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Was that in the job description?

I had a different childhood than most growing up. It drove me crazy as a kid but I now that I have children of my own I wouldnt trade my childhood for the world. We were not allowed to watch the Simpsons, Rugrats, King of the Hill, or day time talk shows. If we had friends over and a movie had cuss words, my mom was quick to shut it off, embarrassing me in front of my friends. Our “family vacations” when I was in elementary school consisted of my parents, my siblings, myself, and 20 other high school students in fifteen passenger vans going on mission trips and youth conferences. When we did go on vacation with just our immediate family, often time it was to a pastors’ conference in Grayling, Michigan.

We rarely went to the movies but DON’T WORRY, we were there opening night of Prince of Egypt!

The secular world had NOW cds that contained all of the popular songs of the year. Well, Christian pop culture had WOW worship hits. While I was a fan of JT in Nysnc, my real boy band was The Newsboys. If you aren’t familiar with the Christian cult classic you should definitely google “Breakfast in Hell.”

One of the other A-list Christian artists of my childhood (if there is such a thing) was a band called Jars of Clay.

I’ll be honest I never looked into the name growing up and it wasn’t until college that I realized that their name was taken from a bible verse.

*disclaimer* this passage is lengthy but I encourage you not to skip over it!

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-12

We are the jars of clay. We are fragile, easily broken, and imperfect; and still God chose us to store his most powerful and precious gift. HIS son.

This would be like me entrusting my case-less iPhone to my 16 month old standing next to a public toilet. (I only compare the son of God to my iPhone because we are not exactly swimming in priceless family heirlooms!)

Jesus, who was present at the creation of the universe, chose to take on lowly human form to save us from an eternity in hell. He came down, not as a king, or overlord; but instead as a baby to a teenage, unwed mother who very well could have been stoned for this pregnancy. If she survived did not have a single means of providing for that baby. Her body housed the creator of the world!

She was a jar of clay.

I remember seeing Robbyn in her NICU isolet for the first time. She was so tiny and so fragile, with oxygen and a feeding tube in her nose. I couldn’t be there often and I trusted those nurses to care for my baby. Those first few weeks, the NICU nurses were more of a mother to her than I was. I felt comfortable leaving her in their care because of the knowledge, compassion, and experience.

God entrusted his son to a 13ish year old girl who had never cared for a child on her own.

God not only entrusted Mary with caring for his son, but he entrusts us with a great gift as well…

The church.

*If you are unfamiliar with Christianity, I am not talking about a building but the global body of believers.

When Jesus left the earth, he gave us pretty clear instructions about what the church was supposed to do…

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Matthew 28:18-20

If you don’t what God wants you to do with your life, that is a good place to start!

He entrusted the gospel (the good news of Jesus defeating sin and death) to us!

We are the sinful, broken, fragile jars of clay. What have we done with this honor?

…not a thing.

Many of us go to church, fill an empty seat, and go out and live Monday through Saturday as though God doesn’t exist.

I’m not pointing fingers.

It’s easy to do. I have weeks like that. Weeks where the busyness of work, home life, financial stress, and children fill up every corner of my life.

But God didn’t save us to warm a seat in a church 1 hour out of the week. He saved us so we could tell others the Good news.

He allows us the opportunity to play a very important role in the salvation story. No, we can’t save anyone apart from God, but we can be the tool that he uses to save someone from an eternity in Hell.

We tend to think that this is the job of our church pastors.

Isn’t that what they get paid for?

My dad/pastor and my baby bird

Being raised as a preacher’s daughter, I have heard my share of jokes about how my dad only works 2 hours a week. What a gig!

I can’t tell you how upsetting comments like that are. Granted, I have been exposed to the ins and out of the pastorate since birth, where some might not be familiar with the full job description. Well, let me enlighten you.

My dad is always on call. Always. Literally 24/7. I can’t tell you how many trips or outings were cut short by a death or serious illness of a church member (or nonmember!)

I have seen him leave the house when he was sicker than a dog because someone needed him. I have heard him leave the house at two in the morning to sit with family members in the Emergency Room; just to get up and preach the next morning.

The people he gets called from are not just families who are active in our church, but families that haven’t been to church in years, or people who have never been to our church, knowing him through the community.

Does he get upset about so many people calling on him in their time of need? Absolutely not.

He considers it an honor. He wants to be there for them, even if he hasn’t seen them in years.

I have never heard him complain about running on 2 hours of sleep or about church conflicts that I know must drain him mentally and emotionally. I have never heard him complain about the endless hours of bible study and sermon preparation. I have seen him praying for members in our church more times than I can count.

I know my dad is not the only pastor who sacrifices for his congregation. My father-in-law is a phenomenal pastor as well. His actions and attitude strongly resemble what I have seen in my dad through the years. He like many local pastors, has a full time job in addition to ministering to an entire church. They never complain. They never turn their phones off. Always giving of themselves, their time, and their families.

This leads me to believe that local pastors bear the weight of the ministry in the church.

Do you know why I think they do that?

Because we let them.

It’s easy for us to say, well I have a full time job, and this is what we pay them for anyway.

The great commission did not say, Pastors, go into all the world…”

It do not say, If you feel that sharing the gospel is your spiritual gift, then tell others”

God called every. SINGLE. ONE OF. US. To share the gospel. It is not a task intended for the elite in the church, or for those who have a passion for speaking. God calls us all to minister to a lost and hurting world.

Our jars are fragile, but God has stored his most precious gift in us. We need to be there physically and spiritually for other members of our church body and unbelievers alike.

