He’s In The Waiting

I had scans last week and it showed the lymph nodes in my stomach were enlarged. My Doctor has been doing research and talking to other Cancer Specialists. The B-Raff, the medicine I’m currently on, has worked so well for the past year and a half, and has been suppressing the cancer. However, at this point my Doctor thinks I should stop B-Raff and start on Nivolumab. It’s an immune cell booster so it will boost my immunity. My immunity would then be stronger so I could fight the cancer. They want to do this in a week because it can take six to eight weeks to start working. I will have to go in every two weeks to get the medicine intravenously. The only negative side affect is that my immune system could attack my internal organs. So, I am specifically praying that God would protect my organs.

I feel good about this but I have been fighting anxiety. Sonny has been too, more than me. A lot of memories of what happened two years ago have been daunting to Sonny. I told my kids. They all respond differently with news like this. Rhynn wrote a letter yesterday to me. She wanted me to know “Her encounters with Jesus”. Here it is…

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God is preparing this little girl to be a big prayer warrior!

Two songs have stuck out to me lately. One is called “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6X71sXagUY). The other is “Take Courage” by Kristene DiMarco (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r49V9QcYheQ). In this song it repeats “He’s in the waiting”. Some worship songs to me are more worshipful and full of praise. This was is to conquer. I am standing in faith and believing God IS with me. He will be with me. For all of us. We’ve all been in the waiting for one reason or another.

Lately I’ve felt like whenever God’s going to do something big satan is right there. Not today satan! We know who wins this battle!

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God Wink Moment

We took a trip to Portland last week to go school clothes shopping, eat at our favorite restaurants and get a break together as a family before school starts. Normally we stay at one of our favorite hotels in Portland but it was booked so we stayed at another one. The kids were in the pool and the skylight was shining on the pool, which bothered my eyes, so I walking into the lobby to watch the kids from there. There was a couple in the lobby in their 50’s who were talking about a book they were reading. I listened for awhile before I asked them about it. They told me it was about a book that talks about how to get past shame and guilt. I told them “You know how to get past shame and guilt, right? There’s only one way and it’s to believe in the Redemption that Christ gave us on the cross of everlasting life”. They both agreed with me told me about their daughter who is on a spiritual journey and that’s who recommended the book to them. We got to talking and I found out they were of similar spiritual backgrounds and they felt like God has called them to the gift of praying for healing for others. I told them my story. I told them about my Stage 4 cancer. The women got up and walked over to me, laying her hand on my shoulder, and she asked if she could pray healing over me. I immediately said yes! Her hands were shaking and they felt warm on my back. She prayed Ps 118:17 over me, not knowing it is my favorite verse.

“I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”

I talked more after that and in the middle of our conversation the woman interrupted and said to me “I feel like God is telling me to tell you that you are going to be cancer free. Don’t own the cancer anymore. Don’t go off your meds or do anything drastic as it may take some time but God is going to heal you. God is going to answer your prayers for extended life.” She said she would continue to pray for me.

Every time I have scans coming up I get nervous and wonder if anything else will show up. Dr. Erickson has the talk with me every time about when we should stop the medication I’m currently on and start the next one. The caviat is that there is a 6-8 week period I would have to wait between quitting the current meds and starting the new meds. The current meds I’m on keep everything shrunk but they are not healing me. The next medication is intravenious and it can cure my cancer. This is where I’m currently at. God gives me “God wink moments” on this journey to encourage me. We never would have met these people had we stayed at our normal hotel. He knows I needed that encouragement, prayer and healing. So grateful for moments like this.

IMG_1319.JPGRhynn & I (August 2016) 

Here For Christmas

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Lately I have been surrounded by people who have cancer. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older or because I have it and so I empathize, but it’s hard. It’s been discouraging. I’ve had some pains in my head lately. It could be as simple as me straining when I look at my phone or needing a massage. But it scares me. I don’t want feel fear, I want to feel peace. 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts our fear”. I put my bracelet back on that says “Brave”. I got my little boxing gloves out someone gave me. I have been reading Jesus Calling lately, a devotional that seems to hit right where I need it every day I open it. Today I opened it and it said the following:

