Sunrise Season

Two months have passed since I saw the familiar number appear on my iPhone.  It was a few days earlier than I expected, which I had been told wasn’t a good sign.  Hearing the news early usually means the radiologist saw something glaringly wrong; the oncologist needs to see you quickly.

I heard my voice quiver as I answered.  Myra, my dear chemo nurse delivered the news:  NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE!!

Those four words were the words I’d been longing to hear for the last thirteen long months since I got the OTHER call- the call on April 21 informing me of my disease.

Time marches on; we’re now in summer.  The days stretch out like an endless blanket- hot and sticky, smelling of sunscreen and sounding like children’s laughter.  One of the beautiful gifts of going through such a horrific year, is the hyper-gratitude that blows through my heart for normal, everyday life.

The quiet pockets of these summer days contain priceless treasures.  Time to sit with bible and journal before me, and let the Lord meander me through His Word with no agenda, and whisper His love-song to my soul.

 

His love song sings the song of sunrise.

The sunrise of a new season.

A season of redemption.

 

 

“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” 2 Samuel 7:18

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The Winter Year

 

My one year cancer-versary has come and gone.

April 21, 2015 so many things changed.

Here we are, a  year later, and so many things are still so different.

But there is One who is unchanging- and He has taken my faith deeper.

He has answered my prayer:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,

let me walk upon the waters,

Wherever you would call me.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander;

And my faith would be made stronger,

in the presence of my Savior.

(Hillsong-Oceans)

God gave me a little “heaven kiss” yesterday in church.   I could hardly believe it when I heard the first few bars of that worship song quoted above, Oceans.   This song has been the continual song of my heart since 2014.

In 2014-2015, God took me on a journey of obedience and faith as He took me to the “deeper place” of a ministry calling I didn’t feel equipped to do.

In 2015- 2016, God took me on a journey of brokenness and surrender as He took me to the “deeper place” of the valley of cancer and suffering.

We pray for God to grow our faith; we just don’t get to choose how He will do it. 

But~ His plans are perfect, and He does all things well.  It’s not always easy, and we don’t always know all the reasons.  That’s where faith comes in…believing and trusting that God’s plans are better than MY plans.

 

This past year has felt like a Winter Year.  A year of dormancy, where God was preparing the soil of my heart for what He wants to grow in the future.

I am thankful that this Winter Year is behind me.

I’m praying ABOUNDING GRACE for the days ahead – in whatever season God has for me next.

This journey is not about me – it’s about the God of abounding grace who is the God of every journey; of every season.

He wants to use every single one of our life-journeys  to point to Himself – we are simply His instruments to play His music into the world.

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I am so grateful for every single prayer lifted for me over the past year!

I’m feeling better and stronger every single day. I’ve started to run again!  My hair is really growing back and I’m getting used to the new short look.

I have a PET scan on Saturday, May 7 to make sure there is no evidence of disease anywhere in my body.  I appreciate your bold prayers for CLEAR SCANS!

Pray for me to have faith and not fear as I think about the scans, and my mind wanders to the “what-ifs”.

Mostly pray “ABOUNDING GRACE” for whatever lies ahead~

Thank you so much for your love and support…you’ve loved my family and me so well!

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Let’s continue to journey together…

April 21, 2015

It was a Tuesday.  The day before, I had a mammogram (my very first), then an ultrasound, then a biopsy of three areas of “concern” in my right breast.

Tuesday afternoon, I was in my car when I got “the call”.  I remember the call like it was yesterday.  The kind nurse on the other end of the phone said those words…”It’s cancer”.  She then shared that she had prayed for me before picking up the phone to make that call.  She didn’t have to say that.  As a matter of fact, she could probably get in trouble for saying that.  But she took the time to pray for me, at that time an unknown patient, and then had the guts to TELL me she prayed for me.

It was a kiss from heaven to remind me, as my world was shattering all around me, when life felt out of control, that there was someOne still in control.

