Saturday, November 24, 2012

I am thankful for HOPE!

I am thankful for HOPE and LIFE this thanksgiving. Josh and I were gifted something that I don’t know if I can ever repay. Someone anonymously paid for us to go on a cruise vacation with his parents and 2 of our friends. It was very last minute and we had such a great time. They ability to repay this person is literally impossible, because what I received wasn't just a wonderful vacation---I received hope on this trip.We had fun, laughed, and did a lot of relaxing. My symptoms, as far as the pain in my ribs/stomach ceased dramatically as well as my stomach issues during our vacation. It was on this trip that God gave me a bit of light of hope---of life and of fun. We got back a few weeks ago and we continue be amazed at other's generosity.

I’ve always noticed how one’s current situation can make something wonderful seem not wonderful at all. For instance, a girl who was just broken up with and goes on a trip of a lifetime—even though the trip is amazing, she can’t even allow herself to have a good time because she is heartbroken. That is what it has somewhat been like for me. I haven’t been able to, or I guess, allowed myself to fully enjoy moments because I can retreat to my fear. This trip, with of course the full help of the Holy Spirit allowed me to have rest, hope, and life. We had SUCH a wonderful time. Pictures to come…

Since being home, my symptoms have returned, which makes me wonder if anxiety has something to do with all of this. It’s hard for me to accept that, because I wouldn’t consider myself an anxious person, but I pray that is what it is. The pain is very real though. We went and saw a G.I. doctor on Monday in Monroe and he suggested an endoscopy and colonoscopy. It is scheduled for December 11th. When I think about it too long, I can feel myself start to go into a full-scale panic attack, so please, please pray for me. I pray for relief once I get good news from these tests. I just have to remind myself to be expectant from the Lord. He has shown himself faithful over and over again. I can just get so scared with the what if’s…

"But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats." 1 Peter 3:14

My expansions have continued to go well, and I should have my last expansion on this Thursday, Nov. 29th. My P.A., Alisha, said that there is a good chance that we could schedule my surgery date during my visit this week. That is exciting. They are so ready to be done with me…they normally don’t see someone for so long like they have seen me. I am ready to be done too, but I will definitely miss them. 

My husband had a birthday on the 25th of October (he turned 28) and I just have to take a second to share about him. We were in Houston on his birthday, once again seeing doctors for ME, when I want to celebrate HIM. The Stanfils continue to open up their home over and over and made him feel so special (as usual). We woke up to a sign and balloons, as well as balloons on our car. Looking forward to all of his birthdays to come when I am so far from all of this and attention can be given to him.

There are so many words that describe Josh, but the main one that sticks out to me and those closest to him is loyal. His loyalty to me throughout all of this is indescribable. I apologize to him so often for having had cancer, and he of course is not happy with me when I do this. I can handle thinking of my own hopes and dreams not coming true, but knowing that his are affected when he wasn’t even the one who had this disease can make my heart hurt in ways that are indescribable. His response is always the same: “I wouldn’t want to be married to anybody else.” I see other 20-something couples with happy-go-lucky lives, with babies, with exciting futures and I feel such deep pain at times that he doesn’t have that. We, in faith, of course believe that we will have that in Jesus’ name, but of course our situation has been so different than that of the typical, young, married couple. I have to believe that God has called us out and that he has such big plans for us...more than we can imagine. We continue to hold to the promise that he will restore our land, as we seek Him with all of our hearts.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile." Jer. 29:11- 14

Josh has cuddled with me, given me my shots, helped me remove fingernails and toenails (gross!), brushed out my loose hairs, shaved my head, held my hand, made me laugh, cleaned and kissed my mastectomy scars, cried with me, prayed for me, emptied my 13 drains, massaged my sore body from neulasta shots (bone pain), held a bucket for my vomit, fed me, driven me to Houston 40+ times, reassured me over and over and over of Jesus’ healing me, cleaned my back scar incisions, learned all the breast cancer terminology, dealt with my ever-changing emotions, and has made me feel more beautiful than ever before. This was my 10th birthday with him and I realize each day just how blessed I am to be married to my best friend. God has truly made us one.

I will never forget when I got my 2nd round of chemo and we were going to put in a DVD in our laptop to watch a movie and our wedding video happened to be in our laptop. We decided to watch it. By the end of my chemo, all the nurses were in my chemo room watching our wedding video and we were all crying. I remember when we were checking out and making my next chemo appointment and Josh looked at me and said, “I would do it all over again.” We both just held back tears as we thought about our wedding day in 2006, when we had no clue what our lives would look like. I am so thankful that I have a husband who took his promise to God and myself seriously- to be by my side, regardless, in sickness and health. Thank you Lord for giving me Joshua Mark Taylor!

