Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My prayer for you all is a most Blessed Christmas!

I love Christmas - not the hassles of shopping and wrapping and cleaning, but the wonder of why we celebrate at this time of year at all - the birth of our precious Lord Jesus Christ!

There is nothing greater than the love of our Father God in sending His Son to live and die for us. I am so thankful and humble that He would even consider me worthy of such a gift.

I pray that all might accept God's free gift this Christmas season and celebrate with true Peace and Goodwill.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cancer Update

Update: November 21, 2009

I returned to school at the beginning of this school year, excited to be back and ready for a new start. It has been wonderful blessing!

I had a CT scan the middle of October and the lung cancer is still gone. For those of you who have never read of God's grace in my life, this was stage 4 lung cancer having already spread to my lymph system. And, as all of my doctors have proclaimed, it is a true miracle that this cancer disappeared, not just in remission but completely gone. (If you are interested you can read the complete story below).

I am so thankful to my Father in Heaven, that He died for me and believes I am worthy to stay here on earth and proclaim His righteousness and live my life for His glory. My only prayer is that I would do all that is His will for giving me more time in this earthly life.

Manhattan Declaration

I am so excited about what has been taking place. God will be praised and our country blessed.
This is just a taste of what you will find when you read the entire declaration.

Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience
Drafted on October 20, 2009
Released on November 20, 2009

Christians are heirs of a 2,000-year tradition of proclaiming God's word, seeking justice in our societies, resisting tyranny, and reaching out with compassion to the poor, oppressed and suffering.

While fully acknowledging the imperfections and shortcomings of Christian institutions and communities in all ages, we claim the heritage of those Christians who defended innocent life by rescuing discarded babies from trash heaps in Roman cities and publicly denouncing the Empire's sanctioning of infanticide. We remember with reverence those believers who sacrificed their lives by remaining in Roman cities to tend the sick and dying during the plagues, and who died bravely in the coliseums rather than deny their Lord.

After the barbarian tribes overran Europe, Christian monasteries preserved not only the Bible but also the literature and art of Western culture. It was Christians who combated the evil of slavery: Papal edicts in the 16th and 17th centuries decried the practice of slavery and first excommunicated anyone involved in the slave trade; evangelical Christians in England, led by John Wesley and William Wilberforce, put an end to the slave trade in that country. Christians under Wilberforce's leadership also formed hundreds of societies for helping the poor, the imprisoned, and child laborers chained to machines.

In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.

This same devotion to human dignity has led Christians in the last decade to work to end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking and sexual slavery, bring compassionate care to AIDS sufferers in Africa, and assist in a myriad of other human rights causes - from providing clean water in developing nations to providing homes for tens of thousands of children orphaned by war, disease and gender discrimination.

Like those who have gone before us in the faith, Christians today are called to proclaim the Gospel of costly grace, to protect the intrinsic dignity of the human person and to stand for the common good. In being true to its own calling, the call to discipleship, the church through service to others can make a profound contribution to the public good.

We, as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered, beginning in New York on September 28, 2009, to make the following declaration, which we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities. We act together in obedience to the one true God, the triune God of holiness and love, who has laid total claim on our lives and by that claim calls us with believers in all ages and all nations to seek and defend the good of all who bear his image. We set forth this declaration in light of the truth that is grounded in Holy Scripture, in natural human reason (which is itself, in our view, the gift of a beneficent God), and in the very nature of the human person. We call upon all people of goodwill, believers and non-believers alike, to consider carefully and reflect critically on the issues we here address as we, with St. Paul, commend this appeal to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

While the whole scope of Christian moral concern, including a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, claims our attention, we are especially troubled that in our nation today the lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are severely threatened; that the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

Because the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion are foundational principles of justice and the common good, we are compelled by our Christian faith to speak and act in their defense. In this declaration we affirm: 1) the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life; 2) marriage as a conjugal union of man and woman, ordained by God from the creation, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society and; 3) religious liberty, which is grounded in the character of God, the example of Christ, and the inherent freedom and dignity of human beings created in the divine image.

We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right - and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation - to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.

Friday, July 31, 2009

My Life is in You, Lord

I never actually sat down to write the story of my love relationship with my Savior before a great friend asked me if I would. I had thought about doing just that many times but my life seemed to always be stuck in high gear. The moment I finally wrote most of this seemed to be the right time to share the greatness of our God in my life. I was on my way to the hospital once more and God would be with me through it all.

