Friday, September 30, 2011

Following Where He Leads...

"Thank you for your healing.  Thank you for your guidance."  That's what I've been saying to God this week.  

Even though I feel God has put His healing hand upon me, I also feel there's another component to my healing.  
When I received my second diagnosis, I knew the word "food" was going to play a big role in my recovery.  

As I felt lead away from doing chemo this time, I was beginning to understand how a plant-based diet was instrumental in our health.  Within these last two weeks, so many doors have opened for me to learn about a raw diet.  What is a raw diet? Uncooked hamburgers and raw french fries?  Nope.  
Just God's foods. Plain and simple.
Fruits and vegetables and grains and nuts.  You know, all the things we think we should be eating, but aren't.
 I have come to undertstand how vital they are to our health.

So long story short, after much prayer, I feel God has lead me to find the Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment near Chicago.  What is one of their key lines of defense against cancer, you ask? Nutrition.  My kind of place, wouldn't you say?  It's been around for 30 years.  Who knew?

So off to Chicago we go.  In a plane.  All four of us.  My husband's from Illinois and our kids have never been there.  So given that it should be stunning in the fall (my favorite season!), we'll combine a little bit of knowledge with a little bit of fun.  My husband's aunt and uncle live about an hour away from the center and they have eight cats and a shetland sheep dog.  That should be the highlight of the trip for me and Rachel!

This past week has been great. 
 I have carved out time just for God.  No running around to my favorite, cute antique stores to get my fix. 
 (Fix no longer needed).  

Just time listening for His voice.  
Sensing His direction.  
Memorizing scripture (or trying to!)
And feeling His peace.  
There's no place I'd rather be.

It's a shame that a cancer diagnosis brings me here, isn't it?  
I don't ever want to leave.  Leave behind the cancer diagnosis?  In a heart beat.  Leave behind time alone with Him?  Never.
The first time around, I was really good at making God first in my life.  And then a funny, little thing happens.  You begin to feel healthy and strong (kind of back to normal) and then you venture out into a busy life again.  I aim never to do that again.
At the end of a busy day, you're tired.  But you were able to cross everything off your list.  Big whoop.
In the scheme of things, not important to me anymore.
Don't get me wrong.  Basic things still need to get done around my house.  But I always seemed to get a few more things added to my list that had everything to do with me, and nothin' at all to do with Him.  

So, I continue to give my decision of going to the Block Center to God.  I told my husband that if I feel God is leading me away from it, then we'll cancel my appointment.  He says fine.  But he still wants to take the kids and show them Chicago.    
I like his thinking.

I'll leave you guys the link to the Block Center.  Anyone living with cancer or in remission from cancer (or anyone who wants their body to be at its healthiest!), should click on their site and read a few of their articles.  
So common sense.  So informative.  So good.

Thank you for all your prayers and encouraging emails.
Now go eat a salad with more vegetables than lettuce and throw some sunflower seeds on it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Letting His Words Lead You...

I awoke this morning to a body that didn't want to go to my daughter's early morning softball game.  I came down with shingles this week.  Am I old or what?  I thought only 80 year olds got this thing!  While my dermatologist was looking at my leg, I had told him that my cancer had returned, and that I had felt God leading me away from chemo this time around.  I reminded him that I would have had two rounds of chemo in me prior to getting shingles.   He said it was good that I had listened to God's leading.  Chemo and shingles aren't a good mix.

So after my husband and daughter left for today's game, I made a healthy breakfast and turned on the t.v.  I found my good friend Dr. Charles Stanley speaking on the topic of discernment.  Right up my alley.  Again.

He was teaching that God gives us His Word and the Holy Spirit to help guide us.  And if we turn to Him for all of our decisions, big and small, He is faithful to guide us.  I know that to be true.

So while I was listening to his sermon, I felt I needed to share with you how God answered a very important prayer of mine.  Twenty two years ago.

I had been dating a guy in high school who I just loved.  We had dated for seven years.  I think we broke up once for about an hour.  He was a great, great guy.  But I always knew I wouldn't marry him.  So one night on my 21st birthday, my girlfriends took me out for the night.  At the last restaurant we went to, I saw this guy sitting in the booth next to ours.  As soon as I saw him, I leaned over and told my bestfriend, "There's my husband."  She said, "Right.  Haver another drink."  
I don't drink.

