Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Soul Sista

This is my beautiful friend Laura. She's my soul sister. We can't remember exactly when that title came about, but I think it was when a YL kid asked us if we were soul sisters or something. I first met her when I went to Louisiana for an interview for YL in April 2002. We hit it off instantly as she showed me around the interesting city of New Orleans, her home. So when I moved down there later that summer I had an instant friend. It was as if we'd already known each other. It wasn't a friendship of convenience, it was a true heart level refuge kind of friendship for me. On Wednesdays we would meet with our boss then spend the day in the city together, mostly on Magazine street. Those 2 years on staff for me were tough, but also some of the best. Laura and I had so much fun together...going to Angola Prison Rodeo, spending the day in a hot tub as a tropical storm pounded through the city, driving to Austin for Austin City Limits, eating all sorts of yummy food, getting to be with her amazing Cuban family, having sleepovers and talking into the wee hours of the night, dancing at a show, traveling out west together on our DiBias-Garcia Southwestern Tour and just living life together. When I left LA for NC, she was headed to Guatemala where she spent the last 5 1/2 years doing YL ministry down there. I got to visit her there once, which was amazing. We hiked an active volcano, spent a day on a beach, hung out in Antigua, and just spent sweet time together.
One fun thing about Laura is her family...they are a mess, but a beautiful mess. They welcomed me as a second daughter too. I always enjoyed spending time with them. But really spending time with Laura was good for my soul. She is an amazing friend who loves others so well. We share so many similarities that it's like we are sisters, hence, the soul sister.
When I found out that I had cancer and there was a chance I may not get to be at her wedding, I was so so sad. I had to meet this man that has stolen her affections and her heart. I could only imagine how wonderful he must be, but I had to meet him. My doctors were super supportive of us taking this trip to NOLA and I am so thankful we did. We got to celebrate Laura and it was just fun to be with her. We did lots of fun things, but the best time for me was getting to be with her on her wedding day. I went over her house early, maybe too early, but it allowed me to just be with her and be present in the joy of her wedding day. I cannot put into words how beautiful she was that day. She's got this ridiculously silky black hair that laid in ringlets down her back. Her make up was applied which only accentuated her natural beauty. Her smile was real and deep and true and pure. I loved getting to be there with her and her other friends. We had so much fun together. Selfishly, I do wish we could have had a moment to sit and talk about what I'm going through, but it wasn't the right time. I know I'll get that time with her another time. This weekend was about her (and Ryan) and celebrating her.
She's off on her amazing 2 week honeymoon, then she and her new husband are driving out west for his job in California until November, then they are headed to Portland. Just because. We always talk of living in the same town and one day I do hope that can happen. Until then I'll take the phone calls, skype and emails. She is stuck with me for life. Because she is my soul sister.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Charis is Engaged... Jesus. Today Charis was baptized at our church, Hope Community. It was such a special day. I have come to better understand what infant baptism really means. We don't believe she's a Christian yet, but that she's set apart and that God will pursue her. She'll have to consciously make an effort to walk apart from God. And from mine and Adam's story, this is hard to do: God has relentlessly pursued us and we trust He'll do the same for Charis. At our church it is custom for the parents to pronounce a blessing, and we'd like to share what the Lord spoke to us in this past week for Charis. We are so thankful for our family and friends that shared this special day with us. And we are even more thankful for this beautiful little lady that is our daughter, whom God has given us.

Our Blessing:
Charis Root Patwa, one translation of your name means “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm and loveliness.” And your mother and I can attest that this is what you brought to our lives. We are constantly in awe of our capacity to love you and the intensity for which we feel this love. Yet, we realize that we are only capable of this love because of God and his love for us. And our hope is that you will know his love for you – that you are something he delights in. However, there are many distractions and imitations you’ll encounter.
For instance, when it comes to school and work, you may excel, accruing a litany of achievements that allow you to feel overly secure in your own abilities. Or you may struggle to keep up with your peers, never to break into the more exclusive social circles. Regardless of these likely possibilities, Charis, we want you to know that you are created for a purpose, never intended to float aimlessly through life, but created to live a full life that brings God glory.
And when it comes to your physical appearance, it’s quite possible that you may struggle with your body image, constantly comparing yourself to what you see around you. Or, on the other hand, you may use your beauty as a weapon or commodity to manipulate those around you. Regardless of this, please know Charis that Jesus loves you and sees a beautiful woman made to bear the image of our creator.
And when it comes to community, you may struggle with relationships, never feeling secure in them, or you may find yourself constantly giving too much, only to be left disappointed and hurt. But remember Charis, you were made for a special relationship, one with the creator of the universe, a relationship that will allow you to freely love and be loved by those around you.
Charis, your mother and I believe God will pursue you through all these and many other distractions. We can’t promise you a smooth life; we can’t promise you fame and fortune; sadly, we can’t even promise that your deepest desires will be met in this life --- but what we can promise you is that God will relentlessly pursue you. He really is our only hope for righteousness, and we hope to point you towards Him all of our days together.
And now Charis, we leave you with this Scripture from Ephesians 3: 16-19. Paul writes, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Friday, June 11, 2010


