Friday, July 23, 2010

You Carried Me

He carried me and continues to carry me. My life and body are so broken yet He continues to pick up the pieces and carry me into the next tomorrow. When the sun rises, he lifts me up and carries me through yet another day.

"You Carried Me"
Building 429

I've been so busy
I missed the reasons
I missed Your love
and I nearly missed it all

Still You've held me
And You've healed me
You've given all
And it brought me to Your cross

And I stand only because
You've given me grace to walk
Only because

You carried me
You carried me
You carried me through it all
And I believe
Yes I believe
You'll carry me all the way home
Cause mercy covers all

I know the scripture
I've known the songs
I sang the words
from my hollowed heart

But You've spoken softly
Through the storm
I've heard Your voice
and I've felt the calm

I stand only because
You've given me faith to walk
Only because

You carried me
You carried me
You carried me through it all
And I believe
Yes I believe
You'll carry me all the way home

Lord I know that you love me
I'll never doubt it
I can't live without it
Your mercy has found me
I am astounded
I can't live without it, oooh

You carried me, You carried me
You carried me through it all...

You carried me
You carried me
And I believe
Yeah I believe
You'll carry me all the way home
Cause mercy covers all
Mercy covers all
Yeah, yeah
And I believe

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Forgiving Others

Learning to forgive those who hurt or offend us is one of the greatest abilities we can ever achieve. And apart from the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and lives, we cannot do this on our own. Today, let us reflect on those who have hurt us and we have failed to forgive and then meditate on these verses and quotes. May we each be challenged to forgive the person who has hurt us the most deeply.

Matthew 6: 14-15
“If you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Unforgiveness can drag us down and figuratively bury us. Often the times the person we need to forgive, goes on living with not even a portion of the heartache and pain that we carry in our unforgiveness. Most importantly, unforgiveness erects a looming barricade between us and our Father. If we think we cannot forgive someone because the hurts they have inflicted are much too painful, let us recall the tragic death our Savior died on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Our hurts pale in comparison, don’t they?

I do not know the author of this quote, but it is a powerful quote for us to consider.
“Every person should have a special cemetery lot in which to bury the faults of friends and loved ones. To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was YOU.”

Again, we are urged to forgive because in doing so, we are freed in a way that only true forgiveness can generate. Note in this quote that we are to bury – and not dig up – those faults in need of forgiveness. Too often, we will say in words that we forgive someone, but we will cling to the baggage and hurt which confirms that true forgiveness has not occurred.

“Hate is a prolonged form of suicide.” –Douglas V. Steere

Such truth composes this quote. Hate and unforgivness gnaw away at our spirits and souls. Thought by thought, memory by memory, and heartache by heartache……as long as we do not forgive those who offend us, the erosion of our lives slowly transpires. And before we realize how critical the unforgiveness in our lives has become, our hopes and dreams are eradicated by our own unforgiveness.

As Christians, God has given us the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 6:18). What does this reconciliation require of each of us …… understanding, resolution, compromise, reunion, ceasefire, bringing together, appeasement……may we each commit our lives and hearts and minds to forgiveness and reconciliation in each relationship that challenges us.

No Matter What

Today I received an e-mail with this message from someone I have never met. She is on a prayer chain that has faithfully prayed for me for quite some time. I wanted to share what she wrote and this song that she sent to me. I pray that it will encourage someone else today. Thank you Kelli and Donna!

Kelli wrote: This song reminds me of what Stacie is living -- have you heard it by Kerrie Roberts called "No Matter What"?

I'm running back to your promises one more time
Lord that's all I can hold on to
I gotta say this has taken me by surprise
But nothing surprises You

Before a heartache can ever touch my life
It has to go through Your hands
And even though I keep asking why
I keep asking why

No matter what, I'm gonna love You
No matter what I'm gonna need You
I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, I'll trust you
No matter what, no matter what

When I'm stuck and there's nothing else by myself
I'm just sitting in silence
There's no way I can make it without Your help
I wont even try it

I know You have Your reasons for everything
So I will keep believing
Whatever I might be feeling, God, You are my hope
And You will be my strength,

No matter what, I'm gonna love You
No matter what I'm gonna need You
I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, I'll trust you
No matter what, no matter what