I was a single mother for several years, raised two children, attended college, and worked part time at the college. I graduated with a BA in Art Education K-12 and a BA in Studio Art: Illustration and began my teaching career. I struggled with so much in my life, as we all do. I thought I was a Christian; I grew up going to church and I still attended church but something was always missing. Then I met a wonderful Christian friend who asked me to go to his church - a Berean Bible Church - and I accepted Christ as my Savior in the year 2000. Everything changed!

I remarried in 2003 and life was good.
In December of 2004 dreaded news came to us - I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung cancer. The cancer had spread to a lymph node in my neck as well as the nodes between my two lungs. My doctor was great, very "up", and we jumped right in to my chemo and radiation treatments. I put it all in God's hands, our creator and healer, and He gave me a peace that was indescribable.

The treatments were rough but never more than I could handle. Following treatment, with a tumor still on my lung, the doctor put me on a trial chemo oral pill, the last resort for lung cancer patients . This pill is actually only meant to extend a lung cancer patient's life for awhile longer. I took this pill from July of 2005 until February of 2006, at which time I became ill and was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukemia. I was rushed to a larger city, two and a half hours away, to a specialist in blood cancers, and immediately put through an induction chemo for leukemia. Again, God was with me through it all, as well as my daughter, who by then was married with children of her own, who came daily to spend time with me.

My leukemia went into remission with the first round of chemo. While there, the doctor had another CT Scan given to re-stage my lung cancer - it was gone! He questioned me about it and I said the last scan I had showed the tumor was still about 1/2 ". He said there was nothing there and he was skeptical. I told him with God all things are possible.

I came home and continued with the follow up chemo treatments through the summer. After the third treatment, each of which lowered my white counts to 0 or as close to it as possible, something began happening in my left lung. I was first put on antibiotics. These did not help. After x-rays and tests, I was sent to a lung specialist who said it might be pneumonia. He proceeded to put me on steroids and told me to come back in a week and we would see how things were. I kept feeling terrible. My oncologist had another CT scan done to see just what was going on and there they saw something growing in my left lung. After being treated with antibiotics, then steroids, for three weeks, they finally sent me in to have a second scan with a biopsy to see just what it was. It turned out to be a very deadly fungus called Mucormycosis. It is a very aggressive fungus. According to all that I read, this fungus has an 80% mortality rate in patients not treated within the first two weeks. Not only that, steroids are the worst thing you can possibly do with a fungus. Again, God was with me through it all and I was treated with Amphotericin B for 21 days straight each in the hospital - approximately 8 hours through an IV - then put on another trial oral medicine called Pozaconozole, which took care of the last of the fungus and allowed me to return to teaching when school started the end of August.

I was free of lung cancer, the fungus and in remission for the Leukemia for two years.

My counts started dropping over the summer of 2008. I had another bone marrow biopsy in July. It did not show anything but my counts continued to drop. In September I had another biopsy and that time it did show the Leukemia coming back. I headed back to the city and my Father, my Comforter and my Savior was with me, just as He always has been. I left it all in His hands and in His will and I felt safe and happy in His arms.

Our God is awesome, isn't He?

I completed the induction round of chemo once again and, once again, it went into remission. My doctor then began tests for a bone marrow transplant. I wasn't too sure about it all but knew he thought it would be the wisest choice. Unfortunately, my only brother was not a match and sibling matches are always the best. I had to give a great deal of thought to what direction I then wanted to take.

My youngest grandson was only 10 months old when I was in the hospital all of October 2008. A bone marrow transplant takes up to about a year of your life. I would have had to stay in the hospital for about 3 months or more, without visitors, during the transplant process; then another 3 months or so with few visitors while they wait to see if my body would accept or reject the bone marrow, and finally, stay home for 6 months or so to avoid bacteria and virus that could be deadly. This would have all begun once they found a donor that would match up as close as possible. All of this without any guarantees that I would live through it or if I did live that it would completely eliminate the possibility that the Leukemia would come back.

I finally decided against the transplant. It just did not seem to be where God wanted me. I wanted my grandson to know me, at least a little. There is also always the chance that the Leukemia may never come back after having all of the chemo again (
"with God all things are possible"). I chose to come home, complete four rounds of consolidation chemo and move on with my life.

July, 2009 - Update
I taught the last quarter of school (March 30 - May 26) after completing my last round of consolidation chemo in February. I saw my Leukemia doctor the 20th of this month and it is still in remission. I plan to return to my teaching position next month for a new year and I continue to leave it all in God's hands - to guide my life for His glory whatever direction it takes.

We do have an awesome God!