Here are some ways to kickstart this…

  • Offer to pray for someone you know who is struggling.
  • If you don’t know someone struggling, ask someone how you can be praying for them.
  • Bring a meal to someone who just had a surgery, or death in the family, or new baby. (This is one of the areas my church EXCELS at and makes me proud to be a member at Mt. Pisgah.)
  • Be intentional about sharing the gospel. Look for a person to share it with. Don’t wait for God to magically present someone to you with flashing lights.
  • Don’t leave all of the ministering to the local pastor. Take it upon yourself to love and care for other members of your church family or neighborhood.
  • Make sure others know that they can call on you day or night for prayer and support.
  • Volunteer to help with a ministry at your church.
  • Pray for your church staff. Pastors, teachers, deacons, trustees, music leaders!

Don’t take for granted the amazing treasure God has entrusted you with.

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A Dear John letter to my leggings

I promised I would be completely honest on my blog.

So here it goes.

Something not many people know about me.

I love food.

Like really love it.

Truly, deeply, love it.

Ok, so that’s not a secret.

My husband, my family, and especially my coworkers know I love food. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up.

I may be so full I’m about to that I am about to vomit…

“Did someone say donuts? I can make room.”

Monday morning at work after restarting my diet for the 8th Monday this month…

“Did someone say donuts? I swear someone said donuts. I’ll double check the break room just to be sure there aren’t any donuts.”

I honestly believe people who say they forget to eat…ARE LIARS. Who forgets to eat!? That concept is lost on me.

I have been elbow deep in some unsavory situations in the operating room, all the while trying to decide if I’m going to heat up my leftovers or spring for the baked potato bar in the cafeteria.

Donut cake for a donut birthday party

Well, there was only one time in my life food genuinely repulsed me.

Paralyzed with fear. My heart was racing day and night. I couldn’t eat I couldn’t sleep. The first ten days after being diagnosed with breast cancer I lost around 16 lbs. Not great when I was the sole provider for Robbyn’s nutrition at 33 weeks gestation. Jordan would coax me in to eating the only thing I could choke down. A McDonald’s mango smoothie.

I know, right? Gross.

My mind was so engrossed in fear and pain.

Fear of my life being cut so much shorter than I had ever anticipated. Pain of thinking about my children suffering without a mom or the possibility of another woman raising my children.

I prayed and prayed, and when I was sick and tired of praying… I prayed some more. I begged, bargained, and pleaded with God. At least 50 times a day I cried out internally and externally the most vulnerable and genuine prayer of my life,

“God, save me. Please.”

My prayer was was stripped of pomp and circumstance. No frilly adjectives or church slang. Just a desperate plea to my creator to spare my earthly life, if just for a little while.

As terror stricken as I was, that period in my life is THE absolute closest I have ever felt to God. Not because God was any closer to me, but because I was choosing to be closer to God. I was powerless. Out of control. Completely dependent on Him.

I was in my bible, not just once a day but multiple times a day. My days were centered around prayer.

I would never forget how wonderful it felt to be wrapped in the comfort of the psalms or the balm of a praise song or my continual singing of “count your blessings.”

I would never get out of this habit of constant prayer and communion with God.

Right?

Wrong.

I had the scariest hours, days, and months of my life and when the dust settled. I drifted.

I spent less time in my bible. Before when I read, I had been fervently searching for answers, for guidance, for comfort.

My prayers, though still daily, were not as frequent or as passionate as they had been.

Thats human nature though.

Well…it’s our sin nature.

We get complacent. We drift. We forget what AMAZING and WONDERFUL things God has done for us.

We drift in many areas of our lives. It’s a gradual movement. Often we don’t even realize it’s happening.

I never realize how many episodes I watch, until Netflix conducts a welfare check on me to make sure I am really still watching. I black out and the next thing I know I am three seasons deep into The Office.

OR

I don’t realize how much weight I have gained, because I wear nothing but leggings and very forgiving hospital scrubs (as I sneak stale donuts from the break room). Suddenly, I put on a pair of jeans for the first time in months and realize that the box of donuts I accidentally demolished in one sitting made an impact on my waistline.

It’s been a little over a year since my diagnosis and there have already been so many times I have forgotten what God has done. I grumble and complain, I’m too quick to yell at my children or even a stranger in traffic.

I grow complacent. Content. Almost numb to the things of God.

That’s where the enemy wants us. Too tired or lazy to care about our spiritual welfare.

“God understands I need to get these dishes done. He will understand why I don’t have time to do my bible study.”

“God knows that I had a late night. He will understand I’m too tired to go to church.”

“God knows I have talked to people all day at work. He knows I am socially drained. He will understand that I don’t want to be social with my neighbors.”

We drift and drift into these ridiculously comfortable spiritual leggings until we can’t button our godly Jeans anymore!

We don’t realize how much we have let Satan get footholds in our life until big changes have occurred and like Regina George, sweatpants (or leggings) are all that fit us anymore!

We look around and our lives look no different than the world.

That is dangerous territory. Our lives should be filled with things of GOD. Our priorities and schedules should reflect our beliefs.

The world should notice that we are different. They should see that we are filled with joy, and peace, and kindness, and patience.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

Get in your bible. Pray. Listen to a sermon online. Listen to a Christian podcast. Go to church. Talk about God in your home. With your spouse. With your children.

If you don’t feel like doing any of those things. Pray for God to give the desire and the hunger to continue to grow closer to Him.

