Back to the Chemo Room

Yesterday was Clay’s second infusion of Avastin. Because the first MRI after radiation and chemo showed that the tumor had grown slightly, even during treatment, the doctors all agreed that adding an additional drug was the right decision.

Avastin works by preventing your body from producing blood vessels. The tumor is vascular, so that’s how it grows. The side effects are possible high blood pressure, tiredness, and some nausea.

We arrived at the Oncologist’s office at 9:45. We did blood work and saw the doctor. Y’all, Clay’s blood work looks completely normal. With all of this going on, all of these drugs in his system, and his blood work is normal….including his white blood cell count. I’m so thankful that he doesn’t have to wear a mask and be cautious about his environment. Praise God.

While we were sitting in the waiting room, this precious lady, who is obviously on chemo, comes over to me. She touches my hand and says, “Are you Kristy?” I smile immediately, because I know what she’s about to say. She is a friend of a friend and she reads the blog. Of course, tears streamed down my face while she told me how the Lord had used it to minister to her during this time. Here they are, Lewis and Karen Decell:

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The doctor’s office had changed some procedures, so we had an unusually long wait. But, I think the Lord planned it because He wanted us to have 45 minutes with this sweet couple. Karen has cancer in several places in her body. They have 2 young boys that she is very concerned for. I’ll never forget looking in to her tear-filled eyes when she said, “I’m not afraid for me. I know where I’m going. I’m worried about leaving Lewis and my boys.”

Clay says this all the time. It is interesting how their view of the situation is mostly about their loved ones, and not about themselves. I guess that’s just part of the process when you are saved and you know that God is in control.

Please pray for Karen and Lewis. They are in need of a miracle. Their faith is strong, but their situation is very difficult. Pray that God will continue to give them strength in this fight and that they will be able to live out their faith in front of the watching world.

After we visited with them for 45 minutes, we got to the chemo room, and Chris and Jenna were saving us a recliner right next to them.

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Jenna and I pulled up chairs by their feet and the four of us just talked the entire time.

I don’t know if you remember, but I typed a blog while we were sitting at the last treatment. That was a really bad day for me. I cried all morning because Clay didn’t feel good. I felt really out of place in the chemo room and I sat on the floor, which was really uncomfortable. I was just sad. The Lord encouraged me while I typed the blog, but it was a hard day.

Yesterday was totally different.

Clay is better than he was because they put him back on steroids. And, although this is not the place you want to see your friends, it sure does help to be surrounded by Christian friends while we are sitting in such a dark place. We talked about the Lord all morning and the things He has done. There is a true anticipation inside of all of us for what God is still going to do.

Chris got really good news last week with his CT Scan. His tumor has shrunk in half already. He is not feeling well, but they are very encouraged by the results. Praise God! I’m thankful to have friends who are walking by our side.

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We went to the eye doctor for a follow up visit. Clay’s vision has not changed. His left peripheral vision is still completely black, meaning it is gone, and his general eyesight is about a 20/50. Glasses may or may not help because the problem is really in his brain, not his eyes. So, we looked and thought about getting some readers, which would have to be prescription because the lenses are different for each eye.

When he tried these glasses on, he turned to look in the mirror and busted out laughing. He said, “Oh my gosh! I look just like Steve!” Steve is Clay’s older brother. This was funny because everyone has always said Clay looks just like Ron. (Which he does.) But, with glasses he looks just like Steve. He tried on 2 pair and said, “Let’s wait.” Hahahaha. So, we didn’t get glasses.

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We did something really hard this week. We went to the first funeral we’ve attended since Clay’s diagnosis. My cousin’s mother-in-law passed away and we didn’t want to miss the service. But, I knew it would be difficult to go. I was running that morning and I was praying about the day. Asking the Lord for strength to go there and focus on Jason and Amy, and not let our situation even enter my mind. I was praying for Clay and his treatment this week, when I came across this….

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A dead snake. Not just dead. Decapitated. It looked like someone really had fun killing it, too. As soon as I saw it, the Holy Spirit reminded me that the head of my enemy has been taken off. He is dead. My God has won already. The last chapter of this book is already written. God is the Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. That means He is already there at the end. He knows what happens. And, He told us in Revelation.

We win. The enemy dies. He is not strong enough. So, that means he’s already overcome. So, I can live this life in victory. I don’t have to live in defeat.

I don’t have to sit in a funeral and think about how this might be me soon. I don’t have to cry and mourn and believe the worst about our situation. And, I don’t have to stay home. I don’t have to stay away because it might be hard. I can go and trust God to give me the strength.

And, of course, He did. The service was beautiful. An old family friend of our’s, Brother Wayne Austin, preached and it was wonderful. I got to see most of my family and we got to be there to support Amy and Jason. Throughout the service, the Lord just spoke to me about life, and me, and the lost, and His presence. I enjoyed it.

Clay was right there, holding my hand. My crazy cousin, Andy, was on the other side of me making me laugh at the just the right times to keep me from crying. So, it all worked out good.

God is bigger than our feelings. He is more powerful than our emotions. He is a good and loving Father who comforts us when we need comforting. I am so thankful to know Him and to walk through this life with His strength and His power.

Grace’s volleyball season is in full swing. They are doing very well and she is having a great year. She is the varsity setter! We love watching her play. Clay has been to most of her games. He has a really difficult time with loud noises, so it is not easy for him to go. But, he does it anyway. He’s been wearing ear phones to the past few games, which seems to help drown out some of the louder noises. He feels rude because he seems detached, but I keep reminding him that people understand. So, all you parents that see us at the games, please don’t think Clay is rude! (Smile)

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This happens a lot right now. Clay has been extremely tired. I had hoped that the Avastin and Steroids would make him better, but they haven’t. He sleeps a lot and is tired when he’s awake. So, we just spend a lot of time in the room with him. Thankfully, he is able to rest.

We just finished a revival at our church. It was a beautifully timed event for us. God really moved and He spoke directly to us through several different ministers who were there. A friend of mine took these pics from one of the services. I love the picture of Clay and his dad, surrounded by other Godly men, praying. Really praying for God to move.

As my dad was leaving the pew to go join them, he stopped to hug me and he just didn’t stop. He prayed over me like only a dad can pray for their little girl. His tears were running down my cheek as he cried and prayed for God to protect me and help me.

I share these pictures to encourage you, men. Don’t be afraid to cry and pray. Call out to God on behalf of your families. Let them hear you pray. Let them see you cry for them. Make sure they know how much you love them and how much you are asking God to strengthen them. It is such a blessing to have Godly men in my life.

