TEN YEARS CANCER-FREE

I don’t usually write anything in all caps. I’ve been working hard to not be a screamer. BUT, Y’ALL!! Today marks TEN YEARS since the day I got to hear the words, “You’re cancer-free.”

The minute I got the call from my doctor I sent a message to everyone I could think of saying, “I’m cancer free! All glory to God forever!” I knew at that moment that everything in my world had shifted. I mistakenly thought it had all shifted for the good and that the rest of my life would be smooth sailing.

That phone call took more than two years to receive from the moment I received my cancer diagnosis. In those two years of waiting God exposed wounds in me that were long buried and forgotten and forced me to deal with pains that I had been shoving under a tight lid for most of my life. Okay, He didn’t force me. I had a choice. But I also knew that I wasn’t ready to die and that I no longer wanted to hold on to anything that was causing unhealth in my body. And, if I was going to die, I wanted to experience peace and freedom on this side of heaven.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the grief to come. Anyone who has ever had any kind of cancer will tell you that the four words they hate most in the English vocabulary are, “Because of your history…”. Every single time I go to the doctor for anything, I hear those words. Anything in my body that is the least bit sick has become a reason for doctors to run more tests and explore the possibilities that I have a cancer recurrence. Every time I hear those words I am reminded that cancer may have given me freedom and healing, but it also took away so much. I no longer have the confidence that a cough is just a cough, an upset stomach is just an upset stomach, a headache is just a headache, or that every ache and pain are just the price of being 48 years old. I no longer have the amazing metabolism that allowed me to eat pizza for dinner and ice cream before bed without working out for two hours the morning after. I also no longer have a tolerance for toxicity or the ability to be anything other than transparent and vulnerable.

I wrote several years ago about what cancer taught me, but I left out how I’ve come to embrace transparency and vulnerability. If you know me IRL or you’ve read my blog for any amount of time those qualities may be obvious to you. What may not be obvious is WHY I can’t be anything other than transparent and vulnerable.

There’s just no point in even trying. Those words above were spoken by Jesus. In the next verse He said, “So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them.” I don’t know about any of you, but my perimenopausal brain simply can’t afford to lose what little I understand. I want to spend the rest of my days hearing from God and understanding more about who He is and how He loves me. Also, I firmly believe that all that I’d held on to grew in my neck in the form of cancer and that’s a battle I’d prefer not to fight again.

It would be a lie to say that I’ve accomplished all I had hoped to accomplish in these last ten years, or that I’ve achieved complete spiritual/emotional healing and freedom, or that I believe I’ve fulfilled every purposeful opportunity that God laid before me. This morning I cried and repented for not accomplishing more for Him in the days, weeks, months, and years that He’s given me. But guess what? Certainly the faithful love of the Lord hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through!  They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

Tomorrow I will wake up to the first day of my eleventh year of living without cancer. I will try my best to not take this life for granted. I will rest in the assurance that God’s love and mercy over me aren’t through. And I will give Him glory and praise Him for His great great faithfulness.

Happy Ten-Year-Cancer-Free-Day to ME!

Good, Gut-wrenching, Glorious Friday

Most historians believe that around three hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, in Isaiah 53, it was prophesied…

Who has believed our message?
    To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
    like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
    nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for OUR rebellion,
   crushed for OUR sins.
He was beaten so WE (YOU and I) could be whole.
   He was whipped so WE could be healed.
ALL OF US, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
    yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
    And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
    he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
    he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants,
    that his life was cut short in midstream.[c
But he was struck down
    for the rebellion of my people.
He had done no wrong
    and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
    he was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
    and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
    he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
    and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
    he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
    my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
   for he will bear ALL their sins.
12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier,
    because he exposed himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
    He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

If you read Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19, you see that every single detail of the prophesy was fulfilled in Jesus’ crucifixion. His death was horrible, and painful, and exposing. Although pictures of the crucifixion always have him wearing a loincloth, the Bible says that he was stripped of his clothes and Roman tradition was to crucify criminals naked. So, we know that our savior, the one who literally gave up everything, including his life; was beaten, abused, and died a brutal death, completely exposed and broken. That is what today is all about…

He did it all so that when we are experiencing brokenness, feeling exposed, abused, in pain, ashamed, sick, stuck, hopeless, in bondage, or anything other than complete wholeness and freedom; we can leave it ALL at the cross with him. Because on the third day… he rose from the dead, insuring that you and I do not have to carry ANY of the things that hurt or weigh us down in this life, but live eternally with him.