Put down the donut!

Take off your spiritual leggings and for Pete’s sake button those spiritual jeans!!

Beignets aka French donuts!
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The price is…What?

My bills

Robbyn’s bills


Jordan and I took a Dave Ramsey class a few years ago to learn how to budget and pay off debt. We worked really hard to pay off our debt. We have never been on a vacation. We have bought used cars, used lawnmowers, used furniture. Qudoba is a about as expensive as our fine dining gets.

While I was pregnant with Robbyn, Jordan picked up a second job cleaning the middle school in the evening to help expedite our debt repayments. We had paid off our school debt, one car, and were working on the last car. There was an end in sight!!

Then last April happened.


I’m not sure if you are aware but medical treatment is a smidge pricey.

Now, this is not a political post.

I work in the medical profession and I have seen amazing surgeons and anesthesiologists in action. They deserve to be compensated for the hard work and exceptional care they give to every single patient. They have been to school years longer than most of the population. And the technology in the OR alone is state of the art, always changing, and improving to give better care. To save more lives.

I understand that before any drug comes to market it is trialed and tested for years and there are chemists and researchers who have dedicated years to formulating and perfecting new medicines.

But the amount of bills that we acquired in the first 14 days was alarming between appointments for my cancer treatment, specialist appointments and testing for the little miss still in my belly.

In testing alone, the first 14 days I had an ultrasound for Robbyn, three ultrasounds for my breast, 2 biopsies and clip placement, an MRI, a chest X-ray, a cardiac echo, a PET scan, genetic testing.

I also had a round of steroid injections before delivery, an epidural, a delivery, a NICU stay all before I even started my first chemotherapy.

I saw three breast specialists, a medical oncologist, a maternal fetal medicine doctor, an obgyn, a genetic counselor. Not to mention all of the radiologists who read my tests.

I had a plethora of things done, utilizing many people’s expertise and years of training and study.

This post is not to say that I think healthcare should be free. I do not. We are willing to shell out a thousand dollars for a fancy new phone and spend thousands a year on food and entertainment but balk at a 20 dollar antibiotic. Well the world can’t thrive without medical professionals either and it costs money for them to spend almost a decade getting their degrees so they can save your life.

That’s not to say I don’t think there should be some improvement in the way healthcare is billed and delivered.

Personally, I think the whole system is broken, WORLDWIDE. There isn’t a healthcare system in the world that is fair to everyone; providers and patients. I was able to receive top of the line care because I live in a country that has done more medical research than any country. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and that is mine. But that’s neither here nor there.

[Kari tries to gracefully exit her soapbox hoping she didn’t upset too many readers]


I was shocked to learn how much assistance there is for people going through treatment. There is the Shelby Cancer Society, the Indiana women in need (Iwin foundation), community hosptal has an income based billing assistance program, and St. Francis has assistance available as well.

I will tell you, no one was denying us care. No one asked if I knew how I would pay for this treatment.

I wasn’t told to wait for pre approval from my insurance company.

Now that’s not to say I wasn’t asked if I wanted to make a payment when I registered.

The morning I walked in for my PET scan the gal at the registration desk asked if I would like to pay 3800 dollars today or if I would like a bill sent.

Umm.. yes a bill please.

Unless you are prepared to try and catch my check as it bounces all the way to the bank!

I have great insurance through the hospital and the people I have dealt with on the phone have been SO very helpful. I have zero complaints. Our insurance for Community Hospital covered 70% of my bills. So we only owed 30%. I’m not great at math but even I know that 30% of 600,000 dollars is a little more than pocket change.

Well we met our out of pocket before chemo was half way over. Yes you heard me. I did not misspeak. Not our deductible. Our OUT OF POCKET!

So things got cheaper after that.

Robbyn spent 31 days in the NICU and accrued $153,139.50 in hospital bills and another 13,256.85 in physician bills.

To say thy she is high maintenance is an understatement.

She could not and would not be rushed. She would decide to breath on her own when she was good and ready.

Well it was July and we still had not received that bill. I called St. Francis billing department to ask if they knew what our portion of the bill would be yet.

She said it looked like the insurance company paid about $92,000 and our portion would be 60,000 dollars but the hospital wrote off our bill.

I asked her if she knew why and she said she wasn’t sure but she would take the money and run if I were her.

I hung up the phone. I was not going to ask anymore questions lest they discover it was someone else’s bill they meant to write off.

I sat in my car and sobbed. I had been dreading that bill for months.

All this to say...

Cancer is not cheap.

Premature babies are not cheap.

Chronic illnesses are not cheap.

Jordan and I have been very healthy. The most I go to the doctor is during poison ivy season or when Jordan refuses to wear protective goggles while working on home repairs.

There are people who have been battling chronic illness for years and have a revolving door of medical bills. We just happened to get hit with ours all at once.

What is my advice for you?

I’m so glad you asked!

(I know you didn’t ask. I don’t often have people seeking me out for words of wisdom. The Office quotes? Yes. Words of wisdom? Not so much.)

If you are healthy, get a handle on your finances now!

You and your family will not always be healthy. Someone will need medical care and I can tell you from experience, you don’t care how much it costs, you want the best care possible. If we had not been paying off our debts before this happened, we would have been in a real world of hurt.

16 of Jesus’s 28 parables talk about how we should handle our money and possessions. We are called to be good stewards of our money. We should not be spending more than we make if we want God to ever bless us with more.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”

(Luke 16:10).

We are also called to give generously and for the right reasons.