Thank you so much for continuing to pray for our family. We are asking God for strength in Clay’s body. I’m praying this round of Avastin will help him. He will start back on his chemo pill this coming Sunday night. We are told that the side effects will last longer and be a bit harder each time he takes it. So, I’m expecting the next few weeks to be difficult. But, I know God will help him.

We go next Wednesday for another MRI. Dr. Weinberg asked us to have one only a month after the first. We will go in the morning for the test and get the results just after lunch. We are praying that it gone. But, if it’s not gone, we are praying that there is no new growth. Of course, I will update you when we know something.

We love you and pray that God will continue to receive glory.

 

 

Couch to 5K

A few days ago, a package arrived at my door. When I saw the words “Finish Line” on the outside, I knew immediately that the package was from my dear friend, Meredith Heath. In a text conversation, I told her that I wished she lived close to me so she could come over every morning and run with me. So, what did she do? She sent me a brand new pair of running shoes.

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And, what do you think I did? I went running.

It has been several months since I’ve run, so I knew I needed some help to  pace myself, so I downloaded the Couch to 5K app. It’s a great app. The instructor talks to you while you run. You can play music, but her voice comes on to keep you motivated and to tell you what to do.

Because you are starting from your couch (meaning you are not exercising regularly) that app knows how to pace you.

You start out walking for 5 minutes, just to warm yourself up. So, I was walking along in the neighborhood, just thinking about what a gorgeous day it was. I was praying and listening to Christian music. My hearts desire was to spend time with the Lord while I ran.

After five minutes, the instructor tells me to start running. So, I am jogging along. Feeling great. Feeling totally able to keep running for miles. My heart was pumping and it felt great to be outside. After only a minute, the instructor says, “Now, walk.”

Walk? I’m thinking to myself. Walk already? We just started running. But, ok. I’ll do what the app says to do. As I slowed down, I noticed that I was walking past one of the houses in our neighborhood that flooded. Here is what it looked like during the flood:

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This is only about 2 blocks from my house. The roof was barely exposed. These people lost everything they own. Here is their house today:

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It has been completely gutted. The trash pile at the street is nothing compared to what it was. The entire yard along the street was piled high with the trash that was taken out of their house. This is probably their third pile that they made after the trash has already been picked up. But, this is what really got my attention…

This is the close-up view of their grass where the trash pile was. The trucks have already come and picked up the big pieces, but these little fragments of trash were left behind. So, right by my feet, as I’m running down the street, completely focused on myself and my run, are these little pieces of this family’s life, strewn across their front yard.  Look at the little pink mini van. This family has children. And, their children’s toys were ruined. And, now everything is gone to a trash dump, except these little pieces laying in the grass.

It is such a sign of brokenness. Such a sign of loss. It just made my heart hurt for what these people are going through right now. We are surrounded by families in the same situation. Yes, everyone keeps saying that it is “just stuff.” But, to them, it is important stuff. Just about everything they own is destroyed and sitting on the curb.

Suddenly, I heard the instructor on my app say, “Let’s jog!” So I got focused and starting running. I ran pretty fast this time. I still felt good and wanted to see how fast I could go. Man, a minute can be a long time, right? Especially when you are not in shape. My pace had slowed a good bit by the time I finally heard that voice say, “Now, let’s walk.”

Whew. Thank you. Walking is good. By this time, I was starting to feel just how out of shape I really am. But, I walked as fast as I could so I could push on.

The next time I heard, “Let’s jog,” I dreaded it a little. But, I just pushed through because I knew it was good for me. I told myself, “Come on, Kristy. You can do practically anything for just one minute.” And, I did it. I made it through another minute of jogging.

This cycle continued the rest of the 30 minute run. Each minute of jogging felt a little longer than the previous one. My muscles got more and more tired as the time went on. Each minute and a half of walking felt shorter and shorter.

But, I made it. I did exactly what the instructor told me to do each time. And, I survived!

I made it to the “Cool Down” phase. This is the last five minutes of your run. You just walk and let yourself start to cool down. As I was walking, I started really noticing the beauty all around me. I was working hard to complete my run, and I was so focused on doing what the app was telling me to do, that I really hadn’t stopped to see the beauty God has placed all around me. In that moment, I just admired God’s work and praised Him for who He is.

Although, the run was hard, I was surrounded by beauty the entire time.

And, finally, I made it to the finish line. I turned the corner and this is what I saw.

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Home. I was home. My favorite place in this world to be. Home. I had run my course, and finish my race for the day. And, I was home. In a place of total comfort. Total peace. Where all the things I hold most dear are waiting for me. Home.

I hope, by now, you’ve noticed the spiritual significance of this story. The Lord revealed several things to me on my run.

2 Timothy 4:7, is a very famous passage of scripture. Paul says,

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

We are all running a course. This life we live is like a race, or a course for us to run.

God sends us packages, like Meredith sent me new shoes. These packages can be experiences, situations, life changes, etc. They are moments in time that change things and cause us to find ourselves running a course.

My package, in this particular race of my life, was a diagnosis. A very sudden change that put me on a new course.

Now, keep in mind that Meredith didn’t just call me and say, “Look, girl. You are really out of shape, so I’m going to send you some shoes and you need to start running.” It didn’t happen like that. I told her that I was out of shape and feeling it. I told her that I needed to start running. I didn’t ask her for shoes, but I told her I needed to run. She was sweet enough to send me the shoes, which gave me the motivation to get going.

It’s the same with God. He doesn’t force His will on us. He doesn’t just forcefully take over our lives. Do you know how long Clay and I had been praying for God to use us? To do something great with our lives? A long time. And, that’s just what He did. He responded to our prayers and He put us on a course that has become a ministry.

So, our package arrives and we start out on our course. But, we need help. We need an app that will pace us and we need an instructor to talk to us while we run our course. Our “Couch to 5K” app is the Bible and the instructor, whose voice we hear the entire time, is the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1: 3-4, says,

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

Every time I need to accomplish something, that I know I can’t do on my own, I think of this verse. To me, this means that God has given us everything we need in order to live this Godly life. He gave us the Word, and He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us interpret the Word.

Ok. So far we’ve established the following:

I am running a difficult course.

God placed me on this course in response to my prayer for Him to use me and make me more like Jesus.

He has given me His Word and His Holy Spirit to guide me as I run.