To make a very long story short, I broke up with my boyfriend five days later and began dating this other guy the very next night.  I know, I don't waste any time.  I knew on our first date that I wanted to marry him.

We dated for two years.  All I wanted was a proposal.   

One day, as he was getting his watch fixed, his jeweler showed me a few wedding rings.  The first ring I tried on was the one I wanted.  I could just feel that ring on my finger as The Future Mrs. Marek.  After that day, I remember we talked about how much we both loved Christmas.  I kind of had a feeling that he'd propose around that time.  

So two days before Christmas, he came home from work early (an anomaly!) and said, "Hey, look under the Christmas tree.  What do you think that small box is?"  

My heart sank.  First off, being a typical girl, I wanted an amazing and romantic proposal.  Not, "Hey, what do you think that small box is under the Christmas tree."  

And second of all, which I haven't told you all yet, is that I had always been praying for God's direction for a husband.

So even though the moment my eyes met Ed's and I knew I wanted to marry him, I still gave my decision over to the Lord.  

"If this is the man you want me to marry, Lord, show me," was always my prayer.  For two very long years.

So when I saw that little box under the tree, I knew I had a decision to make.  Quickly.  My heart wanted to scream, "YES!!!" when Ed asked me to marry him, but I also wanted to desperately obey God and His plan for my life.   

The next day brought Ed and my Dad together for lunch.  Ed had asked me to call my Dad to see if he could "talk to him about something."  I knew what he meant.  Again, so not romantic!  Me calling my Dad to see if Ed could ask for my hand in marriage.  Nice.  Apparently, Ed never took the "How to Romantically Propose to Your Girlfriend" class.   So he called me after their lunch and said he would tell me all about it at dinner.  He then asked me to make the dinner reservations.  He's such a romantic.

OK, so now you're up to speed on Ed's end.  But this is where the story gets good.  Amazingly good.

The night I saw the little box under the Christmas tree, I was almost distraught.  "Lord," I cried, "I have been asking you for two years to show me if this is the man you want me to marry.  He's proposing tomorrow.  I need an answer from you.  Why aren't you listening to my prayers?!"  

I grabbed my Bible and went into the bathroom.  I sat against the wall with the door closed.  

"Lord, if you tell me not to marry him, I won't.  I know Ed will be furious with me and think I'm a whack-o, but all I want to be is obedient to Your will."

OK.  Get ready for the good part.

Ed's street address was 4345.  "Someone" prompted me to read Psalms 43 and 45.  Again, even though I loved the Lord with all my heart, I rarely read the Bible.  I didn't even know where the Psalms were in the Bible and didn't even know if they went up to 45.

Psalm 43:4 

"O my soul, why be so gloomy and discouraged?  Trust in God! I shall again praise Him for His wondrous help; He will make me smile again, for He is my God!"

I remember thinking, Wow.  I have been gloomy and discouraged.  God is speaking to me right now.  And I'm kind of freaked out.

Psalm 45:11-15

"I advise you, O daughter, not to fret about your parents in your homeland far away.  Your royal husband delights in your beauty.  Reverence him, for he is your lord.  The people of Tyre, the richest people of our day, will shower you with gifts and entreat your favors.

The bride, a beautiful princess, waits within her chamber, robed in beautiful clothing woven with gold.  Lovely she is, led beside her maids of honor to the king!  What a joyful, glad procession as they enter in the palace gates!"

Ok, really?  

I remember knowing I was in the presence of the Holy Spirit for the first time in my life.  I was absolutely sure God had just spoke to me while sitting on the bathroom floor.   The feeling I had that night was the same exact feeling I had the night I was told that God had healed me from cancer.

So long story short (again!), he proposed and I said, "Yes!"  I had highlighted the scripture in my Bible and wrote, "Thank You, Jesus!  Dec. 22, 1989" next to Psalm 45.  I told Ed I said "yes" because of God's faithfulness to me.

Now, does that mean our life has been a fairytale?  Absolutely not.  Did we want to pack our bags and call it quits a few times?  Absolutely.   But how amazing it is to stand on His promise of obedience. 
By the way, we celebrated our 18th anniversary last week.