Matthew 6:3 says, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.”

We should give to those in need because of our love for Christ.

Jesus died on the cross to give you an eternity in heaven.

We should want to be as generous as he has been, giving to those who need our help,

those who we don’t think deserve our help,

and those who don’t want our help.

Just as Jesus extended his gift to everyone, so should we.

My family has been on the receiving end of generous giving since last year. We have had people hand us everything from large checks, to twenty dollars from people I know do not have twenty dollars to give.

At Major Hospital where I work, hospital-wide people donated their hard earned vacation hours and I did not go without a paycheck this past year. Talk about humbling!

The doctors I work with collected money and gave my family such a generous gift. We received gift card after gift card to help with expenses.

My favorite gift I have received was in the mail. Twice the past year I was mailed a card filled with Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards and Wendy’s gift cards with a note that simply said

“for you.”

I have no idea who sent it. That is the epitome of giving in secret.

I am not writing this to tell you to give Jordan and I money.

Please. DO. NOT!

We have received plenty.

I am writing this to encourage you to live and give generously.

I am sure you can think of one family struggling with a health crisis or job loss or has just fallen on hard times.

  • Send them a gas card or a grocery card. (Those have been life savers for our family. )
  • Drop a gift off at their doorstep.
  • Pay for their meal if you see them out at a restaurant.
  • Give them a hand shake with a 20 dollar bill slipped into their hand.

Don’t announce what you have done.

Give in secret. Give often.

You may not think you are in a financial situation to give, but I am sure you can find something in you budget to skip out on.

Give out of your surplus and give out of your need.

I do not think you will regret it.

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The Biggest lie

Exactly one year ago my life was turned upside down. My heart felt like it shattered into a million pieces in the doctor’s exam room. I raced out of the hospital not knowing where to go or what to do. How ironic that it was an absolutely gorgeous day when my soul felt as dark and cold as the deepest part of the ocean. I can remember so many microscopic details of that day and yet there are huge details that went unnoticed in my panic. I know exactly where I was standing in my kitchen that Friday evening when the reality of everything that had been said to me that day sunk in. I had been running around like a mad woman frantically making calls and blindly strategizing my next move. When there was nothing left to do, I stood at my kitchen counter directly in front of my silverware drawer and tried to blink away the black spots swimming before my eyes. My face suddenly felt tingly and I fought to keep my legs from collapsing under me. I couldn’t catch my breath all of a sudden. Was Robbyn stretching her feet and rump into my lungs or had all of the air been sucked from my lungs. My mom was next to me and must have sensed the turn I was taking because she hugged me at that moment, and I sunk the entirety of my 33 week pregnant self onto her.
That was it. My weakest moment.
The moment I felt completely and utterly powerless.
It was as though the ground was opening beneath me and swallowing me up.
That moment. That 30 second chunk of my life is the most powerful tool God has ever used to grab my attention.
In that moment I realized how small, weak, and powerless I actually am.
In realizing how small I am, I could truly grasp the concept of how enormous God, in all his power, really is.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
HIS power. MY weakness.
I have been told so many times this year, “you are so strong” “you are such a fighter”
This is the biggest lie. The exact opposite is true. I am weak. So incredibly weak. That moment in my kitchen taught me that. I had about as much control over that disease as I have over the weather. And I’m not a fighter. I have fought nothing. I haven’t fought this disease. I have just been treading water while God is fighting for me.
That moment in my kitchen a year ago taught me that my body is fragile, my mind is inept, and I. am. not. in. control.
Do you know how that makes me feel?

FREE!

It’s not up to me anymore. This cancer diagnosis doesn’t depend on how well I can fight it. It’s out of my hands.
I have a savior who fights my battles for me. That is such comforting thought. Whether I live or die (Which we all will eventually) that it’s not up to me. Knowing that it doesn’t depend on my performance is so freeing!  God had a plan for my life, and it is part of a much bigger story that I will not understand this side of Heaven and I am learning that it’s ok. I am part of a story that doesn’t revolve around me. and that’s ok. I am part of a bigger plane. (and so are you).

My heart’s desire is to stay in his will for my life and strive to be more Christ-like daily. As long as I put in the work of studying the bible, praying, thinking on the things of God, and serving others God will grow me and use me more than I could imagine.

There seem to be a pandemic in society today of self help. That you can fix yourself if you just visualize your goals enough, or organize your life the right way, or concentrate on self care.
You. you. you.
That is so much pressure.
Pressure that God never intended for you to put on yourself.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

HE will give you rest.
There is nothing you need to do but give your worries, and fears, and anxieties, and burdens to him.
The Bible isn’t another self-help book. God doesn’t want you to fix yourself.
You know why?
Because he knows you can’t.
He knows you will kill yourself trying.
He gave us the Bible to show us that it is impossible for us to fix ourselves.
We need Christ to fix us.
He is the only one who ever could, and ever will live up to the standard of perfection laid out in the Bible.
He came and did the hard work.
He lived a hard but perfect life. Never missing a step,
He chose to die a hard death.
Being tortured.
And murdered.
In public.
For you.
A sinner.
He did that so you would not have to struggle to control every aspect of your life that is clearly out of you control.
He knows we are sinners utterly unworthy of his hard death.
But he did it anyway because he loves you more than you could ever fathom loving anything.
Saying we can fix ourselves or channel our inner strength, is a slap in the face to what Jesus did on the cross for us. To say, “that’s alright, I don’t need the cross. I can fix myself” is a suicide mission ending in weariness and anguish.
I’m not saying roll over and do nothing because God doesn’t want you to lift a finger. But I have found such peace and release in handing over my life, my body, my future, my children over to God. He knows what he is doing, and I need to do the work he has set before me instead of trying to control thing I was never meant to worry about.
Another myth that many Christians believe is that God will never give you more than you can handle. Yes, he does. I think he gives us so more than we can handle just to show us how much we need him.