This Holy Week has been a beautiful, brutal reminder of the significance of this day and what’s to come on Sunday.

The entire world is unstable, in every possible way. I am reeling from the end of my marriage. I have spent the majority of this Holy Week alone in silence, with the exception of the hours I’ve spent face down on the floor crying out to God. When I couldn’t think of anything else to yell at talk to God about, I have given thanks for every single thing I can think of. In all the thanksgiving, I remembered that I was not only healed of cancer eleven years ago, but I was also completely healed of all the side effects of radiation that I was told would be life-long. In the process of healing me of cancer, God exposed layers and layers of wounds that were keeping me from living fully in all of His promises, poured out the blood of Jesus on them, and healed my heart and soul. He has healed relationships that had little hope of restoration. He has healed pieces of my children that doctors said we needed to learn to live with. He has NEVER failed to provide for all of my needs. He has given me pure gold in my tribe of people. He equipped me with gifts, and talents, and intuition that have opened doors I could have never opened on my own. He allowed me to see a very large portion of this Earth before world travel became a thing of the past. And, two months away from turning fifty, I still have no gray hair. SO MUCH to be thankful for!

Also, I’ve given a lot of thanks this week for the fact that God has (quite literally) carried me through the most tumultuous storms of my life. In the moments where it was hard to breathe or stand on my own two feet, His love, grace, and strength quite literally carried me through.

As I wait for new life to be breathed into situations that feel a little hopeless and scary, I know that I know that I know that God will be faithful. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What He has done in the past, He will do again. He heals. He sets captives free. He shines light in the darkness. He exposes evil and eradicates it. He restores. He redeems. He is love. He is grace. He is constant.

So hold on, let go, trust God. We’re all in this broken, painful Good Friday world together.

Sunday is coming.

Super Sunday

After four years of being stuck, life around here is moving forward at warp speed. In the last two weeks, we moved to a new house in a frenzy…
IMG_7131

… to beat a blizzard named Jonas …

12615143_10208476507009234_4887459208533693874_o

… drove to Baltimore every other day (except the days when we were moving and snowed-in) to see this cutie patootie (who’s making amazing progress – Hooray! – and will hopefully be home next month).

12604668_10208528459068003_6621930421016408302_o

My dear hubby has been to EIGHTEEN appointments at the VA hospital in DC (hell on earth) as part of his medical retirement board. By the way, when you start the medical board process they schedule nineteen appointments over the course of forty-five days. You get no choice in when they are scheduled and if you miss or try to reschedule, you start the process over again. Several of those appointments were scheduled over the two days that we were planning to move. Because of the blizzard, the VA rescheduled the appointments and DH got to be present for the move – Hooray! Unfortunately, the appointments were all rescheduled for the last two Sunday mornings. We’ve missed our church family, but we’re extremely grateful to say that he has ONE appointment left (this Tuesday), and the evaluation part of the med board will be done. Another Hooray!

The Denver Broncos won the AFC Championship and are playing in Super Bowl 50 day… BIG, HUGE – HOORAY!!

It would’ve been fun to move to this house. 😉 broncoshouse

And in the midst of all the other stuff, I’ve had this lingering pest that I unsuccessfully kept trying to push from my thoughts.

I woke up on NYE and noticed a bulge on my neck. It hasn’t gone away. I had a neck ultrasound Tuesday and saw my doctor Thursday. It’s just an infected lymph node that’s against my carotid artery. It has healthy blood flow (the cancerous lymph nodes I had in 2009 had no blood flow). I’m relieved, but a bit traumatized.

You know why I was traumatized? Because I forgot. I forgot that I am healed. I forgot who I am. I forgot that God is in my corner and that no matter what I see or feel or experience, it is ALL working together for my good. And also maybe just a bit because I’m human and cancer sucks.

