Once Upon a Time…

… in a cancer free world of several years ago, I was a sleeper. Like a pass-out-as-soon-as-you-hit-the-pillow-and-sleep-through-alarms-and-tests-and-exams-and-miss-flights kind of sleeper. But this kind of sleep is no longer my friend (or enemy if the morning involved a test, important meeting, or flight?). Sometines, it’s nice to gain middle of the night prayer time and even middle of the night blog writing but sometimes a girl just wishes she could sleep. Other times, He prompts me to just quit fighting it and redeem the time. So I’ve sent some texts about logistics for Linc tomorrow, bought him some Crocs from Amazon, responded to some overdue email, and now will write an overdue update to our praying and caring family and friends.

Here’s the short version: I feel pretty good, the antibiotic did wonders for the infection and my boob no longer looks like it could explode, poor Lincoln has seen me throw up a couple times and now fakes throwing up (this makes me sad and laugh at the same time!), we had an amazing 5 year anniversary trip and while we were gone crazy and kind friends and my mom packed our house for storage and moved us to our friends’ backhouse (with a pool that Linc invites friends to every day and tells friends and strangers alike that ‘we moved to a backhouse and I have a pool’). We are grateful happy peeps. And start the next round of chemo (for these drugs, ’rounds’ are 2 weeks on and one week off) today.

Longer version: For those of you who are up for more details, I can’t help but share some really sweet and a few hard moments. On our trip there was a sign in a store that I admittedly thought (and still think, actually) was cheesy but it stuck with me. ‘Life is not determined by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away.’ As one expected to have many fewer breaths than some of you, it reminded me how great it is to really celebrate and cherish the many moments that take my breath away – especially during this season where His hand and kindness and provisions truly overwhelm me. Yall. Jesus is spoiling me!

Some of those moments that have taken my/our breath away are:

– friends making all the arrangements for our anniversary trip. We were brainstorming places and a friend suggested we consider Omni properties so we texted, from the chemo chair, a couple/friends that are part of Omnis holding company for their input on destinations. And, before I left chemo they had booked us at La Costa Resort in Southern California and we left 9 days later (we are advanced planners like that).

– seeing Scott so full of life and having so much fun celebrating Gods design in plants, flowers, the ocean, running, ‘befriending a sea lion’, and just hanging out. He has such a personality transformation when he’s away from city life and gets outdoors in pretty places that I had to finally confess that I was having a hard time adjusting to ‘happy hyper Scott.’ Shame on me. Cute on him. And for those of you that know him well, you can appreciate that hyper is probably not in the ‘Top 100 adjectives’ (or maybe 1000?) for Scott. Vacation is good for the soul.

– while on our trip, our friends Gigi and Steph casually informed us that instead of just ‘starting the packing’ while we were gone they had coordinated a few peeps -a friend of Stephs that I didn’t even know (who does that?), my mom and the Maxwells – and completely moved our personal items to the backhouse, packed 95% of the house, and ordered a pod delivered at the end of the week. Considering my idea of hell would be to move every day, this took my breath away.

–  when we arrived back from our trip and went to the backhouse instead of our house, I found a huge, gorgeous beautifully framed picture of my family hanging on their wall ‘so that we would feel at home’ in their backhouse. Side note: we have really had fun designing our house and love our architect but the backhouse is so fabulous that Scott has joked that it may take an unexpected 24 months to finish the plans and finish construction.

– went to Whole Foods for sushi on Friday night and gave the guy a gift card to pay and he said ‘whoever gave you that really took care of you….’ and all I could think was ‘he has no idea how true that is and I have many more just like it!’ I explained that we have been well loved and taken care of during a hard season and couldn’t help but walk slowly to the car catching my breath and marveling at the Lords provision … So evident that the checker even comments on it.

– this past Saturday morning, Scott and I went out for a family ‘wog’ (we used to jog together but now, especially since bronchitis, I can’t keep up so I walk while he jogs … ‘the wog’) and as soon as Scott picked up the pace and Linc and I were alone I heard his little voice fro the stroller say ‘are you going to die? Because of the cancer?’ Bam. It’s out there and we’ve been telling him and he’s getting it. This is, as Scott perfectly describes it, a moment where you “simultaneously think ‘how sweet’ and I want to vomit’…” (first uttered by Scott on our trip while we talked about Lincoln and how others are already helping us prepare for his needs when I’m gone – like finishing the photo book and memories binder I’ve started). Lincoln then wanted to know where I got the cancer. From a frog? From a leaf? Yes, those were real questions after I explained that doctors don’t know why some people get cancer and others don’t. And, in response to his question about me dying from cancer it was another chance to be honest and trust him to the Lord as I said ‘probably so.’ I told him that we were praying for more time for me to be with him and trusting the Lord to take care of us.

