Full Heart Empty Womb for FREE and Update :)

Happy Sunday! A couple of exciting things from my little world….

  1. For a limited time, my book, “Full Heart Empty Womb: How I Survived Infertility…Twice,” is available for FREE through Kindle Unlimited! Also if you already have a Kindle copy, you can lend it to a friend. I am really excited about this opportunity. I wrote the book to help people who are dealing with Infertility and this will help me reach so many more. If you have a loved one who is dealing with or has dealt with Infertility, I would be honored if you would share this with them.
  2. I am finally going to start writing my second book! My plan was to start it when my kids went back to school last fall… and now I am 5 weeks away from them getting out for the summer. Eeeks!!!  So much for plans!

After my dad’s devastating cancer diagnosis, I went to a weird place. Not a bad place, not a particularly good place, just a funky place where I just didn’t know how to deal with all of the emotions that were crashing down on me. My original plan was to write a devotional for people dealing with Infertility. I will still do that because there is so much unique pain that I can identify with and offer comfort. However, I want to write a devotional for people who are struggling with coping during any hard time in their life. God healed me through writing about my battle with infertility, I am sure that writing through this will help me too.

Thank you for coming with me on this journey. I will share portions of it as I go along!

When You Don’t Even Know How to Pray

Since my Dad’s Cancer diagnosis in December, my mind has been warring between optimistic and realistic thoughts.

I recall sitting in the oncologist office in early January and staring at his PET Scan. The doctor explained to us that everything that was white was Cancer. There was so much white. More white than black in some places.

Both the optimist and realist in me know without a shadow of a doubt that with God ALL things are possible. I love a big and mighty God that can erase every last bit of this so-called incurable, inoperable cancer. That is my constant prayer.

I admit though, that the battle between the optimist and realist in me has brought some conflict in not only my thoughts but in my prayer life. While I know that prayers are answered every day, I know that many are not. If everyone’s prayers were answered, no one’s mama, daddy, or child would have Cancer. We don’t understand why some prayers are answered and some are not. I know that God has a plan though and He is in control.

So how do I pray expectantly as I am told to do in the Psalms, when the realist in me knows that my prayer for complete and total healing may not be answered?

Danged if I know.

Ha! You thought I had the answer?? Not quite 😉

I haven’t figured that out yet, but I have found a way to have peace in a turbulent time. Hebrews 4:16 encourages, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.” I do not know if God will heal my dad, but I know that He will provide my family with the mercy and grace to heal our aching hearts during our time of need.

Hebrews 416

Of course we always want the ultimate prayer of healing to be answered. However, we can be so grateful for the many prayers that have been answered along the way. Dad has had minimal to no side effects in his 8 weeks of chemotherapy. We had a CT Scan of his head, neck and chest today, and it showed that his very aggressive cancer is stable. It hasn’t grown at all since he started treatment. (The doctor thinks that there is a chance that it has even shrunk a bit!) That is a HUGE answered prayer. We don’t have to hope and wait for a clinical trial. Considering that this is a very rare cancer and there is no known protocol for treating it, this is truly a blessing. We found a drug that is effective on our first try!

And then there are the blessings that God gave to us without us even knowing. The doctors believe that the origination of Dad’s cancer is from a radiation treatment he got when he was a child. What if the cancer hit him 30 years earlier? Mama would have been a single mom to two girls who would have grown up without the most amazing dad. It totally sucks that we are dealing with this now, but it would have been so much worse any sooner in our lives. (I know that isn’t very eloquent, but that is just how I feel)

I don’t know how many of you may be dealing with a crisis and your optimistic and realistic selves are battling it out in your head. How do I pray about this situation just right?? Lucky for us that God doesn’t require us to say the perfect prayer to follow His perfect plan. He just wants us to come to Him. I encourage you to pray with all your heart and soul. Be honest with Him even when it is tough and sometimes messy. He knows what is in your heart anyway.

Ask Him to fill you with His grace and mercy during your time of need.  And He will.

That Phase of Friendship I Wasn’t Ready For

It started with a bunch of giggling girls putting on make-up, sipping from Red Solo cups while ready for a night on the town. Our friendship was formed through fun and blowing off steam in college.

Then we took turns throwing bridal showers, bachelorette parties, donning bridesmaid dresses and walking down the aisle. Our friendship was strengthened as we grew from girl to woman to wife.

Our friendship was strained a bit as we struggled to find the balance of marital bliss and maintaining friendships. The strong, true friends grew even closer.

Before we knew it, we were taking turns throwing baby showers. We rocked babies and shared new mama advice. We cried tears of sadness for those of us that struggled to get pregnant. Our friendship was nurtured as we cared for each other.

Careers and life Girls Trip!has spread us across the country, but we keep in touch almost daily through texts. And one glorious weekend each summer, we get together. We are once again a bunch of giggling girls only with a few well-earned laugh lines.

