Thursday, October 28, 2010

It Runs in the Family

Having the same eye color, nose, or height run in most families .  But in my family, it is having surgery.  Sounds like fun, huh?  Want to join our family tree??!!!

This Friday, my stepmom is having an out-patient procedure on her nasal passages.  On November 9, my brother is having major back surgery. On November 15, my dad is having major surgery to remove a mass near his sternum.  And I'll be having out-patient surgery in the next few weeks.

*Is it just me or did you notice that the females will be having out-patient surgeries while the men will be in the hospital for at least a week with their surgeries? Just an observation. I'm just saying..... Feel free to draw your own conclusions!  LOL! 

And, we will all be at different hospitals.  God obviously has lots of ground He wants us to cover.

I talked to my sister Nicole Tuesday afternoon, and my 2 1/2 year old niece Grace may need surgery too on her bladder.  She will find out next Friday. 
Say an extra prayer for her and ask God to heal her without surgery, if it's His will.

It looks like the holidays are going to be very interesting extra fun this year!

Please keep my family in your prayers.  (And don't drink the water around here or you too may need surgery!)

Loving HIM with all my heart,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What is eating you?

Do you have something going on in your life right now that is the last thing on your mind before you fall asleep at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up?

You know what I'm talking about, right?  That "thing" that hits you like a ton of bricks before you barely have your eyes open in the morning.  Its reality is a huge weight on your shoulders or a sinking feeling in your heart.  You want to wake up and it be completely gone.

You probably think I'm talking about my breast cancer diagnosis, but I'm not.  I have such a peace about that entire situation.  I am not losing sleep over it nor are my thoughts completely consumed by it.  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7 

God is guarding my heart and my mind with His peace when it comes to my breast cancer.

What is bothering me is a reoccurring issue.  It is one I've dealt with numerous times before and thought it had been conquered.  Obviously not.  It reared its ugly head AGAIN last night and stole sleep from me.  It has me all fired up this morning too - I'm venting to you instead of tackling my daily responsibilities.  I just want it to go away for good and never come back!!!  I want to be done with it.  Period.  Lesson learned.  Now let's move on.

But it is also an issue that brings me to my knees IMMEDIATELY because it's so out of my control.  And maybe that's God's point.  Maybe I have been moving away from Him in certain areas of my life and need to turn around & head back in HIS direction.  I need to humbly come before Him and seek His face.  I need to come to the end of myself and remember that every single aspect of my life (big or small) depends on Him.  I have to obey Him - even when it involves other people and it's hard.  I have to be bold, do my part and trust Him with the rest. 

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways acknowledge Him,
       and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6
Okay, okay.  I get it.  I don't necessarily like the process.  But, I get it.  If only I can keep it this time.

So, what is eating you?  And what is God teaching you?

Loving HIM with all my heart,

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Biopsy Results

Surely, you did not think I was going straight to the results, did you??!!!  You know I like giving details and setting the stage...

Last Monday (2 days after returning from Ecuador), I told my husband, "I need a ministry here at home." 

*Disclaimer - I know my husband and my children are my ministry along with some other opportunities (teaching, loving on babies, etc.) I've been blessed with.  But, what I am talking about is working with people who are in dire need/crisis/despair.  Getting out of my comfort zone & the walls of the church and going out into a lost and hurting world.  "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. DO WHAT IT SAYS." James 1:22  We are called to take ACTION and OBEY GOD'S WORD!!!

It is REALLY hard to go from pouring out like we did in Quito to only giving out dribbles here at home.  There are just as many needs here as there are in Quito, but I'm not as sensitive to (or aware of) them as I should be.  Maybe I'm not as bold either.  So, I've been praying for God's guidance. 

The other thing I feel very strongly about is getting a part-time job to earn money for missions.  Last week, a job offer crossed my path that could be a ministry as well as a business.  This week, a second job offer presented itself that would be better for my family.  So, I've been praying through that too.  Then, throw my biopsy into the pot for some added seasoning, and things have been heating up!

Today, God began answering my prayers and bringing things into focus through my biopsy results. 

The doctor came in and said, "I have the best bad news I could possibly give you.  All 12 of the calcifications we removed came back negative.  But, we did find a 2mm DCIS in the surrounding tissue.  I've never seen one this small in all of my years in radiology." 

My response: "Can you translate that into English for me please?"