I don’t remember much else from the phone call.  In the moments after I put the phone down, all I could think of was my three sweet children and husband.

In those moments, cancer went from a terrible disease that happened to other people, to a world-rocking diagnosis that could possibly leave my children motherless and my husband a single dad of three young children.

My emotions were all over the place in those first few days, but I remember so clearly feeling so called to walk this journey publicly.  I felt so called to write and share what God could do through cancer.  I clung to the promise that He could use it for good (Romans 8:28).

Throughout this entire journey, I’ve clung with all my might to the “story beneath the story”.   It’s the unseen story~ the story of FAITH that God is writing in my life and the lives of those I love.  Cancer is merely one of God’s instruments to write this “story beneath the story” in my life.

Cancer? That’s the seen story. It’s the temporal story. It’s real, but it’s not the most important story that God is writing here.  My God is using this terrible disease in so many amazing ways. Beauty from ashes.  I hope I’m clear in sharing those glimpses of His abounding grace.  The faith story is eternal. It’s what I want to focus  on – not just through cancer but through all of life.  I can so easily forget where to fix my eyes – and as soon as I start looking at my circumstances, I SINK!

By God’s grace, and Lord-willing, it appears that the final stretch of this seen story ~ my cancer journey~ is nearing an end.   Seven weeks of radiation, starting Monday, and every three week herceptin treatments till early May.  Then scans every so often, a daily pill for five years.  And this seen story draws to a close.

Copyright Becky Williamson Photography WEBSITE: www.beckywilliamsonphotography.com EMAIL: beckywilliamsonphotography@gmail.com

But as long as I’m drawing breath, the unseen story – the story of faith continues.  And I want to keep writing and sharing this.  Not to draw attention to ME, or MY story – but to the One who is writing ALL of our stories.

I have a passion to inspire and encourage women in the trenches of life~ whether it’s a woman feeling stretched thin in the grind of life; a friend whose heart is tender and vulnerable in a difficult season or waiting, a mother struggling to find her purpose, or a sister in Christ who is walking her own story of suffering.  I’ve been this woman and I long to listen, and say “yes, me too”.

I have a passion to remind my readers that through a relationship with Jesus there is purpose behind the pain, goodness in the grime of life, mission in motherhood, opportunities in the ordinary,  joy in the journey, a Savior in  your suffering.

Many days, I write simply to remind myself.

As the Lord closes the chapter entitled “cancer”, I will continue to write as the Lord continues to teach me, mold me, encourage me and draw me deeper into His loving arms.

My words, I pray, point to THE Word ~ Jesus, the Word made flesh. My words are just an expression of who He is to me….just one imperfect woman seeking to be an extravagant worshipper with my life…one woman, just like you, covered in His abounding grace seeking to Know the Grace-giver, and make Him known.

Will you read along, friends? Let’s continue to journey together.

(From Exodus 15~ portions from my chronological daily reading this morning)..My soul swells in worship to who God is!  He defeats all enemies~ Pharaoh’s army, cancer, and the ultimate enemy- satan!

2The Lord is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,
    your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
    you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.

The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
    I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
    I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
11 “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
    Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
    awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
    you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.

17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,
    the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode,
    the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
18 The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

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yes.

A New Song for the Final Stretch

On my 35th birthday, two months before I heard “It’s Cancer”,  I sat on a bed in a Midtown NYC hotel room, bible and journal spread open in front of me.  My husband decided to go workout, and I decided to use that sliver of down time for some quiet time.

Just me and the Lord.

I wrote “Father this is the first day of my new year with You.  Every year of life with You is sweeter than the one before.  Each year is an opportunity to KNOW You more fully and therefore LOVE You more completely.  Father God, I give you this upcoming year of my life, and the days that are ahead of me.  What is ahead for this coming year?”

