devotions. God is the Giver of all things. He gives rain to the ground, as we have seen this past week. He gives grace when we are struggling and even when we are "doing okay." I know this may sound hokey, but I was thanking Him for Chincha. I was thanking Him for all things, even puppies. He is the Giver of all good gifts. His gifts do not satisfy, however, they point us back in thankfulness the the Giver who does.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Happiness is many smiles...

Thank you for your prayers. God is so gracious and good in providing the strength and grace for each day, each moment. To Him alone be the praise!
Last weekend Jon and I got to travel to High Point, NC to see friends and family. We arrived on a sunny Friday morning and spent the day chatting with friends. It was so wonderful to see my Spanish professors at High Point University. I feel like they are the "Dream Team" down there! What amazing people! Then, we got to sit and talk with friends on the couches in Slane. It was such an encouragement to both of us. So many smiles and so many hugs. The Rosses let us stay with them and we enjoyed catching up as well as continuing the forever-long argument of which school is better, UNC or NC State. Everytime I go into that house I am assaulted with genuine love and, of course, Tarheel blue. Throughout the weekend we spent time with friends and family, enjoying great conversations and so many laughs. Those times are precious to me. They are like gold.
Then, this week I had the privilege of substitute teaching for the Spanish teacher at my high school. I had a blast! Thank you, Lord, for such a great opportunity! I so enjoyed being in a classroom and teaching my favorite language in the world.
And now I am back in the treatment room. I hate the thought of being in bed for the next few days, however, God has a plan, even for those days when I am sick and in bed. And I can worship Him even from a horizontal position.

I am learning...

about delighting in simple things
about how much smiles mean
the compassion of others
about the love of my Father

about the power of laughter
the excitement of flowers
about the flow of tears
about the grasp of fears

the beauty of a bald head
the comfort of being led
about grace and humility
about standing before Majesty

the stillness of silence
about weighing resistance
about weakness and pain
the joy of feeling yourself again

about patience and resting
the hard battles of wrestling
about leaning and trusting in
the wonder of the Sovereign

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I have often wondered what it was like for Jacob that one night in Peniel. Jacob was facing a crisis in his life; he was preparing to meet his vengeful brother, Esau. He divided up his family and went off to be alone. He had no idea what he would face the next day. During that night, he wrestled with a Man. Little did he know, he was wrestling with God.
I have felt a lot like Jacob over the past week. Chemo looks like it will take longer than I had hoped. In fact, doctors are not sure what route they will take yet (either chemo, radiation, or perhaps a combo). This week I have felt like I have been wrestling. I do not know what the future holds. I feel like I cannot even get a grasp on the present. I have felt angry, depressed, and apathetic. It has been a struggle to take joy. I have gone through a heart's wrestling with the Father.
I wonder if Jacob fought for control that night. I wonder if he fought to protect what he idolized. I wonder if he fought out of fear. In the course of wrestling, God causes his hip to come out of joint. No wrestler leaves a fight unscathed. This injury would remain for the rest of his life. Job was humbled as well after his own wrestling match with the Lord. We walk away, humbled, because we have stared the Almighty in the face and He has proved victorious over our sinful hearts. We walk away remembering, that although we are dust, God loves us and blesses us through the Gospel.

Prayer Requests:
* One of the side effects of chemo is hormonal changes. This basically just means an emotional roller coaster. Please pray for grace. Tears come easy and joy seems so far.
* Pray for mental strength. It is hard to concentrate on reading and writing as well as other tasks.
* Please pray that I can share the Gospel with some of my nurses as well as other patients.

Thank you so much for your prayers.