Anything I don't have You can give it to me
But it's okay if You don't, I'm not here for those things
The touch of Your love is enough on its own
No matter what I still love You and I'm gonna need You

No matter what I'm gonna love you
No matter what I'm gonna need you
I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, I'll trust You
No matter what, no matter what

I know You can find a way to keep me from the pain
But if not, I'll trust you
No matter what, no matter what
No matter, no matter what

To listen to the song:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

22 Months Old

Yes, Lil Man has reached his 22 month milestone! He possesses this amazing ability to restore his Grammy back to her feet after difficult days. After the ICU admission and weeks of IV's, procedures, and more testing, Lil Man decided to reinfuse my life and spirit with joy and encouragement.

One morning the week before last, I arrived to pick him up at his Mommy's office. They opened the back door and he blurted out, "GRAMMY"! I could barely believe what my ears had just heard. And again, he shouted, "GRAMMY!" Now, he had been calling GramPY, the endeared name of PEE and GramMY had been called MEE up to that time. No word like GRAMMY has brought such joy to my heart. Now, Lil Man follows me around the house and probably says, "GRAMMY" about one hundred times daily. (Forgive me, but Grammys are allowed to exaggerate when it comes to their grands!)

His vocabulary is amazing and we are tickled pink about a few of his word pronunciations. On his farm, they grow corn and beans. We ask him, "What crops does your Dad grow on the farm?" And he promptly responds, "Corn and beanAS". Beans are always pronounced BeanAS and we roll with laughter. We have to be cautious if we order green beanAS in a restaurant because all of us have found ourselves pronouncing beanAS in this unique fashion.

He has enjoyed July's fireworks, fairs and carnivals. Hopefully, this week if Grammy gathers up some energy, I will be able to take him to a local fair and carnival. He already has plans to play in his water table tomorrow. He was visiting this evening to celebrate his Uncle Philip's 31st birthday and he has already gathered up all of his water toys. He is so smart - just ask all of us who love him! We are not biased or partial in our assessments of his intelligence and many other talents.

Enemy Leukemia

Enemy Leukemia
waging war in my body
as enemy combatant,
adversary to my life.
Never to my soul.

Leukemia cells live and live and live...
incapable of dying.
accumulating and destroying my body,
taunting and teasing my mind.
Never touching my soul.

Stealth in its abilities
to dodge weapons of
chemotherapy destruction;
evading the smart bomb.
Never stealth and covert to my Father.

Just one stealth cell thriving
in marrow or blood;
one cell.
Remission is stolen;
life is shortened on this earth.
Never touches my eternal life.

--Copyright Stacie

Wisdom from the Book of Philippians 1

I have been studying the book of Acts and some of the letters written by the Apostle Paul. I just marvel at his wisdom in words. I wanted to share some of my favorite verses from the book of Philippians and I pray that they speak to your spirits as they have spoken to mine. May each of us be challenged and encouraged as we meditate on these words. Each day this week, may we challenge ourselves to take one of these verses and strive to live it out fully in our own lives. If you are challenged or changed by one of these verses, post your praises to God on this post! All glory be to Him.

"And this is my prayer: That your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11)."

Discerning what is best - don't we each desire that? I want to discern the best treatment for myself. I want my children to discern the best plans God has for their lives. I want leaders of our country to discern the best course of action for our nation. We cannot exhibit such discernment without the love and righteousness of Christ in our lives. May we open the doors of our heart each day and ask Him to reign and rule over our lives.

"...for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance (Philippians 1:19)."

Knowing with this type of certainty that God is in control of our lives and that by living our lives in obedience to Him and His Word that all things are going to work for our good, is such a guarantee of peace. I am certain that no matter what mayhem leukemia causes in my life, that I will one day be delivered from its destruction. May each of us engage the resources of prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit (through prayer and God's Holy Word) to foster this type of confidence in our futures.

"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body (Philippians 1:20-24)."

