Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Remarkable.

I haven't done an update on my mom lately, so I thought it was time.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate the text, calls, and quick "how is your mom?" when I see you face to face.  I have been blown away through this journey by people simply just being kind, concerned, and encouraging.

We are just short of FIVE months since we received the devastating news at M.D. Anderson.  The news was grim, discouraging, and anything but hopeful.

At mom's first appointment, we met with a surgical oncologist.  Because she had a mass and that mass needed to be removed.  That's what we would do, go in and remove it.  Simple enough, right?  During that appointment, it was very clear it was not that simple.  Or that straight forward.  Or just a mass.

Questions swirled around in my mom, sister's, and my head as we listened to what the doctor had to say.  There really is no way you can wrap your head around what they are trying to explain to you.  For one, you don't want to hear what they are saying and two you feel like your in dream (and not a pleasant one).

Basically the surgical oncologist, said surgery wasn't an option.  The word he used to describe my mom's tumor/mass was "interesting."  I'm not in the medical field, but I didn't take it as a check in the plus column.  In other words, he told us the tumor is WAY too big, surgery was not an option, and while surgery would be the goal we want to attain, it's not likely.

From there we meet with an oncologist, where we were told the kind of cancer mom had was incurable.  It's a rare form of cancer and they haven't had much success with chemotherapy, but the best they could do was give us a 6 month time-frame, and it was a shot in the dark as far as the treatment working.

The doctor wanted to discuss prognosis with my mom, she declined and told him, "he didn't have a crystal ball and it wasn't up to him.  Also, that he didn't know her God."  She lifted her head up and looked at all of us kids and asked us, "are y'all ready to fight?  Get your gloves up!"  And the fight was on...

About eight-ten weeks into her diagnosis, mom ended up with jaundice.  Her liver basically just quit working due to the tumor.  Mexico doctors told her she needed to get jaundice under control and to have M.D. put in a stent.  Mom's bilirubin levels were out the roof!  To the point, where her body should have been in toxic shock.  But she wasn't, it wasn't, she wasn't running a fever.  Yes, she was sick and yellow up to her eyeballs literally, but it could have been much worse.

A miracle.

She had her first stent procedure late October, which turned out to be successful.  They had the head surgeon on the case and he said it could take up to four hours.  He spent all the evening before studying my mom's anatomy to make sure he could get the job done.  He said it would be tough, but he wouldn't give up.  Didn't even take 45 minutes.  He said it looked much better once he got inside, than on the scan.  During the procedure, I spent time down at the hospital chapel with my Starbucks latte, pleading for peace and for my mom to come through this - not knowing all that had been said about how bad it might or could be.  Dr. Lee couldn't have been more pleased with the way the procedure went and couldn't get over how amazing of a lady my mom was and the kids she had raised (all 4 kids were there).  He said it's a testament of the kind of person she is.

A miracle.

After the stent, her jaundice cleared out rather quickly.  But, we found out at that time that the tumor had grown.  A lot!  Like an inch, give or take.  It was already the size of a large grapefruit to begin with...so now we're talking a personal size watermelon.

Our hearts sank, once again.

I'll probably never forget the night mom called to tell me.  It was the first time in this entire journey, I thought this is it - prepare for the worst.  Up until that point, I never wavered or doubted she'd make it through this.  But this news, sent me over the edge.

How could this be?  I mean, they originally told us it was probably slow growing, been there for 2 years, etc.

It was at this point, mom felt she had to pull out all the stops and decided to do chemo.  She immediately got started with chemo.  M.D. Anderson wouldn't plan any further out than 8 weeks.  They didn't give us much info, just we'll do 4 rounds of chemo then reevaluate.

But since the very beginning of all this, she has said it doesn't matter what treatment I chose - God simply has to heal me.  Whether that meant healing here on earth or taking her home to heal her.  Either way, it was God's plan and while she wasn't thrilled about leaving this earthly home, she decided to leave it up to Him.

