Thursday, February 27, 2014



Dearest Wayne,

I pray that our marriage is a bold and clear illustration of God's Love.

I give you endless promises of:
-living unto God first ...
-having a life of faith and hope in Jesus ...
-being faithful...
-loving you ...
-being one ...
-devotion ...
-tender care ...
-pledging my life to you as a lovingly obedient and respectful wife ...

It is of deepest joy that I share my life with you as your wife; as one.
   When you hurt, I hurt.
   When you have joy, I have joy.
   When you are in pain, I am in pain.
   When you smile, I smile.
God prepared me for you, and so I intend to strengthen, help, comfort, encourage, and love you.  


Just as God chose us for a purpose, and knowing that He loves us and knows everything about us, I thank you for choosing me to be your wife; to be one with you; sharing this life.  I love all of you.  


Reflection Verses:

For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. (1 Corinthians 7:14 NLT)

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 NIV)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Driving Through a Storm

Driving Through a Storm

On part of our drive back from Florida, we encountered a storm, a storm that I have never experienced before in my experience as a driver.

It down-poured so hard, that I struggled to see.  The road was flooded, and as I slowed my speed and moved ahead, the wind beat against our car, leaves from the trees swirled in and slammed against the windshield, mixed in with the rain.  Lightning flashed, and there seemed to be no sign of the storm giving up, and it actually seemed to get worse.  My legs and arms started to shake, I leaned forward in my seat, focused on the tail lights of the driver in front of me, gripping the steering wheel.  My mind is screaming "tornado"!  My husband awoke from his seat and encouraged me.  I knew it would be just as dangerous to stop.  Others most likely could not see me well, despite lights being on, and it was unlikely that I could merge back on into the traffic safely, if I pulled over.  I had no choice but to go on; to forge ahead in this storm.

I happened to glance in the rear view mirror and saw a beautiful image.  My son's legs are crossed - one over the other, as if casually sitting, his eyes closed, and his hands gently folded.  I told him that I loved him, and he said, "Don't worry Mamma, I'm praying.  We'll be fine."  And he was right.  Oh what a great faith and trust my child has, and I have so much to learn.  He was calm (and so was my husband) through this storm.

As I write this, I am currently in the hospital with my husband, arriving the day after we returned from our Florida trip.  He had a massive amount of fluid built up in his abdomen, causing him to be very distended, and was in the most pain he has been in thus far.  He needed pain medication every hour via IV and was put on oxygen because the build up was putting pressure on his lungs.  It seemed the pressure in Wayne's abdomen and size of his abdomen were getting exponentially worse quickly, as we waited in the ER overnight, as more tests were done.  I felt my emotions rolling in like a storm, and I started to shiver.  Yet, we forged ahead because we had to.  Finally, it was time for the paracentesis, it took about an hour (the usual is 30 minutes), and they drained 11 liters from my husband's abdomen.  (That is about 24 pounds of weight!)  He looked like a new person when he came out.  Happy, in less pain, and much smaller.

We also found out during this time, that the regime of chemotherapy that had been used was not working, and that the cancer had grown.  Very hard information to digest; upsetting information.  Here was yet another storm.  However, we press on, because we have to.  But more importantly, because we trust in God.  And, in the lesson I learned from my child, I will forge ahead, I will gently fold my hands and pray.  We will be okay.

My husband is starting a new chemotherapy regime, and I will pray.  Even if there are more storms ahead, as there often are in any aspect of life,  I will pray, and God will steer us through the storm.

Reflection Verses:

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Psalm 107: 28-31 NIV

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.  The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”  Mathew 8: 23-27 NIV

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14 NIV

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Living a Life of Luxury

Living a Life of Luxury

We had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Florida during Presidents' Break, with some great friends.  The blessings of others' - from the doctors to friends to family to acquaintances - all contributed in some way so that this trip could happen.  

It was a long journey.  We drove over 20 hours each way, through and under mountains (literally), and across snow covered roads and through rain storms, to find some time away.  The rental car, that a friend helped us reserve, was quite the fancy car (at least to us it was).  Our current vehicles each have almost 100 thousand miles on them, and use a lot of gas.  They have the basic set ups inside, but they get us to where we need to go.  The car we were able to rent has heated seats and a rear door that opens and closes with the push of a button.  It even recirculates air when you use the wipers, so that you don't smell the odor of the wiper wash.  (Wait, there's an odor?!?)   The seats are leather, there's plenty of storage room, it has all wheel drive, and the ride is smooth.  The car has no rust spots, you can hook your phone up to the car, and operate it using the car's dashboard and steering wheel.  The car can also tell information like how many gallons of gas are being used and how far you can go based on what is remaining.  Pretty fancy, at least in my experiences.

The friends we stayed with rented a house with us.  It was even better looking than in the pictures.  High ceilings and spacious rooms.  Air conditioning and a heated screened-in pool.  Private community and a tennis court.  Big kitchen with lots of counter space.  Big and soft beds, leather couch, and calming decor.  Quiet neighbors and community, but with close access to grocery stores, fresh produce, and the Disney Parks.

