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Breast Cancer

In April 2010, Stacy Davis found a lump in her right breast later to be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. She wrote on a personal blog entitled "His Way, Not Mine" during her diagnosis, treatment, surgery and reconstruction. The blog posts have since been moved to Delighting in the Lord in the hopes of ministering to anyone walking through breast cancer. 

Lingering

Stacy Davis

(Previously published July 31, 2010)

This is where I have chosen to spend many a quiet moment these last few days....lingering under the canopy of God's trees and surrounded by the sounds of His creation. I hear the songs that continually come from the voices of the birds.....songs that remind me that God made the bird to open its mouth and bring forth a symphony of praise and beauty with every utterance. How that speaks to my heart in what God desires for us. That we would be a sweet fragrance to all those around us, an offering to Him. 

"God is my strength and my song." Exodus 15:2

This was the inscription on a bracelet that a woman gave to me on Saturday morning of our women's retreat back in April. I didn't know this woman, actually had never met her. 

I had taught the night before and that morning, she approached me and gave me two small packages. She told me one was for my sister, Heather, who lives in Texas and has a marriage that has been very unstable for the last 18 months. On Friday night, I had shared a few words regarding my sister as an example of a women whose life was 'founded on the rock of Jesus Christ' and weathering a fierce storm with God's grace and mercy so profoundly evident. The other was for me. 

After being overcome with this woman's generosity, compassion and heart for the Lord. I tucked the two packages in my purse, as the morning beckoned and the ladies were filing into the conference room. This was the morning, I had found the lump in my breast. This was the morning, a new journey for me was underway, and I didn't even know it yet. 

The day was long and upon retiring to my room late into the evening, I forgot about those packages nestled into my purse. The next morning, as I awoke early to spend some time with the Lord, before the retreat was to end, God prompted me to pull out those two packages. I unwrapped them discovering the contents inside. There were two silver bracelets, one in each package. There was no marking on the package to determine which was for me and which was for my sister. I sat before the Lord, read the inscriptions: One from Isaiah (can't tell you now what) and the other from Exodus, "God is my strength and my song." I laid them on the coffee table before me and asked, 

"God which would you have for me? And which for Heather?" 

I waited.

I looked at them again and read them ever so slowly. 

I waited.

And the verse in Exodus became a part of me. 

I slipped it upon my wrist and spent some time before the Lord.

After the Sunday morning session ended, there was a scurry of activity as I met and prayed with individual ladies. As the tear down process began. But I knew I wanted to meet face to face with this new 'friend' and thank her. 

I walked up to the foyer of the hotel, and there she was checking out. Our arms embraced and I touched her arm and thanked her. I truly was so overcome with this woman and her Godly radiance. She asked me, rather timidly...

"may I ask, which did you choose?"

I told her. And she smiled, as God had placed that verse and that bracelet before her for me. She didn't know that in 3 short days I was going to be face to face with me sister, Heather and that I would be giving her her present, from a distant, yet close sister in the Lord. A name and friend unknown to Heather, but known by the Lord.

I tell you this story because that bracelet has adorned my wrist to every doctor's appointment, every test, every part of my new breast cancer journey. 

God knew.

It is an altar, of sorts, for me. A reminder of God's faithfulness in our lives. A picture of His love. A symbol of the body of Christ working together, joined together through Jesus Christ and the blood that He shed on our behalf. A reminder, that even when we don't think He is working....oh He is and never stops. And how He weaves together the most beautiful tapestry.

And so, each morning, on my front porch, I linger.

It is often before the sun has completely risen, the children are still nestled in their beds....all is quiet. And I sit on the front porch with my Bible, cup of coffee and pen and notebook, linger...

in Him

in His Words and still small voice

in His comfort and conviction

in His Truth 

in my doubts and fears, laying them down before Him

in my pain, asking Him to be the soothing balm

in my fragility as a wife, mother and woman walking the road of breast cancer

And every morning, we meet together. 

God is my strength and my song. 

As for the updates from the week....there are many. 

Yes, drains were all removed on Wednesday....a new "free" woman I was.

I have a Mondar Cord inflammation under my right armpit where the lymph nodes were removed causing me extra pain. A physical therapist has been added to my appointments now.

Betties got their first filling, but only a half dose due to the muscle inflammation and spasms. That would be 30cc's instead of 60.

