Thursday, December 18, 2014

Update #86: Eye

Well… I learned something new yesterday that I wish I didn't know:  you can get breast cancer in the eye!  

Apparently there are two small cancerous lesions on the back of my eye that are, most likely, metastatic breast cancer lesions.  I'm not sure what the treatment plan will be at this point for that, but I know that today at 10 I head off to chemo to start a new medication and I will connect with my doctor sometime this afternoon.

When I came home yesterday and told Emilie that it is, in fact, the cancer that's causing problems in my eye.  Her response was hilarious.  

Emilie: I didn't want to tell you, but I thought so.
Me: Why did you think so, Em?
Emilie: Well because you have cancer in your bones and in your lungs so I figured it had to be cancer in your eye too.  Ya know; 3 strikes and you're out.

[Slight pause] 
Emilie: Hey Mom?  What's for dinner?

I totally laughed. I'm not sure why, but I thought that that was just about the best response I could have gotten from her.  Such a matter-of-fact acknowledgement of the pervasiveness of this disease.  Yet, such a glimpse into the fact that, because we've been dealing with this for so long, it's just a part of our life. 

And then…a few hours later.  I wasn't laughing any more.  After a very frustrating evening trying to help Daniel with difficult homework – with eyes that really weren't working because they were dilated from the trip to the neuro-opthlamologist – I finally passed the homework baton off to Chad andI went upstairs and into my closet, laid down under my hanging clothes and sobbed like a baby.  Having a heart-broken tantrum, in fact.  

I told you this would be a messy journey!
From laughing  at 4 PM and being "okay" with this new news.
To sobbing at 7 PM and being anything but okay with it.
Nutty, right?

More later my friends,

P.S. Chemo was long, but went easily today.  I will meet with a Radiation Oncologist tomorrow at 1 PM to hear a treatment option. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Update #85: The Ugh Revisited

[Do you like the new subtitle I've added to the Update #??? :) ]

So…here's what I know medically so far:  I will start a new chemo drug on Thursday morning.  I'll get it once every three weeks and the potential side effects are what you would expect in a chemo drug. How exactly it'll impact me is yet to be seen.   Because this drug is harder on your heart,  I'm getting an EKG today to get a baseline on my heart health.  I don't expect there to be any issues, but I guess I need to leave room for a 5th Ugh!  As for my eye…I learned today that breast cancer can metastasize to your eye.  Oh how fun. I will meet with a neuro-opthalmologist on Wednesday at noon to have a better idea if cancer is causing my eye problem or something else.  


On Sunday we were at church. We're all standing singing a song. A great song. A song I love.  And as I'm standing there, my body is starting to tell me that it's getting tired and wants me to sit down.  

"No, I can't do that.  I want to stand and sing.  And besides you're supposed to stand and sing.  If I sit down, what will people think?"  

As I"m having this conversation with myself, all of  a sudden I realized that I let something so important slip to the background.   

This church is my family.
And this sanctuary is like my family room.

If I were at home with my family in my family room and I felt the need to sit down, I'd do it in a heartbeat without apology.  What's more is that I wouldn't even think twice about asking someone to get me a blanket so that I could snuggle under it and take a nap.  

While I wouldn't expect someone to fetch me a blanket in the middle of the morning service(!), I was reminded so clearly that that's what church is supposed to be: a family.  A family that cares for one another and loves one another and sets aside "what we should do" for "what we need to do".  It made me fall in love with my church all over again.  And it made me wonder if someone today needs to know that church isn't supposed to be the place that you wear your "Sunday Best" and put on your "best face" and follow a program to know how much longer it will be.  A place you just walk in and walk out.  I can promise you that Jesus would run far, far away from that definition and beg and plead for us to return to what "church" was in the years while He walked this earth and in the 1st century following His resurrection. 

He would tell us to 
Just come. 
As you are. As you really are.  
Like a little child.  
Loving one another.  
Walking with one another.  
Teaching each other.
Encouraging each other.
Giving to one another.  
Laughing and crying with one another.
Praising His name together – whether that's done standing up or sitting down or laying flat on your back because all your eyes want to do is close.

That's church.

How I pray you thirst for it. 
How I pray you experience it.
How I pray you participate in it. 
How I pray you treasure it.

Yes, my friends, this journey is super hard.  Yet, I know that I don't walk it alone and that lifts my heart.

Be back in touch on Wednesday or Thursday.

Love to you

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Update #84

Well….I wish I had easier news to share.  The truth is that I don't.  
In fact, I have a "3 ugh" news report for you on this beautiful snowy night in Orchard Park.

I went yesterday to Roswell for what I thought was going to be a quick appointment with my doctor to review blood work plus pick a date after the New Year for a set of follow-up scans.  
If only that actually happened.  

Instead, when I shared that I was out of breath from doing fairly routine activities (due to what I thought was a low hemoglobin count) I was given a few different tests.  Let's just say that I failed them all and that won me the prize of having a special CT to check for a pulmonary embolism.  Good news is that I don't have that.  The hard news is that the cancer continues to progress in both my lungs and liver.  And, my shortness of breath is not due to the low hemoglobin count as much as it due to fluid build-up in my left lung from an increased tumor load.  