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Snowed in for my 35th bday

Yesterday I drove once more to Lexington Medical Center. This day as I drove, a cold icy rain was falling from the grey clouds, which reflected my mood.

My heart was heavy. The weariness of this journey is beginning to set in.

It truly does feel like a marathon.

As I made my way down I-77, to I-277, to I-20, to I-26 (yes, four interstates!)  my mind began to wander towards the similarities of the cancer journey and a marathon race.  As I’m nearing the final stretch, discouragement and weariness can easily set in.  In the running world, it’s called “hitting the wall”.

My final stretch of radiation is upcoming, and instead of looking back at the many ways God has proved faithful, I’m tempted to look ahead at this final stretch and just want to quit.  I guess this is called hitting the “cancer wall”

Really, I’m just over it.

My appointment yesterday was a “radiation planning” appointment, where they took pictures, made measurements, and made some lovely blue X markings on me).  As I scurried to my car after the appointment was over, hot tears finally escaped and mixed with the icy rain.

As I drove home, grieving all that cancer has taken from me, I had a little chat with the Lord.

“Abba Daddy, I’m just tired. I’m ready for this race to be over.  I want to stop running. And Lord, how do I know that the race really will be over soon? What if it extends beyond what I’m expecting? God this feels like a marathon I didn’t sign up for! At least marathoners get a chance to train for their long race! No one would sign up for a marathon without training for it.  I feel like you dropped me on the starting line of this cancer race, and the explosion of the gun rang in my ears as I stumbled across the starting line; looking around in this unfamiliar race.”

The fact is, no one signs up for this difficult race.  The fact is, no one would choose to run this course.

As I turned up the worship music, the Lord spoke to me in the most gentle way.

“my daughter, I did prepare you.  You’re right, you didn’t train for this marathon.  I TRAINED YOU.”

In my minds eye, I could picture myself at my dining room table early in the morning over His Word…coffee and journal nearby.  I saw the people He has put in my life to speak words of truth and sharpen me, encourage and correct me.  I saw the bible studies, and conferences, and Sunday services I attended…soaking in His truth and promises.   I could almost see my soul being strengthened as HE did the hard work of training this weak soul for the race that was to come.

I think about that with a smile…that GOD KNEW.  I look back on my journals and it’s so clear He was preparing me for the race.  Only I didn’t know that He has already signed me up for this marathon.

“What is ahead for this coming year?” I wrote as I looked ahead to my 36th year. 

I’m so thankful I didn’t know, because I would have run the other direction, like Jonah did when confronted with his difficult task (and we know how that turned out!).

As I’ve reflected on how far God has brought me, and how He has always been faithful, my sorrow cannot help but turn to joy.  I’m thankful today that He has drawn me up, once more, out of the pit of destruction (the pit that looks more at my CIRCUMSTANCES than at my GOD).  I’m thankful that His Grace Abounds – to me….as I run this race SO imperfectly.  His Grace Abounds as I stumble, and look to the left and right and envy others’ races.  His Grace Abounds as He reminds me that MY RACE MATTERS.  Its so that many would “see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:3)

In these weary moments, He woos me once more to where it all began – His Word – His precious promises – His steadfast love and faithfulness.  And He puts a new song in my mouth.  He removes the song of weariness, and self-pity, and discouragement, and puts a new song that only He can write.

This is a new song for the last leg of the race.

It’s a song of praise to our God!

These last few miles, it’s this song that will keep me going, though my legs grow weary.

From Psalm 40

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

Blessed is the {WOMAN} who makes
    the Lord {HER} trust…
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
    yet they are more than can be told.

I have told the glad news of deliverance
    in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
    as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
    I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    from the great congregation.

11 As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain
    your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
    ever preserve me!
12 For evils have encompassed me
    beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
    and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
    my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
    Lord, make haste to help me!
14 Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
    who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who delight in my hurt!
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
    who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”

 

 

 

2015 ~ A Prayer of Gratitude

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Thank You Lord, for another year of life; another year on the journey.

