Monday, December 27, 2010


from a very dear friend who lives in another city and it said...

"Thinking of you.  Praying for you. 
Curious to know how you have changed lately. 
In the last week, in the last month..."

Since I read this, I can't stop thinking about her words. 

Has breast cancer changed me? 
Am I different? 

After giving it some thought, I must say that the biggest change began in my heart 6 months ago in Haiti.  Meeting the people.  Getting to know them.  Seeing the poverty & getting a little taste of it.  Watching God work.  Experiencing His hope. 

Then Ecuador.  Our mission team - how God assembled us & His swift provision to cover ALL the costs.  The orphans.  Their caretakers.  The women God put in my path.  The prison.  Spending the night in the orphanage.  The STRONG, OVERWHELMING presence of the Holy Spirit.  Inca Link (the ministry that took care of us - Gustavo, Matt & Sarah.)  The freedom to openly express our love & adoration for God through worship at church, without worrying about what others think.  ETC! ETC! ETC!

Both of these experiences prepared me for cancer.  They opened my eyes & my heart and broadened my view of what REALLY matters in this world - PEOPLE.  Not stuff.  Not our comfort.  Not money.  Not our routines.  Not worldly priorities.  Not our schedules. Not us.  OTHERS.

And breast cancer has opened doors for me to meet lots and lots of new people. 

So have I changed?  As I thought about this question, here is what came to mind today:

*I really enjoy doing things for other people, especially when God puts them on my heart.  I am used to giving gifts.  But, receiving gifts has been difficult for me, especially at first.  The reason: I don't deserve your gifts.  Your prayers, meals, visits, meaningful cards & e-mails, thoughtful gifts, etc. have blown me away!  Not to mention brought me to tears on several occasions!  I'm tearing up right now!  (*I'm working on a detailed post about this too.  I will be writing Thank You notes for the next year!)     

But, God has been teaching me some things through your giving.  He's been showing me His love.  There have been so many times that I have needed something or wanted something, and God used one of you to provide it for me!!!  He's been reminding me that His love is a gift.  Even though I don't deserve it, He still gives it to me (& to you) simply because He is God.  He IS love!  (You &) I just need to receive it.  Also, giving impacts both the giver and the receiver.  It effects the heart of us both.  So THANK YOU again for all of your generous gifts!  They have changed me.    

*I am not pushing myself as hard as I used to.  Now when I get tired, I rest.  I am learning to let myself off the hook.  I am also learning to say "no" without feeling guilty.  I don't have to be superwoman, just God's woman.

*Cancer has shaken up my priorities and helped me to focus more on the people in my life.  In the past, if I knew someone was coming over, I would spend all day cleaning my house.  Case in point, we had a family birthday party for Tanner last Thursday.  Normally, I would have spent the day cleaning and preparing, but I decided to hang out with my kids all day instead!  Trust me, my kids definitely noticed this change too.   And I was actually able to sit down and enjoy my family at the party as well.  HUGE! 

*Christmas was a little different as well.  I was not stressed out and running around like a mad woman.  Usually I want to keep buying gifts until the stores close on Christmas Eve - remember I enjoy giving gifts.  But this year, I had no desire to do that.  I purchased a thoughtful gift for everyone and then I was done.  Period.  I was very excited that several of our gifts served a dual purpose.  They were chosen especially for a family member or friend AND were able to benefit widows, orphans & the poor around the world.  (Most of the gifts were jewelry made by women in Africa who use the money to feed their families and maintain their small businesses.) 

Oh yeah, I actually got some sleep on Christmas Eve too!  That was a first.   

There are some things I was determined not to change.  I just had to make some minor adjustments.

*My family and I wanted to go to Christmas at the Billy Graham Library.  It was 16 degrees and windy the night we could go.  It hurts me to be cold!  So, instead of not going, I just bundled up with a few extra layers and grabbed 2 extra blankets for the carriage ride.  And off we went.  We had a great time!  And God reminded me how He can impact the world through a completely surrendered life as evidenced through the life of Billy Graham.  WOW!

*To make riding in the car easier and less painful, I just use my little "faith" pillow as an added buffer between me and my seatbelt.  I am used to being on the go, and I refuse to stay at home! 

*Our family's Christmas Eve tradition is to go to the outdoor ice skating rink in Uptown Charlotte.  I was still sore and guarded but determined to participate.  So, I just skated close to the wall and stayed out of traffic.  But I still went skating with my family.