Basically, I have stage 0 (never knew such a thing existed) breast cancer - based on the biopsy alone.  A tiny, tiny spot was found.  God used the non-cancerous calcifications to lead to the actual cancer!!!  The radiologist said the spot did NOT show up on the mammogram.  It was only found at this stage because of the biopsy.  ONLY GOD!!!  ONLY GOD!!!  HE IS SO AMAZING!!! THANK YOU FOR PRAYING FOR CLEAR, CONCLUSIVE RESULTS!  GOD HAS ANSWERED!

My first thought was... "Consider it pure JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4 

I've been praying for JOY for about 8 years now.  God gave me James 1:2-4 several years ago when my husband lost his job after being wrongly accused of misconduct, and things turned really ugly.  God's joy supercedes any circumstances and makes you turn cartwheels when most people think you should be devastated!  Only God! 

My sister gave me this JOY bracelet Thursday night,

and I've read James 1:2-4 several times in the past 2 weeks.  God was reminding me and preparing me.

Surgery is the next step, and I have an appointment with a surgeon on Wednesday morning.  The results from surgery will reveal if there are any other spots and what specific treatment I will need. 

As crazy as this may sound.....I feel like this journey will be a HUGE opportunity for me to meet and minister to other women battling the same disease!  Remember Nurse R (I talked about her in my last post) who helped me through my biopsy?  Well, she had stage 3 breast cancer and has been cancer free for 4 years now.  She leads a breast cancer support group and is part of an organization dedicated to raising the awareness and treatment of breast cancer in other countries.  She has been to Africa twice this year already.  She said she would help me minister to others any way she can.  God is up to something.  (I'm not ruling out a trip to Africa either!)

As I was pulling out of the parking lot at the doctor's office, something caught my eye...

 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
      will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 This I declare about the Lord:
   He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
      He is my God, and I trust Him.
 For He will rescue you from every trap
      and protect you from deadly disease.
 He will cover you with His feathers.
      He will shelter you with His wings.
      His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
      nor the arrow that flies in the day.
 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
      nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
 Though a thousand fall at your side,
      though ten thousand are dying around you,
      these evils will not touch you.
 Just open your eyes,
      and see how the wicked are punished.
 If you make the Lord your refuge,
      if you make the Most High your shelter,
  no evil will conquer you;
      no plague will come near your home.
 For He will order his angels
      to protect you wherever you go.
 They will hold you up with their hands
      so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
      you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love Me.
      I will protect those who trust in My name.
 When they call on Me, I will answer;
      I will be with them in trouble.
      I will rescue and honor them.
 I will reward them with a long life
      and give them My salvation.”
 Psalm 91 (NLT)

Beautiful promises from my Heavenly Father at the exact moment I needed them!  That is my God!  I hope He is yours too.  If not, simply call out to Him and invite Him into your life.  The Bible says in Romans 10:9-13,
"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and
believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and
it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame."
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—
the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for,
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Thank you so much for your prayers.  Obviously, you can't stop praying now!  We are just getting started on this new journey together - for the display of HIS splendor!

Loving HIM with all my heart,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Who is Ministering to Who??!!!

Yesterday, I had my biopsy.

I had complete peace - God's peace that surpasses all understanding - going into the procedure.  I had been praying for God to put people in my path that I could minister to while I was at the Women's Diagnostic Center.  I even put on my gold Victory Sports shirt to remind me to make the most of every opportunity for God's glory!

When my husband and I arrived, the waiting room was sparse.  There was only one person there, and she got a phone call and went outside.  The next person who came in, we knew.  She was the mother of one of Shawn's high school friends.  So, we spent time talking with her.

Then, my name was called and I was escorted to my room.  When I walked in, this was the first thing I saw...

and I knew God was with me!  You see, God has been using TREES to teach me several things for about a year now.  And just last week, I was reminded of Jeremiah 17 (which is exactly what came to my mind when I saw this picture!)

Jeremiah 17:5-8 says....
 5 This is what the LORD says:
       "Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
       who depends on flesh for his strength
       and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
 6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
       he will not see prosperity when it comes.
       He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
       in a salt land where no one lives.
 7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
       whose confidence is in Him.
 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
       that sends out its roots by the stream.
       It does not fear when heat comes;
       its leaves are always green.
       It has no worries in a year of drought
       and never fails to bear fruit."

WOW!!!  God is so faithful, and He reveals Himself to us in amazing ways!  There was no doubt in my mind that I was exactly where God wanted me to be, and more importantly, HE WAS THERE WITH ME!

My radiology tech, Mrs. N, was super sweet and 7 months pregnant with her 3rd son.  I asked her if they had a name picked out, and she said yes - JEREMIAH.  She explained that she and her husband have seen that name everywhere, and they feel God has chosen that name for their son.  Imagine her excitement when I told her about the picture on the wall and Jeremiah 17!!! 