Dr. Stanley reminded me again this morning how very important the words of the Bible are.  We are to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us understand them.  And always reach for them when we need guidance.  If you're interested in hearing Dr. Stanley speak on this subject, go to his website at

This week has been filled with anti-shingles medicine, lots of rest, prayer and research.  I have told a few people this week that I feel like a two-year-old whose Daddy is holding her under the tummy with both hands while he's standing knee deep in the ocean.  Yes, I'm in the cold, scary ocean.  And you know I'm not fond of the beach.  

But I feel God's warm hands beneath me, bringing me peace.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Faith 101

Hi.  Ready for the news?

The blood test performed today shows my CA125 is still elevated.  133 to be exact.  It was 93 two weeks ago.  It's climbing.

Am I devastated?  Honestly?  Fingers not crossed behind my back.
No.  I feel God had prepared me for my blood work to not reflect my healing.  Hear me out.

Sunday night I went over to the lake to pray.  I needed to be with Jesus.  Away from my house.  Away from commotion.  Away from noise.  I needed to hear Him.  He lead me to read a story about Elijah.   A guy I knew nothing about.

Elijah had been promised a miracle from God.  

Oh, great, I thought.  A story about miracles.  So up my alley right now.  
God's timing is perfect.

To my dismay, I read that Elijah's miracle didn't come right away.  The miracle was in the form of a storm.  Could God have opened the sky on Elijah's behalf and allowed it to rain cats and dogs and even goats?  Absolutely.  Did He?  No.  He made Elijah wait.  And wait.  And wait.  

Oh, Lord, please don't be talking to me, I thought.  You've promised me a miracle and I want it now.  I r-e-a-l-l-y don't want to wait for it.  
 (I kind of sounded like that Veruca girl from Willie Wonka).  
But I knew He was speaking to me.  

Then I read, "The sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on" (1 Kings 18:45).

God was faithful.  The storm came.  He can be no other way.

And remember the woman who wrote me that note in my last post?  Mrs. B, my daughter's teacher?  When she had heard that my cancer had returned, she called to tell me, "God is faithful."  That's all she had to tell me.  I have said those three words over and over and over since that phone call.  
God is faithful.

So, this little journey I'm on is apparently called Faith 101.  Do you still want to ride along?  Believing in something you cannot see.   A very challenging subject.  
And I thought math was hard.

Is there an outside chance that I misunderstood God when I felt He had healed me?  Yep.  Do I think I misunderstood Him?  Not really.

This past week has been quite emotionally draining for me.  By sharing my belief that God has healed me with all of you, I feel a ton of pressure to be healed.  Because if I wasn't, then wouldn't I be responsible for shattering some or all of your faith in God?  
That's a fun position to be in, isn't it?  Jealous?

So I will press on.  Asking God each day to reveal His plan for me.  
And I know He will.

After reading about Elijah, the article concluded with this:

"Dear Lord, I worship you, the One, true God!  You are mighty and powerful; full of never-ending compassion and love.  Please help me to see you when I face trials and to trust Your heart when circumstances discourage me.

'Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.'
Psalm 105:4
Keep it handy.  Read it out loud.  Memorize it."

I will do just that.

I have told my husband that I know I wasn't seeking healing.  I believe God blessed me with it.  I also told my husband that I never wanted to be put in this position, to be responsible for others peoples' faith.  But then I remember what my favorite pastor Charles Stanley says. 
 "Obey.  And leave all the consequences to Him."

Will do.

The article I was referring to can be found on
Girlfriends in God


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trust in Him...