When I first began my run, I felt so good. I felt like I could run 10 miles. But, the instructor knew I couldn’t. She knew I would get tired, so she paced me. This is what the Holy Spirit does, if we listen. He paces us as we run through life. He will prevent us from getting too tired, or getting burnt out, if we will respond to His prompts. When He says, “Walk!” we must walk. Even if we feel like we could keep running.

Likewise, when He says, “Jog,” and we are exhausted, we need to listen to Him and jog. He knows better than we do. Sometimes we can’t listen to ourselves. When your mind is telling you that you can’t do it, don’t listen to yourself. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Let Him tell you what you can do. He knows best.

Remember the flooded house and their trash pile? Just as the instructor slowed me down, I started to notice the devastation all around me. It is the same in our Christian life. If we are running our race too fast, or if we are too focused on ourself and trying to push ourself to keep going, we might miss something. We might not even notice the devastation in people’s lives all around us. You see, we are all running a course. They look different, but we are all on a course.

The Lord can’t use us in the lives of other people, if we don’t slow down for a minute to see their devastation.

For the rest of my run, I thought about how the instructor knew how to pace me. The creators of the app have studied the process and they know what your body can handle. Isn’t God the same way? He knows what we can handle. So, through the course of our life, there are times when we sprint, there are times we jog, and there are times we walk. When we are not in shape, the times of sprinting and jogging are much shorter than the times walking. Because He knows what we can handle.

As I was telling myself that I can do just about anything for one minute, I thought of how this is true in life, too. We can handle difficulties for a season, but when God knows we can’t take anymore, He gives us a season of rest. He is such a loving Father.

And, He surrounds us with beautiful reminders of Himself. If we will just take time to notice, He is constantly showing us His greatness through the beauty around us. Even though, the course may be hard, there is beauty all around that encourages us to go on.

I was excited to hear the words, “Cool down,” because I knew that this course was coming to an end. I had listened to the instructor and done everything she told me to do. Isn’t that how you want to feel when you come to the end of your course? Don’t you want to know you did everything that the Holy Spirit said. Because this course is preparation for the next course. And, each course we run is making us more and more like Jesus.

Until, eventually, we completely finish the course and He brings us home to be with Him. Turning our corner, and seeing Heaven, will be so much better than my feeling of turning the corner and seeing my earthly home. I can’t wait. Won’t it be wonderful? It will all be worth it when we see our new home and our precious Savior, who will greet us at the door.

I hope this helps you today. I hope it encourages you in your own race. Let God speak to you through your daily life. Ask Him to help you listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. He will guide you. Stay tuned into His Word. Do what He says. In the end, you will see that He knows best. Don’t listen to yourself. Listen to Him.

And, most importantly, keep the faith. Keep the faith. Don’t faint. Don’t grow weary. Keep the faith. That is the greatest thing that Paul did. Through every trial and a most difficult life, he was an example to us of how to KEEP THE FAITH. And, he knew that, because he kept the faith, there was a great reward for him. That reward is for us, too. If we follow his example.

Help us, Lord. Amen.

 

Have You Been To Gethsemane?

You know the story. You’ve seen the movie scene. Or, maybe you’ve just imagined what that place was like in your mind as you read the story. You have probably even heard a sermon or two about that night.

The drops of sweaty blood.  The agony that Jesus felt. The sleeping disciples. The betrayal.

But, have you been there?

Have you been to Gethsemane?

Maybe you are there right now. In a dark garden. In the night. Agonizing and weeping in sorrow over your life. Over your current situation. Weeping before God over what He is asking of you.

I’m here with you. And, Jesus is here, too.

I believe that Jesus’ Gethsemane experience was more about me and you, than it was about Him. I believe that He went to Gethsemene so He could show us how to go there. We can learn from how He did it….

Luke 22:39-46

“And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

It was Jesus’ custom to go out and pray. You see, we can’t wait until our Gethsemane experience to learn to pray. We must know how to pray before we get to this place. Jesus made it a regular practice to withdraw from the world, his followers, the business of life…to pray. To seek God. To listen to God’s voice. To bring His mind and thoughts back to God.

We must do the same. If we want to make it through the most difficult moments in life. If we want to walk through our fires without being burned. We must learn to do as Jesus did. “He came out and went.” Find your Mount of Olives. Find that place you can go and just sit in the presence of God. Where you can share your heart with Him and allow Him to refresh you.

Although He did this regularly, this night was different.

He knew in His spirit that His most difficult task was ahead. He knew what was waiting for Him at dawn. He felt sorrow and pain. The Bible says He was in agony.

So, He further withdrew. He removed Himself, even from His closest friends and followers. He knew that this was the kind of prayer that had to be just between Him and His Father. This was more personal than any other prayer. It was private. So, He put distance between Himself and everyone else and He got alone with God.

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.”

Have you ever prayed these words? As I recall times in my past when I prayed this prayer, it sounded more like this…

“Father, I demand that you get me out of this situation immediately.”

Ok. Maybe I didn’t say it just like that to Him, but that is what my heart meant. I’ve had times when I went to Him and just almost demanded that He do something to change my current circumstance. I’ve begged and pleaded. Like you, I’ve handled it wrong many times.

But this time is different. This circumstance is different. Like Jesus, on that night, I am completely broken. I am fully aware that God must move in a mighty way if my circumstance is to change. I feel the weight of what He is asking me to do. I feel the agony of what waits for me at dawn.

So, all I can do is look to Jesus to show me what to do. He said these words….

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.”

Jesus knew that He had to go to the cross. He knew that He was born for that purpose. He knew there was no other way for redemption to be brought to the world. He knew.

But, He still asked for the Father to remove the cup, if He was willing.

I think He did that for us. I think He did it to show you and to show me that it is ok for us to be honest with God. If you are agonizing over something in your life, it is ok for you to ask God to remove the cup. No one desires to go through hardship. No one longs for a chance to have a broken heart. No one begs for the chance to be desperate. Not even Jesus.

He was God in the flesh, but He stopped and asked God if there was any other way to accomplish what needed to be done.

Listen to the humility in this prayer:

“Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

That prayer can only be prayed in sincerity from a broken,  humbled heart. Jesus was entirely humble. There was no pride in that prayer. He knew that, in that moment, there was no room for His own thoughts or desires. There was no room for His ideas. Eternity depended on Jesus’ ability to lay down His will.

Before He could lay down His life, He had to lay down His will.

It is the same for us.