"As the Scriptures say, "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one."" Eph. 5:31

We had a wonderful time in Tennessee with Josh's extended family for Thanksgiving. God also gave me bits of hope in different ways during this trip. His love and care for me overwhelms me at times. Now I am home and just wrapping up with this school semester. I only have one more in-class semester...then a 9 month internship and dissertation and then I'll be done! Thank you Jesus for walking me through all of this. I will make sure and update after my appointment on Thursday as I should get my final surgery date:)

Please, please pray for me and this pain in my abdomen/ribs to stop. Pray for clean results from my tests on the 11th. Pray for me to allow God to be everything He is- He is love, and his love casts out all fear. If I truly allowed His love to cover me, there would be no room for fear. I am learning what it means to accept His freedom and allow Him to fully love me. I can make my own prison at times and lock the door behind me. I know I am not living in the freedom He gives when I do this. Thank you for praying for me. I love you all.

I have posted some pictures below of the Salon 7 fundraiser day and Josh's birthday.

With the Salon 7 girls and my awesome check

What an awesome salon and stylists!

At Josh's 28th birthday dinner

What he woke up to at the Stanfill's on his birthday

The balloons on our car!

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 2011 Re-Cap

We (I) have fallen behind a little on the re-cap.

If I said the month of November 2011 for us was a blur I am not sure that would be even close to adequate. I have tried to go back and read our posts and it is truly surreal to read it and re-live some of that. As I have said in other posts I believe we were protected from a certain percentage of fear due to our desire to not tie in to other peoples experiences. We knew it wouldn't be easy but if we had known what the year would look like we would have been shocked.

The things that stick out to me about that first month were obviously the trips back and forth to Houston. We also went to Thanksgiving with my family in Tennessee where we had rented a cabin. That was a neat experience but still odd in the fact that life was going on but we were living in shock.

Another huge item for that first month for me was the fact that we had a house that was about 40% finished. On one of our first trips down to Houston we were eating at Cheesecake Bistro and I got a call  that became one of the biggest blessings anyone could give us. Jonathan and Tara Hill completely took over the completion of our house. I said it in an earlier post but imagine the best person in their field finishing your project, indescribable. I could go back to where I was standing during the call but I can't explain what this meant for Aly and I.

Another huge moment came at a night that Coach Robert Mitcham and Claiborne Christian School had a night to benefit Aly at a home basketball game. To say that Aly and I care about those kids might be the biggest understatement I could make. The night meant the world to us.

A little funny note about the house. I am easy to convince when it comes to my ability to save money so when I went to build this house I asked Martin West if he thought I could wire it myself and it was a very quick yes on his part. In that situation I am not one to argue so that is what I did. Each time I needed to know what to do which was often I would call and Martin would tell me the same thing he had told me before and I would hope I got it right. Little did he know his pushing me to do this in August would lead to some funny conversations in November. We had at least 3 or 4 conversations on the phone where he would call me and say, Josh do you remember what you ran (which gauge wire) to this light or that switch and all I could describe was by color. So needless to say Mr. Martin and my other friends that finished got to deal with some odd things I am sure.

What Jonathan and Tara, Martin and Vanessia  and all the other people did during this time enabled me to mentally get away from everything to have a chance to help Aly. People gave me the chance to do right by Aly by them picking up where we needed help. Worry was going to be a part of our life but when people stepped in financially or with their time or talent they eliminated hurdles that made it easier for me to be with Aly.

I simply could not have been to Aly what I have tried to be without the help of other men and women at times absolutely taking hold of parts of our life.

We were never able to experience the lows that could have been possible. If we had not known that we were spiritually covered to a level that we cant explain then there would have been much less peace and  sleep. Aly and I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that God was hearing request on our behalf daily if not hourly and therefor we never felt the low we could have felt going at it on our own spiritually.

When people picked up the load in our everyday life they also stopped Aly and I from being worried about making life happen on a daily basis. It was clear very quickly that if there was a need then it would be met. There were people sowing into us in ways and amounts that blew us away.

On Nov 9 I wrote about Mrs. Vanessia West being given a clean bill of health and there being no more cancer. When Aly was diagnosed it became clear to us what we had not done for the Wests during Mrs. Vanessia's treatment. As we told each one of their family members and we have said to other people, we did not show them the love we were shown or would want to show. This truly broke our hearts because now we knew what their family had gone through from April-November and how little we had done. That will not happen again.

On Nov 13 I wrote about Aly beginning to lose hair but even in that I was sure that if she were to be asked about Canaan that she would give a report that beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was ours for the taking. I do remember that time I was just in utter shock at her ability to continue living. Most of the time you find yourself in awe of peoples athletic achievements or other things but to daily be watching Aly, my wife deal with cancer the way she was dealing with it was an incredible thing.

On Nov 18 I wrote about Aly telling the Dr. she wanted less sedation for her port surgery because we had some stuff we needed to get done that day. Again, my wife is crazy strong.

On Nov 19 Aly wrote a verse that I have heard her say a lot and it is a verse I can literally picture being to Aly and it is that Aly will live and declare the works of the Lord. I believed and believe now more than every that my wife will live and will continue to declare the works of the Lord.

At the end of November we flew back from Thanksgiving to Houston to get chemo and they would not give it to us because of low ANC count. They didn't realize who they were dealing with still at this point and told us to just come back next week. That was a Friday. We were there Saturday, Sunday after church and then Monday, they didn't know it but Aly was told she needed chemo and she wasn't leaving until she got that round.

As a husband that was one of the early points of me realizing the tangible fight that my wife's body was going through.