Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book of Remembrance

Malachi 3:16 KJV - Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.

Friends, I am so thankful to report that Randi is feeling great and that we were able to celebrate Christmas with relatively little pain and yet so much joy.  Amidst all these trials we still have so much to be thankful for.  A family tradition that Randi and I started in 2010 was that we created a Wideman Family Book of Remembrance so that we would not forget what the Almighty had done in our lives over the past year. At the end of every year we add to this book in hopes that it will serve to encourage us at future times and perhaps be continued long after we are gone. It was such a blessing for Randi and I to read that book last night together and to think on how good Our Father is to us, even in the darkest of days. Without a doubt, these have been the most trying times of our lives and yet the most fruitful in faith unto our Redeemer. He has never left us; His grace is as evident as it has ever been to us. When the clouds have grown darker, when the storm is ever raging around us, He is the peace in the eye of the hurricane, the calm in the storm. His hope breaks the gloominess like the sun's rays break the clouds and helps us to see things that the storm itself had concealed. Oh, His goodness is everlasting for He Himself is from everlasting to everlasting! How can we not "Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock." (Isaiah 26:4 ESV) He has undoubtedly been our strength when we are weak, our hope amidst the fear, our anchor in the stormy seas, our peace in the chaos, and our foundation stone upon which we stand. He has been our meaning in this mess, our purpose in this pain, and our Healer in the hurt. Thank you Lord for giving us so many things to look upon and to remember how good You are! Our hope in this post is that we may share with you just a glimpse of all that could be written and that you, yourself might then reflect upon the goodness that you have also seen in your own life.

As we have mentioned in prior posts, we got to share this truth of His goodness with YL kids shortly after the diagnosis. I am still blown away that God gave us such strength to share when everything was so fresh. Below is a video taken during that time. We apologize in advance that some of the words are hard to make out, but I believe that you may be blessed by listening to it. Just as we said to these high school students prior to all of the doctors appointments and surgeries then, this truth still rings true today: that God is good.

Below is a picture of my beautiful bride being her silly self just moments prior to her bilateral mastectomy on November 29th as she flashes the YL (Young Life) sign. One might wonder as the nurses, doctors, and family members often and quite audibly did, how can she smile like that before a life altering surgery? Where does that peace come from? John 14:27 ESV - Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. How can one have joy like that? James 1:2 ESV - Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds... That is pure joy, my friends, only given by the One who has unspeakable joy. Praise God.

We had asked that friends be praying for us and over us Philippians 4:6-7 NIV - 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. Below are two pictures of Randi in recovery just after this surgery. Although many would say, myself included, that it's not fair that she looks so beautiful just after that ordeal, likewise, it is an uncanny thing that she might be so peaceful. To serve as a reminder of God's goodness, the card from the hospital that came with our breakfast actually had Philippians 4:7 written on it (a picture of it is below). As we have heard said, coincidences are just God's way of remaining anonymous. He was there the whole time...

After a rough night of little sleep, lots of pain and much vomiting, we were awakened by Dr. Wideman who had been called in to lighten the mood. She had just the medicine that was needed! The moment reminded me of Luke 5:31 NIV - Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Seeing my sweet bride smile at the unexpected sight of our little sweetheart dressed as a doctor brought to my attention that physical medicine can only go so far. So, although, we have been blessed with some amazing doctors, including Dr. McKinley Wideman nonetheless, we know and hold firm to the reality that our greatest and ultimate healing comes only from the Great Physician. Only He can meet our every need.

The following picture was taken just a few short days out of the hospital. It is an amazing thing to me to think that my sweet bride could be singing Christmas carols with our darling daughter so quickly after a major surgery. Nehemiah 12:43 NIV - And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away. It refreshed my heart so to hear my wife sing with joy unto Our Father; I can only imagine how He feels when His loved ones sing loudly out to Him.

Oh, when I see my daughter smile it brings such sweet joy to my heart! I do not know how one could see the smile of a child and not smile themselves. The following was taken a week after surgery when my darling wife was supposed to be resting. Our daughter did not like that idea, of course, so she cried out for her mommy, and Randi immediately popped out of bed to comfort her. As soon as McKinley saw her mommy, she smiled bright and big as comfort came over her. Isaiah 66:13 NIV - As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you... What a wonderful reminder that just as a mommy comforts her child, God comforts us. He knows every tear we cry, and is just waiting for us to cry out to him; what are you waiting for? We have felt God's comfort in these past months like never before.