And in every season, we are satisfied. For just one reason, Christ was crucified.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cancer: My fairytale

I sat on the front row of the Denbigh Baptist Christian School talent show and dinner. I was having serious regrets about the hotdog that I had just consumed (this was the Monday after chemo and I was still nauseous) but was still enjoying the music of the evening. Three girls stood on stage and sang one of those country songs that describes a fairytale existence for a girl. My guess, it was by our favorite country girl star, Taylor Swift, who continually sings about every girl's dream life. I remembered back to a few summers ago when I was driving with a couple of girls from the youth group I was leading at the time. We had the windows rolled down and we were belting out one of these songs. You have to admit, Swift does create some great car singing music, at least for us girls.
Life had seemed like such a fairytale then.
Things in my life seem to have fallen into place perfectly. I had a wonderful family. I was going to a great school and studying what I had wanted to study all my life. I had met the perfect guy, he had romanced my socks off, and we were going to get married. I would graduate and we would live happily ever after with several kids and a dog. Everything seemed to be working out according to my plans.
Then, I was diagnosed. Everything seemed to be falling apart. Would I graduate? Would I get a job? How were we going to live? Was I going to beat this cancer? Suddenly, I looked around and thought, "I am not living in a fairytale anymore." There was no way cancer had been part of the plan.
At the start of these girls' rendition of their fairytale song, I was mourning the loss of my fairytale. I was hoping that their dreams did not get battered like mine. However, as I sat there, I thought about God's plan for my life. As a Christian, I believe that He is daily, and in every circumstance, moving to draw me closer and closer to Himself. Romans 8:18-30 speaks of suffering yet also about how God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. He is conforming us to the image of His Son. My "good" is not ultimately that I will be cured or that I will one day have the career and family that I always dreamed of. My "good" is knowing Christ more.
Cancer is part of my fairytale.
Although cancer seems to have taken so much from me (student teaching, last semester at college, my physical fitness, and my love for cheeseburgers), it has not taken away my love for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In fact, it is making me love Him more. Daily I have to battle to be content with where He has me and to trust in Him when I do not know what even the next day brings. Daily I must remember the Gospel, that Jesus Christ died to pay for my sins so that I might know Him now and one day be with Him forever. Even though it is such a day by day struggle, I am falling deeper and deeper in love with Jesus Christ. Cancer has not taken away my fairytale dreams. God is using this to draw me closer and closer in the ultimate fairytale of being wooed by Christ.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


"For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." Philippians 4:11

Four treatments down...an unknown amount to go. God is sure showing this OCD planning chick that she must rest in Him. Hopefully I have reached the half way point, but we will not know until next week after another PET scan and doctor's visit.
This past treatment has been rough so far. My nurse told me that the effects are sometimes cumulative and so it might get worse with more treatments. Here is how the effects usually work. I get treated on Fridays. It takes about 6 hours and I leave feeling very "plump" and full of drugs. That usually leaves me in a woozy state and I sleep very hard that Friday night. Saturday is typically not so bad. I am usually a little tired but not so bad. However, this Saturday the nausea hit and stayed most of the day. Sunday is my sleeping day. I told Mom as I crawled back into bed this morning, "I'm really good at this sleeping thing." My body feels like it weighs a million pounds and Mom chases me around with liquids to try to hydrate me. To be quite honest, I do not really give her a good chase. When your legs feel like lead there is no escape. Tomorrow is when my mouth will begin to hurt. The cells in your mouth are rapidly dividing and therefore are subject to the effects of the drugs. This aching lasts for about 2 days but makes it hard to get liquids down. However, as each day progresses I get back more and more strength. Other weird effects such as hot flashes and gum soreness and, of course, hair loss. This is all an interesting process of learning how my body works and how drugs can affect it.
One interesting effect has been termed "chemo brain." Basically, it makes me feel stupid. I am not exactly sure how this thing works. Short term memory seems to be affected the most. Jon has now taken to following me around with a notepad so that if I say that I need to do something, he writes it down so I will not forget. It is the most frustrating thing! Thinking seems so much harder and there are times when I will be speaking and forget what I am saying. We laugh at it most days because it is so funny to think about, but it is a very real battle. Cancer and treatment are a humbling process. I call the chemo brain battle "the battle not to feel stupid."
God is teaching me so many things during this time. Contentment is one lesson.
It is very hard for me to be still. I like being busy and I like being able to accomplish many things all in one day if not all at one time. With treatment, that goal is ten times harder and often impossible. The Lord is teaching me to be content despite the effects of chemo and despite my unfulfilled "to do" lists. My prayer is that God would cause me to be content in whatever state I am. Contentment and patience are not apathy and indifference. It is easy to become the latter two when you are going through a time in which you cannot control so many aspects of your life. However, contentment and patience are worth fighting for. They are an acknowledged dependence and an active resting in the Lord. We all are dependent upon the Lord; many times we just fail to live consciously dependent. Contentment and patience are a battle; apathy and indifference are simply resign. Contentment and patience are worship; apathy and indifference are not.
I had never dreamed that I would spend my twenty second birthday wearing a scarf around my head and feeling like a cancer patient for the first time (my hair is thinning quite a bit now). I had never dreamed that I would not be at my university that day (I did however spend it with my amazing sister Janie at her university and it was the best birthday ever!). I had never dreamed that I would be preparing for treatment on the following day... And never in a million years would I have thought that Jon and I would be talking through tears about how wonderful our faithful God is and how far He has miraculously brought us in two months.
I am learning contentment; and I am rejoicing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

