Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ONE! (aka 9 hours eek!)

Well our bags are packed, tomorrow is the day!

Okay, nothing is packed, but I had to blog quick like so you wouldn't know how late I was up.  It has been a whirlwind of a day.  I wish I could be so productive every day!  Well, no I don't I'd be really exhausted then.  In fact in the middle of the day today, I pulled up to a stop sign and waited for a green light.  Fortunately, I figured it out before there was a line of angry cars behind me...or angry people in cars?

I can't begin to express the supernatural joy-filled day we had today.  (Probably can't express it since I can't remember most of it, so here are two highlights.)

So my friend Michelle and I try to get together and pray for our husbands a few times a month, she called and asked if we could meet today so she could pray for me.  Yes please!  She was very patient as I changed plans a few times.  I show up at church and lo and behold, her she comes marching up the sidewalk with her posse.  The little sneak gathered together a few of my friends to surprise me, what is it with you guys surprising me?  : )  They showered me with gifts and love and then handed me a small bag with lots of names written on the outside.  These gals went in together and bought me a Kindle Touch!  (Seriously, I don't even know what it is, but I'm just going to act like it's super cool right now, since I know this is the right reaction and I'll figure it out later) What I know though is that I can access the internet at hot spots (not like Tahiti, Shari) and read about 4,124 books.  This was amazingly generous and I am completely unworthy.  I was overwhelmed and tearful.  I really do understand the sacrifice my friends went through to do this for me and I am humbly, eternally grateful.  However, the next part was over the top.  They gathered around me, placed their loving hands on me and prayed for Dave, the kids and for me.  This just caused my heart to soar.  Thank you ladies, I can't express the depth of my gratitude and clear vision of Jesus I witnessed through you all. (including those that couldn't be there!)


The next highlight was tonight at 6:30.  Our Pastor sent a shout out to our Pastors and Elders to meet at church tonight to pray for us.  These men and a couple of their wives gathered around Dave, Julia, Daniel and myself and placed their loving hands on us and prayed.  Again I was overwhelmed at the beauty of the body of Christ in action.  I'm doubly blessed.  I have an incredible "biological family", godly parents, brothers, sisters (including in-laws) and extended family of 3 generations.  We have a second family too though.  It is our church family and we love them so much.  Thank you for taking the time to pray with us.

Okay, seriously, I have got to work on getting to bed, so here is today's verse:

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble;
and He knows those who trust in Him.  Nahum 1:7

Right there in that verse it says God is good and we have trouble, they do co-exist!  Not all the time fortunately.  This life is no walk in the park, unless maybe it's Central Park in NY : )  You never know which way the Lord will lead, but He will lead and He knows those who trust in Him.  What sweet comfort.  Thank you, all of you for your prayers.  We definitely feel them and have great peace.  I'll try to update tomorrow after surgery/recovery, which should be after noon.  I'll be the cool one using my New Kindle Touch to blog!  Love you all ~

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Two!

Peace ~ Two Days

Was I the one that said "let's get this party started" and get this surgery going?  Yup, guess that was me.  Now my song is more, "uh, two days?!"  For some reason I feel like I have to have it all together.  Okay, fine, this is nothing new, I just seem to hide it better when cancer is not part of the picture.  I want to cross all my T's and dot all my I's, and what I need to do is just "let it go".  Let me just ask for your grace right now (not that you haven't freely lavished it on me already!), I am completely sure I've forgotten to say thank you to someone, or that I missed a meeting, or that I didn't call when I said I would, or that my shirt was on inside out today (seriously, tell me if this really happens).  I dont' feel guilty, I just feel bad that someone could feel neglected!  So with your permission, I've let it go, it's done.  Clean slate, thanks I feel better already.  Just send me a reminder if it's something important, please : )

Dave met with another nurse today to get "marked".  He has a big green dot by his belly button, he'll have a temporary colostomy and he was given instructions on how to "maintain" it.  I'll spare you the details, but I think I'm about to learn more about something I was fine not knowing!  Actually, I have to say again, I am grateful.  If this all is to restore Dave to full health, then bring it.  God is our strength and sustainer and this is not too much for Him.