We pray these eloquent prayers and we ask God to take our lives and use us for His glory. And, I think we think we mean it. It sounds so pretty and exciting to be able to say that we were used by God. But, what happens when His will and our will don’t align?

What happens when we realize that His will is going to really mess up all our plans we have for our future??

He has to come and break us, humble us, and bring us to a place of total submission in which we can say,

“Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”

And, sometimes that requires agony and sweaty blood. It can be really hard for us to submit.

But, look what happens. As soon as Jesus prays this prayer, God sends an angel to strengthen Him. Ok, imagine this. He is God. He is God in the flesh. He is almighty, right? But, in this moment, even God needed to be strengthened.

Doesn’t that make you feel so much better? Doesn’t it comfort you to know that even Jesus needed to be strengthened? We are not alone. And, we are not necessarily in sin. It is ok if we need God to strengthen us, at times. And, He wants to do it. He wants to help us. He is a loving God who is just waiting for us to come with a broken heart and ask for His help.

Don’t overlook something very important here, though. Read the prayer, again. Although Jesus asked God to remove the cup, he humbly submitted Himself to the will of God, regardless of the price. Regardless of the pain. Regardless of the sacrifice. He desired the will of God more than His own. And….THEN….then, God sent the angel to strengthen Him.

Are you fighting God’s will? Are you resisting His plans? Are you sweating your drops of blood because you are resisting God? Stop resisting. He can’t strengthen you when you are fighting against Him. Submit to His will. Accept His will with a humble heart, and THEN He will send His angels to strengthen you.

Notice what happens next. The angel comes and strengthens Jesus, but the agony was still there. The strength He was given helped Him pray more earnestly, but He was still in agony. He actually didn’t sweat the drops of blood until AFTER the angel came. He used the strength God gave Him to continue to press in. To continue to pray. To not fall asleep, but rather continue praying and seeking God.

Contrast this to Jesus’ disciples, who were just a stone’s throw away. They were sleeping. The Bible says they were sleeping from sorrow, not exhaustion. In the chapter before this passage of scripture in Luke, Jesus has just told the disciples that His time has come. They are prepared for a physical battle, to which Jesus told them to bring swords. Remember, they don’t really understand the big picture at this point. He’s telling them that He has to die, but they don’t really get it.

So they are sleeping for sorrow. How many times have you slept from sorrow? Our natural reaction to difficulty is to allow the weight of it to press us down. To push us so low to the ground that we just fall down and sleep. That is exactly what the devil wants you to do. When sorrow comes, he wants you to sleep.

Because you can’t pray when you are sleeping. You can’t be pressing in closer to God while you are sleeping.

These men loved Jesus. They were ready to fight for Him. They followed Him for 3 years. They gave up everything to live with Him. Yet, they allowed their sorrow to push them into depression and sleep, rather than staying close to Jesus and helping Him pray. He even warned them and asked them to pray with Him, but they didn’t. They slept.

I believe that this is a picture of much of the church today. We are a stone’s throw away from Jesus. He is agonizing over the world and the lost. We are close enough to hear Him pray, but we are letting the weight of the world weigh us down so much that all we can do is sleep.

But, if we can just recognize what is happening. If we can allow ourselves to go where Jesus is. If we can be humble and submit ourselves to the will of God, He will come and strengthen us. We don’t have to sleep under the pressure of our circumstance. We can be filled with strength to continue through the night in prayer. God can fill us with the strength we need to face our dawn. Whatever awaits us, His strength will be sufficient.

I wonder what could have happened if the disciples had not slept? Before Gethsemane, they were prepared to go to battle for him. But after they slept, they ran in different directions as they abandoned Him in His greatest time of need. They denied Him.

Imagine the sorrow they felt. Judas couldn’t stand it and he just ended his own life. They were all sorrowful and broken for what they had done.

What they failed to realize is that this was their Gethsemane experience, too. Had they done what Jesus did, they could have saved themselves so much pain. They could have honored Him. They could have fulfilled His will. They could have been victorious. But, instead, they failed.

I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to feel shame and sorrow for abandoning my Saviour.

I know you don’t either.

So, we must look to Jesus as our example. He led the way. He lived out the example before us.

We have to lay down our will. Just as Jesus did. We have to pray, from a humble heart, for God’s will and not our own. We have to submit to His plans. And, the hard part, is that we have to mean it. God sees the depths of our hearts, so this can’t just be lip service. It has to be sincere.

And, when it is sincere, He comes to strengthen us.

We must use that strength to continue to pray and believe Him. And through that strength, we can accomplish anything that He asks us to accomplish. Although we may still feel agony and sorrow, we will have the strength to complete the task.

And, in the end, we will be victorious and we will hear these words,

“Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

One last important thought….I pray that you can see through this story that God is a loving God. He doesn’t want us to suffer. He doesn’t sit in heaven and dream up ways He can make your life harder. He loves you.

But, sin entered the world because He gave us a free will. (He has given me an entire blog on this subject, so we’ll revisit this at a later time.)

Because sin is here and the world is not perfect, there is going to be pain. Through the hardships of life, God is able to demonstrate to the world that He loves us. He uses our lives to do this. And, one day, when we are with Him in heaven, He will show us all the rewards that we earned while He demonstrated His power through our lives.

Don’t be a sleeping disciple. Otherwise, your agony will be followed by failure.

Be like Jesus. Submit. Humble yourself. And let God receive glory through your life. And if this seems impossible, that’s because it is. We must have the strength that only He can give.

So, go to your Gethsemane. Come out from where you are and retreat to Gethsemene. It is only there that God can take a broken life and fill it with supernatural strength.

Remember this….of all the wonderful things that Jesus did on this earth….John says that no book could contain it all…

His greatest accomplishment happened after His night in Gethsemane. Amen.

 

The Chemo Room

One week ago today, we walked into the Chemo Room at Dr. McCanless’s office to visit Chris and Jenna. The first words out of my mouth were, “I’m so thankful that we don’t have to do this.” Five days later, guess what we’re doing?

I mentioned in my last post that our doctors were petitioning our insurance company to allow Clay to start a new drug called Avastin. Avastin is administered with Temodar (the chemo pill) in some patients. When Dr. Russell originally called Dr. Friedman at Duke University, Dr. Friedman suggested the Avastin right away. But, our insurance wouldn’t agree to pay for it, because it is not in the standard of care.

When we got less than satisfying results on the MRI, Dr. Russell told us he believed God was going to use this to help us get the approval for the Avastin, which is what we wanted, anyway. He is a Godly man who encourages us at every turn. Love him!

