Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Dancing

Two years ago, as I was fighting cancer and at the very lowest point in my health, I never would have imagined the words that would come to define the Summer of 2017. Three words, spoken by my kids, over and over this summer: "Mom, stop dancing!"

Mom.
Stop.
Dancing.

That's right. I've been dancing a lot lately. Why? Because two years ago, chemo was killing me, and even two months ago, I was in terrible pain. But ever since I had scar infiltration (steroid injections) I've experienced major relief. I have NO pain!  

My kids seem to have the remarkable ability to forget things quickly. Much of the past two years is blurring together for them. Me? Not so much. As though having cancer wasn't bad enough, my body's response to treatment was a colossal disappointment. But God...

God has blessed me with remission and a pain-free summer! And when my kids feign embarrassment and tell me to stop dancing, I know they're smiling on the inside. Their mom isn't in bed anymore. Their mom has the strength to do the "momming." Their dad has some relief. They get to be kids again.

People tell me that scar infiltration is a temporary fix -- that I'll likely need more injections and that they could eventually stop working. God continues to teach me to rely on Him one day at a time and to thank Him for every good and perfect gift. 

Are you in a season of disappointment? Allow God to teach you to dance. He's the very best partner.




Love, 
Emily

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." - 1 Peter 5:10

Prayer Requests: Continued pain-free living, renewed passion and purpose for my writing, a clear lung CT scan in December
  







Sunday, May 7, 2017

Rooted

We planted pink climbing roses about 15 years ago -- and we've been trying to kill them ever since.

The first few years they were beautiful. The vine climbed up the wall and wound its way all around the porch. The blooms were large, heavy, and blush pink. 

As years passed, our kids were born and eventually started playing outside, and a porch covered in thorns was dangerous. My mommy instincts kicked in. "Get rid of it," I told my husband.

The first year, he cut it down and dug up the roots. It grew back... so the next year he hacked at the roots with an axe. It grew back... so the next year he poured Roundup on the roots. It grew back... so he dug it up and gave it to my mother. It grew back... so he dug it up and gave it to our neighbor. The plant would not die -- no matter what we did to it. This year, it grew back and we left it alone. At this point, it's a matter of respect. If it can survive all we've done to it, it deserves to live -- and it's thriving.

But the rose plant is different from what it used to be. Instead of large, blush-pink blooms, it has small, red ones. It's more of a compact bush than a leggy climber. It's totally different, but beautiful nonetheless. (The hardier variety grafted to a more delicate variety seems to have won out.)

God reminded me of the parallels of this plant to my life over the past few years. It's been two years since I was diagnosed with cancer (and over a year since I was declared cancer free.) Like the rose, no matter how many times I've been cut, hacked, and taken apart with pieces of me gone forever, I'm still here.

I have a new normal just like the rose bush. My life looks very different, too. And the truth is it's not always pretty.

I haven't blogged in many months because I've been struggling to adapt to the new me... and honestly not feeling well at all. I've had some major setbacks after I didn't fully recover from my last surgery (suffering permanent damage to my intercostal nerves.) What's more, the medication to lessen my chances of the cancer returning left me with debilitating fatigue and sadness. And the loss of most of my pectoral muscles limited my physical abilities to care for myself and my family in ways I never expected. Life never went back to "normal" and that devastated me.

So, where's my beauty? The rose came back more beautiful than ever... what about my life? I've decided the real beauty lies in how I'm rooted. It's something no one can see. Like the rose whose roots were impenetrable, my life is deeply rooted in the Holy Spirit. On my darkest days, the joy of the Lord is my strength and my song. He sustains me -- and that in itself is a beautiful thing. Without Him, I would surely lose my smile for good and the will to keep fighting to focus on the positive.

I'm counting on God to make my life bloom in beautiful ways this year! I have a pain management doctor to help with the exhausting pain. I have an amazing counselor. I have a husband who prays for me and who serves our family every day without a single complaint. And I have a group of oncologists that refuse to give up, even when I'm grouchy and ungrateful.


God is good despite every setback. Stay rooted in Him because beauty is coming soon.

(One more thing: I hesitated to write this post from such a vulnerable position, but I know I need your prayers. And I want to encourage you to "unmask," too, and share your own prayer needs. We weren't meant to live isolated and afraid. We have each other and we have Him. How can I pray for you?)

Love,
Emily

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." - John 15:5

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Scanxiety

I didn't coin the term so please don't give me the credit. Some poor soul having yet another scan probably came up with "scanxiety" to describe the worry and the angst that comes with cancer and chronic illness.

Oh, but it's real. It's so real. I'm suffering from a pretty nasty case of "scanxiety" at the moment. My next CT scan is Thursday. The scan will measure the spot on my lung and see if it has grown.

Here are the desired outcomes: entirely accurate, and completely gone or exactly the same (in size). Anything else could mean more tests, more stress, more... -- I won't even say it. You know how to pray for me so please do.

This is a good time to remind you of who I really am. After someone mentioned last week that they thought I "had it all together," I felt compelled to set the record straight. The only thing "perfect" about me is that I'm a perfect mess. Just like everyone else.

Please don't ever mistake my reliance on God for bravery or courage in my own strength. I have neither of those. Not a smidgen. I'm a born worrier, not a born warrior. My mind goes to the worst case scenario every. single. time.

How do I combat my anxiety? If you think I spring out of bed, chirp out a pretty prayer, and skip into my day, you're wrong. It takes consistent action and discipline on my part to combat fear. Staying in God's word, constantly whispering prayers (or sometimes falling on my face in prayer), and practicing intentional, daily worship have become my weapons of choice.

I turn over my anxiety to God constantly -- sometimes every day, sometimes every hour. During weeks like this one, it will likely be every few minutes. And you know what? While I hate the anxiety, I love the close communion with God. He has me in a place in which I know how desperately I need Him. There's something special about the level of intimacy and dependence you get to experience when you walk the really hard roads of life with God. I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

I don't know what you're going through, but I bet you're going through something -- something that makes you afraid for yourself or someone else, or something that makes you uncertain of what to do next. What can you do today to fix your eyes completely on Him? That's where you'll find your peace and joy despite your circumstances.

Turning it over again and again,
Emily

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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