*My brother-in-law Jeff (aka Guest) & I get each other gag gifts for Christmas, and he likes to wrap mine in several layers.  This year, my gift was in a very large box.  When I opened it, there was a smaller box inside surrounded by tons of balled up newspaper (4 weeks worth!)  My first thought was "snowball" fight.  My second thought was "but what if I get hit on my right side?"  I went with my first thought!  And it turned out to be one of the best times we had all day!

*My daughter has been praying for snow for weeks.  Her daddy was ready to drive her TO some snow the day after Christmas if he needed to.  So when it started snowing on Christmas, there was no way I was going to miss playing in the snow with her and Tanner.  I just layered up and hid behind my husband during our snowball fight!  And I held on extra tight while sledding down the hill.  Some risks are worth taking for the PEOPLE in our lives!

So how about you?  What has happened in your life this past year that has changed you?

My pastor always says, "God loves you just the way you are.  But He loves you too much to leave you that way!"  What a mighty God we serve! 

And although we need to be changed, our God does not.   He is perfect.  We can trust Him completely - no matter our circumstances.  Malachi 3:6 says, "I the LORD do not change." 

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Much Needed Mother/Daughter Night Out!

Yesterday was the first time since my surgery that I officially got ready, put on make-up, and went somewhere other than to a doctor's office!  

I started by going to MOPS.  I'm a mentor and we (the mentors) did the program yesterday for our Christmas meeting.  We shared the stories of the 5 women in Jesus' lineage - Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, & Mary.  It was very touching.

I was Tamar.....
You can read her story in Genesis 38.  In spite of her sin, God still used her.  
We can NEVER out sin God. 
He will forgive us...for EVERY sin we commit...NO MATTER what it is!
We just have to ask Him.
"If You, LORD, kept a record of sins,
   Lord, who could stand? 
 But with You there is forgiveness,
   so that we can, with reverence, serve You."
Psalm 130:3-4

Afterwards, I was quite tired.  I had to go by the post office and ended up resting in my car in the parking lot with the warm sun shining on me for over an hour!  If the post office had not been so busy, I'm sure they would have reported me for loitering!   

With my second wind, I made a quick trip to Wal-Mart to get some things for Tanner's bonfire birthday party with his friends.  Since his birthday is Dec. 23, we usually do a party with his friends a few weeks early and a family party actually on his birthday.  With me recovering from surgery, Tanner and his dad planned the party and took care of all of the details.  So, I thought the least I could do was buy the food.

When I got home, I was going to straighten up the house for the party.  But, God had other plans.  He put 3 different women in my path that I knew He wanted me to spend some time with instead.  WHAT A PRIVILEGE! 

Then, my daughter and I turned the house over to Shawn, Tanner, and Tanner's friends!  Faith and I took off for a much needed mother/daughter night out!  The first stop was dinner.....

Then Santa.....

A little shopping, a checker game at Cracker Barrel (Faith won!), our annual ride through the Stafford Park neighborhood to see the Christmas lights & to vote on the best decorated house (I have pictures on my cellphone but they won't upload AGAIN!  ugghhh!), and then to Pet Smart.

Faith wants 2 parakeets for Christmas so she likes to visit the birds at Pet Smart every chance she gets.  She wants a furry pet so bad!  She is allergic to cats and dogs which makes her very sad.  She has the worst reaction to cats.  At times, she chooses to break out and take medicine just to be able to touch a cat!

After visiting with the birds for a while, Faith ventured over to the cat adoption center.  Nearly all the cats there were actually VERY playful kittens, and Faith could not resist!  She played with them through their cages until it was time for the store to close!  When I finally pulled her away (splotchy skin, itchy face, watery & swollen eyes and all!), she cried all the way to the car and half way home for those poor kitties!

Faith has such a tender heart!  As soon as we got in the car, she asked if we could pray for the kitties to all find good homes - so we prayed.  As soon as she got home, she started researching online what she could do to help.  When I went to bed, she was writing a letter to someone at an adoption organization that Pet Smart works with.  She is ready to take action!

Faith and I had a great night together with lots of laughs, lots of talk time, and lots of simple fun.   WHAT A BLESSING AND A PRIVILEGE!

Tanner and Shawn had a good time too.  I left a camera for them to take some pictures, but apparently they were having too much fun to use it!  

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Radiation Consult

"We wait in hope for the LORD;
   He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
   for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
   even as we put our hope in You." 
Psalm 33:20-22 

I had my radiation consult appointment this morning in Pineville - a little closer to home.  I was greeted by trees on the walls in the lobby and in my exam room!  I have pictures but can't get them to upload right now - ugghhhh!