“God healed me last night,” are the words I told my Mom in the kitchen this morning.  
My fingers don’t know what other words to type right now.  I’m still left in awe.  In amazement.  Do I believe God can heal?  Absolutely.  He healed my nephew’s ear when he was two.  That event changed my life.  I believe in God because of my nephew’s healing.  Did I believe God could heal me?  Sure.  Through conventional medicine and/or radically changing my lifestyle.  The way cancer is often treated.
Did I think the Hand of God could heal me directly? 
I don't think I had ever thought about it.
These last three days have been a journey.  A journey with a capital J.   I felt God leading me away from chemo and leading me to alternative medicine.  And even writing that seems insane because I never believed in alternative medicine.  
I am a full-blooded Safety Sadie.  
But I had complete peace with choosing no chemo this time.  And then I woke up on Sunday morning to utter confusion.  
On Sunday we went to our daughter’s softball game.  My niece said she would meet us there.  Being in the oncology field, I could tell she was concerned when I told her I thought I would forego chemo this time.   I told her I felt God’s peace with that decision, but that now I was utterly confused.  
I told her I needed prayer for discernment and for confirmation.  I told her I should ask my support group to pray for me.  
“You should do that right away,” she said.  
Her words were gold to me.
I texted my girlfriend and asked if the girls could get together tonight and pray for me.  Before I put down my phone, I received a text back.  
“We can meet at my house at 6:45.”
While there, I told my friends of my confusion.  Did I really hear God or was I making things up?  I told them I felt God was drawing me closer to Him, moment by moment, as if He was laying out pieces of popcorn for me to follow.  One “sign” after the next seemed to be His plan for me.  Or was it?
My girlfriend, with her Bible open in her lap, reminded me of the power of prayer.  And the power of God’s living Word.  Though I was praying for God to reveal what path He wanted for my healing, I was so busy researching things on the internet, talking to friends and being consumed with juicing vegetables (a staple in the alternative field), that I lost sight of prayer.  I lost sight of coming to Him directly with His Word in my lap.
When I got home late Sunday night, I began writing my blog to tell all of you that we had decided to put chemo off for one week and gather up all of our questions for my doctor to ask the following week.  But I wanted to end my blog with a verse so I went to find my Bible.
As I thumbed through it, I again saw the note I keep tucked inside written by my daughter’s teacher from last year.  
I want to give you this verse from Psalms.  Psalm 20:7.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  (Substitute doctors, hospitals, chemo...whatever, in place of ‘chariots’ and ‘horses.’)  Then read the whole Psalm 20.  This one is for you today, this week!  
Much love and prayers, 
Mrs. B.
So I re-read Psalm 20:7.  And then read all of Psalm 20.  And I began reading Psalm 21.  As I read the words God had led me to read, I knew He was speaking directly to me.  I knew the Holy Spirit was within me allowing me to hear God’s voice.  
Between the words written in Psalms 20 and 21 as well as the words written above and below them, I knew God was telling me He had healed me from cancer.  And that it was never going to return.  
Did I jump up and say “Hallelujiah!!!”  No.  I sat there wrapped in my blanket in my rocker in awe.  I have been in God’s presence before.  I know the feeling well.  It’s unmistakable.  
Monday morning I woke up and felt normal.  Not high and not low.  But I knew what happened the night before was real.  
As I walked into the bathroom, I turned on my radio.  I always listen to KKLA while I’m getting ready.  I then heard Chuck Swindoll talking about God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  I had heard this phrase for the first time about three years ago.  It resonated in my soul. 
Just then, my son came in to take a shower.  He jumped in, then out and came back about five minutes later to ask me a question.  Right as he did, I heard Chuck Swindoll say again, “God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”
I looked at my son Jake and said while pointing to the radio, “I want you to remember that you just heard that.”  I then pointed to myself with tears streaming down my face and said, “I am an ordinary person and God just did an extraordinary thing.”   I praised God that my son was there to witness that.
When I walked down to the kitchen, my Mom was standing there.  I walked towards her and putting both hands on her shoulders, I cried, “God healed me last night.  I know he did.”
My Mom was told by my sister 30 years ago that the Lord had healed my nephew.  She was now standing in my kitchen to hear of another healing.
It was surreal to know that I was miraculously healed the night before yet still had to make lunches and get my kids to school.  As I arrived at my daughter’s school, my girlfriend asked me how I was.  
“Great.  You’re going to think I’m weird, but I was healed last night.”  
And this is where the story gets weird.  Or shall I say divine?
She had brought a girlfriend with her to school who believes in healing.  Her family has been touched by God’s healing hand.  A lot.  And I want to stress “a lot.”  As we sat down at Coffee Bean, she rejoiced in my healing.  And felt God was telling her that He was using me to share the word “hope” with those around me.  I felt this was God’s confirmation to me that He had in deed healed me, and that I was not at all ready for a mental institution.
When I arrived home, I had told my parents about my morning.  My Dad said to me, “Honey, I have to ask you this.  How will you feel if tests don’t show you’re healed.”  And this is where my heart melted.  My Mom leaned over to him and said, “Bob, you sound like I did when Robin said Ryan’s ear was healed.  Have faith.  Have faith.”
I do have faith.  I have faith that the Lord of this universe has touched His hand upon me and healed me of cancer.  And I know you may be thinking, OK, she has completely lost it.  
And sometimes my mind gets the best of me tonight and replays it over and over.  Did I really feel God?  Is that what I sensed?  Is that what He really meant?  
And the answer is an overriding Yes.
I didn’t seek out God to ask Him to heal me.  I have been asking Him to direct my path.  To show me what path He wants me to choose for healing.  I long to be obedient to His calling.  My heart’s desire is to be obedient.  
As I was writing this post at 1:30 this morning, my sister emailed me.  She had awaken to a verse.  
“Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God.  I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.  But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.  I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”
Mark 11:22-24 
Again, I pause before typing.  I’m overwhelmed.  I’m in awe.  I know God is real.  
So now the fun begins.  My nurse Paula will receive this email as she subscribes to my blog.  And I’m guessing when she reads this, she’ll be stunned.  Paula, are you stunned?  And then I realize some form of test (blood work, pet scan?) will need to be ordered.  
And the next chapter will begin...
“May He grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.  May the Lord answer all your prayers.”
Psalm 20:4-5

