Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Friends are Friends Forever

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”   ~C.S. Lewis

One thing that has made this journey bearable for me has been the presence of friends and family. For those of you who don't know me that well, I was a pretty dorky kid in high school. I never really felt like I fit in and I desperately longed for friendships that just never happened. However, when God brought me to Milligan College, I found so many forever friends. Since then, I have acquired quite an amazing group of people all over the place that I call friend and could count on in any situation. This journey with cancer has only affirmed what I already knew. I am blessed.

Today I'd like to highlight my Milligan friends for a moment.

Meredith, Jessica, and Ross came to visit me on Saturday. It was SO wonderful to see them and spend the day together. They brought with them this sweet blanket that Jessica and her mom made out of t-shirts and fabric from my college/ Johnson City friends! What an amazing gift!

I wanted to share with you all the squares that make up this quilt and a little about the people that made them because I am so blessed by each and every one of them!

 This square comes from my friend Hannah Beth! HB and I were both chosen to be resident chaplains for 3rd Floor Hart (Holla!) which brought us together. We are pretty opposite in a lot of ways, but we do share a love for music, the city of Atlanta, the mountains of East Tennessee, and a heart for ministry. HB has been such a great friend to me over the years and I love how confident she is and how earnestly she seeks the Lord. I wish we lived closer to one another!

This square comes from the one and only Meredith McKinney! (it has a pocket because Mer LOVES practical and useful!) One of my closest and dearest! I love this girl with my whole heart! Meredith and I sang in choir together and became very close during my Milligan years. Meredith's sweet family became sort of my surrogate family. They introduced me to Grandview church and always opened up their home to me and many other Milligan students. I respect them so much. Meredith as a heart for travel and missions and will be going to Scotland soon! I will miss her so much but am extremely proud of her for following God's call! You can read about her journey here.
This square comes from an incredibly wonderful family, the Baders! They all have touched me in so many ways. I first met Ross during my brief bout with musical theater in Oklahoma! (yow!) We have a ton in common and he quickly became one of my favorite people. He has been such a tried and true friend for me over the years and is extremely gifted in music. His mother, Tempa, let me live with her one summer when I interned at Grandview. Words cannot express the true compassion and strength found in this woman. She is loved by many and rightly so! I am so blessed to know her. I got to know Ross's brother, Ryan, sister-in-law, Beth, and nieces and nephew during my time at Grandview. What a wonderful, giving family! Ryan was one of the first people in my life to encourage me to pursue ministry and was always such an encouragement to me. Beth's sweet spirit and creativity has always inspired me, and their kids are the cutest!

This little square is from my Shanna. Shanna and I met at matriculation our very first day at Milligan college. She was wearing a dress with cherries on it and I complimented her on it. The rest was history! We became roommates by winter of freshman year and lived together the rest of my time there. Shanna is hilarious and has such a gift for encouraging others. I know that I can count on her no matter what, and I don't know what I would do without her!

I love this square from the Lawsons! I became friends with Heather and John during my junior year of college. They are so funny and welcoming! I have watched them endure such hardship and they remain faithful. Truly an amazing family! You can't really see it in the picture, but sweet little Jude contributed a drawing as well! Love it!

This square is from Tori. I love this girl! She has always been a source of wisdom for me. Not only is she crazy and fun to be around, she truly invests in people and gives really helpful advice. I am so blessed to know her. She and her husband Jeremy are in the process of adopting and I am so excited for them. You can follow their story here.

Ahhh my friend Erin. Such a wonderfully kind person! Erin and I became fast friends early on in my Milligan years. She is truly one of the most level-headed people I know! I had the honor of being a bridesmaid in her wedding. She now has an adorable little girl and works as a nurse! Erin has a servant's heart through and through. Even though we don't see each other much anymore, I know I can count on her.