The staff I met this morning was super sweet.  I was treated like royalty!  God has handpicked these special ladies to work in this particular environment.  They really blessed me today.  I am looking forward to seeing them everyday for 6 weeks!

I will go back to be "fitted" for radiation on January 6.  After that, I will go for treatments 5 days a week for 6 1/2 weeks.  There will be a total of 33 treatments.  Fatigue and "sunburn" are the most common side effects.  I should be in there and out in less than 20 minutes per treatment!      

I am praying now for the ladies I will meet during radiation.  I'm asking God for lots of opportunities to share my faith with them.  When I walked up to the building this morning, I knew this was where God wanted me to be and He has specific plans for me.  God's presence brought tears to my eyes!  Please pray for me to be obedient and bold! 

Let me just say, y'all have set the bar for dinner WAAAAAY TOOOO HIIIIIGH!!!  Now, my family is going to expect ME to cook them gourmet meals every night!  I've got to wean them and fast!  LOL!  WE HAVE BEEN SPOILED!  THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!!  THANK YOU!!!  THANK YOU!!!  THANK YOU!!!
Christine and her helpers brought a FABULOUS dinner last night along with a DELICIOUS dessert from Jacona.  THANK YOU ALL!

Life is short.  Eat dessert first! 

Then, I got a surprise phone call from my friend Lily who wanted to bring by a favorite dish of hers - dinner for tonight!!!  THANK YOU! 


Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Post-op Results

My post-op appointment with my surgeon Dr. White was yesterday.  My new friend Nancy B. came to pick me up and spent her afternoon driving me around!

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -"  Ephesians 2:8 was the Scripture at the sign-in desk at the cancer center.  Extra special, very caring people work there.  What a blessing they are!

Dr. White had nothing but good news.  He went over in a little more detail the same pathology results his nurse shared with me last Friday.  The cancer was only 3mm (which is tiny!) and was not invasive (hasn't spread!)  He said he had to take out 3.8 cm of tissue though to remove both clips (from my 2 biopsies) and the scar tissue from my 1st biopsy.  Oh yeah, and the cancer.  No wonder I'm sore!!! 

Check out the pink breast cancer Christmas tree in Dr. White's office!  Barbie is the tree topper, and she has been through surgery (she's all bandaged up) & chemo (she's lost her hair).  It's a sweet tree.

And look at these smiling faces!  They work at the parking garage.  This was the first time I've seen the young lady.  The young man is always singing and serenades me every time I come through. 

I will see Dr. White again in 3 months for follow-up and to get started on tamoxifen (the oral medication that reduces reoccurrence.) 

My radiation consult has been scheduled for bright and early tomorrow morning.  These people do not mess around!  I know my incision has to heal before I can start radiation treatments.  So, I am assuming it will be a few weeks before I actually start.  I'll let you know after tomorrow.

This is Lisa P. from MOPS.  She is my group leader (I'm a mentor aka old a mom with older children.)  She brought a FABULOUS dinner last night!  THANK YOU!
This was Tanner's plate, and he ate it ALL!!!
Rene stopped by again - she was missing her little buddy Faith!  She brought by some things, including the snowman sweat shirt Faith is wearing.  Faith shared a delicious cupcake with her.
Between yesterday and today, I am wiped out!  I am so tired!  I guess I need to e-a-s-e back into things.  This time of year makes it a little difficult to do that though.


Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Monday, December 6, 2010



"Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name." 
1 Chronicles 29:13

Debbie and Darragh brought by a YUMMY dinner on Saturday!   THANK YOU!

This is the bag Debbie brought the food in! 

My 2 year old niece Grace came over on Saturday afternoon and is showing me her underwear because.....

Tracy came over with a basket FULL of goodies on Sunday!  THANK YOU!
These moist and delicious cupcakes were from Belinda.  She is new to our church and I have not met her yet.  But, still she is ministering to us!!!  THANK YOU!

Cindy and Sheri - 2 AMAZING FRIENDS!  They stopped by to check on me this morning.  THANK YOU!

A FEAST from Stephanie Barfield arrived for dinner tonight!  Even though Stephanie had been up all night delivering puppies and all day bottle feeding them while taking care of children, she still fed us!  THANK YOU!  We are praying for you Stephanie!  Get some rest SOON!

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!..." Psalm 68:19 (NKJV)

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Friday, December 3, 2010


to do a JOY cartwheel for me??!!!