Today's verse:

The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

Thank you Lord for giving us strength for today and for infusing us with Your peace.

And Happy 8th Birthday to Daniel!  What joy you bring to our lives, love you little buddy!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Three

Three days to go...



Today we went in for the pre op, yesterday I think I said I was glad about this fact.  It wasn't that great.  It was a little depressing, sobering, scary...lots of instructions, do this, don't do this, bring this, go here, don't forget... something, I don't remember.  The bright spot of the hour was when the nurse went through the list of questions: do you take medications, do you smoke, do you drink, do you take recreational drugs, do you have your own teeth...what?  Whose teeth would he have?  She left the room a few minutes later and we both busted out laughing.  Dave said, "I wanted to tell her I had your teeth". (Before you all get frustrated trying to comment, we realize they were asking about dentures, for some reason it was really funny the way she asked.)

I really want to get this over with.  It's getting old and it's only been four months.  I feel like I'm winding up like a spinning top as the day approaches, my to do list gets longer every day not shorter.  So I was completely grateful when my friend sent me the song "Still", so today's verse was inspired by her : )

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
 
Psalm 46:10

or as the NASB says, "Cease striving and know that I am God..."  Thank you Lord for this gentle reminder.  He will be exalted and that is what is truly important.  I'll end with a prayer just shared with me by another dear one:

God, I can't understand why You're doing this. But I know that, unlike me, Your actions cannot be inconsistent with your heart, and I know Your heart is loving, good and faithful. Somehow, some way, somewhere all these things are for good. If I could just know you better through this, that is all the good I need.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Four

Four Calling Birds
So by now I think everyone has heard Christmas music playing on the radio, in the elevator, at the stores, at church.  In fact Daniel is in bed now singing a song from our Children's Christmas Pageant coming up in a couple of weeks.  "Gotta keep the main thing, the main thing!" (now repeat those same words 498 times, yup that's what I'm hearing, surely there are other words to this song.)  I don't think I've heard The 12 Days of Christmas yet, but today's number four is brought to you by this song.

And today's verse, well, I think it is inspired by Daniel's song. 

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:12-14

Christ has "laid hold' of us for a purpose and I want to grasp that tight.  I don't want to rely on the past, or be stuck in the past to miss this moment God has for us in the present.  As a zillion details swim in my head of things to accomplish this week, I need to remember one thing, that I "Gotta keep the main thing, the main thing."  That main thing is my upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Thanks Daniel for the reminder.

P.S. We have pre-op tomorrow!  This was a long span of not seeing doctors, it felt very strange, uncomfortable almost.  I'm oddly happy to go to a medical appointment (shhhh, don't tell Dave, I don't think he is very happy about it.), I'll let you know any grand details we receive, if any.

 

 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Five




Five, hmmmm, we are down to counting on one hand.  I had a nice walk and talk with Kirstin today.  (Happy Birthday! Two more years till we do our colonoscopies together!)  She let me talk and verbalize lots that has been in my head.  I confessed to her that I didn't really understand how Dave was feeling (sorry honey, wish I did ~ well, no I don't, but I wish I was more compassionate).  Anyway, Dave has been struggling. He isn't feeling good (and any of you with chronic illness out there, know how draining that can be) and he's worried about the surgery and the kids.  My attitude has been, "Surgery? Great! Let's obliterate this cancer!" I haven't really pondered all that surgery means.  This is all new territory for us.  Dave has been very positive and brave that it hasn't been that hard on me.  There have just been so many reasons to praise God, that my focus has been there and not on the "what ifs".  I just can't let my mind formulate things that could go wrong.

  That's why this is my verse today:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  Philippians 4:8


My Young Life leader in High School had me memorize this and it has saved me many times over the years.  So what are you thinking about right now, what thoughts have been running through your mind?  Are they true, honorable, right, pure?  If yes, praise Him, if no...you better do a 180 because you are headed down danger highway.