My friend Jessica, otherwise known as Jcarv, made this square. Jessica and I were roommates during junior and senior year. She is so kind and generous. She is an encourager and loyal to the end. Plus she didn't mind that our room was messy most of the time! :-) This girl is as genuine as they come and has a way of making everyone feel comfortable. I love you Jess!

The brightest bright orange square has to belong to Sarah McMurtrie! This is so true to her personality. She is so bright, cheerful and full of life! Sarah is truly beautiful inside and out. I can't wait for her wedding this Fall, and I hope all of her dreams come true!

Crystele is my far away friend! She may seem quiet and reserved, but once you get to know her, Crystele is the life of the party! She is truly hilarious and has one of the gentlest spirits I've ever seen. She is vet too which is completely cool!

Ok don't mind my foot in this one....The Robersons! Crystal and I became friends during my junior year at Milligan. She is so outgoing and wonderful! I spent so many hours at her apartment talking, laughing, eating trail mix....I could go on and on. Crystal is someone who "got" me so to speak and we were inseparable for a while. Now she lives in Indiana with her husband and two beautiful girls, plus another on the way! If you don't know this girl, you want to. :-)

 Kate, such a sweet friend. Kate would literallaly give you the shirt off her back. She is so upbeat and positive and extremely generous! She always has a way of making you feel great about yourself! She has taught me a lot about being a good friend.

This one is hard to see, but it's from Haley, my other roommate! Haley holds such a special place in my heart. I spent so much time laughing with her! She is so smart and so cute! What a great friend to have!

Steven Anliker....apparently has mad ninja skills! I love this kid so much! He always knows how to make me laugh! He lives in Nashville now and saves lives as a nurse. I'm have so many funny memories that involve him!

And last but not least my friend Meghan! Meghan and I joke about being two people that earned one degree. We literally had all of the same education classes together and even did our student teaching in the same school. We spent many hours together studying and working on projects and papers. I don't think I would have made it through without her! She and her husband, Craig, are headed to the Phillippines to do mission work! You can follow their story here.

Sorry this post got so long! I could seriously go on forever about these friends and many more in my life! God has truly blessed me!

When people hear my story and read my blog, they are often amazed by how well I'm handling everyting and how much faith I have through this journey. Let me just tell you, it really has very little to do with me. I have been blessed to have so many people invest in my life that this thing has not been hard at all. I have amazing examples of Godly people all around me as well as unending support.

Thank you, all of you, from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Catch up Post!

It's been a while and so much has happened. I'm going to try and squeeze it all into one post!

This last weekend I had the privilege of traveling to San Antonio, Texas to watch my little brother graduate from boot camp. It was so cool to see how things operate in an Air Force Base. I am so proud of my brother for accomplishing such a hard thing. I can’t wait to see how this impacts his life.

We had a great time going to graduation, the Alamo, the River Walk, and Sea World! I even saw a horse with a hat like me!! Hats are so popular right now!

I was impressed by how selfless the men and women in the Air Force are. Their motto is “Service before self.” Hmmm kind of like what we should do as Christians!
I was very impacted by the church service we attended. It was different than anything I have experienced before.  It’s not a common practice to hear “yes sir” shouted by hundreds of airmen during a Sunday service at Northstar! 
During communion, the praise band played Laura Story’s song “Blessings.”
I know this song has been out there for a while and lot of people have been impacted by it, but one line of the song really hit home for me in a new way.
“What if the trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?”
I have tried very hard to consider this trial in my life a blessing. My biggest prayer through all of this is that God would use it for good, that my life could somehow inspire others or lead them to know Christ, that me having cancer would be beneficial for the Kingdom.
However, I have never thought about the fact that I have cancer and have to wait to have babies could be mercies from God. What if these trials are God showing mercy to me? He could actually be saving me from something so much worse! I mean He is healing me for goodness sakes! From a cancer that is not aggressive, in a time frame that is not ridiculous. (I met a woman at chemo that has been going through treatments for 9 years!)
Hodgkins could be a mercy from the Father, and because of that, I am choosing to be grateful. What trials are you facing right now? What could God be saving you from?