Love the wig salon, but so ever expensive! Going back next week for another appointment. 

First radiation oncology appointment on Thursday sent me deep into the ocean as the waves of the next passage door to healing was presented. Radiation apparently is a given with my cancer. I had thought it might be a question mark. It is now an exclamation point!

Friday post op appointment with my breast surgeon, Dr. Susan Chang. I'll share more later, but the all in all is that after the team of doctor's, pathologists and surgeons met to discuss my cancer, they are going to go at this cancer strong and hard. They are recommending 18 weeks of chemo and 28 days of radiation following. 

And so I linger in all of this with the Lord so ever close. 

As much as I desire to sit on my front porch forever, I know I have to accept. I have to stand firmly again with open hands and allow God to walk these feet of mine down the path. 

I am doing that, bit by bit, moment by moment.....by the grace of God. He is my strength. And I do have a song in my heart that only comes from Him. 

Much love,

Stacy

Doors and Passageways

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 1, 2010)

A Journey. Over rough terrain. Through the valley, across a river, meandering and navigating through the forest and trees, up a rocky cliff side, to the beautiful mountaintop where the view is glorious. The journey was all worth it. All the pain, all the bruises, the thirst as the sweat beat down your brow....trudging, plowing, moving quickly then ever so slowly with the Lord Jesus as your compass...your travel guide. You get to the top and breathe in the fresh mountain air, you sit on the top of that mountain and rejoice in His goodness. 

We all want the mountaintop, don't we? Where the view spans the horizon and we can look at where God brought us.....to this place. A place that may be a temporary resting place. Or a place that my be somewhat lengthy. Only God knows. 

Sometimes, the valley is a lot longer a journey than we ever thought it would be and we never think we will reach the mountain.

And sometimes, the mountain quickly fades away and we find ourselves slipping over the edge to yet another journey that we feel we weren't quite ready for and yet it is already underway. 

In the past, that is how I have pictured many a journey that the Lord has taken me on. I've been to many valleys, I've traversed many rivers and I've sat on many mountaintops. 

This current breast cancer journey is different. Instead of a picture of God's beautiful landscape, He has presented me with a very vivid picture of doors and passageways. 

I can't escape the image. It is so real. So tangible. So present everyday.

I see a hallway and the hallway is long and narrow. There are no windows. There is nothing adorning the walls. But at the end of the hall there is a big white door with a shiny knob. The door is plain. There is no fancy decoration adorning it. It is a door. 

My first door was on June 2nd. The day that we received the call from my breast surgeon, following my surgical biopsy that the cells showed cancer. There were two masses, both cancerous. 

We waited for this phone call all day. We knew it was coming. But yet, God had prepared my heart for the news that I would receive that day. I knew, in the still quiet places of my heart, that cancer would be the pathology result. I just knew. Just as God had prepared me during my pregnancy with Joshua. I knew Joshua wasn't well from the beginning of that pregnancy. I didn't know it until much later, the mountaintop in my walk with the Lord on that journey. When I saw the picture clearer and was able to put the pieces all together and look back and remember and see God's faithfulness more clearly. I remembered the preparedness of the Lord.

June 2nd was the first door on this journey. My hand had been on the doorknob all day. When the call came in and my husband sat in the office on the phone with Dr. Chang hearing the news that would forever change our lives.....breast cancer, waiting more pathology results. Unsure if it was invasive or noninvasive. I saw the door and the door held the name Cancer. 

I kept walking in and out of the room while he was on the phone. Almost pacing the floor. And then I remember standing before the desk, his head to the phone mouthing to him "cancer?" And he just gently shook his head yes. 

I sat down, buried my head in my hands and cried, "no Lord, please no." I didn't want to turn the knob. I wanted to stop and just stand at this door. I didn't want to walk through. 

But my hand had to turn that knob. I had to accept the diagnosis. I had to walk through that first door to other side. The other side demonstrated and resembled acceptance. Surrender to the God who created me. To the God that knows the end from the beginning. To the God who loves me. And He began ministering to my heart.

And one day turned into the next and then the next and we walked ever so tenderly down the hallway of this journey until we received the final diagnosis: Stage 1 Invasive DuctalBreast Cancer. 

And door number 2 was visible. This door was labeled surgery. Again, the door was so vivid before me. We met with our breast surgeon and basically told that due to the size, the location, my current breast size and my age, a double mastectomy was being recommended. 