We walked around feeling like we did not want to ever leave, wanting to pack up our house back home and permanently live in Florida instead.  I wasn't sure we could get back into the car to come home and leave this warm comforting place behind, especially because we knew winter was waiting for us back home.  Yes, there are bugs year around, and lizards too, here in Florida.  Sometimes there are hurricanes and tornadoes.  The cost of living may be higher too.  But, it is warmer here ...  all of the time.  Our first day here you could see which people were visitors to Florida.  It was only in the low 70s when we first arrived.  We wore shorts, flip flops, and t-shirts.  The residents wore pants and long sleeves.  The rest of the week was in the 80s and it felt so good.  Sometimes in the evenings it got into the 40s, but it was way better than -20 degrees with a wind chill, like it could be back at home.  Seeing the sunshine just makes you feel good - physically and emotionally.  Seeing my family well rested and happy makes me feel wonderful too.

Traveling when battling cancer can be challenging.  Our oncologist touched base with us to make sure Wayne was okay.  We had to make a plan on what we would do if he needed help while down in Florida, and shared our plan with the doctor.  Wayne had to get a blood transfusion before we came, and we had to make sure all prescriptions were filled.  The chemotherapy makes my husband's skin extra sensitive, so we had to be careful with the sun (100 SPF!).  We had to make sure to drink lots of fluids and stretch while traveling in the car to help prevent blood clots.  We had to take it easy when walking around LegoLand, Disney, and the beach.  Taking these extra precautions forced us to slow down.  However, it was good to slow down, and enjoy our time together.

While in the moment, living life in Florida seems luxurious, reality is that no matter where we are, we should be living with God, enjoying the abundance of gifts and blessings that we receive every day.  Jesus should be reigning in our hearts.  This opportunity to travel was wonderful, but moving there would not make cancer go away.  It would not help our finances.  It would not make me happier, more content, or less anxious in general.  It did create new memories.  It did give us some respite.  It did give us fellowship with some wonderful people.  We did laugh, smile, and relax.  And, that actually is luxurious to us, because we desperately need that too.  

Life can feel like a long journey at times.  What will be truly luxurious is when we someday move forever, and live with Jesus in the ultimate paradise.  In a place where there is no pain, where you are fully restored and purified, living with the Creator.  A place that is comforting because it feels like and is home.

Reflection Verses:

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Luke 23:43 NIV

1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ... 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.  22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  Revelations 21: 1-4; 10-25  NIV

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Having the Words

Having the Words

Sometimes I do not have words in response to "how are you?", because I really don't know.  Sometimes my words are about how many times my husband has thrown up from chemo and I start talking to you about it.  Awkward ... These are the words of this time, and if you ask me, you might get information you did not necessarily want to hear.  I laugh at myself because I then think "I don't know some of those people very well and here I am talking about vomiting.  Put on your filter, Lisa!"  Sometimes other people do not have the words to say to me either ... And that is okay... I love you anyways.  I know it can be awkward to talk to me, especially about hard things.  And, especially when you catch me at a moment when I am about to or am bursting into tears.

I struggle with optimism at times, if I stop and think, then the burden seems too heavy.  I find myself with a complete loss for words.  My head sometimes is full of worry and uncertainty.  It is not a loss of faith or hope, but perhaps a moment of weakness, distraction, or uncertainty where I stumble.  Or, I simply just need time to process; to think.  Being or feeling weak doesn't mean I have lost hope or faith, but it is an opportunity to refocus and to continue to lean on, be carried by, and pray to God.  Thank you God that you are merciful and there to pick me up again.

Ultimately, I know you are praying for Wayne, my family, us, me.  And, you ask how we are because you care.  I just do not always have the words to respond.

I have many rough drafts of posts for this blog that sit started, unfinished, waiting for words.  Waiting for the opportunity to reflect and form thoughts about what I am feeling.  So, I pick up my journal, or my phone, or sit at my computer, or bow my head to pray, and the words come again. I reconnect to God.

God nudges me gently and I do eventually find the words to say, the words to write, and the words to share.  His timing is right.  His Word is always there too.

Reflection Verses:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18 NIV)

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:5 NIV)

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundancethrough the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:1-2 NIV)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Looking at the Inside

Looking at the Inside

Valentine's Day is the day my husband is rescanned.  They will look at the cancer to see if it is shrinking.  We will not have the results until we go back for the consult in about 1 week.  The doctors will look at Wayne's insides for evidence of change; improvement.

We chose to wait for the information until the consult.  But, we will not wait in agony or sit idly by.  We will focus on God.  We will focus on each other.  We will enjoy each others' company; more time to connect and be together.

