Friday, January 30, 2009

One in a Million

Wednesday was terrible. I have discovered something else about myself...I do not deal well with the unknown. Now, please understand, I am not afraid. I have complete and total faith in my Lord and I totally believe that He can do anything and that if He wants to lay His holy hands on me and heal me, He will. I have no doubt that He will heal me, but I believe He will heal me using modern medicine. It's not that I think God wouldn't heal me or that He can't heal me. I just believe that He will be better glorified by our family going through this entire process. Perhaps He needs to be seen by someone in the Operating Room at UMC...seems that is where I keep ending up. Anyway, Wednesday was terrible, but now we know what we are dealing with and have a plan of action........
I went back to see Dr Schweinfurth yesterday. Had the CT Scan done of my chest and neck. Thankfully, he found nothing worth noting on my CT scan. My lymph nodes are clear. He is going to send my case to the Tumor Board on Wednesday. I will see him on Thursday and we will discuss their findings. It looks like I will have surgery again on Monday, Feb. 9.
You know how there is a "one in a million chance" that something will happen? Well, there was a one in a million chance that this would progress to Invasive Carcinoma after surgery. That's what it did. So, now I have cancer. It still sounds so bizarre to say that. "Cancer" has always been such a frightening word. It is odd to use it when referring to myself. When we did my first surgery (in September of 08), we expected "normal" cells to reproduce and fill in the wound from the surgery. This is what happens 80% of the time. In my case, the cancer cells reproduced to fill the wound left from the surgery.  Once we get a clean biopsy, we will let my cords heal for about 2 months, then biopsy to see if any new cancer cells are present. I did not ask what we would do if I have new cancer cells at that time....there is plenty happening between now and then to keep me occupied.
There is a bone that the tumor (this last one that I had removed on Monday of this week) was butted up against. This was a non-issue until we discovered that I have progressed rather than regressed. Now we are looking at possibly doing a biopsy on the bone. Of course, I told him to do what ever needs to be done. I want this out of my body.
Ok, so that's all the factual stuff. My honest feeling about it is "It is what it is". It's there and it is growing and it needs to be taken care of. I believe that I have a wonderful doctor who is doing everything he can to cure me. I believe God will heal me through Dr Schweinfurth. I do not even question this.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Hi Kris, this is John Schweinfurth...."

Dr Schweinfurth called my cell yesterday and left the following message, "Hi Kris. This is John Schweinfurth. I know you aren't supposed to be talking right now, but I have the results from your biopsy and need to discuss with you. give me a call at...."
Good results? Bad results? Hoping for good, expecting bad, I called.
"The biopsy results were not what we were hoping for. They are worse than last time"
What? Worse? How can they be worse? He continued...
"I want to get you before the tumor board as soon as possible, but in order to do that, you need to have a CT scan and some x-rays done of your head, neck, and chest. I wanted to talk to you rather than someone calling to schedule this and you know nothing of it."
My head was spinning, but I managed to ask when the board meets.
"They meet on Wednesdays. I wanted to get you in today, but there just isn't enough time."
I asked if I could get the CT scan and x-rays done Thursday or Friday.
"That'd be great"
So, I am going today to get them done. Hopefully I will get to see Dr Schweinfurth long enough to ask him some questions...the main one being "Do I have Cancer?"
I think I have a grasp of what the Tumor Board is a group of specialists from different fields that get together and discuss a case to decide the best way to treat it.
We are going to do surgery again as soon as I heal from this one, before the cancer cells have a chance to do much multiplying.
I asked him what we do if the surgeries just don't work. He said we would talk about other options after the board meets.
I am amazed at God's timing. He has brought women into my life that have unique roles to fill and they may or may not even know it. Christie is my emotional support; Christa gives me spiritual guidance; Tara and Danyelle know first hand, and are eager to remind me of, God's ability to work a miracle; Lee, Teressa, Tara, and Liz are able to help me translate doctor jargon and assess my situation and remind me that I am "at the best place" (UMC) for this; and the Ladies of FLO... what can I say about that bunch of nuts? That is the most loving and supportive group of women I have ever known. They are true prayer warriors. They understand that we are not fighting against men, but against powers and principalities. They understand that this looks like an attack on me, but is really an attack on my sweet husband, our pastor.
Our pastor is leading our congregation. People are coming to know Christ. Young people, old people....all kinds of people are meeting Christ face to face. Every single ministry in our church is growing. There is a holy excitement in our church body like none I have ever felt. Surely we are not so naive as to think that Satan will sit idly by and allow Pearson Baptist Church to wake from it's complacent slumber? He will not, and he has assessed the situation and knows that the best way to squash this uprising of God's people is to attack its leaders. What better way to attack Calvin than through me? This "ordeal" we are going through with my vocal cords is a lovely distraction for our pastor. Perfect opportunity for him to be discouraged, for him to doubt, for him to lose his focus.
It is also a perfect opportunity for our precious congregation to see inside our lives with complete transparency. This is an opportunity for us to literally live out our faith publicly. We will use this, as we have from the beginning, to bring glory to our Father. He has a plan. HE is in control. We trust Him fully and completely and are anxiously awaiting the amazing blessings that are going to be out poured on our Church, our family, and our friends.
I am grateful that God has entrusted me with this road. I will glorify HIM every step of the way!
Will post again after the tests today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Peace that transcends understanding