So…on Friday I will be going in at 8 AM for a procedure to drain that fluid from my lung. Then on Monday I will meet with my doctor to review the next options for chemo (thankfully, there are several options remaining) that I will start either Monday or Wednesday of next week.  The side effects of those chemo options are unknown to me at this point, but I'm not anticipating that they will be a walk in the park. 


This has been a hard one.  Hard largely because I wasn't expecting that news.  While I know my body isn't doing great, I thought I understood the cause of that to be from the effects of the chemo, not due to the effects of the cancer.  So, yesterday was a very teary day for me and for Chad.  And, while it wasn't teary for the kids, it was difficult for them to hear as well.  

But wait!  Just like a good informercial…I'm not done yet!  It's not just a "2 ugh" report; it's a "3 ugh" one, remember?  

So…I thought I would send out this update early this morning, but instead, I awoke last night not feeling good at all. Headache and upset stomach.  Hmm…I really must be STRESSED about this new information, I thought.  And, then, about 20 minutes after I awoke feeling crummy, a little boy entered our room and, in tears, complained that his stomach and head were hurting him and he wanted us to set up a makeshift bed for him on the bathroom floor.   Yep; you guessed it…. The STOMACH BUG!  So, rather than taking advantage of my last day of "freedom" to become better prepared for Christmas, I spent the day next to Daniel on the couch.  


A 3 Ugh report?!? I don't even want 1 ugh.  But I have to have THREE of them to tell you about?!?

I want to be the girl with the No Ugh story.
With only victories.
With only easy stuff
With only things that, if you saw this on Facebook, it would take you 0.10 seconds to click the "Like" button.

Don't we all want that, at least a little bit anyway, for our own lives? 

As I drove into Roswell yesterday, I was listening to a CD that I made last spring for the girls who are in my Tuesday morning Bible Study.  There's a song by Bethany Dillon on it called "Hallelujah".  Here's a link to it and I would encourage you to listen to it.

Here's the first part of the chorus:  
"Hallelujah. Hallelujah.  Whatever's in front of me, help me to sing hallelujah."

You know what my prayer was to God right after I pulled into the parking spot and the song stopped there?
"Please don't let this song be a preparation for any news that I hear today."

Does that sound like the prayer of a superhero?

What is that prayer?  It's the honest prayer of a girl who has been walking this road for a long time and knows what it's like to hear easy news and what it's like to hear hard news. And who knows which news she'd take each and every day if it was her choice.  

Several hours later, when I got back into my van after hearing this hard news, the song wasn't done yet.  I will admit that I turned it off as soon as I realized that it was still on, but not before the second part of the chorus came on.  

While it  may seem similar to the first, it's totally different.  Totally.
Here's the second part: "Hallelujah. Hallelujah.  Whatever's in front of me, I'll choose to sing hallelujah."

Did you catch it?
The first part asks God to work in our minds and hearts and spirits to empower us to face each and every circumstance with the ability and the desire to praise Him.
The second part tells God that you'll cooperate with Him and you'll actually do it.

The first is the recognition that, no matter what news is heard, no matter what circumstance comes into our lives, there is always something – many, many, many things in fact - to praise Him for.  
The second is the commitment to actually do it…to willingly trade all the frustrations, sadness and fears for the hope and the joy and the peace released by trusting in those He promises.

The first could be considered an act of desperation. 
The second, though, well…that's a choice of the will.

When Laura and I were first diagnosed years ago, we both made a commitment to praise Him no matter what.
In some respects it was a silly commitment.  
We had no idea what depths of circumstances He would have our feet travel and what it would take to utter those words of praise and trust. 

But, over those years, here's what we both learned: The place of Praise – which really is the place of Trust – is the only place we want to live.

We may visit Sadness.  
We may visit Frustration. 
We may visit Anger. 
We may visit Pulling Back.

But we don't have to live in any of those places.
Those are not our home.

So, tonight, as my stomach is churning and I'm praying for the stomach bug to flee quickly so that I'm well enough for my lung to be drained tomorrow (see what I mean…how ridiculous that I'm picking a thoracentesis  over the stomach bug!!)… I'm making my way Home.  I'm stopping the tour of those yucky places and returning Home.  To the place where Rest. Peace. Joy. Purpose. Hope. And Life live.  And I hope I'm not the only one. I hope that if you've been visiting places that have left you empty and dry, that you're headed Home too.   

With love and a humble request for prayers for my family and me, 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Update #83

Realized that I didn't let you all know (at least via email!) about the results of my scans yesterday.  Oops. Sorry. 

Easy day!  The scans show stability and/or improvement. This means that the current chemo drug I'm on will be what I continue with for the time being. 
So…tomorrow I go for Part 1 of Round #3 of chemo. 