Dr. White's nurse called late this afternoon with more good news.  She said that my pathology report was back, and Dr. White had gotten all of the cancer.  The tumor was 3mm in size, and its margins were clear.  No more surgery needed!  WOO HOO! 

My post-op appointment is on Tuesday, and we will discuss radiation treatments then.


For over 6 years now, God has reminded me of His presence and His promises through rainbows.  Well, Thursday morning when my daughter Faith was being picked up for school, she saw a rainbow over our house!  Then, this afternoon when Shawn & Tanner were coming home, Tanner spotted a rainbow over our house again! WOW!  ONLY GOD!!!  He makes Himself so real to us!  He loves us so much!


I don't want to sound like a broken record, but THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS, ENCOURAGING WORDS, FOOD, WILLINGNESS TO HELP, ETC!  It may take me awhile to respond to your individual e-mails and send out thank you cards because typing on the computer and writing are quite uncomfortable right now.  But please know, my family and I are SO THANKFUL FOR YOU! 

*WARNING:  My kids are honing their photography skills since I'm out of commission.  So when you stop by, be prepared to say "CHEESE!"   
Here's Tina and Colonel Sanders delivering dinner last night.  YUMMY!

Joy and Amy stopped by this morning from church & brought lots of love with them!

Tonight, Rene brought by a fabulous salad....

Sheri's delicious lasagna....

and ice cream sundaes for dessert!

Rene asked Faith the other day what she wanted for dessert and Faith told her - ice cream sundaes with sprinkles, whipped cream & cherries!  And when Rene came bearing ice cream & all the fixings, Faith was THRILLED!  Rene has a new friend for life!


Here's a verse from my friend Cindy...

"Shout for joy, you heavens;
   rejoice, you earth;
   burst into song, you mountains!
For the LORD comforts his people
   and will have compassion on his afflicted ones."
Isaiah 49:13

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pre-op, Surgery and Post-op...OH MY!!!

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but WE TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD OUR GOD."  Psalm 20:7

I am sitting here thanking God for taking such tender care of me yesterday and for Christmas movies being on the Hallmark channel all night long!!!

***I am apologizing in advance for an typos and things that may not make sense.  I'm under the influence of medicine!

Shawn and I arrived at the Surgery Center around 8: a.m. and were greeted by my big tree - the tree of life.  I also had on my gold Victory Sports shirt because it represents GOD'S GLORY! 
We walked into a busy waiting room - the total opposite from when I was there Friday for my ultrasound/biopsy.  When I walked up to the check-in desk, I was greeted by 3 smiling ladies eager to help and PICTURES OF TREES EVERYWHERE!!! 

This is sweet Edna with trees behind her and to the right of her (if you look close enough.)  I'm thinking God waited to show me all the trees in the waiting room now so I could share their significance - HIS significance - with others!  I told everyone who would listen about my God trees as I took pictures! I was thrilled and could not contain my JOY!

Shawn and I were later joined by my dad, stepmom and mom.  In the waiting room, we sat by a Clemson fan (don't worry, we prayed for her!) whose husband was having rotator cuff surgery.  They own a Chick-fil-a in Huntersville NC!!! What a small world!

When I was called back for pre-op, I was greeted once again by pictures of TREES everywhere!  Boy, I needed my camera!  They covered the walls leading to the operating room!  I had one in my pre-op room too!  ONLY GOD!  This gave me more opportunities to share God with the medical staff!  HUGE ANSWERED PRAYER! 

TMI ALERT: This may not be for the faint at heart. 

Part of my preparation for surgery invovled going to radiology and having needles inserted into the exact spots my surgeon Dr. White needed to remove.  This procedure should have taken less than 30 minutes tops and only one needle.  It took them OVER AN HOUR with me and 2 needles!  Here's why...

Denise, the lady who did my ultrasound on Friday, was the person who came to get me from radiology!  I was so delighted to see her!  She walked me over the back way, and I was able to see many more pictures of TREES!  Then she put me in the very capable hands of Amy, the tech, and the radiologist (an older gentleman whose name just left me!)  I was left alone in the room for about 2 minutes when this song started playing in my head....

Here's the deal.  I was placed in the mammogram machine, clapped down tight, given a shot of lidocaine (numbing medicine), and injected with a long needle.  Imagine having this procedure repeated at least 8 times - probably closer to 10!  I honestly lost count!  I know we were on our 2nd bottle of lidocaine by the time we finished!