My friend (and mentor) Pauline commented shortly before this last surgery " I wish I knew why God has chosen to allow you to bear this load". I have been trying to find an answer to that "why". Some Divine revelation. Some unique purpose. Some amazing reason for all of this. All I come up with is that He is strengthening my faith with every passing day.
Most everyone reading this knows me, but just in case someone has stumbled upon this blog and does not know my current situation, let me take a moment now and try to give the brief version.
I have had chronic laryngitis for years. For the past 3 years, I have had doctor after doctor tell me that my vocal cords are damaged from acid reflux and that there is nothing I can do about it.
Last September, I went to see Dr Schweinfurth at UMC and on the 23 of that month He surgically removed what we believed to be a cyst off of my right vocal cord. 2 weeks later, he told us that I have Carcinoma in Situ of the true vocal cords. I don't have "cancer". I have a nice little package of cancer cells making themselves at home on my vocal cords. We planned to do a biopsy in the spring to see how many cancer cells were left after the tissue healed from the surgery. Around Christmas, my voice started to get hoarse again and I began to notice polyphony when I sang. I got an appointment on the 15th of January. By this time I could not sing at all and my speaking voice sounded terrible. There was no question that something was growing on my cord(s), so I had surgery (micro flap excision and laser ablation....not "vocal cord stripping") again on the 26th (Monday of this week). Now I am on strict voice rest (that's medical terminology for do not, under any circumstances, utter a word) until I go back to see Dr. Schweinfurth on the 12th of Feb. At that visit, I will get the pathology report and we will know where to go from here. Perhaps this will be the end of it and we will only need to do one more surgery, that being a biopsy to insure that there are no more cancer cells lurking about. Then again, I could be that 1 in a million case that progresses to invasive carcinoma. Of course, I could have any level of dysplasia, which would be wonderful news.
Which brings me back to Pauline's statement. I use my voice to serve Him. I teach Sunday school. I sing in the choir. I lead Ladies Bible Study. Before I lost my ability to talk over a room full of children, I lead the Children's worship on Sunday mornings. I teach music for VBS. I tell people about Him and about my passion for Him. I don't drink or smoke, and I am only 36. So why? Why has God chosen to allow me to travel this road? What does me having pre-cancer and going through multiple surgeries followed by extended periods of time without being able to talk have to do with His master plan? I don't know. But that's okay. He knows.
People do not believe me when I say that I have absolutely no idea what He is doing and am totally okay with it. Really. It is okay. God has a plan and a purpose for everything. He knows the full story, all the characters, and every detail of the plot. I don't. I trust Him because I love Him and because I believe that He loves me and because I believe that HE knows what He is doing.
Who would have thought that a fictional character could put words to my feelings? I read "Scrapping Plans", by my friend Rebecca Sietz, after my surgery ( I get a lot of reading done when i can't talk) and one of her characters made reference to having a "peace that passes understanding". Philippians 4:6-7 says: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. " The peace of GOD. Yep, that's it. That explains it all. The peace of GOD transcends all understanding. Not peace of medicine, or doctors, or statistics, but the peace of GOD transcends all understanding. When things don't make sense, the peace of GOD makes it all "okay". I don't know what the outcome of this surgery will be, but I trust HIM. I know that HE knows what He is doing. Even though it makes sense for me to be "anxious and worried" about the pathology results, I am not. Like Peter, as long as I stay focused on my Savior, I am okay. It is when i start focusing on the storm and the waves that I start to sink, not into the water as Peter did, but into the depths of worry and dispair.
Does this mean I don't question God? I wish it did. No, I have my "why" moments. Does this mean that I like what is going on inside my body? Of course not. BUT I rest secure in the arms of my Father in heaven who loves me. HE knows what the outcome of all of this is going to be. I have never been closer to Him than in these times of silence. I have never felt His presence more than I have over the past several months. My faith has been strengthened exponentially through this ordeal.
So, today I take comfort that the Creator of the entire universe loves me. The same God that chose the colors of the Iris, Daylily and Rose, chose the color of my skin, eyes, and hair. The same God who spoke and made light, gently knit me together in my mother's womb. He knows the number of hairs on my head. He knows every thought I have ever thought or will ever think. He KNOWs me. So, today, I take comfort in that fact. He knows what this is doing to me. He knows my fears and my doubts. He knows the physical pain I am going through as well as the emotional pain that comes from not being able to communicate with those I love. He knows how much it pains me to sit silently through church while others sing His praises. He knows. Even though I don't understand, He knows why this is happening and I trust Him. Perhaps it is for no other reason than to draw this daughter closer to his chest.