– as if that wasn’t enough of a breath-taker-awayer moment, a couple hours later on our walk home from Starbucks he overheard me telling Molly, rather briefly, about how sweet my high school friend Angela has been to me (she’s a working single mom with 4 kids but comes from Prosper to join me and Jamie and Amy at doctor/chemo and even comes when I tell her not to!) and that she knows the ropes and is full of compassion and care because she lost a best friend from college to pancreatic cancer (diagnosed within weeks of my original diagnosis in Feb 2012) who has 4 kids. Lincoln overheard this and asked ‘do they have a daddy? does the daddy work? do the kids go to school? who picks them up?…’ Quite clearly Lincoln was trying to figure out who takes care of kiddos if they don’t have a Mama. Scott sweetly and perfectly picked Lincoln up and told him ‘find my eyes …if Mama dies, Daddy will take care of you. And lots of other people will help take care of you too.’ And, our not very cuddly little boy laid his head on his daddy’s shoulder and didn’t move for several minutes … Secure in his daddy’s arms. And I am likewise held and secure in my Daddys arms.

– along with these precious moments there were also the moments where chemo and meds got the best of me. These are breath-taking of another kind – because a girls got to breathe after she heaves. One morning, Scott got ahead of me on the ‘wog’ and turned around to find me throwing up at the entrance of this gorgeous resort property. And nothing kills the romance of a getaway weekend like your wife asking for your coffee cup to throw up in during your après-run coffee au lait time. And Lincoln and I went to buy breakfast tacos for the movers (that’s literally all I did for the whole day that our house was finished packing and loaded!) and I threw up out my car door while we waited. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I am hopeful now that I have finished 2 rounds of antibiotics (one for bronchitis and one for infection in breast) that my stomach will settle down. 

To wrap up my update I will include a few pictures of the aforementioned peeps and events. None of them involve throw up.

Scott and the sea lion:

 

Celebrating that we survived the first 5 years of marriage – much harder than cancer but without the meal calendar! The blood, sweat, tears and prayers have been totally worth it and wouldn’t trade it. I am so thankful for how the Lord has grown and changed us!   

My friend Angela, on far left, with Amy and Jamie at the hospital the last time I had chemo:  

And, lastly, my boo and my boy on last Saturday’s ‘wog.’  

I think and pray far more about these 2 than I do about myself. As I wrap up this entry and proceed to read Heaven (by Randy Alcorn), I am excitedly headed to be with Jesus. They, however, face a harder reality. I have the gifts of focus and clarity in this life  and great hope for the next one. More than ever, I want my days to be marked by celebrating the love of God (which He is making exceedingly clear as He spoils me with his kindness), loving God and loving others. I want to experience the fullness of every moment in the this life while anticipating the next. He is good. All the time.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (‭Psalms‬ ‭16‬:‭11‬ NASB)

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32 thoughts on “Once Upon a Time…

  1. Wow! I am sitting read with tears in my eyes and a knot in my throat. As I was reading the song “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” started to run through my head. while I know it is most about God’s mercy and grace in Jesus’ death on the cross, I couldn’t help but ponder how deep that love is in so many other areas as you have clearly shown in this blog entry. I love that God is helping you to keep a sense of humor in the midst of such a trial. That is a gift! I am praying for all 3 of you daily. May the Lord bring you peace in the midst of the storm.

  2. Sweetest Jenn, your beautiful words and love for the Lord humbles me. Tears are running down my face as I read how deep your faith remains during this time. I am so grateful that you feel His love constantly in the form of your family and friends and I too am praying for you all the time. I am in constant awe at your strength and faithfulness.

  3. Thank you for sharing this! You just amaze me with your ability to see God’s hand over and over again. Praying for you and your family.

  4. Sweetest Precious Jenn, your words, your love, your strength and unfailing love for your husband, your son and most Your/Our Sweet Heavenly Father astounds me. I have no words to begin to tell you how much you mean to me and I’m sure to all who read this like me who don’t even know you MUCH LESS those who do. Thank you once again (as I always say when I post) that you have allowed me into your life and allowed me to be your friend, I feel like my heart will burst for you. Continually praying for you.