So far, the side effects of this drug continue to be MUCH easier than those of the first drug I was on this summer.  
While I don't feel great and while eating is still hard, I recognize myself again.  
Well…I guess I really don't recognize myself if I'm talking about what I see in the mirror. 
That girl staring back at me is a bit scarier than the girl who I remember myself to be.  
But, when I think of how I'm not just laying on the couch all day or feeling crappy all day… 
THAT feels much more like my old self.  

So…thanks for your prayers and your encouragement. This would be so much more difficult without you…

Love to you all,

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Update #82

Easy news today at Roswell.

The lumbar puncture came back negative which means that there is no cancer in my brain!  
And my tumor markers have dropped for the first time in months and months!

What does this mean, you ask?

The negative lumbar puncture most likely means that the buzzing sound in my head (tinnitus) isn't due to lesions in my brain.  However, we still don't know exactly what's causing it. My hypothesis is that it's due to the chemo drug because it's gotten better these last two days (since this past week has been my week off from chemo).  However, given this isn't a commonly reported side effect of the drug, my doctor isn't ready to firmly draw that conclusion.  

The tumor marker drop most likely means that this new chemo drug is having a positive effect on the cancer in my body.  I'm getting scanned in 3 weeks to have a more definitive picture as to what's going on, but for now, I'll totally rejoice that, not only has this new chemo been easier on my body due to the lowered nausea, it also seems to be at least somewhat effective. 

So…within this hard road of a cancer diagnosis, today was way easier than it could have been and I am so thankful.  

I"m thankful for your prayers. 
I'm thankful for your words of encouragement. 
I'm thankful for the meals. 
I'm thankful for the flowers and little gifts.
And I'm beyond thankful for the - not one, not two, but THREE! -  happy dances/kick line videos that you sent my way today to show how excited you were to hear of my easy news! :)

Love to you all,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Update #81 - Part A and B

Part A From This Morning:

Going to Roswell at 10 AM today for a brain MRI. Since Tuesday, I've been having buzzing in my head (like ringing in the ears).  Could be a side effect of the new chemo.  Could be brain lesions. Could be something inconsequential.  Yes, if you're thinking that's a wide range of explanations, you would be correct!  I will be called later today with the results and will be back in touch when I do. 

Thanks all,

Part B From This Afternoon:

It's still a mystery.

My MRI is relatively unchanged from my last one a few weeks ago. However, there's some potential that there's cancer in the lining of my brain near my ear canal.  It's very inconclusive.  So, the neuro-radiologist and my oncologist recommend that I have a lumbar tap to extract the fluid to see if there are cancer cells present.  If there are…well...hat's a really hard thing.  If there are not, then my oncologist really doesn't know why I'm having these symptoms and we'll have to cross that bridge (PLEASE LET ME HAVE TO CROSS THAT BRIDGE!) when we get there. 

So…next step is a lumbar puncture on Thursday morning at 8:30.  I'm just getting poked and prodded like crazy, aren't it? And I thought my week would be a quiet week…

My sister's church in Pittsburgh sent me this awesome hand-written card this past week.  In it, they copied for me an excerpt from a devotional called, Our Daily Bread.  It said, "God becomes a reality when He becomes a necessity."  

God became a reality for me when I was just 16 years old.  When I  - with all my smarts and capabilities - thought that I had life all figured out and then I realized that I really didn't.  When I started to understand that as capable as I was, I just wasn't that good.  Wasn't that powerful. Wasn't that smart.  I needed someone far, far greater than I in order for my life to make sense.  Christ became real to me then because I discovered that I needed Him. 

And that hasn't changed.  
26 years later. 
That hasn't changed.

I am reminded of my great need for Him daily.  
Minute by minute. 
Waiting for the test. Waiting for the phone call. Processing the conversations with doctors. Looking into the faces of my sweet children as I contemplate what to tell them.

What reminds you?  
What reminds you of your need for God?  
What circumstance or relationship difficulty or internal battle presses in on you to gently or loudly tap on your shoulder, reminding you that you are ill-equipped on your own to thrive in your own journey? 

How I hope it's something.
Not because I want you to be facing hard things.  Not. At. All.
But, rather, it's because I am convinced that what we think about God is one of – if not THE - most important things about us. And sometimes we need the unpleasant pressure of hard things to drive away the distractions and the chasings of the wind in order to see clearly our need for the One who created us, who loves us and who has called us to be His own.  

He becomes a reality when He becomes a necessity. 
Love it. 

I'll be back in touch on Thursday or Friday to let you know if the mystery is solved…
Much love to you

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Update #80

Yesterday was my mom's birthday, Chad's mom's birthday, my good friend's birthday and my cousin's birthday (and perhaps even someone else to whom this email is going).

How I wish I had some celebratory news to share, especially with them.
Sadly, that isn't the case.

Despite the chemo treatments I've been on, the cancer continues to progress. [Yes, that means all the nausea this past summer was for naught! A bit frustrating, but I understand that that's just part of the process of dealing with this disease.]