To show how powerless we are apart from God.
Author Jon Bloom says, “God often gives us more than we can handle to makes us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
I have grown so much closer to God this year because of the realization that I am weak. I have leaned heavily on my bible, prayer, and Christian podcasts to make Christ my focus. In focusing on Christ instead of trying to fix myself I have found great peace, joy, and contentment. Without this cancer I would not have been thrust into this realization that I need a savior more desperately than I ever thought.
Jesus says “learn from me I am gentle and humble hearted.”
He didn’t say push your way to the top to get to your goals crushing people unapologetically.
He used the words “gentle” and “humble”
I have found more peace in serving those around me than I ever have spending more time than necessary on self- care. This is not to say that I am against spending time on yourself, but I think it needs to be in moderation. It’s not always about me.

SHOCKING! I KNOW!

Most of the time in this stage of my life, it is giving my time and energy to serve my family, my children and husband. But I also find great joy and fulfillment in serving at my church whether it’s teaching a lesson or wiping 15 snotty noses in children’s church.
I would challenge you to break the mold society has formed. Stop focusing on yourself so much and chase after the things of God.

You will fill that gnawing hole in you heart with Jesus and he will fill you with joy. Pour your time and energy into serving others. Meeting their needs. Humbling yourself. Spend time with your nose in your bible learning about the character of the God who chose death on a cross for you, instead of an Instagram post about 5 quick fixes to a happier healthier you.
I am weak but I have the power of the one who spoke the world into existence inside of me and that is so much more than any self-help guru can give me.

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This year has been tough I will admit but I have felt so truly blessed. The sunny days seem sunnier than they ever have. (Though not all my days have been sunny). Even cleaning up toddler vomit for 6 days straight is a job that I cherish. God has granted me the desire of my heart to care for my sweet children and if that means cleaning up puke off my pillowcase every day for the rest of my life, then I will gladly do it. I can find the joy in any task fairly easily now. And I enjoy my days rather than rushing from event to event like I did before last April.

“Suffering is designed by God not only as a way to wean Christians off of self and onto grace but also as a way to spotlight that grace and make it shine” John Piper

Let God use you as a way to display his grace to others.

I do not think you will regret it.

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Oh, I want a hysterectomy for Christmas 🎼

 

Sorry for the radio silence the last couple of months but things have been pretty busy around here. To catch everyone up her is an overview.

  • Jordan joined the Army National Guard so that we could have some pretty awesome insurance.
  • We got that “pretty awesome” insurance the day he joined (the day before my Bilateral Mastectomy and it literally paid for every penny of 2 surgeries, radiation for me, AND a brain MRI, 2 sleep studies and very expensive antibody shot Robbyn has to receive every 30 days to prevent RSV.
  • Jordan had to complete 3 drill weekends between the end of September and beginning of November.
  • I finished 16 treatments of radiation ending November 1.
  • I went back to work 3 days a week in October.
  • Jordan left for basic training November 19th (but is home for 10ish days over Christmas before he goes back.) He will be completely done with all his training in the middle of April.
  • I had a hysterectomy December 17.

There are other things that have gone on in our hectic life, but these are the highlights. I have some posts I am working on about different things over that last few months, but I am enjoying the time I have with Jordan while he is home, so I will post more later.

 

 


 

Since I found out I tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene mutation last May, I have had my sights set on this hysterectomy! For those that may not know, the gene mutation that I have not only put me at a much higher risk for breast cancer (hence the BILATERAL mastectomy), but also ovarian cancer. Now, many professionals say that if you test positive for the gene you do not run the risk of ovarian cancer until age 35. But since my body has not been following the rules anyhow considering the very early age I presented with breast cancer, I had no plans of waiting any longer than absolutely necessary to get my ovaries out.

I had to meet with a second breast specialty oncologist at Simon Cancer Center to get his opinion on an early hysterectomy. He gave me the green light, so my oncologist could approve a consultation with a GYN oncologist. The GYN Oncologist I met with was fantastic. He sat down with me, listened to my concerns and told me his thoughts. He also told me that once I was done with radiation, I might be worn out and not want to jump right into another major surgery.

Clearly, he does not know me very well.

I have three babies to take care of and I was getting my hysterectomy come rain or shine.  I have as Dave Ramsey calls it, a “Gazelle intensity.” Thankfully for me, I have always wanted three children and God blessed us with them a little closer in age than Jordan and I had originally planned. So, I did not have to worry that I would no longer be able to have children once the surgery was done.

Now that I had the “go ahead” from my doctors, all I had to do was wait to be finished with radiation. There was some back and forth about whether I would have my second breast surgery first. My skin did not heal very quickly from radiation, in order to have the early breast surgery (which usually happens at 8 weeks) so I must wait the full six months to have that surgery.  Knowing that the breast surgery was pushed back, now, I just had to wait. And wait. For what felt like forever to get my Hysterectomy on the schedule.  I like to have a plan in place, so I can start hacking away at the details, but I had to wait until my second appointment with the GYN oncologist on November 28th.  When I got there, he had an opening for surgery on December 17th, so things really started to fly after that. I just prayed that Jordan would be allowed to call before surgery, so I could give him a heads up that it was scheduled a few days before he came home for Christmas.