  5. I read your words with tears and smiles. I am somehow more encouraged after I read. I think that’s actually the Holy Spirit saying,” See, I HAVE gone ahead to prepare a place for you. Here’s a normal, wise, clear headed friend who totally believes it.” It gives me confidence. Am I thanking you for letting me in on the process? I think I AM thanking you! As hard as it is to imagine you going through this beast of a disease, you make it more real to claim, “God still wins! He’s even bigger!” Jennifer, you have made an impact for Christ on so many people. Like they say… “If dependence is the goal, weakness must be an advantage.” Sounds SO opposite of everything the world says, doesn’t it? I see you depending on the Lord in all arenas and it is very attractive. Thank you for letting me “in” to your life. I pray with more clarity and confidence and dependence.
    Lyn Hardage

  6. What a beautiful and hard update – thank you Jen for your honesty and encouragement. We are praying for you, Scott and Linc.
    Meredith

  7. God is good, all the time. So often those words seem trite to me. Reading your blog today, they seem ever present. You are prayed for by many. You are blessing many by sharing your journey. Your son and husband are being prayed for too.

  8. Thank you for updating us because I have been thinking about you. I am glad you had a wonderful trip and God continue to provide for you and your family. You are all in my prayers.

  9. If I was ever going to cry first thing in the morning, I choose you to make me cry. These are happy/sad tears. I think it was you who first taught me many years ago in bible study that God is good all the time. You are now showing us through these bittersweet moments. The characters and stories of our lives are different but the wisdom, fight, and relationship with Jesus and others are the same. I’m thankful for your vulnerability to share yours. Your words stay with me through the day and remind me of what a real relationship with Jesus looks like day to day. Lots of love.

  10. Hi Jen – I found your blog when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. You were mostly finishing up the first part of your cancer journey just as I was starting mine. I read your entire blog in the days before my surgery, and it was such an amazing encouragement to see the grace and honesty in your posts. Please know that as you blog, in addition to keeping your friends and family updated on how you are doing, you are also encouraging other sisters in pink. When I feel that ugly black cancer cloud is looming over me, you have reminded me that as a child of God, the sunshine will ultimately and always win the day.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    You and your wonderful family are always in my prayers.
    xoxo,
    Teresa in Montana

  11. Jen, you have always been exceedingly wise! Thank you for sharing your heart and allowing us(me) to learn the virtues of humility and dignity from you. Praying for continued peace and strength on the journey.

  12. Well, you managed to make me sob this morning. So beautiful in every way. Praying for all of you as you continue to move through this journey. xoxo

  13. Jen
    Just catching up on the blog and as always I am encouraged, amazed and challenged by your faith, attitude and honesty. You are such an incredible teacher no matter your platform. Which is just one of many reasons this world needs as much of you as we can get. I can remember sitting in bible study early in my married Dallas days and your constant reminders that the only things that last forever are the word of god and the souls of men and that everything in the bible is absolutely true. These simple but powerful truths are just a small sample of the things you taught that left a lasting impression on my heart. So thankful for you and for the years I had the privilege of being under your leadership!! We love you and we are praying in Waco.

  14. tears and joy simultaneously. The story of Linc and Scott couldn’t be sweeter or a better picture of where you are–fully secure and being carried by your Father. I love you and especially the friend, wife and mother you encourage me to be each day. All my love and prayers for all of you.

  15. I cannot tell you how much your blog helps me. I have a diagnosis that will shorten my life, although not as quickly nor am I as young, so it is not near as challenging as yours. You remind me not to succumb to self-pity, control-issues and all the other things that distract when now is the time to redeem time indeed. Hope you start sleeping better.

    >

  16. I have been checking in on your blog after Melanie announced on the “Big Mama Blog” that your cancer had returned. I don’t know why, but my heart is so pulled toward you and your sweet family, and I pray for you frequently. I just wanted you to know that, as cliche as it sounds, your faith is such an encouragement to me. You help me to remember that the beauty and perfection of eternity we have to look forward to as believers in Jesus far surpasses the hardships we experience on earth, and you help me to remember that God’s goodness will envelope the loved ones that are left to grieve here on earth. I am praying for you, for your husband, and for your precious son. May the grace of God continue to take your breath away.