“Your longing for heaven is good, because it is an extension of your yearning for Me. The hope of heaven is meant to strengthen and encourage you, filling you with wondrous joy. Many Christians have misunderstood the word hope, believing that it denotes wishful thinking. Nothing could be further than the truth! As soon as I became your Savior, heaven became your ultimate destination. The phrase hope of heaven highlights the benefits you can enjoy even while remaining on earth. This hope keeps you spiritually alive during dark times of adversity; it brightens your path and heightens your awareness of My Presence. My desire is that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

            Last year I wasn’t able to do any Christmas shopping or decorating my house because I was so sick. I can do it this year and I’m excited. Traditions are important to me and I’m excited to do them all, even down to wrapping the presents and not just putting them in bags. I’m not really good at wrapping presents. I am the person who has gaps and has to cut extra strips to make it completely covered but at least I get to do that this year and I’m grateful for that. My son, Randon, came home from college a few days ago and said to me “Mom, you’re alive this year. It’s Christmas and you’re alive. I didn’t think you’d be here this Christmas”. Rhynn came running out of her room the other day and said “Mom, you don’t have cancer anymore. “ I love her child-like faith and want to believe that’s true. I want to look at it this like a win-win situation. If I live I get to be with my family. If I die from this I get to be with Jesus. That’s hard when we don’t know what Heaven will be like and we love so many people here on Earth. But today I’m grateful I’m spiritually and physically alive and I get to experience this Christmas season with my family and people I love.

Merry Christmas,

Joy

Through a Telescope

It’s been fifteen months since I have been battling my second round of Melanoma. People often ask me how I am. I’m in a holding pattern. I’ve been on a treatment called Tafinlar (AKA BRAF) for almost nine months and typically it’s supposed to last six months to a year. The whole point in this treatment is not to cure Melanoma, but it’s supposed to shrink my tumors and cancer cells and allow my body to get stronger and healthier so I can get ready for the next treatment. I’m also taking another pill that helps my body from being immune to Tafinlar. Many people have been able to be on Tafinlar for two or three years, which is what we’re hoping will be my case.

I had a scan a couple days ago. I have tumors in my lungs and adrenal glands. Yesterday the results came back and the Doctors said that none of my tumors have grown and are so small they are hard to measure-praise God! However, it’s also kind of frustrating because I can’t start taking my next treatment with the current treatment until the current treatment fails. The next treatment will have a six to eight week waiting period before it starts working. So I wait. And quote a lot of Scripture when fear enters my mind.

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In September last year I was in the hospital waiting to see what would happen and where my life would go, after having had tumors removed from my brain. A woman I go to church with, Marcia, showed up at the hospital to pray over me. I didn’t know her before that but she is a cancer survivor and when she heard about me she knew she was supposed to come and pray over me. She brought me a book called “Healed of Cancer” by Dodie Osteen. It’s about her journey through cancer and how she was healed of it. It’s filled with Scripture of God’s promises. That was a sign to me. I’ve held onto that book for the past year and read those Scriptures over and over.

Around that same time my long time friend, Linda, came to the hospital, also to pray over me. She specifically prayed I would hear a word from the Lord. The next morning I woke up early and couldn’t sleep. Sonny turned on the TV in the hospital room and Joel Osteen’s show came on. He was talking about his Mom’s journey through cancer. She was given two to three weeks to live. She started looking up healing Scripture and just quoting it over and over. His Mom was completely healed of cancer and that was almost thirty years ago. When he was little the neighbor boy bullied him. One night he was looking through a telescope in his room. His Dad noticed he had it backwards and tried to correct him but Joel said he wanted it that way because it made his bully look small. Joel said sometimes we look at our circumstances and how big they are rather than looking at how big our God is and how small our circumstances are to Him.

Today my daughter has the stomach flu and I get to take care of her. I am healthy enough to take care of her! Thank you Jesus.

Battlefield

My Mom recently told me a story I hadn’t heard yet. My Uncle Rocky, my Mom’s brother, has the gift of prophecy & prayer. He had a dream a year ago while I was in the hospital. In his dream he saw a battlefield with a hill and a grassy area with swords and shields all over. He felt like God was telling people to pick up their weapons and go to battle for me. The next day he had another dream and saw that same battlefield but this time it had no weapons anywhere because everyone had picked them up and was on the frontlines to battle for me. Later on Rocky was praying and asking God to give me more years to live, just like He had done with his brother (He extended his life 15 years after his 1st battle with Leukemia). He felt like God was saying He is going to extend my life just like this, and just like Hezekiah in the Bible (whose life was also extended 15 years). Rocky asked for double! I like that.