Yet even as my thoughts dwell on what is lovely and worthy of praise, I need to be practical also.  How is Dave feeling, what can I do to bring peace?  How can I plan well for several days in the hospital, how do I prepare my kids emotionally?  What should I make for dinner?  Yeah, you are right, I can't do all that : )  So feel free to give me advice or ideas.  Pray I remember to do the important things, that I'll be patient and compassionate and pray for Dave to have peace these next few days.  We love you!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Six

 We have a cute number six in honor of the unicycle we saw at the parade today!  I woke up at 6am (hey, another six!)  to see how awful the weather was, and it was decent...well, I could see the stars so I figured it wasn't raining.  I was feeling a little bad that my kid's memory of this Thanksgiving was cleaning their room, so Dave and I decided to take the kids to the Macy's parade!  We took the bus from the Tacoma Dome to Westlake Center, with one other passenger.  We got great seats and sunshine, perfect combination for a parade.  We saw floats, princesses, bands, bagpipes and St. Bernards.  (Now again, if you know me, this does not sound like a good time...crowds and cement, not my first choice for a vacation day...but it was a blast!  It helped that for candy they threw Frangos, yumalicious.)  After the parade we window shopped at Westlake and Pacific Place then walked down to Pike Place to see a fish fly and to sit on a pig.  It was such a beautiful day.  We walked over to see the Sound and the Olympics and to listen to the Dickens Carolers.  I think it was a day that we all needed and I am so grateful.


And today's verse (from one of my favorite books):

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you
were called in one body; and be thankful.  Colossians 3:15

I think there is a direct link between being thankful and letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.  As we decide to be thankful for all that God has given (good and bad), His peace begins to rule.  I just read it is like having an umpire make a decision.  Did someone hurt your feelings today?  Ump, what's the decision, make the call.  "Peace".  Things didn't go as planned?  Ump, what's the call?  "Peace".  Storm raging?  What is the decision? "Peace, be still". Find out you have cancer?  Decision?  "Peace".  You get it.  Whatever you are going through, peace is waiting, it's yours, let it rule and be thankful.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Seven

And the number seven is brought to you by the number of stuffed animals my kids can part with - out of 143...

So instead of "doing" Thanksgiving this year, I cleaned my kids room.  If you know me, you know this was a good day : )  We had hoped to go to Pullman for Thanksgiving, so I didn't make any plans for today.  Alas, we opted to stay in town and get our acts together before the surgery.  I tried to pull together a few ideas for the day and none worked out and I'm so glad now!   Do you know this is the first day that I can remember since summer that I have stayed home the entire day?  The fruit of my labor is pictured below.



And today's verse:

Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, Unless the Lord has commanded it? Lamentations 3:37

I think I've mentioned this verse before, it is so powerful.  All of Lamentations 3 is packed with encouragement and admonishment.  Verses 22-23 are the key passage to the song "Great is Thy Faithfulness".  Verse 37 though is sobering.  Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass?  Who of us can tell our future or "plan" our way?  Our steps are ordered by the Lord (we could get into a great long discussion here!), yes we have choices and consequences, but God is ultimately in charge of it all.  So, if I believe this verse to be true, then God is very intimately acquainted with our circumstances - in fact He commanded them.  Hard to wrap your brain around that one right?  Well, His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:8)  I have an inkling He knows best, so I will rest trusting Him along this road.  Praying you can rest in this truth too Dave, I love you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eight

The number eight is brought to you in honor of Daniel's "fake" 8th birthday!

Daniel's birthday is two days before Dave's surgery.  We've been trying to figure out how to do a party around Thanksgiving, that close to surgery.  It worked out that today was a 1/2 day and a couple of Daniel's friends were available!  So voila, we had a party.  We went to Odyssey and played laser tag and bonus ~ Wednesdays adults get to play for free with their kids!  We are so proud of this creative, tender-hearted, musical, silly, joyful, God loving little man!  Oh how very grateful we are for his life.  (Some of you may remember, we weren't sure of his future when we were told he had meningitis at his one week appointment.)