  17. Jennifer, you never cease to amaze me with your humor and your grace. I dreamed of you last night, although for the life of me I can’t remember the dream just knew it was you, and then I see your post first thing this morning – and just know you were speaking to me in my dream! It breaks my heart for you, Scott and our boy. But as I read about all that was done to prepare you for and move you while you were away I had to smile – just wish I had known, we would have loved to help with the lifting. And remember always that Lincoln has a stress-free and safe place to stay with Nene and Papa – I think it does him a world of good to just be pampered and catered to – making it all about him! And, it does so much for us as well. You are loved beyond words – you are strong, you are kind and you are beautiful! Mom

  18. Jennifer,

    This post is one of the most beautiful examples of 2 Corinthians 4:8 that I have ever seen. Thank you. Thank you for lifting my eyes to Jesus today through this post and sharing your life. I was in your Highlights Bible study years ago and was so blessed by your teaching of the Word, wisdom, and humor about life. And now, years later, what a privilege it is to indirectly sit at your feet and learn from the Lord through your life and through this unspeakable suffering. You are a powerful tool/voice to speak into women’s lives and how blessed are we that we get to listen and learn from you. This post is a battle cry to look up and fix our eyes on Jesus. Thank you.

    Lord, we ask for Your hand to be on Jennifer! Heal her body, Lord and use her story to draw MANY to YOU!

    Blessings and hugs,

    Kim Danforth

  19. Girl, you take MY breath away!! Tears and laughs while reading this!! God is glorified through you and this present suffering. You go girl! Praying for your big and little men. Love you.

  20. Jen, you have an uncanny ability to get things in perspective and encourage me when YOU are the one navigating the intense storm. Thank you for letting me share the journey with you and have the privilege to petition the Lord on your behalf. Praying!

  21. I started following your blog from Big Mama a while back and have been praying for you. I hope the Lord shows how big of a blessing you are to me (and I’m sure others like me who don’t know you) and how much your faith has increased my faith. Gosh, is life very hard. I’m sitting in a nail salon (yes, not such a hard life) with tears over your cancer and your boys. Prayers for your strength, courage and good blood counts.

  22. Hey Jen…Have been praying for you guys. I’m so sorry you all are having to go thru this. I sent you a book awhile back, did you receive it?

    Cheryl Gwartney

  23. Barrys continue to pray for you and your sweet boy and Scott. Amazed with how He loves all the details of our lives. Praying for a miracle!

  24. Jennifer, Julie and I continue to pray for you and your family. I was walking our dog last night and reflecting on you and what a great influence you are in my life. You taught me many truths when I was a new believer and how to wrestle with some tough truths. You taught me how to pray in public, whether at a lunch table or at our office lobby after having the experience to share the gospel with our Jewish friend. You have taught me by your life to trust the Lord in the toughest of times, to bask in His love, and to share that love and the gospel with a lost world. You have always been the most joyful person I know. I miss seeing your joyful face at Protiviti, where you first introduced me. I am so thankful to the Lord for you!! I am a better Christian because of you. I am thankful also for directing me of when discipling may go too far (i.e., with the opposite sex – remember Rhonda?). You are a dear friend and although we do not see you much, I want you to know that there are many of us out there praying for you!! So grateful to our Lord for you!! Russ

  25. WHAT A PERFECT TESTIMONIAL TO GOD’S LOVE AND YOUR FAITH. YOU DON’T KNOW ME BUT I AM RECO’S 1ST COUSIN. I PRAY FOR HIM AND HIS FAMILY EVERY NIGHT AND WILL CERTAINLY CONTINUE TO DO SO. I’M 85 AND MY MOTTO IS “HAVE A BLAST WHILE YOU LAST!”
    GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU.
    MARIAN ODELL

  26. We were close in years gone by. Your strength, your courage and your boldness for Christ should not surprise anyone. Certainly does not surprise me. GOD bless you. GOD bless Scott and Linc. You are all in my prayers.

  27. Jennifer, I am BLOWN AWAY by you, friend…floored. Your emotions so real and raw, your attitude is better than any I’ve seen amidst this circumstance, and your heart so in love with Him and focused ON Him…you are storing up incredible treasures in Heaven even now with how you are walking through this unfathomable season…in an interesting way, it’s a sign of the Lord’s unbelievable love for each of you…the Lord clearly wants you, Scott and Lincoln to be lacking in NOTHING. You embody James 1:2-4 so well where the Word says to, “Consider it all JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…for the testing of your faith produces perseverance, and perseverance MUST finish its work SO THAT YOU MAY BECOME MATURE AND COMPLETE, LACKING IN NOTHING.” He loves you THAT much…and He is holding all three of you in His arms the whole way…We all love you, too, and are praying for you all.

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