While we were waiting, I sent a copy of Clay’s MRI to his Neuro Surgeon at MD Anderson. Remember Dr. Weinberg? I’ll never in a million years forget him. I hope to goodness I get to see him in heaven one day because I want to remember him for eternity, too. He was used mightily by God to save Clay’s life and I love him for it.

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He was very kind to me over the phone. He reviewed the results of the MRI with me. In his opinion, the tumor has grown some during the radiation. He assured me that radiation is a proven tool with Glioblastoma and he is convinced that the radiation helped. Which probably means that the tumor would have grown faster had we not been radiating.

He reminded me that more surgery will be an option if the tumor continues to grow. He has operated as many as 4 times on some of his patients. Patients respond differently to treatment and there is always such variation in each case, so he really can’t predict what will happen next. He asked me to have a follow up MRI in 4 weeks, instead of 8 weeks. Dr. Russell agreed and it is scheduled for Oct. 5.

He also asked the Oncologist at MD Anderson to call me. Her name is Dr. Weathers. She is wonderful. She stayed on the phone with me for over 20 minutes. She agreed with the decision to add the Avastin right away. She agreed with Dr. Weinberg’s assessment that there is most likely some growth. She explained possible side effects and signs to watch for. It helped me a lot to talk to her.

She thinks that the Avastin may actually make Clay feel better, rather than worse. Avastin prevents the body from producing blood vessels. The reason it helps Glioblastoma is because the tumor is a vascular tumor. My understanding is that it grows new blood vessels in order to increase it’s mass. The doctors talk about the tumor like it is alive. Like it is a demon. Dr. Weathers said that this tumor is very intelligent. So, eventually, it will learn how to grow blood vessels, even with the Avastin.

I hate the devil. I hate him so much. He is so evil and wicked. It makes me so angry to think about him taking pleasure in this process. It’s like he literally made that tumor and gave it evil characteristics. Sometimes when I think about the tumor, I get chills when I imagine that thing growing inside of Clay. The only way I can stand it, is to bring my thoughts to what the Word tells me about Satan’s end. He loses. He loses big. As hard as he is trying, he will fail. My God is greater and stronger than anything he can bring against us.

And, I smile when I think about how he was hoping to destroy us, but he is failing at that, too. God has given us supernatural strength to stand and praise Him in this storm. Satan will lose at every turn. I wonder if he ever gets used to it?

Now, don’t misunderstand. Although the Lord has enabled us to praise Him, it is still the hardest thing we’ve ever done. If you think I’m always strong, think again. I have my fair share of moments. Today was one. Yesterday was one. The day before was one……let’s just say that I have cried plenty of tears. But, every time I cry, the Lord comforts me. The Word says He is near to the brokenhearted and I am a testimony that this is true.

I have learned that it is ok for us to have emotions about our situations in this life. God made us with these emotions. It is not a sin for us to feel the pain of our sorrow. God longs to be our comfort and be our friend, so He draws near when we feel these emotions. We fall into sin when we allow ourselves to just stay there. If we remain in our pit of despair, and we don’t allow Him to comfort us, we fall into sin and depression. We eventually become angry and we will find ourselves on a downward spiral.

David wrote so many Psalms like Psalms 39:2 – 3.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord.”

In order for the Lord to lift David out of the pit of despair, he had to be there in the first place. So, even David went into that pit that we sometimes find ourselves in. And it doesn’t say that God came along and reprimanded him. It doesn’t say that God punished him. It says He lifted him out.

The miracle of God helping us out of our pit, is just as great as the miracle of healing. He helps us in our difficulties so that the world can see and be astounded that we can walk through our fires and not be burned. And this is what He is doing for us right now. The pit is real. I face it everyday. And, sometimes I find myself just sitting in it. I’ve cried so many tears and my heart has imagined every possible outcome of our situation. But, the Lord always comes. He always comforts me. Always. He is so faithful.

“We try so hard to please God by things we do FOR Him, but He receives His joy by what He does THROUGH us. Because His glory is in what HE does. The rewards we earn are for Him alone.”

I found this note in my notebook that I use during church. It is most likely that Pastor Lee said this. I wrote it on the back of a page. I do this when he says something that really jumps out at me. Look at the date. Do you know what happened on May 2, 2016? This note was written in my notebook just hours before Clay’s first symptoms and one day prior to his diagnosis. Wow. God is so amazing. He gives us everything we need to live this life He has called us to live. He was feeding me these words of life, just hours before my world would be shaken. image

Look at the note. Everything we need to do comes out of just being with Him. Do you love me? The back page says, “One thing I desire!” I have prayed that prayer so many times. In the altar, crying to the Lord that I desire to be closer to Him. To know Him more. To be used by Him.

This past Sunday, Pastor Lee preached about spending time in the presence of God. Not just reading our Bibles or saying a rehearsed prayer, but really sitting in the presence of God. So, you can imagine, the altar time was amazing. We just sang and prayed for a long time while the Lord refreshed us and helped so many of us who are struggling through life right now.

While I was singing along with the song, I noticed the words I was saying. They were something like, “You are my everything. All I desire is you.” I clearly heard the Lord ask me if that was true. He asked me, “What do you desire more? To know me? or to see Clay’s healing?”

Please don’t misunderstand. God is a loving God. He is not holding Clay’s healing over my head as a ransom. I promise. He is coming to me in a very loving way and He is searching my heart. Which is what I was asking Him to do. He doesn’t invade us. We have to allow Him to do this. And, I want it. I’ve asked Him to do it so many times. So, I sat there. Silent. While I asked myself the same question. I searched for the truth.

Although my heart is in a thousand pieces, the truth is that I desire Jesus more. And, by the way, so does Clay. He has told me many times that he would not want God to heal him if it wasn’t God’s will, or if it would require us to lose out on anything God wants to do through us. He has truly given us a heavenly perspective and our hearts are in heaven, now. I know, with every fiber of my being, that we are going to be with Jesus soon, and nothing in this life will matter. Only what we’ve done for Him. Rather….only what we’ve allowed Him to do THROUGH us.

So, I’m begging Him to keep our hearts and give us endurance to run this race. I’m begging Him to keep our eyes fixed on heaven when they are so easily pulled back to this earth and our desire for this life to be comfortable.

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I’m sitting on the floor in the chemo room, right by Clay’s feet, reading my Bible and typing this blog. I’ve been crying all morning because he has not been feeling well. He has been in bed for two days and just getting up to get dressed and come here this morning was very difficult for him. I valet parked at the hospital and he walked in the door and just laid down on a bench. He’s so tired and I can’t really do much with him when he is like this. So, I got pretty emotional.