Fast forward to late December.  Mom had an appointment with the oncologist on December 18th and would have her 4th round of chemo.  The oncologist remarked and was so pleased with her blood work regarding the cancer marker numbers.  He said the numbers were so good, that he wanted to do another scan to check progression and then if the scan reflected what the numbers were showing, then surgery might be in the future.

Surgery????

She had a CT scan on Monday, December 29th and went to see the Dr the next day (Dec 30th) to have him read the results.

"Remarkable" was the word he used.  He said he hasn't really ever seen anyone respond to treatment this way.  And kept commenting on how strong of a lady my mom is.  She says, "she's not strong, that it has nothing to do with her."

So here we are...less than five months from diagnosis, no real hope for surgery, and according to M.D. we should be close to planning my mom's funeral.

Another miracle.



Because mom is rocking chemo, she feels better everyday.  She looks amazing!  She's had minimal side effects, compared to what they told us.  And she's not only living, but thriving!  She's excited about life and this journey.

And tomorrow around lunchtime, she is meeting with the surgical oncologist.  The same one she originally met with in August, who basically said, "I'm sorry Mrs. Meador, we can't help you!"

This is just the medical miracle of this story.  There are so many other miracles that have happened through this and I can't for my mom to share with everyone.

God has met us at every fork in the road, at every appointment, at every high, and every low.  He has navigated this ship.  He has carried us when we were too weak.  He has brought redemption in places we thought might ever be possible.  But with Him, all things are possible.  (Thanks to my sweet friend Brooke, who got me that bracelet at the beginning of this- has been such a great reminder!)

We cried out to Him and He calmed the storm within.  His grace abounds in deepest waters.

While the chemo maybe helped shrink the tumor, there is only one way mom could and will survive this.  Either way, we'll give Him praise for this battle and for the miracles within it.  God's ways are higher than ours, than any doctor, or treatment.

He is steadfast, true, and thankfully still in the business of healing people, miraculously.

He is remarkable.

And we are so thankful for each of you for praying on behalf of my mom.  Without those prayers, this would have been impossible.

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
Matthew 17:20



Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday B!

Three years ago at 11:50pm, I became a mommy to a blue-eyed squishy boy.  Weighing in at 7lbs 4oz.

It was a super long day, but worth every single minute.  You barely made a peep & everyone was concerned since you wouldn't cry...if we only knew how you would have no problem expressing yourself after that first cry.

Since then you've been running the show around here.




You've been to the movies twice.  First time was to see Planes Fire and Rescue and just this past week, we took you to see Penguins of Madagascar.


You love your animals.  You are always taking care of Papa Bunny, Reno & Coco.  Love your caring heart.



B- you are one smart boy!  You love to repeat everything we say, especially daddy.  You love to tell us when we say "an ugly word" or when we aren't being nice or kind.  There are many times you'll say something to us and your dad and I will look at each other in disbelief.  Like did he really just say that?!

For instance, we were discussing something during dinner and you chimed in and said, "well that's just what I expected!"  Haha!


You are very honest and aren't afraid to speak your mind.  Daddy says you get your sass from your mama! ;)  Actually, you are a lot like your mama in many ways.  Poor daddy! ;)

You go to Mother's Day Out two days a week & I think it's done wonders for you.  You love interacting with other kids and love learning.  You've learned so many things since September.  You have also learned so many Bible stories from school and love to tell me what Pastor told you that week.

And your prayers...melt my heart!  Your daddy and I pray everyday, you'll grow up with a heart for Christ.  That you follow His ways and not those of this world.  You give the best AMEN ever after each prayer.  If we don't do it just right (arm high enough or loud enough) you are sure to correct us.  Makes me laugh!

You had your first cousin sleep-over.  My birthday weekend, you stayed the night with Aunt Cadee & Uncle Eric and threw the biggest fit that you had to go home with us!  It was pitiful but funny!  You made cookies with your cousins! :)





You have the cutest cheesy face I've ever seen!  You scrunch up your little nose & squint your eyes - just precious!!  You are also SO very funny!!!!!  You definitely got your daddy's wit & humor.  I wish I could write down every funny little thing you say.