 

Thank you for beginning the year with my love in my favorite city, spending precious time together and getting snowed in an extra day. Thank You for that pink handbag I felt so surprisingly inclined to purchase on that trip.  It was a frivolous purchase, and pink never was my favorite color. But You knew, even in those moments that there was a cancer growing within that would forever tie me to the color pink.

Thank You for the blessing of watching my three blessings grow and thrive. Thank you for loving them more than I do, and for writing their story… Even through the hard chapters.

Thank you for big scary white machines. It was that machine that helped discover I was sick… Very sick. Thank you that we discovered the cancer before it spread to any major organs. Thank You for the gift of life, even if this new normal includes frequent scans with the scary white machine.

Thank you for the precious family photos taken by a dear friend… Photos that will help me remember I had once had long hair.  And thank You Lord that that long hair no longer defines me.

Thank You, Lord for chemo. It’s side effects were horrific, but it gave provided me the chance to watch my littles grow big, and hold hands with my hubby as we grow old together.

Thank You for Your Word; Your promises; Your Hope in scripture. It was and is my lifeline- the bedrock of my life.

Thank You for my precious Justin-for his presence at every chemo, his unwavering support. Thank you for that look of affection as our eyes met when my newly shaven hair fell to the floor. I will never forget it.

Thank You for the Body of Christ, who prayed for me, babysat my children, fed our family meals, kept me company in chemo, sent me gifts and cards for encouragement. They were Your hands and feet in my time of need. Thank You, especially, for the gift of a precious set of high school girls who walked with me and loved me so well.  They teach me so much.

Thank You for family– my immediate and extended. Thank You for ties that bind, cousins to play with and memories made.  Thank You for all the ways you provided through my family.  Thank You for another Christmas to spend together.

Mostly, Lord, I thank You for your faithfulness in ALL things. I thank You that Your plans are perfect, and You do all things well. Even a life turned topsy turvy by cancer … Nothing is wasted. Thank You for drawing me deeper into Your loving arms in 2015, and for opening my hands wider in surrender. Thank you for teaching me more about being fearless and abandoned for you, on the highest mountain, and darkest valley.

You answered my prayer – You taught me, and are teaching me, what it looks like to be an extravagant worshipper.  Worship is best learned in the wilderness, and I thank You for the dark wilderness chapters of my story, where Your light shines brightest.

Your grateful daughter,
Brooke

 

Gratitude and Update {Surgery # 2 & Pathology Results}

As I write, I am surrounded by the sounds and sights of the season; my favorite time of the year – Christmas! I pray each of you is experiencing the presence and love of Christ afresh during this very special time.

So many of you have been praying for me, and I am so grateful for prayer lifted on my behalf.  We have experienced God’s love and grace in many ways through this trial of breast cancer; not the least of which is through people like YOU.  We’ve been wrapped like a blanket in the love of our family, friends, church family, co-workers, and even friends we haven’t seen in many years.  During my chemo treatments I started making a list of everyone I wanted to send a thank you note for.  My precious Mother trained me up right! I remember her teaching me the importance of a timely, written thank you note.  I know that no one expects a thank you note, and does not do nice gestures for this reason.  But in some way I wanted to express my gratitude for the kindness I was given.

As you can imagine, that list got longer, and longer (and I got sicker, and sicker)…and so now the long list, still accumulating names, still sits in a box in my closet.  I pray that one day I am able to personally express my gratitude to each and every one of you who have prayed for me, made our family a meal, given us a gift, cared for my children, grocery shopped for me, visited me at chemo…. or even just a hug, phone call, or smile.  And every comment here on this blog and every sweet Facebook message, text, call and card lifts me up.   Each gesture is so appreciated.  I will joyfully be writing thank you notes for years because I never want to forget how wrapped in love we feel. And the best way to remember is to sit in that gratitude.