Now we are in a phase that we weren’t prepared to hit us so quickly. A time when instead of our texts being light hearted with private jokes and summer plans, they are filled with tears and requests for prayers. Almost half of our group of girlfriends are dealing with serious illnesses with our parents or in laws. As you get older, you know that you will have to deal with the natural progression of your parents aging, but I wasn’t ready to deal with it in my 30s.

Although I hate that we are faced with this phase already, I am so grateful for their friendship. We are all fortunate to have wonderful, loving, and supportive husbands. But sometimes you just need your girlfriends. Husbands have it engrained in them to be “fixers.” Unfortunately, there is no “fixing” this situation. Sometimes you just have to talk it out….cry it out…and even laugh.

That is why God gives us girlfriends.

Because my close friends, Jodi, Nancy and I are all facing similar battles with our loved ones, we are able to support each other unlike no other. Nancy and I sat on the phone last week and just cried together because we understood exactly what the other was feeling and because simply…we could. That is just what friends do. God works through Jodi to call or text just when I need that pick me up. I like to think He does that through me for her too. After years of friendship, we are so in tune with each other that we know when to reach out to each other despite the 1,000 miles that separates us. But most importantly, we pray for each other. We know the importance of prayer for the patient but also the family surrounding them.

Although I wasn’t ready for this phase of life or friendship, I am thankful for my girlfriends that help me get through it sane.

As I write this, I am listening to my own daughter giggle and sing as she and her friend, Bonney, are making a dance video. It makes me smile. I pray that Ella is blessed with girlfriends like mine that will be there for her through all the ups, downs, and phases of life

CHOOSING to be Positive :)

Last week I wrote about how I was going to CHOOSE to be positive in light of my dad’s cancer diagnosis.  Well here it is in action:

Celebrating the small (not so small) stuff:

1. We woke up this morning.
2. We were well enough to attend church and come see Pa Pa (he stayed home to be safe)
3. Pa Pa still feels good 4 days post chemo!!
4. Getting to eat lunch with Mimi and Pa Pa.
5. Good…no awesome…hair days. Maybe we can use my trimmings to make PaPa an Awesome wig. Kinda like JT during the NSync years 󾌴󾌴;)

Southern Lady-7

Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I say Rejoice.  Philippians 4:4

Cure for the Common Worry-Wart

Direct LIGHT.

I have always had the propensity to worry. I remember as a child staying up late stressing about anything and everything. A spelling test the next day. My locker combination. Who would I sit with at the lunch table? They were all silly things, but they weighed heavy on my small shoulders.  Now that I am a mama, I lay awake some nights and worry about my children’s spelling tests, book chats, and friendships.  It seems as though it is never ending!

I came by it honest. My mama is a worry-wart as was her mother. You could say anxiety is in my genes. (Not to be confused with the anxiety that my skinny jeans give me after Christmas 😉 Fortunately, my mama also gave me a tool to combat my anxiety. Mama always wrote scripture on post-it notes and placed them around her mirror on her vanity. She prayed over the scriptures as she got ready to face the day. She suggested that I write down Phillipians 4:6-7 and put it on my mirror to pray and meditate on each morning.

Phillipians4:6-7

The post-it is a little tattered after 12 years and 3 moves. It has long lost its sticky so it can attach to my mirror, but the verse is engrained in my heart and mind.

A couple of years ago, I was going through a particularly difficult time when my husband and I were dealing with our second battle with infertility. My sweet friend, Ginger, sent me a link to Frances Chan preaching about Phillipians 4:4-7. (Watch it and you will be blessed!)

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What a blessing it was for me to have a fresh look at the verse I had been praying over for years! By looking at the whole passage, it also gave me a better perspective. If I spend my time rejoicing, I won’t have much time to be anxious. And I don’t need to be anxious because…The Lord is near.

I am in a time in my life where I could be absolutely riddled with anxiety. I wrote recently about my Daddy diagnosis with Stage 4 of a very rare cancer (as in only two hundred cases in the last twenty years). In the last week, we have gotten bad news and even worse news. He was supposed to have surgery on Wednesday to remove his tumor and some lymph nodes. It was cancelled at the last minute because a PET scan showed that it had spread drastically. We can now add inoperable and incurable to the words that are bouncing around like a pinball in my head.