So as scheduled, I will have a chest port installed today around 11 AM and then on Friday I will start a new chemo drug.  This one is given two weeks on, one week off.  To ensure that this medicine is having a positive impact, I will have repeat scans done in just 6 weeks, rather than the typical 3 months.

Oh goody.  
This is so much fun. 

Actually, I'm doing ok. I wasn't blind-sided by this news and that made it a lot easier to hear.  If I had thought that my body was responding beautifully and then heard what I heard yesterday, I would have had a much harder time accepting this.  If my chemo treatments thus far had been a walk in the park without side effects, then I would be scared and sad to move on to a new drug. And, most importantly, if I thought my life was only about living the most number of days, then I would be absolutely traumatized that this news - without God's intervention  to halt and eradicate the cancer in my body - would drastically shorten those days. 

No, these results weren't easy to hear.  Please don't read the above paragraph and think that there were no tears shed, no worries that crossed minds, no apprehensions about the yuckiness of cancer progression.  There were.   But, I also don't want you to think that we measure the goodness of our lives – and more importantly, the goodness of God -  based off of scan results.  I've had enough scan results – both "good" and "bad" results – to tell you that they cannot fully satisfy you (the "good ones), nor can they fully destroy you (the "bad" ones).  

Ooops…just looked at the time.  Gotta go. Off to Roswell.
Hey, at least this time this surgery ADDS something to my body, rather than takes something away from it!  :)

Much love and thankfulness for you,

Friday, September 12, 2014

Update #79 - Scans Today

Well… I don't have to get my chemo treatment today as this is my "rest" week.  That's a heehaw.
BUT…I do need to have scans done today to see if/how my body has responded to this lovely chemo regiment. 
On Wednesday, I'll get the results.  

Then on Thursday - unless I get an ALL CLEAR report (to which I would fall on my face in amazement, thankfulness, and shock) - I will be having a procedure to implant a port in my chest so that I don't have to keep getting chemo through my hand and it's tired-of-being-poked veins. Although there is a great benefit of not feeling the pain of a needle digging around in your hand trying to capture less-than-cooperative veins, I am not happy about having a chest port installed and predict that that will be a tough, emotional thing for me.  

Yet another outward and "permanent" symbol of the spoils this disease has taken. 

While I know through Scripture that the spoils cancer has taken are temporary, they are felt deeply by me each day as I live this thing out.  From lack of body parts I once had, to lack of hair I once had, to lack of energy I once had, to lack to activities I once did, to lack of foods I once ate, to lack of pounds I once carried.  Those are losses.  They are felt.  They are difficult to let go of and live contentedly.  Impossible, I would argue, without also knowing the greater truth that Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.  

"We don’t give up. Our bodies are becoming weaker and weaker. But our spirits are being renewed day by day. Our troubles are small. They last only for a short time. But they are earning for us a glory that will last forever. It is greater than all our troubles.  So we don’t spend all our time looking at what we can see. Instead, we look at what we can’t see. What can be seen lasts only a short time. But what can’t be seen will last forever."

Here's what I love about this passage:  it's honest.  It says it plainly… "Yep, Kristie, your body is becoming weaker.  But, you are more than your body.  And just because your body is under attack, doesn't mean your spirit has to be too.  Just because your body is becoming weaker, your spirit can be moving in the exact opposite direction – toward great strength.  And those troubles?  Yep, they're troubles alright.  Never want to try to tell you that they're not.  But, Kristie, those troubles are short-lasting in light of eternity.  And they are producing a mighty work.  They are earning you a glory that so far exceeds the trouble."  

And here's what else I love about this passage: The challenge.  The challenge of "so what are you going to do about this?"  So what are you going to do about your body failing at the same time your spirit has the opportunity to soar?  Are you going to spend all your time looking at the deterioration? At your crazy wisps of hair that remain?  Or the numerous scars on your body? Or the shrinking size of your frame? Or even the new bandages for this port that you'll have with you for the next few weeks? Are you going to keep your eyes there?


Are you going to look at the things you can't see, the things of promise included all through Scripture, the encouragement that comes when standing in His light and trading in your sorrows and fears for His love and His power? 

See, it's still about the eyes.  Where my eyes go. Where your eyes go.  Do they fall prey to the loud, flamboyantly-waving arms of the direness of your circumstances?  Do they desperately try to find a sense of peace as they only focus on the swirling, unstable ground those circumstances are creating?  Or do they respond to the strong pull of the loving face of the Savior who speaks grace and peace and joy and truth and power into those circumstances? Who calms, and takes on our burdens, and releases us from darkness, and instills joy? 

How I'd love to tell you that I've gotten this mastered: eyes only on His face.  But that's not true.  But what I can tell you to be true – after living in a pretty rough place for the past three months – is that there is NOTHING good or hope-filled about living with your eyes only on your circumstances.  Been there. Done that. Nothing good comes.  Just grumpiness, bitterness, frustration, and the sense that nothing will ever be okay again.