All of this waiting for December got me to thinking about how this season should always be centered around waiting and expectancy. The whole reason for celebration in December is because the creator of the world came to Earth in the most fragile form imaginable: a baby birthed to a poor, unwed, teenage mother in a country that was under Roman rule!

The Jews had been waiting for Centuries for the Savior that God had promised them. There was prophecy after prophecy about the coming Messiah. The nation of Israel was sectioned into twelve tribes and they knew which tribe the Messiah would come from. They knew specifically which line of that tribe He would come from. The Israelites had been in and out of captivity since the birth of their nation and they held tight to the promise that God would send someone to save their nation (hence the name “Savior”). They believed this Savior would deliver them out of the hands of whatever country was ruling over them.

At the time that Jesus was born, Israel was under Rome’s thumb and once some realized Jesus was in fact, the Messiah, they expected him to have an earthly kingdom. They expected him to overthrow the Roman government and raise up the nation of Israel to its long-awaited rightful place in the world.

Little did they know, he was here to do something much more amazing. He was here to overthrow the force that holds every single person on Earth captive: SIN. He would live a sinless life here on earth and become a perfect sacrifice to pay for the price of our sin, giving us a ticket to Heaven. All we need to do is admit we are sinners and that we cannot do anything to earn eternal life.

Jesus did not overthrow Rome. He overthrew Satan. Evil. Darkness. Death.

You might ask; if he overthrew those things then why do we see them every day here on Earth. Well, because he is a loving and patient God. He gave Christians the job of telling everyone about this amazing deal! Did you hear that? That is why we are around! We are supposed to be sharing this amazing story so that others can have the opportunity to accept the gift of salvation before it’s too late.

We are on a time-table here. None of us knows when Christ will come back to overthrow Satan and permanently obliterate him, but he is giving us the opportunity to share this salvation with as many people as possible.  Because he is a loving God, he allows us to have free will. He is not a dictator or tyrant. He allows everyone the CHOICE to accept this gift and follow him.

Satan offers another choice, though it looks good on paper, it ends in eternity in Hell. Satan is not stupid. He knows he has been defeated. He knows Christ is coming back. He knows he is doomed. His goal is not to overthrow God. He knows that when Christ died on the Cross and rose from the dead, he lost. His goal is to take down as many people with him. He wants to lead as many people astray as possible. He wants to decrease the number of people that will be in heaven, so he makes the worldly choices more appealing to draw people to him, whether they realize it or not.

This plan for salvation was set into motion at the creation of the world and the Jews waited and waited for their savior to come and do you know what happened when the long-awaited savior came.

They killed him.

And if we would have been in their shoes…

We would have killed him too.

They completely missed it. Mary was pregnant and had to birth the savior of the world in a barn.

There was a star in the sky that men from the far east (who did not believe in the one true God!) found and followed to find the messiah.

Have you heard of the “Heavenly Host?”

Yeah, well it is not what was depicted in you child’s Christmas play.

A “host” means an Army.

Not a Choir of little frilly girls with halos and flowing gowns.

A GIAGANTIC army of celestial beings came to earth shouting at some poor shepherd guys that there was a baby born in Bethlehem who would save the world.

…and everyone else missed it.

They were busy with their lives, their jobs, their kids, their financial problems that they missed an army of angels appearing in the sky.

They completely missed it.

Just like most of us miss it every. Single. Year.

The Christmas season should be about the birth of Jesus. The excitement we have leading up to Christmas should mirror the excitement the Jews were supposed to have waiting for their Savior to rescue them. We have so much to be excited about! Jesus defeated death and offers us eternal life!  We should celebrate the day that creator of the world chose to be born in a barn! (Even if it’s not the actual day he was born).

Don’t miss it.

Gifts are great. Traditions are important. Santa is exciting. The elf is fun too.

But don’t get distracted by the pull of the world.

Don’t get distracted by the side shows and miss the main event.

The focus of Christmas should first and foremost be Jesus.


Our attempt this year to focus on the true reason for excitement and celebration during December. A Velcro advent calendar the kids can pull out every day. Found on amazon. (Because I am an amazon prime mom)

We have an advent story book we read every night titled 25 stories that point to Christ.


Our Christmas tree as proof that I don’t think you have to be a Scrooge or hate other Christmas traditions. I just want to show my children that all of this other celebration is secondary to Christ.

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When Oceans Rise

This is a post I have been wanting to write for a while now. October is Pregnancy and infant loss awareness month, so I figured is the time to post this. We have always gotten pregnant very easily. One of the girls I work with, jokes that all I have to do is think about having another baby and BOOM I’m pregnant. That itself is a blessing because I know multiple couples who have struggled with infertility. I can’t imagine how painful that must wait for months to years for a baby. I won’t event try to pretend like I can understand how agonizing that must be. Though we have three healthy kids now, our first child is waiting for us in heaven.

We were eleven weeks pregnant with our first baby, Thursday September 5, 2013. Our family was in full on wedding preparation mode. Adam and Alli’s wedding was just two days away and there was so much to get ready. I had the day off of work and the weather was perfect for arranging tables and chairs under the reception tent. I was in a great mood knowing our ultrasound was that afternoon and we would soon hear our baby’s heartbeat. Everything was right with the world.