My dear, precious friend Veronica sent me a text in between the day I had the ultrasound and saw the big lymph node in my neck and the appointment with my doctor reassuring me that I am indeed still cancer-free. Veronica had no idea what I was dealing with, but she felt led to pray Ephesians 6 over me. I remembered that I had written a piece on Ephesians 6 some time ago. If you’re struggling with your own truth, if you’ve forgotten who God says you are or what He’s done for you, if you are walking through a season of big changes and struggling to remember what is constant, I urge you to click this link and read.

Philippians 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Today is Superbowl Sunday and my hubby’s hometown team made it to the big game. This is true. This is right. This is lovely.

It is well.

itiswell

When Horatio Spafford wrote the classic hymn It Is Well With My Soul, his life was anything but well. He had lost his wealth, his only son, and his four daughters. As he looked out over the place in the Atlantic Ocean that had taken the lives of his daughters, he penned the words…

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

In the last week, as our family has continued with the waiting and expecting of God’s goodness in the situation with my husband’s career, countless people around us have walked through their own storms. A young neighbor had a heart attack. A friend with special needs children of her own lost her husband after a VERY short battle with cancer. A precious two-year-old girl in our Church family drowned Saturday and went fifteen minutes without oxygen. A cousin who is living here temporarily as a travel nurse spent the day in the hospital with heart issues. Another friend was forced to leave behind her one-year-old daughter to honor her military orders.

So much waiting. So much expecting. So much sorrow.

When sorrows like sea billows roll…

It is well, it is well with my soul.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18NLT  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

believing the truth…

truthI’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions this week.  While I was at home breathing easy over the news that I DO NOT have cancer, my precious still-a-little-broken baby girl was busy at school taking down four staff members and giving her lead teacher a concussion.  On the same day that I talked to my doctor about possible surgery dates that would give me time to heal before that baby girl’s school year ends, I faced the reality that her “school year” may be over in the terms of her actually leaving the house for a few hours a day.

And then, in the midst of the roller-coaster of emotions and seeking wisdom on baby girl’s school placement and dealing with an achy uterus, I was told some things yesterday that punched me in the gut.

“You are a narcissist and a hypocrite! You lack the ability to be truthful and you have no place doing any Christian counseling with anyone… Don’t blog or write anymore as your words are meaningless and untrue!”

It’s always interesting to me how those type of character attacks come when there is ZERO energy (or even motivation) left to defend myself.  But you know what?  I think there’s a reason for that.  I think God wants us to have ZERO energy for defending ourselves so that we can lean into Him.  So that we are forced to choose what we are going to believe.  I also don’t think it’s any accident that the character attack came at the same time I am being forced to choose what I believe about daughter.

So, for the record, I choose TRUTH.  I choose to only believe the things that the Word of God says about me and my child.  I choose to believe that God has given me a platform with this blog and that when someone is blessed by something I write, my purpose is fulfilled and HE is glorified.  I choose to give GOD credit for any good that anyone sees in me.

TRUTH: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for Sofija and Kaci,”says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give my girls a future and a hope.”  ~My baby girl is going to be just fine.  No matter what her school environment looks like, it will be a good thing.  No ifs.  No ands.  No buts.

Matthew 10:31  So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. flock~See all those birds?  You, me, and my baby girl…. we’re more valuable to God than that whole dang flock.

2 Corinthians 12:10  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the INSULTS, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  ~ This is why I’m pretty confident God allows character attacks at times when I don’t have the time or energy to work it out on my own.  “…when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Romans 8:28 For we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ~We’re all going to be okay around here and you’re going to be okay wherever you are and whatever it is that you’re walking through.  There is no guarantee that life will be easy for those who follow Christ.  There is however a guarantee that EVERYTHING will work together for your good.  I need to mention that sometimes “your good” doesn’t look like what you imagined it would look like.  It just doesn’t.  But that doesn’t make it less good.  It’s just different good.

John 1:12  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. ~ Did you read that?  “…children of God.”  That’s right, y’all.  Me and my girl…  We’re royalty.  We’re daughters of a king.  There is nothing that anybody can say that will ever change that.  