Don't Paul's words and reflections resound in your spirit? They speak loudly to me. I recall early on after my leukemia diagnosis, that I was concerned that my faith would be shaken and that Christ would not be exalted in my life. This was and continues to be a personal prayer of mine. Never, do I want a life challenge to shake my faith foundations. The Scripture in verse 21: "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" is one that I have requested be engraved on my grave marker. He has certainly kept me alive and life would not have been mine without all of the acts of healing and mercy that He has extended to me. However, to die will certainly be gain for each of us who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of our sins and salvation of our souls. Even Paul wavered and pondered about which to choose - he was "torn between the two". If today is a day of challenge for you, refocus your thought life and energies on the Word of God. Don't be distracted or side-tracked by today's trials and tribulations. Eternal life awaits the children of the Most High God - "to die is gain".

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1: 27).

So few words with such immense instruction. Imagine if each of us could master this statement: WHATEVER HAPPENS, CONDUCT YOURSELVES IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST."



Whatever could include being told you are dying; that you have lost your job or all of your finances; that you have been betrayed by family or friends; that your heart has been ripped into a billion tiny pieces; that your loved one just died; that your child has turned his back on his faith; that depression has stolen your joy - WHATEVER HAPPENS. May each of us conduct ourselves in ways that are pleasing to our Father when we are rejoicing on life's mountaintops and when we are sobbing in the valleys of our lives. Whatever happens ........

Update & Request for Prayer: July 11, 2010

My apologies for the delay in updating my blog. I have had some technical challenges with my laptop and I am not a pro at posting from my cell phone yet, so I have just remained silent. I am grateful for all of you who post a comment of concern or who drop me an e-mail to inquire if I have returned to the "slammer" (aka ICU).

The PICC line site healed well and I have not developed any infections from that procedure. We realize that removing it may result in my turning around and having to have another line inserted if the fungal cultures are positive from either the sinus or lung scopes from last month.

I continue to run periodic fevers and have a productive cough. I anticipate the end of this week will be the earliest that we might receive preliminary fungal cultures from the two scopes. More likely, it will be another two weeks. If these fungal cultures are negative, then I believe this will be a stronger indicator that my NIH physician's suggestion that the leukemia might be infiltrating my lungs is accurate. And while we always view fevers in the context of infection, fevers also can be a "B symptom" of leukemia - symptoms that can indicate that the leukemia is progressing. This past week, I reviewed this list of classic "B Symptoms" and was quite alarmed to realize that I now possess every symptom on the list.

I have remained very fatigued - some days just the motions of everyday life seem very overwhelming, yet I attempt to strive on and maintain some normalcy in my life. In the midst of the physical fatigue, a deep, brain fog presides over my thinking - another reason my blog updates have been sparse. Some days just formatting a paragraph seems to zap my energy. I have been researching to see if I can locate any chemotherapy protocol that could be survivable for an end stage patient.

I vacillate between feeling a moment of temptation that yearns to strike the leukemia with a potent weapon of destruction (chemotherapy) to returning to my current state of engaging only palliative care options. I will not move ahead until I have clear peace and guidance that only the Holy Spirit can provide to me.

The current chemotherapy protocol that I have been reviewing is from an Italian clinical trial. I have corresponded with the primary investigator in Italy. This protocol studied the chemotherapy agents Fludarabine and Cytoxan, used in low doses in an elderly population of patients. The reasoning was that this elderly population could not survive standard chemotherapy doses. While my age is far from being considered "elderly", it is doubted if my body can withstand many chemotherapy protocols due to my lengthy leukemia battle and fractured immune system. I have taken full dose Fludrabine in the past and it is the drug that wrecked serious havoc with my T-Cells (vital immune system cells). The last dose of Fludarabine I took was in 2004 and six years later, my T-Cells remain at very low levels. I have never received the other drug, Cytoxan. If I decided upon this Italian protocol, I would have to convince my physicians and the insurance "gods" to approve it for me. This protocol would mean 4 days of chemotherapy every 28 days for four to six months.

Two other alternative treatments that I am considering are also widely used in Europe but not in the USA. Mistletoe extract (Iscador) has been estimated that 40-60 percent of European oncologists are using Iscador with their cancer patients. The other possible alternative treatment is Carnivora (extract of the Venus flytrap). I am researching both of these options. Interestingly, one recent study on Iscador reviewed its use with Cytoxan (the chemotherapy drug I mentioned above) and the Iscador increased the effectiveness of the Cytoxan.