By the time we made it up to the doctor’s office, via wheelchair, the tears had started flowing. The sweet nurse just brought me my own box of tissue and I have used it. I hate to be emotional around people that don’t know us because I never want anyone to think that we are devastated. We are not. But, sometimes I just have a hard time holding back tears. And, even while I’ve been sitting here typing, the Lord has lifted me out of my despair. I’m about to throw all the tissue away.

They decided to put him back on a high dose of steroids because the symptoms are most likely from swelling. He got a big dose via IV before the Avastin and he’ll continue the pills at home for the time being. The Avastin has finished and now they are giving him fluids. He hasn’t eaten much the past few days and was a little dehydrated. He looks better already. I’m encouraged that the Lord will use these tools to help him.

Thank you for your faithful prayers, for your love and much needed support. All glory to God, who is our strength and our friend. We should be on our way home very soon. We love you all and feel so loved by you. Thank you.

 

“We’ll Just Keep Believing!”

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I know there is probably some risk in posting this. I am not a doctor, and most of you who view this are not able to interpret this picture. Actually, our beloved Dr. Russell and the Radiologist even went back and forth on what the results actually are. So, I know that it might not be a good idea.

But, I needed to see it. And, I want you to be able to see it, too. Of course, it is nothing like it was before surgery. I’ll never forget how huge that tumor in the middle looked before surgery. Thank God for a successful surgery that changed our course dramatically.

But, my heart wanted it to be completely gone so badly.

The Lord has really guarded my heart from expectations. Even this morning, as I prayed, all I could say was “Thy will be done, Lord.” My heart means that. The Holy Spirit is really helping me to mean it, but it doesn’t change the emotions that are intertwined with everything that happens.

I want Clay to be healed. I want him to live. I want him to be himself again. Deep down, how could I help but to want the doctor to say, “We don’t see any cancer!” So, without admitting it, I guess that’s what I wanted today. Because what I heard felt like a huge disappointment.

I want His will.

Accepting that His will is different from my desires is the hard part. But, I will accept it. I will. With His grace, I will.

Our morning started with our most precious Pastors, Lee and Carla Shipp. They drove to our house for 8:45, just so they could pray with us before we left. And their prayers for us are so sincere and encouraging. Clay and I both freely admit that we would not be where we are in our faith if it were not for these two people. I love them more than I could ever express.

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We picked up his mom, fought the traffic and got to the BR General for 10:00 am. And, guess who was waiting for us?

Kayla. She just wanted to see us before we went in and pray with us. I’m shaking my head while I type this. I just can’t express how thankful I am for the love of the Body of Christ around us. Unfortunately, my mom didn’t make any of the pics. She came, too. Mom and Flo waited outside while Clay and I went in for the MRI.

I love that they let me sit with him during the MRI. Clay used to get really nervous about the MRI machine and he would ask if I could please come in. Everyone so far has let me and it has been a special time for us. I just sit beside him and hold his hand, or his leg, while he lays as still as possible.

They give us ear plugs because the machine is so loud and the room is really cold. I realized today that it almost felt like I was in another place because I got so zoned out while praying. (Maybe I should use earplugs when I’m at home praying! Ha.) We were in there about an hour.

 

I prayed, again, for God’s will and for a heart that will trust and accept His will, no matter what it is. I reminded God that today would be a really good day for a miracle and that many people are watching to see Him work.

We left the MRI and walked right over to Dr. Russell’s office. While we waiting, he met with the Radiologist reviewing the MRI. When he opened the door, the first words out of his mouth were, “Everything looks OK.” Emphasis on the “OK.” I didn’t know how to feel. He told us that the tumor basically looks the same. The Radiologist believes that there is slight growth in the tumors, but Dr. Russell thinks they have stayed the same.

It’s hard to process information in these meetings. You just kind of stare at the doctor like you totally understand everything, but your brain is 3 minutes behind in the conversation. So, as my brain caught up, I finally said, “Can I see it?” He so kindly took us in his office and pulled up the images on the screen.

I needed to see it. But, I was disappointed with what I saw. It looks a lot like the MRI looked before treatment. My hope was that the radiation had killed some of the cancer….well, all of the cancer. But, it didn’t.

After some deliberation and discussion with our Oncologist, Dr. Russell told us that they are petitioning our insurance company to allow Clay to also start another drug called Avastin.

Remember the first time we met Dr. Russell? He called the doctor who is the head of the Brain Tumor Center at Duke. You know…He just got him on his cell phone real quick while Clay and I sat there waiting. Ha. I was super impressed by that. Anyway, that doctor told Dr. Russell that Duke has been giving Avastin with the chemo right from the beginning of treatment.

Well, our insurance would not approve this. So, Clay has not been given the Avastin. After today’s MRI, Dr. Russell thinks the insurance company will approve the Avastin. Dr. Russell looked at us and in the most compassionate voice said, “God is going to use this MRI to accomplish something else. It might feel like bad news to you, but I am not surprised or excited (meaning in a bad way) about the results.” Then we held hands and he prayed for us.

I love him. And I appreciate him so much. It took me a few hours to really process what had happened and I felt pretty numb when we left his office.

But, God, in His perfect timing, provided an opportunity for us to minister to someone else in great need. Our friends, Chris and Jenna Wilcox, were at the hospital having a chemo infusion today. We walked upstairs to pray with them and encourage them. Of course, they were sitting in the chemo room praying for us. And they were anxious to hear about our report. Jenna just smiled a huge smile, through her face mask, and said, “Well, it gives God a bigger opportunity to do a miracle. We’ll just keep believing!”

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It’s amazing how ministering to someone else can help you with your own heart. We prayed for Chris and for Jenna from a place of acquaintance. We know how they feel. So, we know how to pray for them. And, we know that God hears our prayers. And, when we walked away, I was reminded of the purpose in the pain. I was reminded that God can use us and minister through us in a way that He never could before May 2, 2016.

Everything has changed. But, prayerfully, we will maintain a heavenly perspective and live every moment knowing that everything God does has eternal purpose. What we see on this earth, though it may seem very precious to us now, does not compare to what is waiting for us in heaven.