The final picture below is that of McKinley baking Jesus a birthday cake for Christmas. What a blessing it was to see my wife and daughter dancing around the house to Christmas music and singing praises to the King and to get to tell our sweet daughter about the One of whom we were celebrating, Jesus. Then the day after Christmas, McKinley said the name 'Jesus' for the first time! It was perhaps the sweetest word we have ever heard her say. Of course, we got so excited after she said it that now she claps after every time she enunciates the name Jesus. What a precious thing this is. Friends, I pray that would be my heart, that I would want to celebrate every time I hear the name of Jesus. Oh, that I would have the faith of a child, that really Jesus is the answer to everything and He is worth celebrating. He is over everything, in everything and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17 NIV - He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. How can one not celebrate that? To think, that in that manger on Christmas morn, Mary held Jesus in her arms, while Jesus held the universe in His. Have you beheld this child? He is the only One holding it all together. He is holding us together.

Beloved, when looking back on this year, how can we not rejoice even in the difficulties that we face? Our Family Book of Remembrance is filled, not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done for us, in us, and through us. What does your book say? Even if you do not have a family tradition as ours, God is recording all that He has done in His Book. What a glorious day it will be to have that Book opened and read for those that feared Him and thought upon His name! Would you take a moment to think back on all the blessings that have been bestowed upon you these past 12 months? I bet that if you do count your blessings, then your count of presents from the Holidays won't matter as much anymore...Romans 15:13 NLT - I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We are continually humbled and honored by the number of people that have told us that they are keeping up with our journey and praying for us.  We ask that this would continue as the road gets tougher when Chemotherapy starts on January 10th. Thank you for your love! Happy New Year!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

If You Want Me To...

"Then Jesus withdrew from them about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done."' Luke 22:42-42

Beloved Friends,

As our sweet Lord put this verse on my heart, I felt as though my heart was pierced upon reading the words of Jesus. Being fully God, Jesus knew his exact fate, he knew every single gruesome detail of his crucifixion, and the night before his death, Jesus, also being fully man, pleaded with His heavenly Dad, "Father, if its your will, take this crazy suffering away from me..." I think I have said those exact words to my heavenly Dad more in the past 4 days then ever before. On Tuesday, Matt and I met with my Oncologist at Baylor, Dr. O'Shaughnessy. She was absolutely darling! She was 5ft of bubbly, cancer wisdom and optimism. She made us feel comfortable and completely confident in her treatment plans for chemotherapy. I have to admit though, being the unrealistic optimist that I am, I think I had wishfully convinced myself that the surgery had gone so well that Dr. O'Shaughnessy was going to tell me that I didn't really need chemo, or that I would just have to get an 'easier' treatment. I really had no basis upon which to feel this way, I just wanted deeply for the hardest part of this journey to be over. So, as Dr. O'Shaughnessy laid out my chemo treatment plan for the next 6 months, I think I was in a complete daze. I heard every detail she said, I just didn't want her to be talking to me. Matt, of course, was there to hold my hand and soak up every detail; he was as encouraging as ever.