This year was your first time on an airplane and out of the country.  You are a great little travel buddy & LOVED going on vacation.  You've already requested to go on another vacation soon.

You weigh 30lbs and wear still wear some 2T & 3T.  You wear a size 8 shoe.  But you refuse to wear any shoe other than your tractor boots.  I have to bribe you if I want you to wear any other shoe.  Most days it's not even worth the fight.

You are very opinionated when it comes to clothes.  As soon as your feet hit the floor, you want to put on your "long pants" aka blue jeans, socks, boots and a working shirt.  Wearing a belt most days is a must too.




I'll tell you that I love you and you'll respond with, "I don't love you because I'm a construction worker!"  Haha, as if construction workers can't love their mamas.

Currently your favorite shows are Paw Patrol, Rescue Bots, Toy Story 3, Mighty Machines and Legos.  You still like to watch Mickey Mouse, Agent Oso, and Bubble Guppies occasionally.  Love to hear you say Netflix, it's more like "met-licks."

Your favorite toys are tractors, rescue bots, tinker toys, Lego duplos, and anything outside or tools like shovels, trucks, dirt, hammer, and Play Doh.  You still love to read books and we try to read 3 books every night and books at naptime.

You still take naps.  I try to make you take one every day, but it doesn't always happen.  But when you do nap, you still take good 2-3 hour naps.  You still wake up once during the night to go potty.  You've been potty trained since March.

You are simply pure JOY!  We love you to pieces and still can't believe God picked us to be your parents.  It's been such an honor to be able to watch you grow, learn, and explore this grand world.  We feel so blessed each day we get to spend with you.






Happy 3rd Birthday baby boy!!!  And I know you tell me you aren't a baby anymore, but you'll always be my baby boy!  Love you so very much!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Season of Thanks

When the seasons change, it allows for new beginnings.  Texas is known to have several seasons in one day.  This fall has been a rather chilly one, compared to the past few years.  We've had colder weather for longer periods.  Fall and winter have always been my favorite seasons.  For many reasons, I love wearing big sweaters that hide my fluff, cute scarves, and curling up on the couch with the warmth of a fire.  Also, it means Christmas is near and there are so many things I love about Christmastime.

This Thanksgiving as been different.  This Christmas will be different.  The rest of my life will be different, if I'm being honest with myself.

That's what happens when the tide rises, bringing chemo treatments, scans, more doctor appointments, and waves of fears and unknowns.

While all those things fill my calendar, along with birthdays, school programs, lunch dates - I can't help but focus on the difference on years past.

Before my mom's diagnosis (I refuse to use the "c" word, mostly because I refuse to proclaim that over her life), life was normal.  My mind often thought about the normal life things such as paying bills, making my grocery list, dreaming of the farmhouse I want to build one day, getting mad over things not going "my way" or whatever else may have seemed to matter.  Basically, I didn't have much to fret over, yet I fretted.

It's not that those things don't matter and of course I still pay my bills, but what truly matters has certainly shifted.  Along with the things I am thankful for.   Nor do I fret over things the way I did before.  Life is too short and precious to fret.


I am thankful for a perspective change.  I'm thankful even for the bad days because it means I still have my health, I'm still able to pick up the phone and call my mama, or get in the car and go see her even though 100 things went wrong.  Like our A/C going out or the hot water heater or our microwave/vent-a-hood all within a 3 month period.

This is the first season in my life, where I am thankful for the storm.  Yet it's the toughest storm I've had to weather.  The time in the wilderness with my mom's illness has been nothing short of amazing.  Hard, yes.  Incredibly hard.  There have been moments I wasn't sure I'd make it to the next.  My heart ached to the point of physical pain, tears I thought might never cease, and times I wanted to toss my anger into the sea - along with Satan aka cancer.

But thankfully, those moments are few and far between compared to the moments where God has reached down, carried me, held me, and sustained me.