ONLY GOD!  He blows me away, how about you??!!!

It took awhile to get me set up for the biopsy because of the location of the suspicious calcifications.  I was not in the most comfortable position but was told "be very still and do not move!"  When things finally got underway, I told the doctor I was praying.  His response, "well it can't hurt."   My response, "we can't do any of this without Him!"

About a third of the way through, I started feeling strange.  I broke out into a sweat and started feeling lightheaded.  I made my symptoms known right away.  Mrs. N took immediate action and called for assistance.  Another radiology tech, Mrs. S , and Nurse R came to help.  I was covered in wet towels to cool me off and smelling sauce to keep me awake!  Then, I got nauseous and warned them I was going to get sick.  Nurse R came to the rescue and had me smell a rubbing alcohol pad to calm my stomach.  It worked!

The doctor stopped the procedure and checked the samples he had already taken.  He came back and said NONE of the samples so far contained any of the calcifications.  Movement had occurred and they were off.  He gave me the option to stop and reschedule or to try again.  I opted to continue.

So, the entire procedure was started over again!  My room was covered in prayer.  Not only was I praying, but so were the 3 women taking care of me! 

Nurse R did the sweetest thing.  She stood by my side and put her hand on top of my clammy, shaking hand.  Not being able to move and having a wet towel over most of my face, I could only see Nurse R's hand on mine.  I could not see her face. She literally was the hand of God to me.  He brought me comfort through her.  He used the picture of her hand on mine to remind me He was with me and will NEVER leave me, no matter what!

On two occasions, Nurse R had to step away.  When she did, my hand would start shaking and I could feel anxiety trying to creep in.  Then, she would come back and everything would calm down.  It was the perfect picture of God and His presence and strength in our lives!  It was beautiful.

I had been praying to minister to others, but instead God sent 3 women to minister to me!  He knows what we need before we do, and "my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19 

Everything went well the second time.  All 12 calcifications were removed.  I will get the results late Friday afternoon. 

I am very sore and unable to use my right arm for very much.  I actually followed the doctor's orders right after the procedure and did nothing but rest yesterday.  I did not even turn on my computer!  I haven't had a day off like that in a looooong time.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!  God heard every single one of them.  "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." James 5:16 (NLT)

I will share the pathology results with you tomorrow. 

Loving HIM with all my heart,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Romans 12:12

Last night when I was trying to decide which Scripture to include in my post about praying for my biopsy, Romans 12:12 was the first one I found.  As I continued to read more verses though, I decided to include Ephesians 6:18 and Philippians 4:6-7 instead.

But when Romans 12:12 was the Scripture on my daily calendar today, I knew God wanted me to share it.
This verse is for YOU!

Loving HIM with all my heart,

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Time to Pray and a Time to Laugh

I promise I do have more posts from Ecuador in the works, but the reality of "today" keeps getting in the way!

Right now, I need your prayers for my biopsy on Wednesday morning.

*Please pray for the procedure to go well & the results to be very clear & conclusive - no doubts. 
*Pray for opportunities to minister to the women I meet in the waiting room & to the staff I interact with. 
*Pray for these folks to know the hope of Jesus Christ.
*PRAISE for the overwhelming peace I have!
*PRAISE for God being sovereign over all things!
*PRAISE for the perfect plans God has for this situation!

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."  Ephesians 6:18

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7


Now, a time to laugh..."He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."  Job 8:21

Just the mention of the word "lice" makes my head itch!  How about you?  Having spent our last night in Ecuador doing lice checks, our heads itched A LOT on the way home!

Originally, most of us had planned to do a precautionary shampoo with RID before we came home.  However, a closer look at the RID directions revealed a strong recommendation to only use the wash if you definitely had lice and not just an exposure to it. This deterred the majority of us from using it. 

So, when I got home, I (followed Stephanie's lead and) researched natural remedies.  And I found one - MAYONNAISE!  I had my daughter cover my hair/head in Duke's mayonnaise.  Just for the record, the website specifically said NO Miracle Whip.  Duke's Mayo - 1; Miracle Whip - 0!  The battle continues!
Anyway, the remedy also called for my hair/head to be covered in saran wrap for 2 hours before washing the mayo out.  Ahhh, but we did not have any saran wrap.  I had to use aluminum foil instead - sweet!  I looked like an alien.  Imagine my husband's surprise when he woke up from a nap on the couch to a smelly alien sitting in the floor staring at him!  Ha!Ha!Ha!