Today was my 5th round of chemo!
Health/ symptom update:
~I have one more treatment and then I will be halfway done and can get a CT scan. Woot Woot! This scan will hopefully show what the doctors think, that my tumors are completely gone!
~I unfortunately picked up a bug of some kind in Texas. Throat hurts, stuffy nose, pounding headache. Not so great, but we decided to go through my treatment today anyway. They prescribed an antibiotic to hopefully clear it up. Just pray it doesn't develop into anything else and we can clear it up! Bring on the hand sanitizer!
~My weight is up 10 pounds from when I started. Most people lose weight on chemo, but I have managed to gain it! This is however not uncommon in Hodgkins patients. One symptom of Hodgkins is that you lose weight or can't gain any weight. The fact that I am able to gain weight actually means that the chemo is working and my Hodgkins is going away! Praise God! It also doesn't help that I turn to starchy foods to help with the nausea! I know I shouldn't worry about it, but it's hard for any woman to gain weight.
~My hair is dwindling. I thought I would have shaved it by now. I'm pretty bald on top. I still have a tiny ponytail though that makes me look more normal when I wear a hat, so I think I'll wait a while.
~I am so humbled by everyone's continued generosity. That Nalgene bottle is my new gift from Jessica and Kate! I also got packages from some sweet ladies in David's parent's church, the amazing Tempa Bader, and my sweet friend Meghan! Plus my hubby bought me new shoes...
 The nurses at the infusion center were taken aback by my highlighter colored shoes! I love them though!

And he bought me a sewing machine! This will serve more than adequately as my anniversary present! Can you believe that next month we will have been married for 2 years?? Crazy!

That's about it! Please continue to keep me in your prayers as I fight the emotional mind battles that come along with cancer. Satan would love to defeat me starting first with my mind! I will win this battle by the grace and mercy of God! To quote the American Airmen "...AND I WILL NOT FAIL!" (Try to imagine 700 men and women yelling this phrase! Very powerful!)

We're getting there! 5 down, 7 to go!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Well it's about time!

I'm so sorry, I have been a blog slacker. Things have been pretty busy. Let's see if I can catch you up on everything in one post!

I had my fourth treatment this week and it was a doozy. I was pretty emotional for some reason and I was pretty sick the rest of the day.

The highlight was having my sweet friend Crystal come hang out with me. I prepared a delicious and healthy lunch, but unfortunately now whenever I think of those foods I get extrememly nauseous....stupid chemo.

My mom came in town on Thursday which was so fun! We went wig shopping on Friday and my Shanna was able to come with us! So fun.

Hair Status: I will not be showing a picture of my balding head, but let's just say that my pony tail has gotten pretty thin! I can wear a thick scarf with my tiny ponytail or one of my new hats from Charming Charlies (pretty much heaven) with even tinier pigtails. I don't plan on wearing a wig everyday, but my mom and Granny wanted me to have one to wear to look semi-normal.

 This is the one we decided on. I really like it and am glad to know I can rock a short haircut!

And for fun we tried this one on.

We actually really liked it. What do you think? Should I go brunette?? In a few weeks we can see this one in blond and I may buy it to have a long hair option....we'll see!

Then that night my girls from church came over for a little ice cream and games. So fun! I wish I had a picture!

In other news, my dear friend, Sarah, had her baby on Saturday night!!! So excited to meet him! Welcome to the world, Charlie Haynes Coleman!!!  I love you already!

I'm learning so much on this little journey I'm on. I'm so thankful for the way God has looked out for me in this whole process. I'm struggling a little with impatience right now because I feel so great most of the time! In my mind I am completely ready to be done with this process. I want to move on with my life...get healthy...teach little ones how much God loves them...have little ones of my own! However, I must not forget that God's timing is perfect. My journey is far from over and I am thankful for what God can teach me through the pain of it.

Pray for me that I would be open to hearing what God still has to say.

4 down, 8 to go!