And today's verse is brought to you by my friend Hope.  She was making Christmas presents for her family and the Holy Spirit said, "give this one to Nancy".  I LOVE that Hope said, "don't know why, but sure!".  It is (of course) a beautifully crafted Christmas ornament made out of a "vintage" spoon, beads and an engraved scripture reference.  My verse is: 

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26

This sweet little ornament will be out year round as a testimony to God's faithfulness:  how He uses sisters in Christ to encourage, how He uses His Word to remind us of Truth and how He is my (and your) portion forever.

Goodnight day 8, today was a good day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nine

And then there were nine days left.

For today's verse I picked up My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, I went back to "the beginning".  The day the cancer was confirmed (by an oh so delightful colonoscopy) was Dave's birthday.  So I just read the devotion for August 2.  The verse is:

In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
                                                             John 16:33

I must quote some of the rest of the devotional:

"The typical view of the Christian life is that is means being delivered from all adversity.  But is actually means being delivered in adversity, which is something very different."

and

"God does not give us overcoming life-He gives us life as we overcome.  The strain of life is what builds our strength.  If there is no strain, there will be no strength.  Are you asking God to give you life, liberty, and joy?  He cannot, unless you are willing to accept the strain.  And once you face the strain, you will immediately get the strength."

and finally

"God never gives us strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the moment."

So tonight I will choose to be of good cheer as we face the strain of the moment, because the victory is the Lords.
 

Monday, November 21, 2011

10 Days!




Okay, we are on the countdown (...still, but at a cool number).  I can see the concern in Dave growing as we get closer to the surgery, so I'm going to try to post a verse every day for the next 10 days.  Today's verse:

The heaven's are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.   Psalm 19:1

I heard this verse today and it reminded me of the Sovereignty of God.  God's creation tells of His glory, He doesn't need us to boast in Him, His own creation does that itself!  However, He does give us a voice and an opportunity to tell of how great He is.  And He has been great in our lives.  Dave is still feeling the effects of the radiation and chemo, but has been a stellar patient.  He continues to work hard, help the kids with their homework, do the dishes and so much more.  Ten Days until surgery, ten days to sing God's praise for what He has done and what He will do.  Go God! : )


Monday, November 14, 2011

17 Days

Patience...just took a deep breath after typing that word.  You know you are not supposed to pray for patience since God will put you in a situation to teach it to you : )  And no, I did not pray for patience, but apparently God wanted to teach it to me anyway.  I'm doing this amazing study at church called Living Beyond Yourself.  We are studying the Fruit of the Spirit.  Last week was on Patience.  There are two kinds in the Bible.  Patience in circumstances and patience with people (the second is probably harder right? - I wrote in my notes that this kind of patience waits when it wants to whack!)

I learned that Patience in circumstance is inspired by hope.  Of course the pinnacle example in God's Word is Job.  When Job doesn't have a clue why God has allowed him to experience extreme hardship he says, "But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.  My foot has held fast to His path..." (Job 23:10-11)  {notice even God likes paths}

Even though Job could not see God (or see why this was happening to him), he had the hope that God saw him and his circumstances.  So we have 17 days until surgery, then 6-8 weeks recovery, then 4-6 months of chemo, then follow up appointments, and so on and so on....while I cannot see the future, God can and He sees us and we have that hope. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Family Photos

God is amazing. Most of you know that already though don't you? : ) Through this journey God has continued to "wow" me. You know what I mean? God is really cool and when cool things happen, I shouldn't be surprised. A couple of days ago I needed $145 for two different things, and they were not even "necessities". I could have done without, but God sent $150 in the mail via one of my dearest friends. 