Beyond the kindness of people, I’m grateful for the kindness of God.  Again in Reach worship yesterday we sang a song “Joyfully” which has a lyric that says “Your goodness chases after me”.  Every time I sing those words, I cannot HELP but raise my hands as tears fill my eyes.  Even writing this I am moved.  Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life!  To be hemmed in by his goodness, behind and before..it’s the most amazing security in the world.

There are times I haven’t felt like I was sitting in His goodness, but it is during those times that I believe that YES, He is Good, despite my feelings.  As I have said before, “faith isn’t faith if it is always felt”.  These are the days I had to lean hard into His promises and trust that which I did not see (or feel).

Thankfully, His mercy is in full view during these sweet December days.

My second lumpectomy (called a re-excision) was on 11/24.   A second surgery was required because they did not get clear margins from the first surgery.  What in the world are “clear margins?”  Clear margins basically means they removed all of the cancer from the area surrounding the tissue.  Clear margins are very important because if there is any cancer remaining, it can grow and spread.

My surgery went well, two days before Thanksgiving.  I had virtually no pain, and even helped cook for Thanksgiving dinner.  I was so grateful.  We waited with great expectation for the pathology results to see if clear margins were achieved this time.

I got the call last week that we were waiting to hear….CLEAR MARGINS! So (as far as I can understand)- I am currently cancer free!

I will have seven weeks of radiation, likely starting in January.  It will be Monday – Friday for 7 weeks (35 treatments). I also continue to have a Herceptin infusion every three weeks till April.  After April, if everything goes as planned, I believe I will be on Tamoxifen for 5 years.  Cancer isn’t a sickness that you put behind you quickly, I’m learning.  But I’m thankful for the journey, and mostly for the One and the ones who journey with me.

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

22-24 God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

25-27 God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.

28-30 When life is heavy and hard to take,
    go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
    Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
    The “worst” is never the worst.

31-33 Why? Because the Master won’t ever
    walk out and fail to return.
If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
    His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.

Lamentations 3:19-33, The Message

It is Well {Living in Paradox}

This is a “heart check”.  I shared these words this morning with a few trusted friends, desiring for them to have a window into my soul.  I long to be transparent and real on this journey with each of you, not just my trusted friends.

So really, how have I been lately?  Like, how’s my heart?  Honestly, I write this post through tears.

The best way I can describe it, is that I feel the constant tension of living in paradox.  I often feel like a wrestling Jacob.  (Genesis 32:22-32) Only my wrestle is all in my head and my heart.

There’s a tension that all is NOT well in my soul, but at the same time IT IS WELL.

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Jesus – my faith in Him- is the ROCK which I prop my life on.  He doesn’t call us to comfort.  A very wise friend recently told me that a life of leaning on the ROCK is not comfortable.  It’s hard. It’s rough. It’s dirty.

Here are some of the uncomfortable, dirty bits of my life, living in paradox these days.

It ISN’T well: Recently my five-year old, very perceptive and “old soul” of a  daughter asked if I’m going to die.  She went on to share with me if I did die she would “cry in her pillow every night”.   Heartbreaking.

It IS well:  This conversation, and the hot tears that it brought (still brings) has granted me the opportunity to wrestle with whether I really, and I mean REALLY trust the Lord with my children and husband.

Through this wrestle, God is slowly prying open my fingers on my desire to control, manipulate, and micromanage their existence…to make it pain free and all joy. I’m releasing control to the story that GOD want’s to write in their life, with or without me.

I’m coming to grips with the fact that this God, this Heavenly Father, this Creator, this Pursuer of my heart…HE CAN ACTUALLY BE TRUSTED.  He created them too – He loves them more than I do, and He’s writing their story together for good too.   Do you see? God is shaping my heart.  He desires my heart….ALL of my heart.  He doesn’t want me to be closed handed with even that which is closest and dearest and tender.

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Selah’s prayer. My prayer too.