As Long as You are Glorified

So last week I received a CD in the mail. It says that I ordered it. However, I have no recollection of ordering this music. Now it could have been ordered by me while I was taking some kind of medication, but looking at the date that it was ordered, I do not think that was a possibility. Perhaps, it was some kind, anonymous soul who thought that I would need the message of this music. Thank you, whomever! I did need it!
I thought I would share one song because it has been echoing in my mind since I first played it. Click on the title below and enjoy the video with the song and its lyrics. Hope this can not only be my theme song but yours as well.

As Long as You are Glorified

Friday, February 11, 2011

Third Chemo Treatment

Hi, everyone! I am sitting in my third treatment and thought I would blog a bit. So many people have asked me what the actual chemo process is like, so I thought that I would share. Hope this is informative!
My every-other Friday date begins by arriving at the cancer center with a load full of stuff; it really looks like we are moving in with the amount of stuff we have. However, we assure the nurses that despite the huge bags we are bringing with us, we will not be staying. This time I reserved a private room for treatment. In the group room you are permitted only one guest. Yet, Janie and Sarah, my cousin who is a P.A. in Atlanta (I have been proudly showing her off and telling everyone that she is a P.A. so I thought I would tell you), wanted to hang out with me on this chemo day and my nurse was happy to accommodate. So we arrived and another nurse took my vital signs. Meanwhile, Janie started to turn on some rap music to really get this party started up in here.
Here at the treatment offices every patient is assigned a nurse that will be with you every day of your treatment. My nurse is a wonderful, bubbly lady named Trish. When I say wonderful I mean that she is absolutely amazing and makes me smile every time I come in. She begins my bloodwork to see how my levels are and if I can accept treatment. After the labs come back she starts my IV and brings in my "goody bag", three drugs that combat nausea. After those settle in, the chemo begins.
For my type of cancer, there is a standard treatment ABVD. It is four drugs that are put into my IV line one after the other. Therefore it is just sitting and waiting for them to drip in. Some are what they call a "push" where my nurse puts a syringe full of the drug in my IV line over a certain amount of time. This allows for great talk time with my awesome nurse! One of the drugs is red and is known as the "Red Devil." It causes the fatigue and hair loss. It is the doozy! Right now I am on my last drug which takes two hours to drip in. Then the nurse will change the dressing on my PICC line (which is basically a catheter in my arm and is a God-send when it comes to drawing blood) and we will be out of here! Afterwards I just get really sleepy. Later comes the fatigue, about one or two days later.
Today has been a great day and the last few days have been awesome too. Praise God for giving me strength and for giving me joy after several not-so-joyful days. It is so great to see how God, who is our ultimate joy, gives us an all-satisfying joy in Himself.
That basically sums it up. Again, thank you for your prayers and as always...thank you for reading.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Last few days with hair

Jon and I enjoyed a great night out for an early Valentines Day date! It is so wonderful to have my best friend and the love of my life here. I am praising God for His goodness. He is growing us both a lot as we go through this together.