So, would you pray with me that my eyes – your eyes – be focused on the unseen reality around us?  That we can acknowledge our troubles, but not give them far more power than they are ever intended to have?  That we don't assume that what's happening in our circumstances is what also has to be happening in our spirits?  That we can be renewed powerfully at the exact same time that our bodies and/or our circumstances are falling apart?  

Hard stuff, but important stuff. 

Much love,

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Update #76

Monday, I had the incredible privilege of being in the delivery room when Danielle and Ryan welcomed their second little boy, Hudson John, into this world.  
How thankful I am for that great joy. 

Tuesday, I had a liver biopsy that went relatively easily.  Minimal to no lasting discomfort.  No scarring. Almost no impact to my life.  
How thankful I am for that unexpected gift.

Today, was chemo.  It was physically fairly easy (other than the Benadryl drip which made me light-headed, a touch queasy and super tired.)  
How thankful I am for that aspect of today.

And of course, I am thankful for others things from today – from medical technologies, to a great husband, to family and friends who love us well - but, even with that thankfulness in mind, the rest of my time there today was anguishing.    

I cried after the nurse put the line in and came back with all the tubing that I needed for the infusion.
I cried after the pre-meds were administered and she came to hook up the chemo agent (Taxol).
Tears streaming down my face and quiet shudders so to not disturb the other patients in the infusion room.

And then, when it was over and we got into the car, the "crying like a baby" turned into "screaming like a toddler."  
In fact, you could say that I had a full-fledged temper tantrum.
[Aren't you proud of me that I waited to do that until I got into the car? :) ]

You see, despite knowing truths about God's power and His never-leaving presence…despite having experienced His tenderness…despite trusting that death is just a gateway to eternal life…despite all those things…I got mad.  (I almost said frustrated, but in reality, that's a cop-out word. The truth is I got downright angry.)

I got mad that, three weeks out of each month, I will have to do this again and again.
I got mad that the caustic nature of chemo will quickly force me into getting a medi-port.
I got mad that soon I will be balding/bald.
I got mad that I'm dumping all these chemicals into my body, after I've been so careful to put good, whole, clean, non-GMO, organic, foods into it.
I got mad that the alternative treatments that I have been doing for the past few years haven't seemed to make an impact.
I just got mad.

And, boy, did I let God (and, probably, all the cars that drove by and saw a screaming lunatic and her crying husband!) know it.

What do you do when you get mad?

Do you keep it inside and stuff it and pretend everything's fine?
Do you let it out, but direct it at the wrong person or thing?
Or do you let it out and bring it before the only one who can do something about it?

Here's what I know: God doesn't deserve my anger. 
But, even so, He willingly lets me pour out my honest – sometimes mad - heart to Him.

How do I know that He's willing to let us to do that?

Because of Psalm 88. 

Psalm 88 is all about being in a situation you don't understand and don’t like and telling God about it - even going so far to accuse God both of being who He isn't and doing what He doesn't.
[If you're resonating with what I'm saying today take a peek at Psalm 88 in two different translations (;MSG)]

You see, just Psalm 88's INCLUSION in Scripture,  amazes me.

God doesn't deserve to be told things like the Psalmist told God in Psalm 88. 
Yet God includes it in the Bible.
Why would He do that?  Why would He allow those unfair, unfounded, accusatory words to be included in His word?

Because He knows us. He knows that sometimes our roads are so hard that we wrongly see Him in it.  
And because He loves us.  He loves us so much that He doesn't just TOLERATE us pouring out our hurt hearts to Him, he PROVIDES us the words to us (like those Psalm 88). 
And because He knows we don't want to stay mad.  We want to move past it. We want to return to a place of contented trust.  
So He helps us get it OUT so that we can get His truths IN.

That's why I love God.

Because the truth is I had a Psalm 88 kind of morning.
And, in His great mercy and deep love, He has allowed me to pour out screaming feelings so that He can move me past Psalm 88 and into Psalm 100:

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.
Is is He who made us, and we are His;
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise;
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.

I don't know what in your life has you angry.
I don't what what you're doing about it.
But let me encourage you that your Heavenly Father longs to bend His ear to hear your honest heart and longs to open His mouth to whisper His soothing truths in your ear.
To restore you.
To set your feet on solid ground.
To return joy to your heart.

May we all hear Him.
And may it matter.

Love to you.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Update #75

Slight change of plans. 

Headed to Roswell tomorrow for a liver biopsy.  My doctor wants to ensure that the properties/bio-markers of my breast cancer haven't changed as they sometimes can do.  I will be escorted by my friend Michelle at 6:30 AM (gold star for her!) and will have the procedure around 9 AM. My hope is that I will be home in time to get my kids off the bus as it's Emilie's last full day of 7th grade.   

As many of you have asked….

I am doing well.  I'm actually doing very well.  God has been showing up in huge, unexpected and comforting ways.  I have been greatly and clearly reminded that He goes before me.  He always has and He always will, no matter how it might appear.   He goes before and He is good.  Those are, quite honestly, two truths that have been stretched and challenged and held together tenuously at best sometimes over the past several weeks.  I will never give you the wrong idea and tell you that it is because I dug deep, and I clawed my way out, and I made a choice of my will, that I was able to come back to a place of quiet rest in His truths.  