So, basically Dr. O'Shaugnessy is recommending the MD Anderson chemo regiment for young women who wish to maintain their fertility. The whole chemo treatment will last 24 weeks (approximately 6 months) and is broken into 2 parts. The first 12 weeks of chemo, I will be on a 3 drug regiment called FAC (5-Fluorouracil, Adriamycin, Cytoxan). Apparently this is a pretty strong cocktail of drugs, so much so, that I can only receive it once every 3 weeks. It's side effects include hair loss, nausea, extreme fatigue, and a decreased immune system. I will get the FAC regiment 4 times (every 3 weeks = 12 weeks total). The following 12 weeks, I will only get a one drug regiment, called Taxol. Although side effects are similar, they are not near as harsh as the FAC. I will receive the Taxol chemotherapy once a week for 12 weeks. The Taxol apparently is much, much easier than the FAC, just bothersome to have to get it once a week. Then Dr. O'Shaugnessy  explained that because my cancer is strongly estrogen based, in order for the chemotherapy to actually work on the cancer cells, we need to significantly reduce the estrogen production in my body, which means temporarily shutting down my ovaries. So, I will have to get Lupron shots every 4 weeks during chemo. Weeks ago, when we met with the Fertility specialist, he had recommended Lupron to help preserve my fertility. However, after he recommended this and we did our research and talked to friends who have had to use Lupron before, the side effects seemed very harsh, and therefore not really worth it. So, at that point, after praying a lot about it, we had decided that we were not going to pursue any fertility options and just completely trust the Lord to grow our family as He wills. Dr. O'Shaugnessy explained that her use of Lupron, was not a suggestion, but a necessary means for the chemotherapy drugs to actually work on the cancer cells and to not have to fight with the estrogen. But it is an extra bonus that it will help preserve my ovaries! Nonetheless, Lupron will cause me to go into a medically induced menopause. Obviously, at 27, my body is not ready to go through menopause, so the side effects can be really hard to deal with. They include hot flashes, irritability, insomnia and weight gain. I am sure Dr. O. could see how overwhelmed I must have looked, so she kept reminding us that they have great drugs now to help combat almost all of these icky side effects. And the great news is, that she is very optimistic that my ovaries are going to function healthily again one day and we will get to have another biological baby! Praise the Lord! Oh, I hope that comes true! After I finish chemotherapy in 6 months, I will have to be on a hormone therapy drug, Tamoxifen, along with continued Lupron, for 5+ years. Dr. O said that if my body responds well to everything, then perhaps after 2 years (post chemotherapy) of taking Tamoxifen and Lurpon, we can pause them and try to get pregnant! Then after having a baby, I will have to get back on them until 5 years is completed. Oh, how that news encouraged my heart! Although, it was never my plan for McKinley and our next biological baby to be at least 5 years apart, I know that God is Sovereign, He knows exactly what He's doing, and I trust that He will give us a baby in His perfect timing. One of my greatest challenges through all this is handing God my dreams, my timing and my control, and really believing with all my heart that his ways are far better than mine. As my sweet hubby reminds me, "Faith that is going to be trusted is faith that is going to be tested."

On our way home home from the Oncologist, Matt and I began to discuss what the next 6 months would look like. All that I could hear was that I was going to be nauseated, irritable, extremely tired yet not able to sleep, have hot flashes, and that I would be bald and fat. (We are still doing our research on whether I am a candidate for the penguin cold caps to preserve my hair, but because of the drugs involved and the length of treatment, it is not looking like a likely possibility.) I was overwhelmed with fear and insecurity, and I just cried out, "Lord, please don't make me do this... I'm not strong enough... I don't want to..." and although I tried to ignore it, I could hear God saying, "I love you Randi; remember, with me all things are possible (Mark 10:27)." On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I didn't want to hear that All things are possible with God, I just wanted God to take this crazy suffering from me. I had taken my eyes and my heart off of the Lord and His perfect plan for my life and I allowed the enemy to fill me with doubt and sorrow. Every time I thought about being sick, grumpy, bald and fat, I would just start crying! Oh, how silly and vain I am! Then in my Bible study, I was reminded of a verse in Isaiah that described Jesus' physical appearance: "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him...." (Isaiah 53:2) That just blows my mind, because when I picture Jesus, I think of a really handsome man with brown flowing hair and perfect features. But when the God of the universe created his son in human form, He chose for him to have NO beauty or physical attractiveness. That baffled me. Why wouldn't God have made Jesus the most handsome man to ever walk the earth? And then it hit me, God never wanted His perfect message to be overshadowed by his messenger. My sweet friend reminded me that this summer I had prayed that God would get me out of the way, so when there is less of me, there could me more of Him (John 3:30). I am thankful that God answers prayers. And from the first day of this cancer diagnosis, Matt and I have prayed that God would be glorified through every step of our journey and that people would come to know His great love through our story. So perhaps, by allowing me to lose my physical attractiveness, God is simply not allowing his messenger to distract from His amazing message. I know that the Lord is continually teaching me that true beauty lies within and that He alone is more than enough for my every want and desire. So, precious Lord, I will walk through this valley, if you want me to...