Friday, January 23, 2009

"A new Thing"

this afternoon, 2 of my co-workers were giving me a hard time. They were reminding me that I often say "I was not always a Preacher's wife". On this particular occasion, one was questioning the photo on my blog. She thought it was a tattoo. (It is a heart shaped leaf skeleton floating in the water. the caterpillars had eaten all the tender part of the leaf and left the skeleton which, to me, looked like lace. I took the picture either this summer or last, but when I saw it, it was if my Heavenly Father had sent me a little love letter, just to let me know He was thinking of me.) I told them "like I would have a tattoo" and they promptly reminded me that, you guessed it, I was not always a preacher's wife.
On the way home tonight I thought about that. It is true, I was not always a Preacher's wife. When Satan's minions start whispering in my ear "remember when...", I am tempted to travel back down the road of my life. I am tempted to stop and visit all the bad choices, broken hearts, embarrassing moments, and blatant sin. A few years ago, I chose to break this cycle of lamenting the past and looked for God's hand in it all, from my parents' divorce, to the broken hearts of my teen age years and early 20's, through all the dark moments...I asked God to show me where He was in all that mess of a soul that was me before I became "a preacher's wife". And He did. In more ways than I can list here, He was there, guiding me, calling to me, drawing me to Himself. He allowed me to stumble and fall, time and again until the hunger and thirst in my very soul was so great that only He could quench it.
Isiah 43 says to Forget the former things and not dwell on the past.See! I am doing a new thing, Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (verses 18 and 19) I am humbled at the new thing Christ did in me. He touched me. He quenched the thirst in my soul. He completed me. He filled the longing in my heart. He created in me a love so pure and so strong that I can honestly say that I would do absolutely anything for Him and I trust Him completely and totally without question....well, without many questions.
My prayer for the Ladies in my life, the Ladies of FLO, the Ladies in my Sunday School Class, the Ladies I work with, friends, that each one of you falls totally and completely head over heels in love with your Savior. He will satisfy the longing in your heart...that nagging, gnawing "something is missing" feeling. He will quench the thirst in your soul for "something more". He will curb your appetite for lesser things such as possessions, power, lust, and physical beauty and will create in you a desire to grow His kingdom, to be humble, to be pure, and to exude inner beauty.
He loves you enough to make you a princess....a daughter of the King....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just One

I know that this is not an original idea, but I don't have any idea who to give the credit to, so, wonderful person, where ever you are, I am not trying to take credit for your idea.