It ISN’T well:  I watch my precious husband pour himself out all day at work, and then pour himself out at home because I lack energy… especially in the late afternoons and evenings.

It IS well:  I get to see my husband step up and be a picture of Jesus.  I get to see firsthand how God is growing him as a man of God in the most painful and unlikely, yet the most beautiful way. I get to experience my love growing deeper than words can express. Our marriage is forever changed for the better, and thankful this happened 10 years into our marriage instead of 20, 30, 40 years in. We get to spend the rest of our lives together  – forever changed in the best possible ways.

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It ISN’T well: I fear that the cancer will come back. I have dread that I will have to go through the horrific chemo again. I plead “I cannot go through that again. Please Lord. No”. Knowing the medical stats that it’s usually the recurrence that is terminal.

It IS well:  Fear takes me to the cross. Fear fixes my eyes on Jesus as I realize I cannot control this. Fear takes me to His Word and His promises – especially the promise that “He will never leave me nor forsake me”.  Fear causes me to reflect back at all the ways He carried me through chemo the first time and my heart can rest knowing if He takes me there again He will carry me again.

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It ISN’T well: Over the summer, I had to temporarily step away from a ministry that I love with all my heart. I wrestle with feeling disconnected and that I’m not needed…. That they did fine without me.

It IS well: The Lord is continually using this to remind me that this ministry is not about me anyway!! It’s so gross to think for a minute it’s about me – so the Lord is revealing pride and then refreshing and reviving me in repentance as I am washed in His cleansing blood.  Seeing the ministry thrive without me reminds me that it’s all about HIM, not me.  I’m back (easing back in), and I’m so increcibly thankful for the amazing women God enabled through my absence.

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It ISN’T well:  I’m in a medically induced menopause (at age 35) to keep my hormones at bay… Hormones that could cause the cancer to grow and spread.  This menopause may or may not be temporary.  A menopause with all of the usual side effects! Yes I now know exactly what a hot flash feels like and if you see me fanning myself you know why!

It IS well:  In menopause, and cancer, being able to relate to women who are suffering – in trials big and small.  God is making me more empathetic, and compassionate, and I pray to minister through my suffering.

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It ISN’T well:  I’m laying down MY dreams for our family and the size of our family, that it is unlikely that I will ever carry or nurse a child again.  This is an especially tender place for me

It IS well:   These unfulfilled longings are causing me to crave Christ, the ONLY One who can completely satisfy me. I’m laying down MY desires and dreams, but getting to replace them for the story HE wants to write in our family. He is good, and His mercy will endure.  His story for me; for our family, is better than any that I could even ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20!)

Copyright Becky Williamson Photography WEBSITE: www.beckywilliamsonphotography.com EMAIL: beckywilliamsonphotography@gmail.com

Cancer is helping me to understand the paradox of being sorrowful yet always rejoicing in ways I would have never understood otherwise.

“Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander” has been my prayer for a couple years now.  I’ve been begging the Lord to grow me in ways only HE can do.  He’s answering my prayer – only cancer is how He is doing it.

The “it is well” testimonies above are those deeper places that my feet have now wandered.  Walking through cancer means walking through deep, deep waters.  But with the deeper hard comes the deeper beauty.  I would have never walked there myself.  No one willingly wanders to cancer. But, in this case, that’s just what it’s taking to allow for this deep, deep beauty.

It is well with my soul always wins.  It may be through tears.  It may take a time of wrestle.  Like Jacob, I may wrestle all night, but also like Jacob I will come out of the wrestle with a limp …an indescribable way of walking that is set apart and different.  This limp is a way of walking through life that’s different, and that others notice. And my limp is because of His presence and touch through the wrestle.

The limp points ME and OTHERS back to Jesus.  Limps aren’t ever pretty, but they point back to an experience from the past. That’s what this life is all about anyway isn’t it? This life of mine is just to point to HIM. It’s not to draw attention to my limp but point to the One who gave me the limp.