Recently at church our pastor was saying when we live a life that appears to not have a lot of valleys, something happens when you face adversity. You can either chose to feel that God has entrusted you or you can get angry and say “Why me?” Painful times are often looked at as something negative. Walking through this journey has helped me understand that painful times can be looked at as what God is going to do through me. We can’t always see the mountains until we’re in the valleys.

I still wake up at night sometimes, scared. I ruminate and can’t sleep. I think about dying, what I would say to my kids, what legacy will I leave for them. My biggest prayer is that they will have a relationship with the Lord, that they will love Him, that they will know, regardless of what happens to me, that He is in control and loves them deeply. The other day I woke up Sonny and asked him to pray for me. Rhynn was lying in bed with us and had been talking in her sleep. Sonny asked her to pray and (while she was still asleep) she blurted out “What? You’re not dying! You’re being healed!” Then she prayed for me. Even Rhynn knows, in her sleep, that God is healing me.

When I was a little girl my Mom taught me how to rebuke the enemy. I couldn’t understand the word rebuke so I used to “freeze” satan. In the Bible God says to have faith like a child. Children believe what they are told. If God says I’m going to be healed then I want to believe that. I have the power to “freeze” the enemy. Never as an adult did I feel like I had that kind of power until recently.

My parents used to shoot archery when I was a kid. One particular time they had walked down a trail to shoot some bows and my sister and I were playing in the car (those were the good ol’ days!). Some Police Officers saw us and told us there was an escape convict in the area, that we needed sit in our car with the doors locked until our parents came back.  I was attending Christian school at the time and every day we memorized Scripture. All the Scriptures I had memorized came back to me then. Surrounding ourselves with Scripture stays in our hearts. A verse in James says “Out of the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak”. This has helped me to feel confident that speaking healing really does have power.

One of my favorite songs right now is “Same Power” by Jeremy Camp. You can listen to it here….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InsifiZxVXU

This song connects the idea that the same power that rose Jesus from the grave is also the same power that we have access to in our lives, right here, right now. I know I am fighting a battle. Some days are good, when I’m physically feeling good. When I have a bad day, physically, I start to doubt the healing process. I have to continually tell myself that worrying is not from the Lord. He is in control. I will not leave this Earth one minute before He wants me to and not one minute after. “Our hope is laid up for us in heaven” is what Colossians 1:3-4 says. It doesn’t say our hope is here on Earth but in Heaven. This is my battle. This is a battle I am not fighting alone. My friends and family have surrounded me and are on the frontlines. But my God is going before all of us. Because of that I have hope. I have peace. I have joy.

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My Goliath

A year ago I was released from the hospital. I had been doing rehab and was released in time to attend a fundraiser my friend Jenn had organized and was hosted by my friends Bud and Kelly. They named it “The Joyful Jamboree”. It was a slice of Heaven to me. It was like I was walking through my funeral but I was still alive. It was a celebration of my life. It was like people were giving me years off their lives. Money was raised to go towards my many medical bills. My life bucket was being filled by others lives. So much planning went into that event. My friends and family showed up to celebrate my life and help our family. Elliot (local band) played music and people danced. All the kids played games. Great food was eaten. I was blessed, beyond belief. That day will always be so special to me.

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Here we are a whole year later already. It’s been a faith filled year but it hasn’t been without many doubts and fears. I was given the opportunity to speak at a local church recently. I spoke about my past year and referred to it as “My Goliath”. I talked about the story of David and Goliath in the Bible. I had studied beforehand and I felt like God had told me everyone has a Goliath in their life. God gives us the stones to kill that Goliath, no matter how young we are, how weak we are, how far from God we feel. Some people experience their Goliaths as loosing a child, divorce, addictions, and so many more. Most people have a lot more than one Goliath in their lives. My biggest one has been cancer. The stones that God has given me are learning to trust Him, not allowing fear to rule my life, and not listening to the enemy’s lies about my life. I had so many anxieties about not being strong enough, not being able to fight long enough, not being able to trust-none of that was from the Lord. The pastors of this church gave me a piece of paper and the following words were written on it:

“I am powerful, and what I believe changes the world!