Take a look for yourself.....

All for God's Glory!

 Loving HIM with all my heart,

Friday, October 15, 2010

God - My Translator

Last Wednesday when I went to the worship service at the Women's Prison in Ecuador, nearly everything was in Spanish, including the music.  A young lady from NY with a passionate voice sang a solo in Spanish.  Although I did not know the actual words she was singing, tears streamed down my face.  It was obvious the song was God-honoring, especially the chorus.

Over the past week, the song has played over and over in my head.

Then, on Tuesday morning, God translated the song into English for me!  I was at my ladies Bible study and we had a guest speaker - thank you for sharing, Leslie Nease.  After Leslie finished speaking, our very talented worship leader Michelle started playing a song on the piano.  As she began to sing the words (in English of course), I thought to myself...where have I heard that song before?  Then, she sang the chorus and I knew instantly - the prison in Ecuador!  Only God!  I love Him so much!

The song is called "Beautiful" sung by Kari Jobe.  You can listen to it on you tube.  Enjoy!

Loving HIM with all my heart,

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Praise Him for His protection over us & our families while we were in Ecuador!

Praise Him for His presence with us!  The power of the Holy Spirit was overwhelming at times.

Praise Him for all of His answers to our prayers!

Praise Him for peace in Ecuador and actually putting our team in a position to witness to the military soldiers guarding the palace!

Praise Him for the people He put in our lives last week! A huge thank you to the folks at Inca Link Ministry for taking such good care of us.

Praise Him for the caregivers at the orphanages who LOVE those children!

Praise Him for getting me into the Women's Prison!

Praise Him for unifying our team and making us friends!

Praise Him for all of our tears and our laughter!

Praise Him for allowing us to humbly be a part of His plans!

Praise Him for YOU and all of your prayers & support!

Praise Him for breaking our hearts and transforming us!

"To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."  Jude 24-25

Loving HIM with all my heart,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The reality of returning home

Our journey home began at 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning when our van driver picked us up for the airport. 


We got to the airport at 3:23 a.m. with our flight boarding at 6:25 a.m. and leaving at 6:55 a.m.  We said goodbye to Sarah and she prayed over us.....

Then we began our 3 flight journey home from Quito to Miami to NYC to Charlotte. 

The sunset over NYC

God gave us LOTS of opportunities to share the Gospel with people on our planes and in the airports.  In man's eyes, taking 3 flights was about saving $200 each, but in God's eyes, it was about the people He had for us to meet.  More stories about them and other things that happened in Ecuador are still to come so stay tuned.  Don't stop reading now just because we are at home.  God is still at work "for the display of His splendor."

On the way home, God gave me this Scripture from 1 Corinthians 3:6-7.....

"I (Paul) planted, Apollos watered, but GOD GAVE THE GROWTH.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but ONLY GOD WHO GIVES THE GROWTH."

Amen!  The verses that follow continue talking about the same thing.  What a powerful reminder that we are only His instruments and apart from Him, we can do NOTHING!!!  It is not about us.  It is all about Him and His glory.  We are called to obey Him, and do our part, but He is the One who changes hearts and saves souls, not us.  What a weight off of our shoulders, huh?

What an honor it has been to plant seeds and water them for God's glory with this incredible group of people.

We bring out the itch in each other!!!!!

While we missed our families, none of us wanted to come home just yet.  So getting back into the swing of things has not been easy.  This is a good thing.  I don't think God wants us to pick up where we left off.  We are not the same people.  We encountered God the Father in a completely new way.  We will never be the same.

God has new adventures for all of us.  It appears mine has already started.  I came home to a letter from my doctor stating a breast biopsy was REQUIRED based on my mammogram results and has been scheduled for October 20 at 9:30a.m.    I'll keep you posted. You keep praying.  To God be the glory.

Loving HIM with all my heart,

Friday, October 8, 2010

It can't be Friday already!!!

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen."
Romans 11:36

WOW!  I cannot believe it is Friday and time to go home!  This morning we did a little shopping at Fundacion Campamento Cristiano Esperanza, the school for low income and special needs children.  The special needs folks make crafts and jewelry to sell to raise money for more craft supplies.  After we finished shopping, there wasn't much left!

Then, we went to downtown Quito to do street ministry.  We initially brought 250 Spanish Bibles with us to Ecuador and ran out several days ago.  We purchased 100 more for the rest of the week.  With two suitcases filled with Bibles, we divided into 2 groups and hit the streets. 