I’m just the vessel. My heart is His, and although I’m sorrowful, I’m rejoicing.

“It is well” always prevails.  Limp and all.

Daily life, Chemo # 5 and Prayer Requests

{All Sufficient Grace, part 2 blog post still to come!}

Hi Friends!!

Although my words have been few here on “His Grace Abounds”, I want you to know that I’m always “writing” blog posts in my head! It’s getting them from my head to my laptop that is the challenge these days.  The Lord continues to reveal so much to me about Himself through this journey through the valley of Cancer.  As I mentioned before, when I’m feeling good I want to squeeze every bit of goodness with my children and husband- taking advantage of being able to get out and make memories with my people!  During the yucky times it’s very difficult to do much more than rest.

But often, as I’m just doing life, the Lord impresses a truth to my heart that I want to share immediately! And usually I share that on social media…instagram and/or facebook.  It’s quick and easy to share a quick photo or a brief reflection through my phone instead of cracking open the ole laptop! I realized that not everyone who reads my blog follows me on IG and FB (and that’s ok! I still vacillate on my own feelings about social media!).  If you would like to follow me on either one, here are my social media names you can search for:

Instagram: brooketurnersc

Facebook: Brooke Arnold Turner

Recap of Chemo 4 cycle

I had BIG chemo #4 on July 16.  I went back to the clinic pretty much every other day for a week and a half to receive fluids, nutrients, and anti-nausea meds.  I also had home infusions during the weekend directly following chemo.  THESE CHANGES MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!!!!

Cycle four was BY FAR the best cycle.  I was able to eat and did not spend one full day in the bed!  I only got sick a few times.  Many people have asked “why didn’t they do this from the beginning since it made you feel so much better?”  Great question.  Every patient is completely different and respond differently to this poison they are pumping through our veins.  There is a process to figure out what works.  We tried many, many nausea (and other) meds to try to tame my side effects at home, and it took a while to see what wasn’t working.  This isn’t typical protocol to be in the clinic 3-4 hours every other day for a week and a half.  It’s very time consuming but completely worth it.  (And I get to see my sweet and spunky nurse more which is always a treat!)

Daily Life

A little bit of “daily life” and some of the fun things we enjoyed as a family while I was feeling well:  LOTS of pool time, Justin and I had a couple of amazing date nights, and I got to take Selah to her first theatre show!

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date night at Colas

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Selah and me before Mary Poppins at the Town Theatre. {Samuel wasn’t interested and Hannah was too young for that length of show!}

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We made it a “mostly” girls night with several friends (including my sister who was in town from Houston with her children!). I say “mostly” girls night because my friend BB brought her son Everett. I know he was in heaven surrounded by girls :)

I’ve mentioned before that a cancer diagnosis gives a person a new perspective in life.  Our family was big on “memory making” before, but now we are even more so.  We treasure special times of doing fun, out-of-the-ordinary things.  We also treasure our daily routine life in a whole new way.  This is one way that cancer is a gift!  And I especially cherish the days where my health allows me just to be out of bed and out of the house! I’ve had lots of these days recently and I’m so thankful.

Chemo #5

Yesterday, 8/5 was BIG chemo #5.  I cannot believe that my next one will be my LAST BIG CHEMO and I get to ring the bell to celebrate the completion of this most difficult part of my journey.  Oh, I can’t wait to ring that bell and give Myra (my nurse) the biggest hug ever!! And of course celebrate with my wonderful family and friends who have been beside me every step of the way!

Some of you may be wondering, what do I mean when I say “BIG Chemo”?   Every 3 weeks I have to go in for my BIG chemo.  I receive 4 types of chemo drugs, in addition to fluids, Benadryl, anti-nausea, etc.   The 4 types of chemo I receive (in this order, I believe) are herceptin, perjeta, taxotere and carboplatin.  That day I’m in the clinic from 8am – 3pm at least.