Monday, September 12, 2011

Trust Me, Part II

Well, before you pray for me before my Tuesday morning chemo, I want you to know there won’t be a Tuesday morning chemo.  

I'm excited to fill you in.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."
Psalm 20:7

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trust Me...

Well, while Ed and the kids were out on a bike ride this past  weekend, I went out for a walk.  I invited God to come along.  You see, I had another pet scan on Friday because my numbers were elevated.  And I needed His comfort and peace.  Again.

As I walked, I felt God whispering the words into my heart, "Trust. Trust Me."  

I found out this morning that my cancer has returned.  Now before you go all crazy on me, there is plenty of good news.

First, I don't need surgery (can I get a hallelujiah?!).  
Second, the cells they found have remained in my pelvic area.  Third, they're very small.  
Fourth, the chemo I require will allow me to keep my "naturally curly hair."  Keep.  You read that right.  
Fifth, I feel 100% healthy.   Not behind the eight ball like I was prior to chemo last time.  
Sixth, I still have the port in my arm which makes needle sticks so very easy.  
And finally, my odds for remission are very good.

Now I could go on and on with the good news.  

OK, maybe I will.  

8.  My parents are coming in on Thursday to begin the fun with us again.  I love having them here.
9.  My sisters, in-laws and friends are ready, willing and able for round two.  

10.  My kids were told the news this afternoon in all of five minutes.  They were just bummed to learn they have to clean out the litter box and help with laundry for awhile.

11.  I found a great couch last week that fits perfectly in our kitchen.  (I've always dreamed of having a couch that actually fit in our kitchen).  God knew I would be more comfortable lounging on a cute couch during chemo than sitting by myself in the family room.  To confirm that, the fabric I ordered to make the slipcover came today.  Coincidence?  I think not.  :)

And finally, that ol' oven-mit-chewing dog Tucker is sure to be by my side.  

So chemo begins on Tuesday.  This round will be a little different than the last.  I'll be going two Tuesdays in a row with one week off.  It will last for about four months or 12 cycles.  Totally doable.  You all remember how much I loved living in my pajamas! 

I told Ed on the way down to Cedars this morning, that though I spent a very long Labor Day weekend awaiting the results and feeling like a human Don't Break the Ice! game (ready to crumble at the smallest tap), I knew God had again prepared me for this news.  

When I shared my feelings with my girlfriend this weekend via an email, she replied, 

"I do believe God uses all of this to keep you close and dependent on Him!  You are much more radiant when you need Him!"

As I read that last sentence, it prepared my heart even more.  
Remember, cancer was one of the best things that ever happened to me.  During chemo, so many people told me I was glowing.  And I thought it was my new blush. 

But I believe it was from knowing that I felt the presence of my Heavenly Father.  I received His peace.  I felt His comfort.  
Tears were shed today, but not too many.  My strength and courage come from Him.  

So though I thought these next couple of months would be filled with decorating our house for the holiday home tour and getting in shape with my new trainer, God apparently had other plans.  

So the words, "Trust Me" will lead me 
into the next chapter of my life.    
And I look forward to sharing that chapter
 with all of you.