That would be so incredibly not true.

The fact is that God, in His great mercy, rescued me from living one more second in a place that bordered on despair, certainly crossed into anger and frustration.  
He hasn't (yet) changed my circumstances – I'm still having a liver biopsy tomorrow, I'm still on the books for starting chemo on Wednesday – but He has set my mind within the safe borders of His truths. 
And that is a good place – no, a great place - to be. 

Super thankful for that.

And….Because my husband ROCKS…he willingly and enthusiastically shared his Father's Day day of rest with me. He put up with a repeat dinner from last night; a practical, but not super thoughtful gift; and a free ice cream cone at a local ice cream shop, rather than a homemade dessert. He graciously put up with all that so I could totally take advantage of the perfectly sunny and warm day today and get some chill time on the hammock.  

Dappled shade, a slight breeze, a good book, and worship music playing in my ears.  
A glimpse of Heaven. 
And I'll take it. 


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Update #74

Heard some pretty hard news at Roswell today.  

Scans show that there is now liver and lung involvement as well as new lesions in different bones.  After an MRI on Friday evening, I will meet with my doctor on Tuesday morning to finalize chemo infusion plans and then I will start chemo Wednesday.   It will most likely be a weekly chemo (on for 3 weeks and off for one).  It will most likely be an agent that causes me to be bald, although the final determination of that won't be made until later after my doctor, who was out sick today,  weighs in on the final plans. 

What makes all that even harder is that my bones are really bothering me.  So I will be starting prescription pain meds tonight (and perhaps during the day, depending on if they interfere with my ability to parent). 


I'm being faced with doing two things I have never wanted to do - Rx pain meds and infusion chemo – and I'm adjusting to that reality.  I do okay until I think of my kiddos and then my eyes just overflow.  

This will be very hard on them. And I can't make it go away.  
I can parent them through this. 
I can point them to the only One who provides a real and lasting hope. 
I can surround them with people who will love them and who will willingly pick up the slack for me.  
But I can't tell them the things that I long to be able to tell them.  

I was flying home the other day and just struggling with the fact that my body was feeling worse and knowing that I was going to get my results back today.  I had moved some songs from my iCloud to my iPhone so I could listen to some music on the flight.  I made a mistake and moved an entire album by Casting Crowns (one that, unbeknownst to me,  Chad had just purchased during his marathon training) and this song came one.  It's called, "Just Be Held"  (  It resonated so deeply with me, especially one line. And that one line has run through my head incessantly since that moment. 

"If your eyes are on are the storm, you wonder if I love you still. 
But if your eyes are on the Cross, you know I always have and I always will."

Oh my goodness, does that resonate. 

When I look at the storm, I wonder why He doesn't stop it for me when He has demonstrated a great ability to stop storms, part waters, restore life, heal broken bodies, bind up bleeding hearts, soothe troubled spirits. When I look at the storm, I do struggle with feelings of being unloved – or not loved enough – by Him.  

But, when I look at Christ and the Message of the Cross, those doubts fade away.  The Message of The Cross is all about a radically loving God who does the unimaginable so that we can be forever reconciled to God.  Who does the unimaginable for one reason only: because He loves us. 

The Storm.
The Cross.

As I've said before, this has been and continues to be a battle of where my eyes rest.
This new chapter I'll be embarking on doesn't change that. 
It's still the same battle.

The battle is not with cancer.
It's never been with cancer. 
Cancer is just the backdrop for the battle.

The real battle is for my eyes.

And, I can guarantee you that any battle you may be facing right now is first and foremost about your eyes too.
Do we keep our eyes on the Storm or do we keep our eyes on the Cross?

So, my friends, I thank you for the words of encouragement you've already sent my way and I thank you, in advance, for being willing to continue to walk out this journey with our family. I know it's tough.   May we all see Christ more clearly as we walk it out and may that infuse us all with a joy, peace and hope that are louder and deeper than the sounds of the storm.  And may you have plenty of Kleenex on hand if you see me and I cry like a baby! 

Love to you

Monday, May 19, 2014

Update #73

Emilie and I are planning on going to Knoxville, TN on Wednesday for the final round of Destination Imagination's global competition.  It'll be four, jam-packed days of  competition and fun activities, followed by an early morning flight in order to be back in Buffalo on Sunday morning to cheer on Chad as he finishes his FIRST MARATHON!  

I would covet your prayers.

My body is not feeling very good. For the first time since my diagnosis, I'm honestly wondering if I'll be able to fully participate in the "non-physically strenuous" festivities we have planned. And it breaks my heart at the thought of this possibility – of what it all means and how it may affect Em.  


My sweet girl needs her mom. 
As does my compassionate little boy.
And I've been boldly and tearfully reminding God of that fact.