While we are praying and hoping for the doctors to see the evidence of positive change inside; God can already see the evidence of our internal changes - physically and spiritually.  For we cannot change anything, yet we can keep our waiting and thoughts upon the Lord with all of our soul, mind, and strength.  We will wait on God's timing, and take joy in His presence.  We will marvel at the beautiful work that He has already done in us and that has yet to be done.

Thank you for your steadfast prayers.  You are beautiful too, inside and out.

Reflection Verses:

"Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’"  Matthew 22:37 NIV

"but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Monday, February 3, 2014

Unavoidable Stress

Unavoidable Stress

There are types of stress that I can avoid through the choices I make.  Usually this can be done with a perspective shift through prayer, conversations, and coping strategies.  However, there are certain things that are truly unavoidable in my life, that will happen regardless of my choices.

Work evaluations: I know it is coming; it is an unavoidable and necessary part of my job.  Much prep is required and I show my work quality to the best of my ability.

Weather Forecasts of Bad Storms: You know it is coming; it is unavoidable.  You prepare with milk, water, portable heaters, and candles.

Going to the Dentist:  I have to go because tooth health is more important than one may realize; it hurts my mouth; and I have crunchy toothpaste stuck in between my teeth afterwards.  I prepare with extra flossing and brushing weeks before.  I take a Tylenol before going.

Chemotherapy Weeks:  I know the chemo is coming, along with the nausea, the vomiting, the no eating, and the pain too.  And, I am only witnessing it, not bearing it.  I start to count down to chemo days.  It looms like a dark cloud on the horizon.  I find myself trying to get as much work done ahead of time - laundry, dishes, groceries, job responsibilities, and mental preparation for what I know we will see my husband battle through.  I prepare with prayer.

Yes, I know each day is a gift.  Even the dark and cloudy days of unavoidable stress like chemotherapy weeks have light in them.  Prayers shared, kind nurses, helpfulness, friends that check in, friends that sit with my husband so that I can rest, and evidence of increased perseverance.

The great thing about unavoidable stress is that on the other side comes the relief; the joy; the normals; the return of smiles and togetherness.  I find that we need time to reconnect as a family after the chemo is done each time - whether it is playing a video game, snuggles, or just talking about things -  things that are not about cancer.  We need this stress relief, ways to cope after the stress, time together, and rest.

What joy and relief Jesus must have felt, after the unavoidable stress and pain of hanging on the cross, when He was once again reunited with his Father.

Reflection Verses:

I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
19 When doubts filled my mind, 
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.  Psalm 94:18-19  NLT

“But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage.  Ezra 9:8 NIV

“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  Matthew 26:64 NIV

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sneak Preview

Sneak Preview

I entered an online competition to win free tickets, to see an advance screening of a new movie.  I did it on a whim, and guess what ... I won!  Even though it was a kid's movie, it was about a favorite topic in our house.  Being that it was 5am on the morning I found out, I had to jump quietly and whisper "yes!", but I literally jumped up and down in excitement!  I could not wait to share the news with the family.

When I found out the details, I became more excited, because it was on a NON-Chemotherapy week, and knew my husband would be able to participate.  I knew then, that we would be able to go for sure.  I saw it as an opportunity for a unique and fun, memory-making, family outing.

There were a few things to consider though.   Even though we won the tickets, we had to get there early.  The theater tends to give out more tickets than the seats they have in their promotions, so it is first come, first serve.  And, we would have to wait outside in line (in winter).

So, we bundled up, drove an hour, got there with plenty of time, and waited "only" 40 minutes outside.  My brave husband covered his skin as much as possible, and I debated swarming him with gathered strangers, to keep him warm.  Thankfully, the lobby doors eventually opened a half hour before the show, and we could get inside to the warmth.  We chose seats midway up, put on our 3D glasses, and munched on popcorn.  Every seat was filled and it was a unique experience (for us) to enjoy a movie, including with no previews.  We fed off the laughter of both kids and adults.  Somehow being together as a large viewing audience made it even more fun.

In this movie an ordinary man is the hero...  a man that does not have the skills of other more advanced characters.  Just a man in an ordinary job, with no close friends, living alone, doing the same thing day after day (and he is okay with that).  This ordinary man comes to an unexpected path and then not only his life changes, but he changes the perspectives of others' as well.  The theme of the movie is that everyone is special, has their own viewpoint, and can contribute to life and society.  And, that even if you feel like you are not unique, deep down we each have something to share with others, a special gift, a special purpose.

Jesus looked like man, but He was definitely not ordinary.  He came to share with us God, perform miracles, spread hope and love, and that we are also unique and blessed people.  Jesus' disciples may have seemed like ordinary men as well, but they also shared their gifts and had a purpose.  

God does not need a sneak preview to know what we will see unfold in our lives.  He created each of us as unique individuals with gifts to share, gifts that will be shared even when the journey is tough.  Now that is something to jump up and down in excitement about!  Do not wait to share the Good News!

Reflection Verses:

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13 NIV