Oh how I love that song! The Sunday after I was diagnosed, Ginny Owens performed that song, "If You Want Me To" at our church. Although Ginny Owens is legally blind, she has helped me to see things so clearly. If you can't see the video on your iPhone, go to YouTube or iTunes and download Ginny Owen's "If You Want Me To," I know it will bless your heart as it has blessed mine. So, today I am claiming God's promises and goodness: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..." (Ephesians 3:20) How beautiful that the God of the universe that has the power to do more than we could ever ask or imagine, loves us and is working in us and through us. This week, I looked at chemotherapy and its icky side effects as a punishment, but today I realized that I am so blessed to undergo a treatment that will kill all the cancer in me. That in a year, I will be healthy again and perhaps in 2.5 years, we will be able to have another baby. Praise God for that hope! With hope in our Lord, I can and will continue to find joy in this journey. Please pray that I will not take my eyes off of our Lord for a single moment and that I will be joyful regardless of how I look or feel. So, although I have cried out many time this week, "Lord, if you are willing take this cup from me" I now can find so much peace in the end of that verse "but Lord, be not MY will, but YOURS be done." (Luke 22:43)

Sweet friends, I love you dearly and I am so thankful for you. Thank you for reading our blog and being part of our journey. For those who have sent messages telling us what the Lord is doing in your life, Thank you! They have brought us so much joy, as they help to reveal God's goodness through all of this. I pray that you too will find peace knowing that God's will for your life is better than anything you would have planned. I am so thankful that He uses my mess for His message. Will you allow Him to use yours?

Joyfully in HIM~


Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; ALL things are possible with God." Mark 10:27

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Profoundness of Prayer

Isaiah 64:4 NIV - Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

I know that close friends are already chuckling as they read the title to this post. In the past two years they have undoubtedly heard me talk plenty on this subject as I have grown in my understanding and therefore, passion thereof.  My perspective on prayer has shifted in recent years as my utter ignorance of its depth has been revealed in me. I feel as though a whole new realm has been opened up to me and in writing this I hope that I may share some of my journey with you.  I believe that God has been preparing me for such a time as this and He has done so in the quite, secret place of prayer.  About a year and a half ago I picked up an autobiography of a very well known speaker throughout the world.  In it, he said that there was one book that had impacted his life above all others; I had to get the book.  I drove that day to the only book store in town that had it in stock, and I paid full price for the book.  If you know me, I never pay full price for anything but this book has been worth every penny.  I have read it through perhaps ten times now and every time I glean something new from its fields of wisdom on prayer.  Prayer is profound.

Randi and I continue to be overwhelmed at the generous response of family and friends throughout this whole ordeal.  So many of you have offered up meals, time, letters, babysitting, gifts, encouragement, thoughts, and even money.  Some of you have even put in calls to doctors and friends to get us into places we might not have been able to see and enabled us to talk to those who have walked this path before us.  Your care has been astounding; I don't think we've ever known that we are so loved. For this, we are ever grateful and words do not suffice to express our thankfulness.  Thank you.

Of everything done on our behalf however, the most humbling of all is that you would offer this: prayer.  For you to talk to a friend on our behalf who has gone through this before is of great benefit; to talk to the One who has walked in human flesh and can identify with every bit of our experience is powerful: Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." I have heard it reported that Barack Obama's uncle who happens to be an illegal resident, was arrested on intoxication charges.  He was shortly released because his friends appealed to the highest authority in the land: the President of the United States, a.k.a. his uncle.  In like manner, as I have said before, some of you have appealed to doctors in order to get us into places where we might not of otherwise been afforded the opportunity. Ah, but when you pray, you appeal to the highest authority in the heavens, a.k.a. The Father.  For there is no one greater to appeal to.

I have heard it asked what the highest position one might hold in ministry might be.  Many answers have been offered but perhaps the following is the best given. If you are a teacher, you may move a class; if you are an Evangelist, you may move a crowd; if you are a Priest, you may move a parish; if you are a Preacher, you may move a congregation; if you are a Pope you may move a religion; if you are a President, you may move a government; and if you are a Prophet, you may move a nation; but when you PRAY, you may move God.  I believe that there is no higher form of ministry in this life than that of prayer.

Prayer is profoundly simple, and simply profound.  It is easy enough that a small child can do it, and yet so deep that an old man may not fully understand its capacity. Prayer links our impotence to His Omnipotence. It takes our inabilities and leans on His reliability.  Prayer releases the illusion of control to the reality of the illustrious One who controls all things.  Prayer takes work, but I am convinced that prayer works.

That is why we believe that the most humbling thing that can be said to Randi and I is that someone is praying for us.  WOW.  The idea that you would take our little concern in front of the greatest authority in the universe is very, very humbling.  I know of no greater honor.