I could easily lay back and succumb to the horrible “what-ifs” that keep trying to bubble up in my head. Instead, I am choosing to rejoice in the Lord and focus on the positive things that He has blessed us with in our seemingly dire situation:

  • Although Dad’s cancer has progressed far along, he is not in any pain now.
  • As much as we wish he could have had the surgery to remove the tumor, it was an extremely complicated surgery with a tremendous amount of possible complications. He was spared that pain.
  • We live in the Nashville area, which is quickly becoming the medical capital of the world. People travel from far away to come to Vanderbilt. We drive up the street and can go home each night.  We have the best doctors in our backyard.
  • Speaking of those awesome doctors, they like to keep a close eye and their hands on people with rare cancers. Dad is personally being treated by the best of the best of the best.
  • Dad is starting chemo on Thursday, but he is going through one of the more tolerable chemo cocktails for patients. Since he hasn’t been in any pain, he will be stronger to deal with any side effects of the chemo.
  • And if/when he has a tough day(s), he is retired and is able to rest and take it easy. Heck he can watch TV and play on his iPad like it is his J-O-B.
  • I am thankful that I am close and can help out. My sister, Amy, is in Texas and it is so hard on her to be far away.
  • My parents have a church family at First Baptist in Dickson, TN that loves them so much. The level of support they have is phenomenal.
  • New drugs are coming out continually for cancer patients. Just because they haven’t found a drug that has cured his cancer, doesn’t mean they won’t.
  • Our hope is not on anything that is here on this earth. Although we don’t understand why Daddy is going through this here and now, we know that Daddy’s eternity is with Him.

None of this is by accident. It is all part of His plan. God is near us as we travel this road.

And because we know all these things, God blesses us with the peace of God which transcends all understanding and guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Thank you, Abba Father, for loving my Daddy even more than I do.

How Daddy Prepared Me For His Cancer Diagnosis – #Pray4PaPa

Brian lesion.  Growth.  Cancer.  Rare.  Malignant.  Cancer.  Aggressive.  Surgery.  Cancer.  Stage 4.  Chemo.

These are the words that have been bouncing around in my head like a pinball and have me struggling to catch my breath at times.

No. Not my Daddy.

It started a couple of months ago when I got a call from my Dad, and he told me in a way too calm voice about a suspicious growth behind his ear. That started weeks of biopsies, CT scans, appointments with various specialists, and waiting. Waiting for insurance, waiting for phone calls, waiting for appointments, waiting for test results. Waiting, Waiting, Waiting.

Getting a Cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. I went from worst-case scenario to complete denial in my head. No. Not my Daddy.  So many questions and often no answers…or a long, painful wait to get some half-answers…or even incorrect answers in some cases.

Now we have an almost complete diagnosis and a plan of action, which puts this control freak somewhat at ease. I am extremely thankful to be living in Nashville, which is quickly becoming the healthcare capital of the world. Dad has the best medical team that is trying to identify and fit all the pieces of his complicated Cancer puzzle.

He didn’t know it at the time, but Dad has raised me with the tools that I need to face his cancer diagnosis and any other trial that comes my way.

Hugs Give Instant Comfort. My Dad has always been very affectionate which he has passed down to me and I to my children. I treasured the time over Christmas that I had to just sit with my Dad and snuggle. I will never take any of his hugs for granted. Even though I have kept my emotions somewhat guarded around my kids, they have a 6th sense and have showered me with hugs, kisses and “I Love Yous” at just the right moment.

Music Soothes the Soul. I remember listening to Three Dog Night and Deep Purple with Dad on his record player for hours when I was a kid.

When I pray for people going through hard times, I pray for Jesus to wrap His arms around them. Jesus wraps His arms around me through music.

When we were waiting for the diagnosis about what type of cancer he had, it was excruciating. God sent me the opportunity to write my first music review. For the days leading up to his appointment, I had MercyMe’s Christmas album on in a constant loop. God blessed me with the ability to be in a constant state of praise in a very uncertain time.

Another time I was trying to get some shopping in before the kids got out of school for break. I had just gotten off the phone with my parents. Dad always waits until Mom gets off the phone and we have our own “Goodbye & I Love You.” I completely lost it in the parking lot. No. Not my Daddy. I sat in the car bawling until Jesus dried my tears through Mindy Smith’s “Come to Jesus” playing on the radio.

Come to Jesus and let Him hold you in His arms.

A Positive Attitude Crushes Negative Thoughts. Dad has such a great outlook about his prognosis. His medical team at Vanderbilt is the best of the best of the best. God has placed his care in very capable hands. Dad’s sense of humor helps us all think positively too. He says he can’t wait to be bald, beautiful, and skinny when he is through all this 🙂 We even laughed last night about Eric and I finally having the time to watch “Catching Fire” during his long surgery since we can’t stay awake for a whole two hours after the kids go to bed 😉

Our Faith is a Verb not just a Noun. Of course we can do all of these things because of the Faith that Dad and Mom instilled in our family. Our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is deep in our heart and souls. I, honestly, don’t know how people deal with struggles without having Him as their rock to lean on. We do not know what God’s will is in this situation. We pray that it complete and total healing for Dad. Whatever direction we go, we know that Jesus will have us wrapped up in His arms and give us the strength to face the next step.

Now the words that I will pray over will be:

Strength.  Faith.  Love.  Jesus.  Healing.  Comfort.

Pray4PaPaSLM

My youngest son, Matthew, wanted to make bracelets for everyone in our family. They are our #Pray4PaPa bracelets. Every time we look at them we say a prayer for Pa Pa, Mimi, & his doctors.