On the 2 Wednesdays in between the “BIG Chemo” I go to the clinic for what we call “little chemo”; I go in to receive only the herceptin (and possibly fluids, anti-nausea etc).  After my last BIG chemo on Aug 26, I’ll have no more BIG chemos, and my little herceptins will space out to every three weeks.  I will go every three weeks up until April of 2016.  Herceptin has very few side effects.

My chemo #5 went great yesterday.  I enjoyed time with several special friends!

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Justin was traveling for work yesterday so my dear friend Lori picked me up REALLY early and took me to chemo and stayed nearly the whole day!

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one of the most precious of my kindred sisters in Christ, Maria, brought Lori & me lunch and visited. She is one of the most faithful prayer warriors and encouragers I am blessed to know and the Lord has accomplished SO much through our friendship. I could write a whole blog :) I love her so much.

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It was great to catch up with my friend of almost 3 DECADES, Sarah! Life happened and we hadn’t seen each other in two years so it was great to catch up and spend time together. Sarah and I grew up together, went to school together, and even were both Zetas at Clemson.

I also visited with Marie (a cancer patient I met last time but we forgot to get a picture!)

The only “surprise” of the day was the my plasma numbers were too low; to the point that I almost was not able to get treated.  They want my plasma to be over 100 in order to give a patient chemo, and mine was 94.  Myra had to consult with Dr. Stillwell and thankfully she allowed me to get treated.  (If she had said “no”, they would wait one more weak and let my body bounce back a little more).  My red blood count and hemoglobin continue to be on the very low range and close to where I might need a blood transfusion. My magnesium and potassium continue to be very low also, no matter how much I try to eat foods rich in these nutrients.   This is where we are seeing the cumulative effect of the drugs on my body.    I am AMAZED and count it a miracle that I have felt as good physically as I have the past few weeks, amidst what is going on inside my body.

Today, Thursday 8/6 I went back to the clinic for fluids, anti-nausea, etc and my neulasta shot (white blood cell booster shot).   A friend from college, Ashlee (Carmichael) Moses and I had reconnected after TEN YEARS, and she brought me lunch and visited.  That was by far the highlight of my time at the clinic today!  I’m so excited she lives in Columbia now and we can catch up more frequnetly!  Ashlee was my “big sister” in our sorority at Clemson.

So far after chemo # 5  I’m feeling well and I pray it continues.

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support….we are so well loved by our “village!”

Praises and Prayers:

*PRAISE for how well cycle 4 went; that I felt mostly good and was able to make special memories with my family

*PRAISE that the Lord continues to use cancer to reveal Himself to me, reveal sin, prune me, and make me more like His Son…burning away the dross so more of Him can shine through

*PRAYER~ a scripture you could pray over me is Phillippians 3:8. I especially love the Amplified version:  “I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly].”  The prayer of my heart is that through every part of my life, I am able to know Christ more fully and clearly through it.  I pray through cancer I come to a deeper heart knowledge of who He is to me.

*BOLDLY PRAY~ that this 5th cycle would be as manageable as the 4th cycle!  God is good either way, but I pray for another “easy” cycle! Pray against nausea, weakness, and vomiting. Pray that I could continue to eat!

*PRAYER~ that my plasma numbers stay up enough so that I am able to have my FINAL big chemo on 8/26.  Also pray for hemoglobin and red blood count to stay at a good level.

*PRAYER~for wisdom and discernment as we begin to consider surgery options.  We want the loudest voices to be the Lord and our trusted Doctors.  Many many things to consider.  {more on this later- but some type of surgery will occur likely in October)

*PRAYER ~(unrelated to cancer!) for Samuel and Selah as they start Kindergarten at Center for Knowledge (CFK-Main Campus) on 8/19.  Pray for a seamless transition and joyful hearts!

Thank you, my faithful prayer warriors!

His grace abounds,

Brooke