If you are anything like me, however, this statement of 'praying for you' may at times just be a simple phrase that is code for 'good luck with that' and you go on your merry way.  It may just be a simple colloquialism that is said because in the situation that we find ourselves in that is just what people say.  Or, it may be said in all earnestness and then shortly thereafter forgotten.  Perhaps, you find yourself on the journey where I was a few years ago and you wouldn't even know where to start in prayer.   

At its most elementary form, prayer is simply a conversation with God. It is not a repetitious recital of words, it is talking to a friend.   There are no magic words, God looks at the heart.  It is not confined to a church, actually Jesus himself said to pray in an inner room like a closet in your home: Matthew 6:6 NASB - "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. You see, as I have heard it said, the secret to praying is praying in secret. Just like you would get alone with any person you want to grow in relationship with, prayer is our means to grow in God.  A simple acronym that we often tell YL kids about that helps as we pray is A.C.T.S. modeled after how Jesus himself told us to pray:

  • Adoration: Adoring the King for who He is, Our Father.
  • Confession: Releasing any sin that we may be carrying around to Him.
  • Thanksgiving: Thanking Him for what He has already done.
  • Supplication: Finally, putting our requests before Him.

The other day, we asked that folks would pray for Randi in regards to her pain level and medication.  It was an amazing thing to see those prayers answered so quickly.  When you prayed, God moved on the situation and it was as if pain medication was never a problem to begin with! We took the old pain medication that didn't work well after the first surgery and God graciously dealt with the pain in His providence.  Some might like to say this was a result of external circumstances.  I say it was eternal ones.

Last Monday night, Randi began to break out in hives all over her body.  It started on her arms and moved quickly down to her legs.  She described it as hot and itchy and the rash was very visible. As a husband, my first reaction was to 'fix' this with some sort of pill or method or phone call as tears poured down my sweet wife's face.  I immediately went to natural means to deal with the issue.  Then I prayed.  As quickly as it came, it left and Randi slept about as good as she has slept since surgery.  God loves to answer prayer!

It has also been our prayer from the very beginning that through our trials and triumphs, God would use our journey to supply encouragement to whoever might read this. That He might be made more famous even in our 'famine' and that you might know Him in a new way.  He has continued to answer this on a daily basis.  We have received many letters, emails, texts, Facebook messages, and phone calls from so many who have said that our story has provided them courage to walk through the darkest of valleys and faith to trust in the most trying of times.  I am so grateful to know that we have a God that is bigger than our situation.

A number of friends have commented that our faith is so strong.  I have tried to be quick to remind them that faith is only as strong as the object upon which it is trusting. For I can have faith that this chair that I am sitting in will hold me, but what if the chair is weak and it collapses?  You see, the faith in the chair is only as strong as the chair itself.  Likewise, prayer is only as powerful as the one to which the prayer is offered. Fortunately, we can call upon the One who is more powerful than any circumstance we face.  He is waiting for us, will you wait on Him? Jeremiah 33:3 NASB - 'Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'

Forever grateful for your prayers,


Monday, December 5, 2011

Eye's Fixed, Endurance Found

"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. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Precious Friends,

It feels wonderful to be able to write this. This last week has definitely been the most physically painful of my life. I don't think I could have ever prepared myself for the icky, icky pain that I am facing. As I have said before though, I am a wimp:) I cry when things hurt. I have cried a lot this past week. But I am crying this morning as I write this because God is so faithful and he answers prayers! Friday night when Matt posted on the blog, we last updated y'all that we couldn't find a pain medicine that would work for me and we asked for prayer. Oh, I am so thankful for your prayers, because within hours we tried a different pain med and it worked! My pain definitely lessened and I was able to sleep! Praise God. It overwhelms my heart that we have family and friends that would pray for us and that we have a loving God who hears our every prayer. If as many people are truly praying as say they are praying, then God's glory is for sure going to shine through all this pain:) Thank you for praying.