A couple of years ago, Prince Harry was caught on camera, sans pants, in Vegas.  For the Prince, what happened in Vegas, did not stay in Vegas.  Within hours the crown jewels were all over the internet and people were calling him all sorts of bad names.  You know what he did?  He got up the next morning, put on a suit and tie, and continued to be a Prince.  As crazy as it may sound, I want to be like Harry.  Okay maybe I don’t want the world to see me in my birthday suit through the lens of a cellphone camera.  But I do want to get up everyday, clothe myself in a suit of armor, and remember that no matter what anyone says about me (or to me), I am a daughter of a king.

Ephesians 6:13-17  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the BELT OF TRUTH and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News (the Bible) so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 

 

exhaling

Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize you’ve been holding your breath without knowing it?  Yeah.  Me too.  Today as a matter of fact.

Right after lunch the phone rang.  It was my doctor.  As soon as I answered she said, “Kaci, this is Dr. Maybee.  Let me start off by saying that your biopsy was benign.  You DON’T have cancer.”  Cue: Exhale.  Oh, WOW!  I didn’t realize my lungs were so full.  Orders to self: Must hold back the tears of relief for the next twenty minutes as we discuss all the surgical options to remove what’s there.

breathe note

The last few weeks have been a painful journey physically, emotionally, and mentally.  When I said in my last post that “I have lost my flippin’ mind.”  I meant it.

Please notice that the list of pains does not include “spiritually”.  One thing in my life is always certain: When things are painful, I draw near to God.  Which might make one wonder why I’ve lost my mind.  Well, you see.  This thing happens when I start listening really closely to hear what God is saying to me.  I also start hearing another voice.  Maybe it’s just my own twisted psyche or maybe it’s Satan.  Either way, it’s destructive.

So, over the last few weeks as I have heard , “Be Still and Know that I am God…”  It has been followed with, “You deserve uterine cancer.  Uterine cancer is the consequence for abortion.”  Which would be followed by, “My grace is sufficient…” or, “ I told you to put your hand to the plow and DON’T LOOK BACK.”  or “Seriously, Kaci?!  Didn’t we work out this grace thing when I showed you that I never even mentioned all the bad things that the apostle Paul did when I met him on the road to Damascus?!”

See how I lost my mind?  I had these two opposing voices speaking to me constantly, clearly, LOUDLY.

2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us WHAT IS TRUE and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

Here’s the thing about those two voices: The one in bold print?  I KNOW that one is the voice of God.  Wanna know how?  Because I read the Bible.  The Bible is His Word.  Every single one of those words (okay maybe not the “Seriously, Kaci…”) came from the Bible.  Without reading the Bible, the only voice I would have heard over these last few weeks is that destructive one.  I would have bought into the lie that I deserve to have uterine cancer.

I DON’T HAVE IT AND I DON’T DESERVE IT!!

I feel like I need to make it clear to anyone reading this that even if that phone call had gone a little differently.  Even if I did have cancer again.  My past would still be my past and I would still be forgiven.  His grace would still be sufficient. His grace is ALWAYS sufficient!

A big huge thanks for all the prayers as I’ve walked through the last few weeks.  My tribe of people blows me away with the amount of love, prayer and encouragement you send my way.  YOU rock!

One more thing about the Bible…

Hebrews 4:12-13 (The Messsage)  God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.  

Cancer

From Dictionary.com

can·cer

[kan-ser] 

noun

1. Pathology .

a. a malignant and invasive growth or tumor, especially one originating in epithelium, tending to recur after excision and to metastasize to other sites.

b. any disease characterized by such growths.
2. any evil condition or thing that spreads destructively; blight.
cancer_sucks
Such an ugly word.  Such an ugly part of life.
I know five people that have been diagnosed with cancer this month.  FIVE.  In one month.
Before the first one was diagnosed I went to my doctor because something just wasn’t right.  She sent me to have an ultrasound and then to see a specialist.  The specialist ordered a biopsy that will be done in the morning.
I’ve had cancer before.  I learned some things from it.  I’m perfectly fine with going the rest of my life without learning anything else from cancer.  If you want to keep me in your prayers, I’d appreciate it.