We anxiously arrived at the hospital for our ultrasound and I was all settled on the exam table when the ultrasound started. She was looking at my anatomy on the ultrasound and telling me what my uterus and ovaries looked like. Not that I cared about that I wanted to see our baby!

Then we saw a little bean with a head. The cutest little alien type creature I had ever seen. My baby. I have no idea if our baby was a boy or a girl but over the last five years I have felt very strongly that our first baby was a girl. I have no logical reason for thinking that. I really didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl but I guess we will chalk it up to mother’s intuition.

As the ultrasound started to progress, I soon realized something was wrong. I am by no means an expert with an ultrasound machine, but we use it in the OR quite frequently and I could tell that she had to keep repositioning while she was looking for the heartbeat. Then she pressed a button that should show blood flow and I saw nothing. I started to panic. She tried for about 10 minutes to find a heartbeat. I was screaming in my head.

“God, where is her heartbeat?! Why can’t we find it? Please don’t let this be real!”

I am not making this up. I remember what I was thinking. I will have this day burned into my brain for the rest of my life.

The ultrasound technician didn’t really say anything to us. She just said that she couldn’t find the heartbeat and that we needed to go next door and wait for the doctor.

We went next door and sat down. And Jordan turned to me and asked what was wrong. Why couldn’t they find the heartbeat?
I turned and said to him “Our baby is dead.”

My OBGYN explained that our baby measured about 7 weeks even though I was 11 weeks pregnant. Her tiny heart must have stopped beating 4 week prior to our ultrasound. I was baffled. The pregnancy was going great. I was nauseous and my stomach had started to swell. Everything was going along just as it should.

He said that 1 out of every 4 women have a miscarriage. ONE IN FOUR? I had only known of one other person who had lost a baby. How could this have happened? My mom and my sister each had three children and neither of them had ever lost a baby? Did I do something to hurt her? Was there something I could have done to protect her? Why are there so many people that have children they never meant to have and I lost the one we were so excited about raising?

My doctor assured me there was nothing that I could have done to prevent the miscarriage. That there was probably a genetic abnormality that made it incompatible with life. This logically made sense, but it still didn’t help the ache in my soul. He went on to explain my options for completing the process. I could have a suction D+C in the operating room. Well, I hadn’t even been working in the OR for a year yet and I certainly wasn’t going to have my new coworkers operate on me. Only a couple of them even knew I was pregnant and I didn’t want them to know that I had lost the baby.

My other option was to wait for my body to realize I wasn’t pregnant anymore and naturally pass it. I chose the latter but that didn’t happen for almost three weeks and the feeling of carrying around a child that wasn’t living anymore, in my body, haunted me.

I called my mom and my sister and they took care of telling everyone else. When I am in crisis mode, I don’t want to talk to anyone until I have answers and my family knows this about me; so thankfully my sister took care of everything.

We had Alli’s bachelorette dinner and I was not going to put a damper on this celebratory weekend. Bless Alli’s heart, she is a fantastic sister-in-law and she told me I didn’t need to go to the bachelorette dinner. She was devastated for me, telling me to let her know if there was anything at all she could do for me. I had debated whether we should tell them but they were glad that we did. She was the absolute opposite of a bridezilla caring for her almost sister-in-law on a weekend that should have been all about her.img_5677

I rode with my sister and Jordan’s two sisters to the dinner, who hugged me and graciously ignored asking me any questions the rest of the night. I made it through the dinner but I was numb. I made it home to Jordan and absolutely fell apart. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed some more.

The rest of the weekend was spent sobbing at home and splashing cold water on my face to reduce the swelling before going to the rehearsal, the dinner, and the wedding.

I had already agreed to sing Hillsong’s “Oceans” at the wedding and that was the hardest I have ever work to sing a song. That song will forever be the song of the baby girl I never knew.

“So I will call upon your name and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace”

The reception is where I learned a lesson I will carry with me the rest of my life.

NEVER ask someone if they are pregnant.

I bet no less than 15 people at the reception asked when Jordan and I were going to start a family.

Yep. That hurt.

You never know what a couple is going through. Maybe they don’t want to have kids and it’s a fight in their marriage. Maybe they have been trying for months and can’t seem to get pregnant. Maybe they just found out 48 hours ago their baby’s heart stopped beating.

They will tell you when they are ready. Don’t ask.

We made it through the wedding weekend and I cried myself to sleep for the next month. We had to have the tv on in our bedroom when I went to sleep because the silence drove me crazy. I was still nauseous and my clothes didn’t fit. I think my body still assumed that I was pregnant.

It was hard and I relied very much on God and Jordan. I still don’t know why God allowed this to happen but he has a purpose for everything.  We might not know his reasons until we get to heaven, but I do know that I want to serve a God who is smarter and more powerful than I could ever comprehend. So I have to trust that He knows what He is doing, even when my small mind can’t wrap my head around that. I am not saying that’s easy but that’s faith.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8

I was still so embarrassed and ashamed that this had happened to me, but what’s crazy is, once I started to share what had happened to me, I learned of so many other women who had lost babies. The advice they had for me was much welcomed. So I will share a few of the things that were told to me.

“Your baby never knew the pain of this world. All your baby knew was your love and warmth.”

“It helped me heal when I gave my baby a name.”

“It is the loss of a loved one and should be grieved as such.”

“Your baby is in the arms of Jesus waiting for you.”

“I picture your Grandma Jean up there rocking your baby.”

What I have learned most from losing our first baby is that I will never take my children for granted. They are precious and a gift from God. I think of our first baby often and I still cry over someone I never got to hold, but I know I will see her one day in Heaven.