And for that I am thankful.

So often I see signs of hope as I go throughout my day.  On the rough days, God shines so bright that His goodness captivates me.

And I can't help but sing of His praises..."Though my heart and flesh may fail..."

Sometimes it is as simple as a small gesture from a random person.  Sometimes it's through Brady.  Sometimes it's through a random text from a dear friend, simply to say, "How are you?  Praying for you!"  And other times it is no denying, it is simply God reaching down from above.  Like how lately, I've noticed some of the most beautiful sunsets or skies.

On my 32nd birthday (November 20th), I remember kind of dreading it because while it was my birthday, it was also mom's day of more blood work, follow-up with the oncologist, and then round 2 of chemo.  She normally always comes to see me during my birthday and while I was okay with her not being here, I hated knowing she was even having to go through this whole process.  Being at M.D. Anderson, isn't exactly a fun, hope-filled day.  Brady had school that day and on the ride there, we prayed for Mimi and tears filled my ears as Brady prayed for her and told me, "Mimi is going to be okay!"  And all was right in my world.  I let go of the anxiety and fears, and knew I must trust Him....and Him alone.

After school, he was telling me about the bible story Pastor told them.  He said,"there was a lion who just fell over and then God just held Mimi!  That's just what He do."

And for that I am thankful.  Thankful for child-like faith.  That my 2yr old (almost 3) is able to see God holding Mimi even when I'm not.  Oh my heart, be still.

Cancer has a way of spiraling you into whirlwind.  Everything prior to that dreadful news almost seems like a whole other world.  And you're now entering a new world.  Or new season.

Because this is just a season.

This will not be my world forever and I refuse to allow it to take over my world.  But I will allow the storm to rage.

And I'm actually thankful for the raging storm.

Jesus never promised us that storms wouldn't rage.  He actually told us storms would come.  I'd almost be more worried if I didn't have any storms in my life.

But this storm is different than those past.

Those past I thought I wouldn't make it through to the other side.  Similar to how the disciples felt when they followed Jesus on the boat to "the other side." (Mark 4:35-41)

The waves were so big, almost capsizing the boat.  But yet, Jesus slept.

The disciples worried, even waking Jesus to ask Him, "if He cared that they may drown?"

After Jesus tells the waves to be still.  He replied with, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

So this Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for the storm that rages while I stand firm in my faith and be still.  Knowing it is through the storms, our faith is strengthened.  Where Christ meets us, tattered and broken.  And maybe it's not so much about the storm, as it is about us learning to trust in Him - regardless of the storm.  It's about our focus in the storm.


My mom has been so courageous through all of this.  She radiates what it means to stand on the solid rock.  Of course she has moments of fear and struggles with the unknown, but one thing she does know is her illness is no mistake.  Of course, He didn't give her this illness but what she chooses to do with it is a divine appointment.

She said from the very beginning, if this will bring Him glory than she's ready for the ride!  She feels honored He has chosen her and this is just the beginning of her story, her legacy.  Wow, what a legacy!  This will give her a platform to transform so many hearts, as it already has.

What Satan intends for harm, God will use for good.

And good it will be. 

So while we weep on some days for cancer just plain sucks.  We also rejoice for we are walking this road along side a God who loves us more than we know and will do anything to bring us to the point where we can rest in Him, trusting Him.  Even when the waves are crashing.

So for this storm, I am thankful.

Thankfully, our suffering is never in vain.  It is our sufferings that cause us to cling to Him, resulting in full abandonment of the things of this world.  Transforming us to be more like Him.

He wants us to come boldly before Him, knowing our circumstances aren't ideal but even when the odds are stacked against us - we remain in Him.

We are able to lift our hands and praise Him...in the hallway, while we wait.

With thanksgiving...His word tells us. 

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:4-9

So this season in my life, I have so much to be thankful for.  For when we shift our eyes away from our problem and focus on Jesus, we're able to be sleep in the stern of the boat while the waves crash over us...because even the wind and waves still know His name.