And, at the same time I remind God of the great need my kids have for a mom, I am abundantly aware that Laura's three precious kiddos – Sarah, jack and Kate - desperately need their mama too.  
Yet she is not here on earth to live that out for them.

(Ugh again.)

I know all too well – as do many of you - that what we want to be promised may not be what God promises.
What we want to be off-limits, may not be placed off-limits.
What we want to be unacceptable, may not be so unacceptable.
What we want to be able to get a pass on, may not be passable. 

And it's hard to let go of our definitions of what is good, of what is right, of what is acceptable. It's hard to let go of our dreams and what we want to believe our rights are.  It's hard to let go of all that so that our hands are free to hold fast to the One who perfectly knows what He can and will do in impossible situations.

How He will bind up broken-hearts.
How He will empower victory out of the mire of fear, worry and sadness.
How He will forge faith that withstands the wind and waves of trials and temptations. 
How He will redeem each hurt so that we can speak His truth to others who need to hear the words, "I know what feels like" and "I know the One who can make it right."

I'm in the middle of doing just that. 
Once again.
In the middle of that painful, yet strangely peace-filling process, of letting go of what I think would be best.
In order to fully surrender to the One who knows what's best.

How I wish this surrendering thing was easier.
How I wish that the process of wrestling and surrendering were simple.
How I wish I could travel through this process once and never feel the need to do it again. 

But that's not how it is for me.
In fact, you may be reading this and be asking yourself, "Didn't she write something like this before?"
I probably did.  I've certainly felt this before. Countless times.

The process of surrender is messy and imperfect.
It's hard and complicated.

But I've also found it totally worth it.
Worth it because it always leads to a place of freedom and peace.

Surrendering to God doesn't mean that I'm being broken in pieces and beaten to a pulp and have no other options. That I cry, "Uncle" and He wins a battle. Rather, surrendering to God means that I willingly come to a place of trust and rest in Him.   

"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." 
- Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV) 

In the midst of the painful moments of this journey, I surrender to the truth that Christ speaks these words to me:
Come to Me, Kristie, when you're feeling pain and you imagine terrible things inside your body…

Come to Me, Kristie, when your mind runs ahead and you wonder what you'll hear in a couple of weeks when you get your scans back…

Come to Me, Kristie, when you start to think that you're not doing enough, not living out life well enough, not being a good enough mom, wife, daughter…

Come to Me, Kristie, when you are angry and frustrated and are tempted to think that I've abandoned you to walk this all by yourself

Come to Me, Kristie.  Bring all that junk to Me. Lay it before Me.  Surrender it to Me.  
And I will take all of it and, in exchange, I will give you rest. 

Oh yes, surrendering is hard.
But holding on to false securities and less-than hopes and incomplete dreams is exhausting.

Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about.  
You, too, are in the middle of a battle over where your eyes will focus and where your mind will stay.
Perhaps you need to Him say similar things to you. Perhaps you need to hear Him invite you to: 

Come to Me all you who are frantically grasping for, and holding out for, what you want to be true…a process that leaves you unsettled, angry, frustrated and dissatisfied….

Come to Me all you who are trying to follow an imaginary list of "if only I could act better, be better, not make mistakes, then…"

Come to Me all you who are chasing after distractions in order to avoid the real thing that shakes the core of your being, that scares you, hurts you, confuses you…

Come to Me all you who are attempting to control and fix and figure out…all you who are incessantly planning and planning again for things that may or may not ever happen…

…Come to Me. Trade all that junk for My promises and gifts.  Surrender your whole life to Me. 
For I am gentle and humble and I will give you rest.  

As we move forward in whatever Hills that rise before each of us,
how I pray that you and I both will be clear on where our hope lives. 
On where our joy is sourced. 
On where our confidence is rooted. 
On where our future is secure.
On where our rest is received.

Thanks again for walking this difficult road with Chad, the kids and me. 
We are forever grateful for you and the various ways you encourage and support us.

May hope always get the last word.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Update #72

From this morning...

Headed to the dentist this morning for (most likely) a crown.
Followed up by a visit to Roswell for a blood draw, a jab in the belly, tumor marker results and a visit with my doctor.

Even though it involves a crown, it's not exactly a day that little girls dream about one day having, right? :)

I would love your prayers.
Thanks all. 

Back in touch later today….

From this evening...
So I didn't get a crown.
In fact, I didn't have to have really any dental work done.  Perhaps down the road, but not today. 
What incredibly, surprisingly easy news.  
Totally deserving of a loud yippee! 

The news from Roswell was no where near as surprising, nor easy for that matter.
Tumor markers continue to climb and scans are definitely required.  

So on 6/2 I'll be getting scans and then on 6/11 I'll hear the results of those scans and treatment plans will be discussed.
Until then, I'm still on my "extreme-weight-gain-as-the-major-side-effect" drug.  (Please don't even think about putting a "yippee" to that one. Not today. Probably not ever.  Ugh.) 