Thank you for your prayers. We will be sending a copy of the MRI to Dr. Weinberg, the surgeon at MD Anderson. We will be waiting to hear from Dr. McCanless, the Oncologist, regarding the Avastin infusion. We will have another MRI in 8 weeks. And, in the meantime, our hearts are focused on the goodness of God and we are thankful for His many blessings. We are thankful for hope.

We love you. Goodnight.

Thy Will Be Done

This morning as we prepare to go to the doctor for Clay’s MRI, the lyrics of this chorus just keep running through my mind.

I don’t know any other words, but “Thy Will Be Done.” So I just keep singing that part over and over in my head.

That is truly how I feel. My heart desires the will of God. No matter what that is. I pray that His will is complete healing, but I trust Him.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Clay say, “I trust Him.” He is at complete peace. He slept like a baby last night. Total peace. Even on medicine that can hinder sleep. Not him. He is at complete peace.

The Lord reminded me this morning, through the Psalms, that He is a victor. He is a mighty warrior, and He always wins. He wins in ways we don’t understand and He wins in ways that the world can’t take credit for.

From the very beginning, my heart longed for Clay’s healing to come through a miraculous miracle. Not just through medicine. We both have this overwhelming desire for God to receive glory and for the watching world to see what our God is capable of doing.

So, I trust in Him this morning, that His will is going to be done and His name is going to be praised.

My phone has been going off all morning with text messages from so many of you telling me that you are praying. God is hearing you. I know He is. Thank you for lifting us up and encouraging us. We love you.

My kitchen counter is a beautiful reminder this morning of God’s love for me, the Hope I have in Him, and Purity that is found in Him. Thank you, Lisa Mc, for loving me so much to send this amazing display.

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And, on my arm, is a constant reminder of the work God has done through our story, and that this life is about the destination…heaven. Thank you, Amanda, Jimmy and Summer. I’ll look at these bracelets several times this morning and think of you, and give thanks to God.

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Thank you, again, for your love and prayers. God is with us. We feel Him. Amen.

I Am Not Alone

Press play on this video so you can listen to this song as you read this post.

It would be so easy for me to tell you that the reason I have not written a post in several weeks is because we have been so busy due to the flooding in our home town. The flooding was tremendous and the work has been overwhelming. This is true.

But, that is not why I have not written.

From the first time I wrote a blog post, I told the Lord that this is His blog. I was not writing because I wanted to. I was writing because I had to. The Holy Spirit would almost move my fingers….I’m not kidding. It was like a burning inside of me and the words just had to come out. The Holy Spirit was so close. He was tangible.

But, Clay’s treatment ended. The flood came. My schedule got interrupted. And, I let my self motivation take over. I started doing things on my own. I stopped consulting the Lord with every breath. I became distracted and consumed with the task at hand and I left that place of intimacy with Jesus.

And, guess what happened? The same thing that happens to you when you do this. (You know what I’m talking about.)

I got sad. I got overwhelmed. I got tired. Very tired.

I got worried. I got frustrated.

I lost sight of a few really important things.

And, then, I realized that even if I had wanted to write a blog post, I couldn’t. I just didn’t have anything to give. I was empty. I was broken. I was sad.

I found myself constantly thinking about my situation. I was watching a great deal of devastation all around me, and my heart broke for my family and friends who lost everything. Then I would look back at my life and feel devastated all over again. I started looking at those walls of water on both sides of me. Remember those walls? Those millions of pounds of water that are shooting up into the air in order to clear a path for us to walk on dry ground?? Yes. Those walls.

They are loud, they are heavy, they are huge, they are completely scary. But, the God who holds them up for me to walk, is the same God that He has always been. And, He is still here. I am not alone. You are not alone.

He goes before you. He never leaves you. He loves you. Let that thought sink in. I hope you are able to listen to the lyrics of this beautiful song while you read. They are so good. What more could we ask for in this life? Than to know that we are not alone. That Jesus is with us and He is acquainted with us. He has suffered so much more than we will ever suffer. He knows how we feel.

The best part is that He is waiting for us to come back when we stray away. Honestly, y’all, I had to just repent. I had to ask Him to forgive me. I had to admit what I had done and ask for forgiveness. I had to admit that I can not do this on my own. I can not handle this without Jesus. I can’t.

Unlike me, or you, God is perfect. And when we come with a repentant heart, He is so eager to forgive us and love on us. Sometimes when we are hurt by others, it takes us a while to forgive. You know what I mean? When someone offends you and then they come apologize. They can even really mean it. But, it can take time for us to accept the apology and really let go of the anger. Ok, maybe you don’t know what I mean, but I am like this.

God isn’t like that. He was waiting for me. I can just imagine Him standing there with excitement on His face. I can see Him with His lips already forming the word “YES! Yes I forgive you!” Even before I could get the words out of my mouth….because He knew that my heart was sorry. He can see the deepest parts of my heart and mind. He knew. And He had already forgiven me. My sin was already covered and washed away.

So, I knelt and told Him I was sorry and immediately…..I’m not kidding……immediately, the words that I’m typing right now starting flooding into my mind. It’s kind of crazy. But, it reassures me that the Lord intends for this message to go out. Even if I have to admit to all of you that I am a sinner and that I’m imperfect, it’s ok because you already knew that. And, you are just like me. We are just wretched sinners who need a Savior.

So, wherever you are today. Whatever you are dealing with. No matter the burden you bear. Don’t trust in yourself. Don’t rely on your own wisdom or strength. It won’t work.

Come back to Jesus. Come close. Know Him. Be intimate with Him.

Let Him love you and forgive you. You are not alone. What an amazing thought? We are not alone.

We are also not alone in our battles because we are surrounded by so many others who are suffering, too. One of those is a very special friend of mine from high school.

I remember like yesterday when I heard that Paige Landry’s husband Graham had been diagnosed with cancer. It’s been 3 years since their fight began. They fell in love when they were 17 years old, have been happily married since, and have 3 adorable little girls. My mom says they look like the girls in Despicable Me! Ha. So cute.

I remember feeling so desperate for Paige and Graham. I laid in bed one night with Clay and just bawled while hugging him so tight. I wondered what in the world she must be feeling and thanked God that I had never known desperation like that. When I got the news of Clay, Paige was one of the first people I thought of. I know knew how she felt. Hmmmm….I never dreamed we would share the same burden. Never.

But, we do. And it was so wonderful to finally be together this week. They were in town to bring supplies to flood victims and we got to have dinner with them. This is why God created the Body of Christ – the Church. Because we need each other.