I did start to pass out on them after the 3rd try and had to lay on the floor!  Apparently I needed a little rest and some extra attention - AGAIN!  Every time I've been to radiology so far, I've needed extra staff attention!   Some of us are just sooo needy and will do anything for attention - LOL! 

After about the 6th or 7th try, I finally said..."We need to pray."  And I started praying out loud.  Mind you, I had been praying silently all along, but I knew it was time to get vocal.

At some point, it was decided that 2 needles would work better than one because the clip from my 1st biopsy kept moving!  I am so thankful for the 2nd clip from Friday's biopsy!  It was marking the correct spot with no problem!  This was definitely God's provision!  Without the 2nd clip, my lumpectomy may have been inaccurate!

On two occasions, I thought the needle had gone in one side and come out the other!  PAINFUL!!!  The problem was the spots they were trying to reach were quite deep.  OUCH!!!

Finally, one needle was placed correctly, but the other one was still having issues.  I looked at Amy, the tech, and I said, "Amy, you need to be praying right now."  She looked me in the eyes and said, "I am.  I am praying right now."

Then the radiologist tried again but the mammogram picture showed the needle was still off just a bit.  He wanted to take it out and try again.  Amy politely suggested he try a particular manual adjustment first.  He agreed.  IT WORKED!!!  IT WORKED!!!  They took another mammogram picture and I heard the radiologist say "IT'S PERFECT!!!"  Music to my ears!  I'm so glad the radiologist was a persistent perfectionist! 

Everything happens in God's perfect timing!  He reminded me He would never let me go via the song He gave me before I went through this whole ordeal in radiology!  GOD IS SO FAITHFUL, LOVING & GRACIOUS! 

*Just a side note: My surgeon Dr. White wanted both clips out.  Since my 1st clip moved away from the 2nd one, Dr. White decided to take out a larger area than originally planned in order to get both clips.  God has a plan for all of this too!


When I finally made it back to pre-op, I asked for my husband.  While I was waiting for him, a nurse stopped by and asked what had happened to me and did she need to go get me a LIVE TREE for my room!!!  How sweet!  Then there was an influx of people and activity.

Just before they took me back to surgery, Shawn held my hand and prayed over me.  Afterwards, my OR nurse came to my bedside and said, "We prayed for you this morning too!"  I teared up.  I am not worthy of any of this, yet God chooses to take care of me anyway!  I am so very grateful!  I must have thanked the nurse all the way to the OR!  And then I was knocked out!

The next thing I remember is waking up (sort of) and feeling nauseous.  I was given 3 different medications before my nausea lessened and I could sip some ginger ale. Then, I ate 10 packs of saltine crackers like they were a juicy steak!  I was so  hungry!  The discharge nurse hooked me up with a BIG BAG of crackers for the ride home.  She definitely climbed to hero status!!!    

It was a long day, but a good day - lots of opportunities to share God with others.  My surgery ended up starting about an hour late and lasting about 30 minutes longer than planned due to all of the challenges and changes.  Then my recovery took longer because of my stubborn nausea.  But my God is sovereign.  He is in control of it all.  NOTHING happens by chance!

When Shawn and I finally got in the car to leave the hospital around 6:15 p.m., guess what was playing on the radio??!!!  JOY TO THE WORLD!  Our God is soooo good!  Don't ever forget that - no matter what!  You can trust HIM! 

 My daughter made this special card for me with her guidance counselor!  HOW SWEET!

We came home to 2 children who were VERY happy to see us!  YUMMY food from my precious friend Audrey (* Audrey I've been praying for your daughter's results too.  Also, the casserole you made contains the Mexican flavors I crave on a regular basis! You cannot imagine how excited I was to eat it!!!  I had 2 helpings!  THANK YOU!) and my WARM bed! 

I was asleep before 8pm!  I know this goes against my reputation!  But does it help that I've been awake now since 2:22 a.m.??!!!

It is good to be home!

My eyes are filling with tears right now as one of my favorite Christmas movies is coming on at 4:00 a.m.!  And God did this just for me!  He loves me and HE LOVES YOU TOO!  MORE THAN YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE!

I saw this movie for the first time a few years ago and did not get to see it last year.  It's called "The Christmas Box" and Richard Thomas (John Boy from "The Waltons") plays in it.  It is about priorities and one man's quest to answer the question "What was the first gift of Christmas?"  A beautiful movie.   


Here is an amazing Scripture Audrey put in the card that came with her DELICIOUS meal...

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 

Now, it's time for a nap!

Loving HIM with all my heart & soul,