Another friend offered to take our family pictures, before Dave got too sick, so we'd have some sweet photos to make us smile on those dark days.  WOW!  What a complete blessing.  I was last minute and a little "demanding" in what I really wanted...if I believed in magic, I would think she had a little black wand that she waved over her camera.  Not only did she capture incredible scenery, laughter, smiles, my family...but somehow she captured my heart.  I look at these photos and I see God's faithfulness.  It's almost too much.  I've attempted to insert the link below, I hope it works.  If you need pictures, you must call Chelle...she has her own story of God's faithfulness to her and her kids and maybe that is what makes her so good.  (plus she has a great eye!)  And it was a blast, not painful at all...(except for when Dave had to sit on the bridge, that hurt, thanks honey for sacrificing your comfort for another one of my crazy shenanigans).

http://chellenicole.com/WP/2011/11/09/shaffer-family-tacoma-family-photography

It's a strange sensation to be dealing with cancer and yet be so full of gratitude in one little heart.  We are not out of the woods yet, but definitely know and feel the presence of the One that leads the way.

For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me.  Psalm 31:3

Honey, I Shrunk the Tumor!

This is the hardest part about blogging...thinking up "titles" for each post : )  We are breathing out God's praise right now as we just found out Dave's tumor shrank from 10 cm to 2.6 cm.  What a relief.  Dr. Singh continued to be very positive and pleased with Dave's progress and prognosis.  The words are a little blurry in my mind still, but this is really good news for surgery, recovery and long time wellness.  We are so grateful for God's continued goodness to us (we are mindful that He would still be good if we had bad news today, but will rejoice in His hand in shrinking this tumor).

Thank you so much for your prayers of healing and for your prayers for us to be strengthened in this process.  Your love and encouragement abounds! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tomorrow

So we meet with Dr. Singh tomorrow morning.  He said it'd be about a 5 minute appointment to look at the results of the CT Scan.  I have no idea what we'll see.  Or what we won't see.  My last post was a Matt Redman Song, towards the end the words are: "Every step we are breathing in Your grace, evermore we'll be breathing out Your praise, You are faithful, God You are faithful."  Taking in deep breaths of grace tonight so we will be breathing out His praise tomorrow.  He is faithful.



 

Never Once

Periodically my dear friend Debbie sends me songs to encourage me in my journey.  I think every one has been a message from the Lord to speak to my heart.  This is the latest.  I hope you have 4 minutes and 33 seconds to be given hope and truth.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

CT Scan

We met with our Radiation Oncologist yesterday (I finally figured out his title by looking on the Internet just now...).  He's a really nice guy and great at explaining very complicated jargon into everyday language for the common man...and woman.  Everything seems fine.  He asked if we would like a CT Scan before surgery.  Yes!  I'd like to see with my own eyes that God has healed Dave.  Dr. Singh would like to make sure the cancer hasn't spread.  Uh, what?  I didn't think that was an option.  He said in the very slight chance that the cancer has spread, then it wouldn't be prudent to do the surgery.  Slap.  That came out of no where. 

You know when you have lots of really bad news and then there is this little ray of hope,  you just cling to it will all your might.  Well, I feel like we've had consistently good news (in the world of cancer), then this ray of despair is introduced.  I have to choose not to cling to it, but rest in all the goodness that God has shown thus far.  There is so much hope it's ridiculous that I would give space in my thoughts for this small idea of the cancer spreading. 

My friend said this news (or thought) is like the thick fog that rolled in this morning, it had distorted my vision.  It left a heaviness in my heart, but praise God, the fog lifted and it was a beautiful day with an amazingly clear view of Mt. Rainier!  (If you live in Lakewood, you know just what I'm talking about)  God has allowed the heaviness to leave my heart and He has given me a clear picture of who He is, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Healer, the God who is Mighty to Save, the Way, the Truth and the Life.  There is no one like Him. 

So the scan is next Monday and we meet with Dr. Singh on Wednesday to find out the results, and whatever we see, or don't see, God will still be the same and I can cling to that.