We talked about our stories, cried about our difficulties, encouraged each other and prayed for each other like no one else can really pray for us right now. It is not a bond I ever wanted to have with anyone, but we have it. And, I’m thankful to know this amazing couple who are walking across their own Red Sea with grace and love for Jesus.

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I love this picture. It’s from Seaside, when we ran to the beach for a few days after treatment ended. Clay has always loved to rock in a rocking chair.

As we expected, we miss going to treatment every day. We realized that it was sort of like a safety blanket for us. We felt more secure knowing that the tumor was being radiated. And, as we expected, we had some moments of fear during the last few weeks.

The Friday morning of the storm, he woke up with a pressure headache. He hasn’t had that since before surgery. The first thought we both had was, “It must be growing back!” I know. It’s silly, but we can’t help it. He started steroids, again, and Dr. Russell told us the headache was most likely from swelling.

The flooding has been a good distraction for us, because we are in a waiting period. His MRI is scheduled for Thursday at 10:00 am. We will go immediately to Dr. Russell’s office and he will show us the results. I’m so thankful we won’t have to wait any longer.

I got a little concerned about some symptoms Clay was having, so we went to see Dr. Russell this past week. When he walked in the room, he looked at me and I knew immediately that he knew exactly  how I was feeling. He held my hand and, in the most sincere voice, said, “You are not going to make a mistake. Your instincts have been perfect and you are doing a wonderful job taking care of your husband.”

We all know that the “instincts” he refers to are the Holy Spirit giving me direction, so this has nothing to do with me. But, he could see in my eyes that I am scared. I am scared that I’m going to miss something, or mess up the medicine, or misread a symptom. And, I guess the biggest fear of all is that it is going to come back soon. I’m scared to be alone.

That’s when the Holy Spirit came and reminded me that I can’t do this on my own and that I am not alone. No matter what happens. He has directed every step and, if I remain submitted to Him and close to Him, He will continue to direct us. I don’t have to be afraid because He is the one making the decisions and watching for the symptoms. He knows the future. He’s already there.

If I trust in myself, then I have to be scared. Because I can’t do it. But, if I trust in Him, I never have to be scared. He is in control.

While we are at Dr. Russell’s, we got to see Chris without his beard and his new mustache!

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We love the staff. All of them. It is such a wonderful place. I think I’ll go back to school so I can go work there with them!

This morning, Clay is still sleeping. He started his next round of chemo last night. Here’s how it works…

He took a chemo pill everyday during radiation – 42 pills

Then he got to rest from it for about 4 weeks

Now he starts a 6 month cycle – he will take a higher dose of chemo for 5 days in a row, then rest for 23 days, 5 days, 23 days, etc. for 6 cycles

We will continue to have MRI’s done on a regular basis. I think every 8 – 12 weeks, but I’m not sure, yet.

But, the first one is Thursday. So, please join with us in prayer that it is a perfect report. The goal of radiation was to kill the remaining cancer cells that couldn’t be removed in surgery and to treat the areas where tumor was removed. The goal of the ongoing chemo is to keep the cancer from growing again. We are believing that God is able to use this medicine to heal Clay completely….even though science tells us that would be a miracle.

Good thing we know the God of miracles!

Before I go, I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version of our life for the past 3 weeks…

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In case you didn’t know, there was a big flood. A big flood. But, our house was an island in the midst of water. The hedge of protection that was prayed around our house stood firm and we did not flood.

My parents, grandmother, aunt, and cousin flooded and lost so much. My mom’s store was flooded and their building is a disaster. We worked for 2 weeks just cleaning everything out. Clay helped a lot. He couldn’t do what he used to be able to do, but he was with us every step of the way.

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On the first day of clean up, he wasn’t feeling very good. Then my mom fainted. Fainted. Like totally out and hit the floor! So, we made a makeshift hospital ward in  mom’s flooded bedroom. They laid in the bed together for a while. Sam got a pretty good gash on his foot, so he thought he deserved to lay down, too.

Clay’s office was a total loss. At least 5 feet of water, and we didn’t have time to go there because of all the homes and other businesses flooded. So, by the time we got there with help from Randy Currier, Hayden Shipp and Jim Furlow, it was covered in mold and stunk in such a terrible way. It was just an office, but it was a bit hard for Clay to say goodbye to it. He loves his business and his clients and he loved that office. He continues to work from home while we wait on the Lord to show us a next step.

I became a patient of the hospital ward when I almost broke my foot working at mom’s store. Ouch! When that happened, I said, “Let’s go!” and I took my 86 year old grandmother, who worked her tail off, and Clay and we let Grace drive the hospital ward home for the day. Thank you, Jesus, that it wasn’t really hurt bad. He protected us several times during all the work.

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In the middle of all the craziness, I walked into Wal-Mart with my mom, and I noticed a Pray for Clay shirt on a woman checking out. I didn’t even think about it, I just started walking toward her and I realized I didn’t even know her. I gave her a huge hug and said, “I don’t even know you and you are wearing my husband’s shirt! Thank you so much!” She hugged me back like we were life long friends and said, “You are Clay’s wife?!” It was so neat. We stood there and talked and I thanked her and her husband for supporting us and praying for us. People are awesome. I’m still overwhelmed by all the love we have been shown. So, now I have a new friend – Jill. Thank you, Jill!

Clay and Ron’s friend, Jonathan, came to BR with a trailer full of supplies. We got some for my parents, and that was very sweet. But, even more special was the way he prayed for Clay. I have goosebumps thinking about it. It was so cool to see these tired, grown men calling out to Jesus on our behalf. Thank you.

Our pool is a disaster. It keeps raining everyday. Gramps is exhausted. Kayla brought me a birthday cake. And Grace started playing Volleyball again!

We made time for mini-golf with Ben. He’s gotten kind of lost in all the craziness, so he enjoyed the time alone.

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Ron drove across town just to get Clay a muffuletta….just because he mentioned he wanted it. Spoiled! It was a really good one, though. He let me have one piece.

Two of our kids are back to school as of today. And, I thought it would be funny to have their grandparents in their second-first day of school pic! No, they didn’t drive here for the photo op. They live here!!!! At least for now. And, we are enjoying it. Who gets to have coffee with their parents and grandmother every morning? Me! I love it.

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And, in the midst of all that is going on around us, numerous people continue to text us, call us, send us cards, and pray for us. I have had several people say, “We just want you to know that you are not forgotten in the midst of the flooding.” There just are not words to express my gratitude for so many of you who are bringing our names before the throne of God every day. We feel so loved. Thank you.