It's official. I have cancer and I have a caringbridge site. We decided we didn't want this to become my cancer blog and caringbridge is a great way to update as often as we need to and a for y'all to share your love with us. :) Check back here for more updates of our sweet little lady and any rants or soapboxes of mine.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

the C-word

The C-word I'm referring to is cancer. It's a small word filled with so much. Uncertainty. Fear. Sickness. Hope. Freedom. This word isn't completely foreign to me. My first encounter with it was in 1987ish when my mom was diagnosed with Melanoma skin cancer. It wasn't until years later that I learned how serious the disease was. Fortunately for her (well, from my kid perspective) it was a short fight that she won. Ten years later she would be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Once again the fight was short and she was victorious. Cancer 0, Nancy 2. In 2008 my dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. His treatment was aggressive and he is now cancer free as well. Cancer 0, Charles 1. Needless to say cancer has touched my life.
In the past week it's impacted my life even more. On Friday, June 4th I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I noticed a large mass in my right breast. Since I'm nursing I figured it had to do with that and most people thought the same. "It's a clogged duct, massage it." "Maybe it's a breast infection." So, I massaged. I applied hot compresses. I even got an antibiotic. There were also moments of tenderness under my arm. After a few months of this and no changes I figured it was time to get it checked out. The NP I saw was immediately concerned. She wanted me to get an ultrasound and see a breast specialist. I went in for the ultrasound on a Friday and I knew. It could have been the response of the ultrasound tech or the news from the radiologist that it could be one of two things: a lactating adenoma or cancer. Apparently they look just alike in an ultrasound, so they would need to do a biopsy to really know. I got this scheduled for the following Wednesday. In those few days Adam and I talked a lot about the possibilities. I asked some friends to pray for the appointment. I was feeling okay going into the biopsy, but during the procedure I was totally struck by the scariness of it. I was having a breast biopsy. I felt small and scared. I told God the Friday before as I waited for the ultrasound that I trusted Him. And I do. He has a tight grip on us and is carrying us through this trial. Right away Isaiah 43 came to mind:
But now, this is what the Lord says--he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
I have clung to these words since that day and I have felt His presence in each moment. I'm okay with the trials (the flood, rivers, or fire), they exist because we live in a fallen world. What comforts me is that He promises (promises) to be with me in and through them. Oh, I love that.

Okay, so I would say I did have a "gut feeling" that this was cancer, but I wasn't going to worry. We had to wait 2 days for the results. Holy Moly. The first day was okay, but the second, Friday was torture. I felt nervous and anxious. I just wanted to know. At 3pm I talked to nurse Ruth who told me that it was indeed cancer and all they knew was that it was the invasive type. Next step: see a surgeon. Fortunately, I already had this appointment b/c the NP referred me to see him (the breast specialist) 2 weeks prior. More waiting. I would say for the most part, the weekend was good. I got my nails done in RED, my new favorite thing. We went to church, and although it was scary and overwhelming, it was good to be there for sure. And the song we sang when we got there...Isaiah 43. Seriously. Once Tuesday got here I was feeling more nervous. This was the day we'd learn more about my cancer. Our meeting with the surgeon/breast specialist was great. I'm not sure if it's because we were both semi-expecting to hear bad news or what. But the Lord lifted our spirits and allowed for some humor in the midst of the meeting. My sister came with us to take notes and help translate. But he was great. Very thorough. So, I did learn that the biopsy of the lymph nodes came back inconclusive. Good news except by exam and ultrasound they are still enlarged so he wants to do another biopsy. My tumor is pretty significant, around 10-12 cm. He says I'll need all chemo, radiation, and surgery; starting with chemo first. (I am a little excited about losing my hair. weird, I know.) We'll talk more with the oncologist about chemo. His hope with chemo is to a) kill the cancer and b) shrink the tumor. But, we won't know how my body responds to it until we do it. He wants me to get genetic testing to see if I have the breast cancer gene (BRCA 1 or 2) b/c this will most likely determine some of the treatment (there is a 50% chance of recurrence in the other breast if I am positive for the gene, then there are implications for ovarian cancer...he started talking about freezing eggs. but that was too much for me). The really great thing is that we left with a plan:
1) Have MRI and Mammogram
2) meet with Oncologist
3) Genetic testing
4) Follow up with him to discuss results of #1 and do another biopsy on lymph nodes
As an administrator, I like lists. So, I like to see that I have a list of things "to do." I mean, there is still waiting that has to be done and more tests. But right now it doesn't feel so scary. I am just so thankful they can treat this. I have been gathering an army for the past few days. I do feel like I'm going into battle. Not only am I vulnerable physically, I'm vulnerable spiritually. I could not and cannot do this without the Lord. He sustains me. He surrounds me with His people who are lifting up my name to Him daily. He gives me peace and comforts me. He is with us in this. I am so thankful.
Ways to pray for us:
- pray for Adam and I to make time for each other that isn't all about me having cancer. pray he would have outlets like I do
- pray for me as I have to wean and I'm so sad about that. I'm sad this could possibly be the last time I ever nurse.
- pray for peace in the waiting. i'm not the most patient of people.
- pray that we would graciously receive from others; whether it's food, babysitting, resources, or whatever. that we would not be too proud
- pray for wisdom as we nail down treatments. for the doctors.
- pray for the tests happening this week that the results won't show anything new (ie more cancer)
- praise God for already preparing the way...I was about to go part-time with YL and lose my benefits. this all literally happened days before and I am able to keep my benefits. pray that God will provide the money to help YL sustain me through this.
- and of course, pray for healing.
Thank you for walking in and through this with us. We are humbled that God wants to use us to bring Him glory. I'd be lying if I didn't wish it was another way. But, this is the way for now and my hope is that He will strength our marriage, our relationships with him, our family, and our community. And now, "fight like a girl" with me!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seven Sweet Months