Decisions such as the ones that I am facing are not made without much prayer, much research and much reflection. I ask that you continue to uphold me in your prayers. I want God to reveal the path He has for me to pursue. I know MY plans will not succeed without Him. Proverbs 16:9 reminds me: "A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." I can make all the plans in the world, but I desire for the Lord to be directing each step. He doesn't make mistakes like I do!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Prayer for Today: July 2, 2010


We rejoice for the Holy Spirit's comforting and guidance. We are grateful for the Helper whom You have left with us. Where would we be without the Holy Spirit in our lives? Luke 12:12 instructs us: "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” So tonight, Lord, I pray that each of our spirits will be prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray for needs that surround us.

Before I ask Your touch upon so many urgent petitions tonight, I ask You, Father, to "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24. May our hearts, minds and souls be cleansed by the Blood of Jesus.

Lord, as I type this, you are aware of the heartaches and concerns that each of us is facing. May the presence of the Holy Spirit be deeply sensed by us daily. May Your peace flood each soul's heart. May Your purpose be sensed in each soul's life. May Your hope be instilled in each soul's spirit. May we be always inclined to seek YOUR way for OUR lives. I am thankful that Your ways are always right for us.

We love you, Dear Father. We are grateful beyond what words can express for your goodness and mercy that You extend to each of Your children.

In Jesus' Name I pray. AMEN.

House Call

As I had mentioned, my trusted NIH/NCI (National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute) physician, Dr. M. drove over 700 miles this week to visit us – what a house call! I have been so blessed with physicians who are compassionate, brilliant caregivers.
To be able to sit and chat with him about new research, new protocols, reflections on current treatment, and other breaking news from the leukemia experts was a blessing as was just spending time with a man who has meant so much to my longevity with leukemia. He has cared for me over a decade and this week marked his retirement although his lengthy leukemia-driven plans did not sound like someone who had retired! He will be speaking at CLL symposiums in Italy and Spain later this year.

Dr. M. has consulted extensively through these years with my local family physician. Ironically, both of them were born and raised in Iowa and she came to our home last night to meet Dr. M. and to visit with him. Kevin took this photo last night of me with these two beloved doctors. Dr. M. departed this morning. I pray that our paths will meet again.

Update & Request for Prayer: July 2, 2010

For those of you who prayed today for my PICC line removal to be a success, I thank you. It is out and intact and I had very little bleeding – all answers to my prayer requests. Please continue to pray that it does not develop an infection. My daughter, Stephanie, who has almost earned her Masters degree as a Nurse Practitioner, took me. Thanks, Steph!

My cough continues. Perplexing and puzzling to my physicians and me, we will have to continue to be medical sleuths to determine its cause. Fungal cultures from last week’s bronchoscopy “might” reveal some clues in 4-6 weeks. Sigh. My NIH oncologist suggested that the leukemia might be infiltrating my lungs. If we had considered that possibility last week, a sample of lung tissue could have been removed during the biopsy to determine if the leukemia was present. I believe everything happens for a reason and a purpose, so I will try not to second-guess myself and wish that the biopsy had occurred – that would have increased the risks of the procedure, so I will accept it was God’s will that a tissue sample was not removed.

I will write more in another blog update about our blessed visit by my NIH oncologist this week. What an amazing individual, physician and researcher, Dr. M. is! We enjoyed his presence and update on recent updates on treatments and other considerations. When I asked him if I had made a poor decision when I declined treatment with Revlimid earlier this year, he said definitely not and that he was not impressed with the drug’s performance. Revlimid was the drug that had been recommended in 2009 and I declined it after much prayer. It was re-recommended in early 2010 and I felt that if God had directed my paths away from the drug the previous year, that He would not change His mind. He always knows best, doesn’t he?

Dr. M. also suggested that the great tumor load that I am carrying right now could be adding to my infection rate as much as the degree of immune suppression. He believes that treatment might be in order again, very soon. For the ten thousand dollar question – what treatment can I survive? Please pray for this answer to be made crystal clear for me by the Holy Spirit. If the decision is made to resume chemotherapy/immune therapy, it will probably be very soon since we try to time treatment outside of the winter months due to increased risks of flu and other infections.

Thank you for your continued prayers. Happy Birthday, America!