Dear God,

Dear God,
I feel so alone today. I feel so down. Did you notice all of the hair dropping to the floor of the shower and swirling towards the drain? Did you see my shaking hands with strands intertwined between my fingers? I shook because my nightmares were coming true. I was just a humbled, naked body trembling in the shower.
This is such a humbling process, Lord. First, you are told that something within your own body is dangerous; in fact, it could kill you and it is lying just beneath your skin. You can see the lumps. Dreams and plans are taken or shifted for an unknown amount of time called "treatment." Doctors appointments are the only things marked out on your once filled planner. The word "cancer" continues to be a blow to the gut. You do not feel like going out because you are self-conscious about the two scars that now adorn your neck. You receive more cards and phone calls on the day of your sister's, and best friend's, birthday than she does. You feel like you have messed-up everyone elses plans. "Treatment days" come and they pump fluids into your body for hours. Some days after, you struggle to do basic things on your own. It is an emotional battle. Why put on make-up? You only wear sweatpants. Showering means help is needed. You can't go out. You bake a cake because you are bored. There are many times that you just sit and stare out into space. You feel lonely, sometimes even though someone is right beside you. No one quite understands. Part of you wants to run away. Everyday seems like a roller coaster with all of your ups and downs. Your body aches, but not as much as your soul. You hate yourself for how you are. You should be stronger, more okay. You avoid mirrors. You have no idea about the future; in fact, the present is baffling enough. You feel so far from normal.
I have shouted and wept before you. I have gritted my teeth at you. I have cried out. I have resisted. I have rested. I have bowed; and sometimes I have bended and tried to do things on my own as you broke me.
You have pursued and watched over me. You have been gracious. You have been faithful. You have convicted and comforted me with your Word. You have used the words of others to humble me. Daily you bestow hurdles and blessings and the grace to accept them both.
You know all of those question words that we studied in the sixth grade English class? What? Why? Where? How? How much? I have memorized them by now because they frequent my mind. Actually, they are trapped there; bouncing and reverberating off the sides.
A friend wrote me a letter; she included a verse at the end. "Rejoice always." I wanted to scribble the verse out and forget that it ever existed. How could you ask me, how could you command me to rejoice right now? I feel so "not-in-the-mood"? But you are the God who never changes and your commands never change. I am to take joy in you even when I don't feel like it. I am to obey.
So today, Lord, I need grace. I need grace to have joy.
I have been so overwhelmed by this, Father. I feel like I am floundering. Would you overwhelm me with yourself? I feel tiny. Is it wrong to pray for a miracle? Is it wrong to pray that you would deliver me from this? Or should I just go through this? Show me yourself, God. I feel like that Spanish praise song that I learned while I was in Ecuador; I am just a small girl before you. However, you love me, although I am nothing. How great is your love, Lord. Overwhelm me with your love. Right now I feel so far from the strong woman that people tell me that I am. I am just a tiny girl looking out the window wondering, timidly, what in the world is going on and what comes next. But I will trust in your love. I will trust in your mercies.

(this is from my prayer journal a few days ago)