So let go and trust in Him.

Thanking & praising Him for this season.

For this storm.  The peace in my storm.  For I have nothing to fear.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass
through the rivers, they will not sweep over you...
For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your God."
Isaiah 43: 1-3

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How Can It Be?

Y'all...the fall has always been a favorite season of mine.  Something about the changing of the seasons just makes all things, feel new.

October marks a year since I've broken free from depression, oppression, and from the pits of hell as I like to call it.

Honestly, it feels like yesterday I broke those chains.

Yesterday, while on the phone with my sister we were discussing my mom and how we each have a journey in this.  How each of our journeys will look different and how God will reveal himself to each of us differently - yet collectively the same.

While we want to carry mom through this journey and make it easier, take away the hurts, take away the side-effects - that is simply not our job.  God never intended us to carry our burdens, much less someone elses.

He intended us take up and carry His cross.

Last fall the fight was hard, but it only prepared for what was ahead.

It also allowed me to see myself and God in fresh, new way.  A way I may have never been able to see Him, had I not been held captive.

And I couldn't be more thankful that He allowed me to walk that journey.

That I would have to die to this world, to the world I once knew so He could make me new.

I wrote in my Breaking Free book, "He allows us to grow through hard things, holding us captive so redemption/freedom is that much sweeter.  So we are so desperate for Him we are willing to do whatever it takes to gain freedom."

There is SO much sweetness in redemption.  Wish I could bottle it up and hand out it to the people I see hurting!!

There is SO much sweetness in freedom.  When I look back over the years and how broken I was, while I hope to never go back to that - I also never want to forget where I did come from.  Redemption has never been so sweet!  I hope I never forget what it felt like to shake those chains and finally stand on solid ground, where He sees me as he intended - beautiful, bestowed with a crown of righteousness, His beloved.

When He turns our ashes into beauty, there isn't a more beautiful sight.

So dear friend, whatever you are walking through this day or this season in life - know He came to set you free.  He came to give you new life.  He never intended us to be prisoners of our own despair.  Don't walk it alone, reach out to someone.  But also reach out to the one who came to set you free, heal you, and rescue you - our loving Father.

You gave your life to give me mine...
You say that I am free...how can it be? 





Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Grand Cayman- {Day 3}: Blow Holes/Starfish Point

Day 3: Monday

I started a new bible study right before we left so I took advantage of the scenery during quiet time.  Every morning I was in awe of His majesty.  Actually all week I kept thinking about how amazing of an artist He is.  The same God who told the sun to rise each morning, the waves to only come so far, and who created the seas.  After snorkeling one day, AB and I talked about how fierce (scary) the seas can be and how much respect we had for it after seeing all the abundant life underwater.  Isn't it fun to see life through the lens of our Creator, rather than our own?!  



We ventured out to the east side of the island to see the blow holes.  I had never seen blow holes, so I was impressed.  But my mom - not so much.  She's seen "real blow holes!" where the water really blew out. Haha!


But first...let's take a selfie!  And sorry for the picture overload...everyone wanted their picture in front of said blow holes! :)  Not to mention we only have 4000+ photos combined between our phone & DSLR.







Ace loved finding the sea snails.




 
These boys love their mimi & papa!





Still can't get over how beautiful the skies are there!!



Once again that evening (after naps) we made our way back to Starfish point.  With another stop by Rum Point for some ruuumm, of course!  This is also the evening, we (Kara, Justin, & myself) got stung by jellyfish larvae.  Ouch!!



Kara found a sea urchin.





We had the place to ourselves.  My mom stayed back with Chance since he was napping when we left and since the mosquitoes were so bad when the sun started to go down.  But check out the sunset.  That's my dad in the next two pictures looking for starfish.  This is also where he met a couple from Oklahoma, where he shared about my mom and they prayed with him and for my mom, right there under that beautiful sunset.


"Not all those who wander are lost."

 My parents will celebrate 40 years of marriage this November.  What an inspiration!!!!