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The hair haunt… I mean hunt

Since it’s almost Halloween, I thought I would share one of the creepiest experiences of my life.
The week of my first chemotherapy, Robbyn was still in the hospital, and Jordan still had some time off work. So, I decided I wanted to visit a wig shop that was highly recommended and not too far from the NICU. I had to add wig shopping to the list of things I never thought I would do. The ladies who owned the wig shop were so sweet and wanted to make the experience as enjoyable as could be. I think they were truly working in a field they were passionate about.
But let me tell you….
It. Was. Weird.
We walked in to this house that had been converted into a boutique that was room after room…of heads. It was very organized. The heads were cataloged by style. One room had all long hair, another had medium length, next to that was a room full of curly hair, one full of textured hair, and last but not least, the room full of hair older women. Inside each room, the styles were sorted into subcategories: hair color. Blonde, red, black, brunette, silver, and even blue. The sweet boutique owner walked me from room to room and introduced, yes, introduced, me to the heads that I might be interested in. “This is Chloe. She is a little flirty. Over here is Janet. She is a little more serious.”
After multiple awkward introductions, (I mean, I can’t shake hands with a head!) I picked out a few “gals” to start with. She sat me down and placed the first wig on my head. It was strange it didn’t look like my hair used to look before I chopped it off. Jordan was smiling but I caught a glimpse of pained look on his face but said I looked pretty. Have I mentioned what a sweet man he is? I tried on a curly wig that looked similar to my hair when it was on the foam head but once placed on my head, I looked like a brunette Dolly Parton, circa Steel Magnolias. It was atrocious. Jordan even said that one might not be his top choice. The owner said not many people can pull off the curly wigs. What exactly does that say of my real hair?
I finally settled on “Jamison” for my final choice of hair. She wasn’t too flirty or too serious. But she did make me look a teensy bit like my sister.

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Presenting the holly…I mean Jamison.


Do you know where my wig is at now?

It’s stuffed in the back of the linen closet in our bathroom because it really creeps Jordan and me out. Like a lot. It started on my dresser but I would catch a glimpse of it in the middle of the night and it would give me a heart attack. So, I moved it to our closet but it there mocking me every time I went to look for something to wear. It was always there as a reminder of one of the things that I had lost. My hair. Thinking on this made me grateful that my God is the God who erases our past sins and wipes our slate clean. Once we have realized we are sinners and repent of our sins. It has been forgotten. We don’t have to walk through life thinking about the mistakes we made in the past. The people we might have hurt. The stupid things we did. When you accept Christ into your life, He forgives you of all of your sins past, present, and future.

David says in psalms, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭103:11-12‬ ‭

Did you hear that? As far as the East is from the West. Well, I’m not great with geography but that is pretty dang far. Christ didn’t just say, “I’ll let it slide this time, but I have my eye on you.”
No.
If you truly repent of the sin in your life, then Christ has forgiven you. This kind of true repentance means that you truly intend to change your behavior not just go through the motions fully intending to repeat that sin the next opportunity you have. If you have wholeheartedly asked God for forgiveness of your sins that is that. It is forgotten.

We so often unnecessarily walk around with baggage and feel guilt for things we have done in the past that Christ has already forgiven us of. If you have a nagging guilt about a previous sin weighing you down after you have given it to God, then I don’t think it is God making you feel this way, but rather Satan trying to prevent you from enjoying the freedom that you have in Christ. Freedom from this guilt is a GIFT that was given to you when Jesus died on the cross for you. I read a commentary by Charles Stanley (Handbook for Christian Living) that said, we concentrate too much on the “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and miss the part in the very next verse that says, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24) You are no longer a slave to your sinful ways or your selfish desires. You have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of you. So, fix your eyes on Jesus and let go of the guilt that Christ has already freed you from.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” We are all sinners. None of us is any better than the other.


Jesus loves all of us sinners. He proved this over and over again. One of the times he proved this was in chapter 4 in the book of John.
Jesus meets a woman at the well. She is, not only a woman, which was the far inferior sex in that day in age, but she was also a Samaritan, which was a mixed race that the Jews considered far inferior to themselves. She is drawing water out of the well in the middle of the day. Which may not seem odd to us, but it was odd in that culture. The middle of the day is hot, and most women went to the well at dawn or dusk. So, she clearly either didn’t want to be confronted by the other women at the regular well times or she was not welcome there by the other women. Jesus meets her where she is at. She is a sinner, looked down upon by her people. She doesn’t have the best marital track record either… Jesus says He know she has had five husbands and is currently living with a man who isn’t her husband. Instead of scorning her, he offers her a water that will quench her thirst forever. He is offering her the free gift of salvation. And she accepts.
And do you know what she does next?
I’ll tell you what she doesn’t do.
She does not go on to wallow in the guilt and shame of her sin. Instead, John says in verse 39 that “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony. ‘He told me everything I ever did.’” Rather than feeling guilty about “Everything she ever did” (which sounds like it might have been a long list of offenses, much like our lives), she was empowered by her new-found freedom in Christ. She shared her experience so that others could enjoy the same freedom she was enjoying. It could not have been easy for her to share her new-found freedom with those who knew about her shameful past.

Don’t let your past sin and shame haunt you like my wig haunts me every time I catch a glimpse of it. Know that Christ has forgiven your sins and live in such a way that others are envious of the Freedom that you have been given. Hopefully, they will be curious enough to ask you and you can share your story and share your Jesus.