Friday, January 28, 2011


I thought that as I was sitting here in the chemo room I would write a blog entry and let you know how things are going.
In the past 24 days I have had to make so many decisions. Decisions about which doctor to go to. Decisions about scheduling tests and treatments. Decisions about plans for school. Decisions about when to get married. Decisions about whether or not to see a fertility doctor as chemo can possibly create infertility problems later. Decisions about whether or not to go ahead and cut my hair. Decisions about what to eat on chemo days. (I have learned that the food that I eat on chemo days later becomes a food that I do not want to ever see again. So, from the last treatment, I do not want to eat a cheeseburger and crinkle cut fries ever again. Today, Jon and I are stopping at Taco Bell after treatment to eat one of their mysterious tacos. That is one food that I think I can be okay detesting later... I should detest it now.)
Despite all of the difficult decisions over the past few weeks, the hardest decision has been one that I have had to make every day. That decision has been to trust and take joy in the Lord. It has not been an easy decision and there are days that I sin in worry, doubt, and discontentment. But there are also days where God blesses me with a peace and a joy that are found in Him alone. He is satisfying me with His Word and providing daily reminders of His goodness through encouraging notes and comments from others. From this chair in the chemo room, I sit back amazed at His goodness and how He is so gracious to me, one who is so prone to wander from Him.
Yes, there have been many decisions and many changes in my life over the past 24 days. Some days it is hard settling in to what is the now "normal" of my life. Plans have changed but God is constantly reminding me that while things have changed my purpose still remains; that the Gospel would be proclaimed wherever I am. There is comfort in the fact that amidst change my life's purpose stays the same. I still am a worshiper of the Most High and I am still to pursue others to be worshipers of Him too.

"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

Thank you all for your prayers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Psalm 3:5

My New Years resolution was to pursue holiness. Never in my life did I think that God would chose to sanctify me in this manner.
Over the past three weeks I feel as if my life has been turned upside-down. The first Tuesday in January I was diagnosed with a cancer called Hodgkin's lymphoma. The lumps that I had been feeling in my neck while I was in Ecuador finally had an explanation. Up until this point, through all of the tests in Ecuador and a few back in the States, I had been counting how many times I had to have blood drawn. After my first visit to the oncologist's office, I decided that I should stop counting. There was a long road ahead of me.
There are a myriad of emotions that come with change. Being the meticulous planner that I am, mourning was what washed over me as all of my plans seemed to be thrown out the window. Student teaching, graduation, and a wedding in July seemed to be all "ifs" instead of the planned dates that they were on my calendar. I battled through anger. Why in the world would God let me go through this? After one particularly hard tearful night when I felt like I was screaming at God, He led me to this verse the next morning. It is a verse in Job 2 when Job's wife tells him to curse God and die for the suffering that Job was having to endure. Job's response was "shall we take the good from God and not the bad?" (Job 2:10) Suddenly I was weeping before my Savior. I had just spent four months relishing and rejoicing in my Sovereign God who kept me safe in a sometimes dangerous foreign country, provided friends that "just fit", and even amazingly helped me get back home on time despite computer glitches and airline problems. I was so ready to boast in His sovereignty then; however, I was angered by His will now. Conviction set in.
God has provided many reminders of His sovereignty even despite the hardships. He provided a fantastic doctor, who upon my first visit said that she was praying for me. He has given me strength to get through the preliminary appointments even though every time I was looking at possible escape exits should I decide to bolt. He supplied peace as I was unexpectedly put in the hospital for 5 days due to complications. And He has been faithful to grant me energy to make it through my first chemo treatment. He is so faithful and good.
I told my mom today that this is such a humbling process. (Mom and I have been spending a lot of time together by the way. She is my loving caretaker. She told me that she wanted to spend time with me before the wedding...so...) Every morning I wake up and lie in bed for about five minutes. Life feels normal and I think that maybe all of this has gone away. But it hasn't. And my body usually lets me know that when I try to move. But there is a time for everything, and now this is my time for chemo. It is a humbling time. And every day is a battle to trust the Lord and to take joy in Him. Sometimes I feel that I am giving the same look to God that I give mom almost everyday (usually at the doctor's office); I look at her with tears in my eyes and say, "I'm trying." I'm trying. I'm trying to trust. I'm trying to take joy. And God is faithful to meet me where I can't even begin. He gives me faith and He gives me joy.
I have received so many cards and letters that have humbled and encouraged me. Thank you for the prayers and verses; they have been such a comfort. But one second grader, who I don't know, sent me a card with this verse, and I cried. "I lie down and sleep. I wake again because the Lord sustains me." Psalm 3:5.