This is my 100th post! And Charis is 7 months old. She's simply amazing and we are crazy about her. We have been having such a blast with our sweet little lady. It just gets more and more fun. She's like a big girl now, but still a sweet itty bitty. Let's see what she's been up to:

- She's eating like her mama! Homegirl loves her food. She's had avocado, oatmeal with apples and peaches, bananas, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes and black beans. She is a good eater for sure and enjoying trying something new.

- She enjoys her carrier (that i got for cheap at a consignment sale). She even mowed the lawn with daddy recently.

loves to be in her backpack carrier
- She can now spend lots of time sitting up and playing with her toys. she likes her stacking rings toy and really anything else she can put in her mouth.

- She went to the beach for the first time, where her mama put her swimsuit on backwards. She ate lots of sand and loved to suck on the salty straps of her hat.

her suit isn't supposed to be that low in front. :)
- She went to The Farm in Tennessee while her mama attended a Doula Workshop.

babywearing with her daddy!
- She went to her first POPs in the park. Even though it did get rained out, she was up way past her bedtime.

getting ready for POPS
- She got Roseola, which is some viral thing that caused her to have a fever for a few days then a red rash that lasted a day. And she was a little cranky, but she made it through.

playing in the exersaucer
- She's taken a duh on the potty a few times. Her daddy is so good with the whole "EC" thing. Basically, when he sees her grunting, he puts on the potty and she'll finish up. It's pretty cute to watch her chill on her pink potty.

love this face. she usually taps her foot on the toilet
- She got beat up with my water bottle. sad.

if you look closely you can see a cut on her eyelid
- I'm not sure about her stats...2 weeks ago she was a little over 15 pounds. So, she's packing them on and getting nice and cuddly.

We love to "get the baby." When you "get the baby" and kiss her neck, eventually she'll get all giggly. She is sweet and serious and a little cautious. When a new person comes around, she usually checks with us to make sure the person is okay. It's so cute. She's very curious. Whether it's a sound or something she sees, she seems to be "investigating" it. Still loves to be outside and that's where we go when it's fussy time. Her personality is definitely coming out and we love it. She's still super chill. I mean-she does cry, but for the most part she chills.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

These Girls

I met them four years ago when I started leading Young Life at Country Day. A couple moms wanted to start a bible study for their daughters. So I signed up to lead this group that we call GMO (Girls Morning Out). We met every other Friday at a church across the street from their school where we ate breakfast together and got to know Jesus a little bit more. The group started out large, but over the 4 years we began meeting every week and eventually moved to Caribou, then the group dwindled down to a hand full of ladies.
Every week we met at 7am at Caribou. I would come with some favorite or meaningful passages or scriptures to share with them. Most of the time I didn't have a "lessen" planned, but I wanted to share life with them and tell them more about Jesus. My hope for them is that they would desire to follow Him and love others because of Him.
I love these girls. They make me believe that I can mother a daughter. They have taught me along the way. They have let me in on their lives and they've been willing to allow me to do the same. They were so excited for me when I got pregnant and have spent lots of time loving on Charis. The Lord has really allowed me to live life with these talk about not only the things going on their lives, but mine as well.
They graduated last week and in the fall will go to Virginia, UNC, Auburn, Davidson, Bucknell, and lots of other schools scattered across the East. I will miss them tons. They are the first class that I've walked with for 4 years from 9th to 12th grade. It's been amazing to get a front row seat. Of course, I can't help but think of ways I should have been more honest or more bold. I really want them to get it. I want them to choose life and truth, instead of all the cheap imitations. I will continue to trust God with them and pray for them. I hope to know them a long long time. I hope one day I'll get to see what they become and maybe even meet their husbands and children. I'm in this for the long haul, not just 4 years.
sadly, i didn't get a graduation picture b/c Charis was ready to go home, but here a couple from the year.

at our Annual GMO Christmas Cookie Party!!

some of the girls celebrating me & baby girl!