Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Shadow of the Cross

One of my very favorite songs of all time is Kari Jobe's "What love is this."

The chorus goes like this:

"What love is this, that You gave Your life for me
And made a way for me to know You.
And I confess, You're always enough for me
You're all I need."

I just love this song, and God used it and this photograph to teach me a little something this week.

It was the week before Easter last year that I was first diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. We have been fighting this awful disease for almost exactly a year now and I can't believe it.

Many people may look at my life and say that I have suffered greatly in the last year.
~I've endured 12 treatments of ABVD chemo, 2 rounds of Brentuximab, and 2 rounds of ICE chemo. ~I've lost my hair twice and gained close to 30 pounds.
~I've been told I would not be able to have children naturally.
~I've seen my chances of surviving and having a long-term remission decrease steadily with each disappointing scan.
~I've watched my family, friends, and husband suffer because of a disease that is completely out of my control.
~I've experienced fear, doubt, hurt, anger, and disappointment over and over again.

Yes, many would say I have suffered this year, and most days I would whole-heartedly agree.

But as I sit here tonight and think about Easter, my suffering seems so tiny compared to what my Jesus suffered.

"I look to You
I see the scars upon Your hands
And hold the truth
That when I can't You always can.
I'm standing here beneath the shadow of the cross, 

I'm overwhelmed that I keep finding open arm."

My Jesus suffered on the cross. He was pierced for MY transgressions. He took MY sin and bore it as His own. He paid MY debt.

His death on the cross was horrific, but Jesus experienced the greatest suffering of all when God turned his face from Him. He even shouted from the cross,

"My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"

Jesus felt what it was like to have God forsake Him, and that suffering, I will never experience.

No, I'll never know this kind of suffering... because of Jesus. He bore that for me, so I wouldn't have to. Things have been hard, but God is always with me.

I was recently looking at pictures from our trip to Whitestone right before I started ICE.  We were seeking the Lord so much and wanting answers so badly. We were scared and nervous about what was before us. When I saw this picture, I noticed soemthing new and these lines from the song immediately popped in my head.

"I'm standing here beneath the shadow of the cross, 
I'm overwhelmed that I keep finding open arm."

Do you see the shadow of the cross in the upper right hand corner?!The shadow of the cross, right there to remind me that I will never have to suffer like Jesus suffered! What a sweet reminder of God's love for me.

There have been times on this journey when I have felt like God had forgotten about me, but He has not!

So be thankful for the incredible gift that Jesus gave to us. He bore our sin and suffered so that we don't have to. We can spend eternity in heaven instead of being separated from God. All we have to do is accept the gift and live for Him! This, my friends, is the best news of all!

Happy Easter everyone!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ice Ice Baby~ Day 1

I started my new chemo yesterday. The beloved ICE! It is a three-day treatment, so I go back today and tomorrow for more! I can't promise that I will post everyday, but I thought I'd at least give a mini-update.

I was at the doctor for a total of 7.5 hours yesterday. I had  doctor's appointment, bloodwork done, and then a whole lot of pre-meds and chemo!

One of the drugs in my new regimen is hard on your kidneys so I was given a total of two hours of just fluids. I have never been more hydrated/bloated in all my life! Thankfully, I still feel pretty mornal so far. I can tell my body is a bit weaker and I have a funny taste in my mouth, but no nausea yet. (They give you the good nausea stuff before treatment and it lasts a few days).

Today's treatment will be a bit shorter thankfully. I'm hoping to be there from 9:00 to about 12:30.

I want to take a moment to thank everyone for your prayers, support and gifts! I don's have enough time to share everything, but I wanted to make a short thankful list. (P.S. I wish I had more pictures!)

I'm thankful for...

~A church staff as fun and supportive and flexible as Northstar! From holding a prayer service, to providing us with time away, to putting on an 80's party for volunteers, to allowing us job flexibility during treatments, to everything else! I couldn't ask for more!

~Friends that drive from Johnson City to spend time with me and give me a goody basket!

~Friends that take me to lunch and to get my nails done!

~Sweet people that leave me presents on my doorstep!

~A company that is extremely understanding and supportive as I work from home!

~A life group that is as thoughtful, supportive, prays as much, and laughs as much as ours!

~A church family that showers me with love and gifts and prayers. 

~For my former coworkers who still think of me and pray for me even though I've been gone almost three years!

~For great neighbors and best friends who surprise me with porch makeovers!

~For great nurses and staff at Thompson Cancer Survival Center! Phillip, Mike, Amy, Dr. Ibach, Melissa and many more!

~For my amazing families who drive long distances to be with me and pray with me and have girls weekends and love me from near and far away!

~For my partner in crime, Sarah Coleman, who always makes me laugh and teaches me more about the Lord everyday.

~For the many, many people who lift me up in prayer each and every day! Some I know and some I don't! Thank you so much!

~And most of all to my amazing husband without whom I would have given up by now. David Vogel, you are my rock and I love you more than I can confess. God has doen such a beautiful work in our marraige and I know he will be faithful to us.

As I go into day 2, I ask one thing from anyone that would read this little blog. Please stand in agreement with me. Please believe with me that God will use this drug to kill my tumors once and for all. It is my fervant prayer that God would defeat this cancer and heal me in this life so that I may serve Him longer! No matter what happens, He is still is faithful.

Now is not a time for sadness, but a time for believing and rejoicing in the work God is doing! Please continue to stand with me in faith. Faith heals, and for a monster like this cancer, I need more faith than just my own!

Thank you in advance for your thoughts and prayers!