For the Christian, the idea of leading others to Christ is natural, all be it frightening. Once Christ has touched a person's heart, it is difficult for that new Christian to keep quiet about it. A "New Christian" wants to evangelize the world. Then we get setteled into our new life and that moment when we first met Jesus fades into a distant memory. THEN we begin to fear "witnessing". Most people do truly fear rejection and we do risk rejection when we "risk" sharing our faith. Of course, there are all the "what ifs"...What if they ask me a question I don't know the answer to? What if I forget the scripture I am supposed to recite? What if they just tell me that they are not interested?
As if this was not enough to deter the Christian from "witnessing", there is the sheer enormity of the task before us. I read a statistic that says that something like 2/3 of the people IN CHURCH on Sunday do not actually have a relationship with Christ. 2/ Add that to the people who are not in church and yes, it is a daunting task.
Christian, let me pose this question to you...."Can you share Christ's love with one?"
I believe that we each have people in our lives that will come to know Christ simply because they know us. How exciting! What a responsibility!
So I challenge you, Christian, who in your life is watching you? To whom in your life can you be the hands and feet of Christ?
What if every born again believer in Jesus Christ invested in the life of one non-Christian or un-churched person? What if every born again believer in Jesus Christ made a decision to strive to live like Christ every day? We would have a revival in the Body of Christ.
Do you know Him? Do you sense His presence as you go through your day? Do you remember how it felt when you realized for the first time that GOD, the creator of the universe, knows the number of hairs on your head? Do you remember the amazement you felt when you fully realized that the same God that picked out the colors of the most breath-taking sunset also chose the color of your eyes? Do you remember what it felt like when you understood the weight of your sin? Do you remember how it felt when you realized that God Himself became a man and died to pay for your sin....before you were even born He provided the way for you to get to heaven? Christian, do you really want to keep that to yourself? Who is your "one"? Who has God put in your life? Who does God want to reveal Himself to through you?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pastor's Wife

"Senior Pastor's Wife"...What a title. I knew that "one day" Calvin would probably be too old to be a Youth Pastor and that the logical progression would be for him to stand behind the pulpit, but I never gave much thought to it. After all, "one day" is, well..."one day".
"One day" became to be "today" in February of 2008.
I had a lot to live up to. The former Pastor's wife was exactly what most anyone would picture when asked to describe a pastor's wife. Kind, Gentle, compassionate, modest, humble, selfless...I could go on forever! Come to think of it, I cannot think of a single time that I saw her lose her temper or heard her say anything negative about anyone the entire time I served with her...about 9 years.
That's a hard act to follow for an outspoken, opinionated, and hard headed control freak like myself. For the first few months of 2008 I really struggled to be what I thought "the preacher's wife" should be. Then I met D. She changed my life with one thought.
We were at a meeting for Sr Pastors' wives. I was stressing about all the self-imposed demands of being the preacher's wife and lamenting over the extra time demands being put on my husband...time that took him away from us.
D let me know that MY responsibility was to my Pastor. God chose ME to care for His pastor so that His pastor could care for His flock.
What an awesome responsibility! That was a turning point in my life. Totally took the focus off of me and put it on my sweet Pastor. I love watching him as he prepares his sermons. I love watching as he grows in his relationship with his Savior. I love praying for him. I love the fact that our Heavenly Father often gives me a gentle nudge when I need to pray more. Most of all I love being the one person closest to him. I have the distinct privilege of being the hands and feet of Christ to my sweet pastor as he is the hands and feet of Christ to everyone else. Pretty cool stuff.
Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being the FLO coordinator ( the For Ladies Only ministry at our church), teaching the Ladies Wednesday Night Bible Study, Teaching Sunday School, Leading Music for VBS, and Singing in the Choir. However, none of these services to my Savior come close to measuring up to the service I truly believe He created me for....Caring for His pastor.