In one of my weakest moments when the pain was at its peak, Matt's sweet Grandma gently reminded me that when the pain is there, it is an opportunity to remember the suffering Jesus endured for me. What a blessing it has been to take my thoughts off of me and instead put them on Jesus. It completely blows my mind that the King of the Universe would come down to Earth and endure the worst death possible, death on a cross, just for me; Just for you. This week in my devotional, I read this amazing verse, " See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;" Isaiah 49:16 As Jesus was nailed to the cross, my name was engraved on the palms of his hands! He was thinking about me. I remember so clearly the night at YL camp when I was 16, that I finally understood that Jesus wasn't just some guy that died on a cross for all the good people in this world. My young life leader so lovingly told me that Jesus knew every little thing about me, every mistake I had ever made and will ever make, and he loved me more than I could even imagine. "God demonstrated his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 That day on that cross, perfect Jesus, who deserved none of it, endured the worst suffering imaginable, all because he loved a sinner like me. Even if I was the only person on earth, Jesus still would have died for me. The same is true of you; He died for you. He knows every tiny thing about you and he passionately loves you. Do you know that love? Oh, I hope so. If you don't, I would love nothing more in this world than to talk to you about it. Jesus would love nothing more than for you talk to him about it. When Jesus died on that cross and arose from the dead three days later, the greatest rescue plan in all of history occurred. Jesus saved us from an eternity of life without him. He saved me from a life of me. The day I finally understood this truth and accepted the amazing gift Christ has to offer, it changed my life forever. That day in 2000, I gave my whole life to Christ. It has been the best decision I have ever made. Jesus never promises that a life with Him will be easy and free from pain and trials (oh, how I understand this evermore now), but that He will "never leave us or forsake us. "Hebrews 13:5. I can't imagine living one day of this icky cancer without my Jesus.   Although the physical pain at times feels overwhelming, it pales in comparison to the pain of living any day without Him.  So, even though my body feels like it is wasting away, my heart is renewed every day as I set my eyes on Jesus. He understands my every pain, he has been there, he gets it. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 Please continue to pray that Matt and I will fix our eyes on Jesus every single day of this journey. I pray that you too will fix your eyes on Him.

Tomorrow we go to see Dr. Carpenter and hopefully I will get these silly drains removed! Please pray that I am healing well and that I will respect the boundaries that the Doctors and this cancer have put on me. I have been known to push boundaries:) My parents have so lovingly been here for the past week and have taken great care of McKinley and I. I will be sad to see them to go back to Colorado tomorrow, but my sweet little sister Ryli is flying in tonight to be with us for the next week. I am so excited for sweet time with her. If you by chance see Matt or have the time to email/call him in the days ahead, please give him a big hug, because he is without a doubt the best husband in the world. He has served me in the most selfless of ways. I know that nearly 5 years ago when he married me, he never thought he would have to care for me in these ways. I hate that he has to do it. But golly, he has loved me more in the last week than I could ever describe. Please encourage him with me. God is so good to give me a husband like Matt and family and friends like all of you. I am encouraged every day by your love and I truly thank God for you.

Joyfully in HIM~


Friday, December 2, 2011

"Lighten" The Night

2 Corinthians 4:6 NASB - For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

The last 72 hours have gone by very quickly, and yet so slowly at the same time.  This is the paradox of pain I am sure.  Sleep has been a luxury lost in the waning hours.  We have made it home and it has been good to see our sweet daughter McKinley and our best friend (dog) Trooper.  Last night was our first night at home since the surgery; it was a difficult night.  Our God is so gracious though!  He knows just the little things we need to encourage us.  Psalms 145:9 NASB - The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. This verse rang very true our first night home.  We walked outside to find that our house had been fully equipped with some stunning Christmas lights.  This is the first time we have ever had them.  Randi said it was a dream come true!

The Senior Campaigners group with Young Life, alongside Jeff Levesque and his father had spent all day while we were at the hospital setting up these lights.  Are you kidding me!? When I was a senior in HS I sincerely doubt that I would have done such a thing.  Would you have? Light was shining on our dark circumstances.  Randi and I could do nothing but cry tears of joy because our heavenly Father is right there alongside us through even the darkest of moments.  I have said this before and it stands true today: "When I am tempted to be overwhelmed by my circumstance, I trust and am overwhelmed by His GRACE."

Will you look for the Light today, no matter how dim your day is or how dark your night feels?  Where the Light is, darkness cannot abide.  Darkness only exists where the Light is being blocked, what is blocking the Light for you? Numbers 6:24-25 NASB - The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you.

Please pray not for comfort, but for The Comforter.  The pain has been intense as it comes and goes.  We have had great difficulty finding a pain medication that works with Randi the way we need it to.  Please pray that God would remove the pain, or if not, then give Randi the strength to endure it.  Rands is such a pillar of peace, even in the midst of such pain. I must say that my wife is even more beautiful to me now since I have seen her true colors through the trials than she has ever been to me before.  Proverbs 18:22 NASB - He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD. I have found a GREAT one.  Thank you Father for such a gift!

Leaning on Him,