So today I declare:

God is in a good mood.

He loves me all the time.

Nothing can separate me from His love.

Jesus’ blood paid for everything.

I will tell nations of what He has done.

I am important.

How He made me is amazing.

I was designed for worship.

My mouth establishes praise to silence the enemy.

Everywhere I go becomes a perfect health zone.

And…with God

Nothing is impossible!”

After I spoke, a lady in that church prophesied over me and said that God had entrusted me with this (referring to the past year), that she heard a confirmation that I was going to travel and speak, telling my story. That was the first time I felt like God had a purpose in all of this. I’ve always felt like I was called to do something big. Other than being a Mom and raising my kids, I never knew what that was. I do now. Another lady prophesied that she saw a book with my name on it. I’m not going to lie, that scared me. I’m not a writer (I’m not actually the one writing this blog…if I was you would all think I was drunk. My mind still struggles to get things out, I often forget things…I blame radiation). I’ve been told many times, before and after cancer, that people saw me speaking to large groups of people, specifically women, at some point in my life. I would always joke that when people go to seminar or large speaking gigs they are often introduced by referring to how many books they’ve written, how the speak all over the world, etc. I would say how my introduction would include how many diapers I’ve changed, how many loads of laundry I’ve done and how many dishes I’ve cleaned. Not until I had cancer did I really feel like I had a platform to speak on. Let me be clear the platform isn’t cancer, it’s Jesus. My platform is the healing that God has done in my life and where I am now because of Him.

I haven’t felt good lately. Physically I have struggled a bit, and when anything little comes up it scares me. The little things become big things. That’s what happens when someone has walked through something traumatic. It’s a sort of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I would love to say that my first response has been to go to God and not allow the anxiety that comes with this to take over. But the reality is that it’s still not always my first response. I still struggle with having to acknowledge that the anxiety, fear and worry is from the enemy. I have to declare that my God is in control and take all of that and lay it at His feet. Sometimes daily. Sometimes hourly. Sometimes by the minute. Sometimes I just put on worship music and rest in knowing that the enemy can’t be there when the presence of God is.

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But Our God…

While this blog entry is not within the timeline of how I’ve been writing, it’s important to stop and talk about this today. A dear friend of ours, Steve Stern, passed away five days ago. Steve was a Pastor at our church and a friend of our family’s. He battled ALS for four and a half years. His passing rocked my world and made me start to have fears and doubts of why God allowed him to go through what he went through when he loved the Lord so much. So many people were praying for Steve, and believing in healing, just as people have prayed for me, so it made me wonder if God chose to not heal Steve on Earth if He will choose the same for me?

At church this past Sunday the speaker talked about why we go to church. He said it’s not just to fellowship or worship, but to learn how to preach the Gospel and in turn we receive power from the Holy Spirit and then we receive persecution. He explained that being persecuted isn’t always what we think of it. It comes in different forms and one of those is physical persecution, including diseases, sickness, etc. I started thinking about my life and questioning whether I’ve been the kind of preacher God wants me to be. I am definitely in the midst of physical persecution. I started to be more afraid and ask the Lord “If you didn’t heal someone like Steve Stern than are you going to heal me?” I am holding onto God’s specific promises to me and I want to get to the place where if God decides He wants to take me than I want to be excited about it. The kind of excited like when we get to go to Hawaii on vacation. I heard a quote recently that said “If you’re a believer death isn’t about saying good bye it’s about saying good night”. I want to live like that. I don’t want to be afraid of death. I want to be excited to one day go to Heaven and until then live with such huge faith that I know God is completely in control. I want to live with abandon.

I have currently outlived all my expiration dates. Last week a friend of mine told me their sister recently had brain surgery. They mentioned my name to the same Doctor who did my brain surgery and the Doctor said he remembered me. His Physicians Assistant immediately piped in saying “I’m so sorry about Joy”. Upon questioning his comment they realized the Physicians Assistant had thought I passed away, assuming I never would have made it this long. Doctors don’t always know. They estimate. They go off of experience and knowledge. But our God….He always knows.