The great news is that I feel pretty good.  Any hip pain is generally very manageable by Advil so I'm able to fully participate in life 
And that is something for which I am superbly thankful.

Although I generally don't like to only give medical updates, the truth is that I'm abdicating my parenting responsibilities right now in order to send off the quick update to you, so…. any longer update will have to with until later. I know; don't cry. :)

You guys are awesome. 
I truly count it one of my greatest privileges to be loved well by you.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Update #71

We have a tape dispenser in our house.
I think it's the coolest thing.
Chad would strongly disagree with me.

This tape dispenser is a battery-powered, automatic tape dispenser. 
All you need to do is just pull on the very end of the tape and, voila, the tape dispenser pushes out the perfect amount of tape you need for most jobs.

Sounds fabulous, right?
It is. 

It's able to be used with one hand.
It sticks to the table top.
It makes a cool noise.
And it's brightly colored.

It's a nifty, fun invention according to me.
According to Chad, it's the most irritating object we have in our house.

[Don’t tell him, but I was laughing at him during the Christmas season when he had to use it to wrap gifts. It was super funny hearing him "talk" to the dispenser and complain that he couldn't figure out how to use it…that it takes a simple tasks of getting a piece of tape and turns it into a big production.]

So, despite Chad's complaints, we've had this tape dispenser sitting on our desk in our kitchen for a few years.

Just the other day, I noticed that one of the kids had added to it.
One of them took a pen to a piece of tape and wrote the word, "Pray" on it and stuck that piece of tape to the side of the dispenser.

I have no idea.
(Really, why do kids do half the things they do?  Especially boys.)

But here's what I know.

I love that they did.
I love that they knew enough about life and God and their need for Him that they illogically graffitti-ed our tape dispenser with one simple, yet life-changingly powerful  word, "Pray."

There's much about having a cancer diagnosis that royally stinks.  I mean ROYALLY.

But, if it means that our kids know that importance of God and Heaven and faith and love… 
But if that means that our kids get to see life through the eyes of eternity…
But if it means that Emilie and Daniel grow up from a young age knowing that the fullness of a life well-lived doesn't consist of having the best things, making the most money, landing the most prestigious job, taking the most exotic vacation, or even living the most days…
If it means that they are growing deep roots…

If it means those things, then I need to acknowledge that there is much, much, much good that comes from difficult things.
That great blessings can – and do – flow from hard things.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
 - Jeremiah 17:7-8

Love to you today,

P.S. Headed to Roswell on Wednesday for blood work and doctor's visit.  Don't expect there to be any sort of treatment change at this visit given I've only been on this new medicine for 4 weeks and that's too early to tell its efficacy.  She will, however, probably order scans before my visit next month.  Blah. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Update #70

What do you see when you look at this picture?
And, more importantly, why the heck might I might be posting it this morning? 

No, despite what it may look like, I'm not complaining about the fact that we still have lots and lots of snow.
In fact, I'm actually super grateful that we do still have all this white stuff on the ground.  
Before you roll your eyes, let me explain.

Last night, between 8:30 and 9 PM, a group of friends took it upon themselves to silently circle our house in prayer.
They braved the cold.  They put off putting their kids to bed. They sacrificed their relaxation time in their own homes.
To. Pray. For. Us.

As Chad and I tried to go through the regular bedtime routine with our kids, that was happening outside.

For me, I wrestled with the illogical mixture of feeling embarrassed, guilty, grateful, and joyous all at the same time. 
Because knowing that you are loved in such a sacrificial way is both humbling and awe-inspiring.
And knowing that your God is one who sometimes calls His people to do crazy, sacrificial stuff is both encouraging and challenging. 

But, for our kids…there was nothing but an overwhelming excitement.
They thought this was great and received this gift with nothing but a sense of, "Of course, this was exactly the thing that God would do for us!" 

It was so cool watching them sneak over to the windows and open the curtains or blinds just enough to peer through with one eye.
It was so encouraging to know that God made Himself more evident to them through this act of sacrificial service by our friends. 
And it was so funny to hear Daniel exclaim with building excitement: " Hey…that's Mr. Goble.  With Mrs. Goble!  With Ainsley!  And…wait…is that Gray peeing behind a tree?" 

So, why did I attach this picture of a snow-covered portion of our backyard?
Because that same snow that I've been complaining about and wishing would just go away…that same snow captured the evidence of what occurred here last night:


Mixed in with Mollie Moo's paw prints is the unmistakable path of footprints completely encircling our home.  
Tangible footprints that represent intangible, unseen prayers.
Tangible footprints that represent the radical love the Father has for His children.
Tangible footprints that represent the powerful realities of the unseen world around us. 

And, as soon as I opened the curtains and saw that this morning, I just couldn't wait to take a picture of it. 
To capture it as a testimony to, not just the love of great friends, but to the God who Sees, Who Knows, Who Listens and Who Acts. 

And, now that I have captured this picture, now…the snow may melt.
Until December.
Really, snow, you may melt now.
Bye, bye.

Truly thankful. Truly humbled. Truly blessed.