My group went to a huge park, but only a few people were there.  We approached some of them and gave them Bibles and bracelets.  Then we met a sad looking young man.  He told our translator, Ignacio, that his mother had died so we gave him a Bible and prayed over him.  During our prayer, an older lady tapped me on the shoulder and asked for a Bible.  I gave her one and also her friend.  We only had about 15 minutes in the park before we had to be at our next place, but I know God sent us to the exact people He needed us to minister to today, especially the young man who lost his mother.

After the park, we went to COVI, a Christian ministry for street kids who live mainly at the large park we were at.  They do whatever it takes to survive.  So, drugs and teenage pregnancy are very prevelant.  We worked with the younger children who are at high risk of becoming street kids because they come to COVI in the morning.  The older street kids come in the afternoon.  COVI provides them with a shower, clean clothes, food, the Gospel and opportunities to earn a bed in their residential facility by meeting specific goals.
Everyone got a Bible and we did some crafts & shared the Gospel with them.

We bought ice cream for all of them from a vendor in the park.  They loved it.

Most schools in Quito require uniforms so that is why you see the kids dressed this way.

One of the young boys wanted to use my camera.  He took this picture of me and Angela.

After COVI, we went back to Casablanca for lunch and then to Jesus Divino - the facility for the children whose parent is in prison.  Since we had met them before on Wednesday, we were able to pick up where we had left off.  We played with them first and had such a good time.  Then, we did a craft and a Bible story. 

Cindy and Nicole encouraged the kids to learn how to double dutch.  Cindy is showing them how it's done!
Go Cindy!
The kids never gave up until they got it!!!  They did great!

Mia did a craft using their thumbprints to tell them there is no one else like them.  The kids did a self-portrait from their thumbprints.  We were blown away with their drawings and creativity.  They did a great job.
This is my little friend named Kevin.  When I first met him on Wednesday, I spent the afternoon chasing him and giving him the sign of "I've got my eyes on you."  So, he started doing it back to me. 
Kevin's laugh is contagious.
Mendy and Sean met a special young lady who had been there only 2 months.  She was going to see her mom for the first time on Saturday.  She was excited.  She got really attached to Mendy and Sean.
Here the kids are sitting on the porch of their school waiting for the Bible story....
singing fun songs led by Ignacio's wife....
waiting patiently to open their gifts from us (while we quickly fixed a mistake.)
This is my friend Nancy.  My daughter Faith gave me this stuffed animal to give to a child from her.  I chose Nancy.  She was very excited when I told her it was from my daughter just for her.

For the Bible story, all of the children (& some of the workers) sat on the steps of their school building.  As I told the story of creation, Ignacio translated.  He was very good at repeating what I said in Spanish and then explaining it further.  While I was speaking, I noticed a beautiful young lady sitting on the porch area.  I had not seen her before.  As I was telling the children that they were important to God and He had very special plans for each of them, my eyes locked with this young lady.  I knew the Holy Spirit was speaking to her. 

When we got finished, I went over to her and indtroduced myself - she spoke English.  Her name is Alexandra and she goes to college during the day and works with the children in the evenings.  She is studying film production and wants to move to the US to pursue her career.  She has family in the states (NYC and Chicago) and visits the US nearly every summer.  I felt led to share some of God's truthes with her, especially regarding who she is because of Christ and other things to really encourage her.  I was in tears about the entire time because the presence of the Lord was so strong.  It was overwhelming to me.  Here she is surrounded by children..... 

    Will you pray for Alexandra and her future with me?  Pray that she continues to seek God and His will.

I'm not sure anyone was ready to leave Jesus Divino.  It was hard, very hard to leave these children. 

After we got back to Casablanca and ate, we had a lice check party!!!  Several of the children at the government run orphanage had severe lice.  During the week, we washed our hair with Lice Prevention shampoo, a leave in spray, and tea tree oil, but we wanted to make sure it had worked.  Here are some pictures form this lovely party......


SARAH, the intern. 
She got a bottle of RID and a big Hershey's chocolate bar for her prize!
We love you Sarah!

After the party, it was time to pack.  The van was scheduled to pick us up at 3:00 a.m. for the airport.
 A little packing.....
blogging instead of sleeping.....
resting in the Lord.....

This team was absolutely UNBELIEVEABLE all week long with the children we had the privilege of meeting and ministering to.  No amount of lice, fear or language barrier stopped us from loving on them and meeting their needs.  Thank you Lord for the privilege of being Your hands, feet, and mouth this week.

Loving HIM with all my heart,