Again, I knew again in my heart that door number 2 had to be opened and only I could open it. God needed to bring me and my husband into one accord though. Barclay struggled with it a bit. He prayed harder. He fasted. We prayed together. And God brought our hearts together in unity that this was God's will. 

My hand reached out to the doorknob, turned it ever so slowly and my feet walked through the door on July 15th. 

Because I have learned through many a trial that healing will not come until you walk through the door that God presents. 

That is a hard one. We all want healing, but we all don't want to make the decision to walk through the door. 

That is the surrendering of the mind and the will to the character, love, faithfulness to our God and Father, Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, we love. That is walking in faith. That is trusting. That is obedience. That is believing without seeing that God did in fact come to set the captives free. 

You see. God is a patient God. When the door is before us. We can choose to just stand there in the pain for a long time. He will wait, but the door will not go away. Your door may say something else. Maybe it is loss of a child. I've stood at that door, too. Maybe divorce. Again, a door before me at the age of around 6 with my parents. A door that says unforgiveness. A door that says moving to a new unknown place. A door that says death, illness, spousal infidelity, job loss, betrayal.... the list goes on and on, but the choice is up to you. 

The longer you stand in front of that door without opening it and accepting God's will into your life, the longer you leave time for Satan to work on your heart. Bitterness creeps in. Anger creeps in. Rebellion creeps in. Doubt creeps in. Fear creeps in. And before you know it, you are engulfed in those sins and you are not walking in the grace and righteousness of our God and Father. The door separates and God's healing isn't allowed into your heart. You try to heal on your own. You cry out to God for that healing you so desperately desire. But I believe, it won't come until you actually open the door and walk to the other side. Receiving. 

It is an act of the will. It is letting go of your will and saying yes to God's will for you. 

It is as Jesus cried in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was praying to His Father before He was to be arrested. He knew what was on the other side. He cried out to His Father "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39

Jesus opened the door and He walked to the other side. The side God asked Him to walk to. He gave His life, bore my sin and your sin upon that cross. He shed His blood and gave His life that we may through Him have eternal life and believe. So that you and me would choose to receive Him into our hearts, repent that we are a sinner and ask Him to come in and live. And the good news is that He isn't on that cross anymore. He is risen. He is alive. And you truly can enter into a love relationship with Him. That through Him alone, you have access to the Father. 

1 Timothy 2:5 "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men and that is Christ Jesus." 

There is freedom. There is healing. It is obedience. It is faith all wrapped together. Jesus' act of His submission is an example for all of us to follow. But even with salvation, you have to walk through that door. You have to receive Him into your heart. No one can do it for you. 

And God is bringing healing not only into my physical body, but into my heart as I have accepted His will for me.

But now, door number 3 is standing before me and for some reason. This door is the hardest. There are actually two doors painted before me. One door reads conventional treatment and one door reads alternative treatment. And I am struggling. 

The conventional door says long and hard chemo and radiation. Losing your hair. Killing the good and the bad in my body. Depleting my body down to a breaking point only to then try to rebuild in the hope of killing any microscopic cancer cells floating around in my body. Cells that cannot even be detected. And radiation to again locally target my chest wall and lymph nodes, burning my skin, tightening and hardening the skin, and possibly causing other problems in other parts of my body. In the hope that any microscopic cancer cells are annihilated. The statistics stand as the defense. The view around me of breast cancer survivors a hallmark adorning these walls. 

And the alternative door says go at it through dietary changes, nutrition, supplements, removing toxins and cleansing the body, juicing, testing your PH and alkalinity. It resembles for me, control. It is a path I began down almost 6 years ago when I began looking into vaccines and what they do to the body. When I looked into farming practices and saw our soil being depleted of any and all nutrients. When I looked at genetically modified food, high fructose corn syrup, dairy products and homogenization and pasteurization. As a family, we made many changes to our grocery shopping. Our milk comes raw directly from a farm about 5 miles away. Our meat usually from an organic farm which we buy in bulk, our eggs are farm raised and free ranging. I read labels. I try to by as much organic as I can afford. I changed our cleaning products. Our personal hygiene products...looked at Propylene Glycols, and Parabins. Looked at Sodium Laural Sulfates and fluoride. It spilled over into every area of our lives. And I saw control begin to work its way back into my heart. Thinking that I could control my environment enough that disease wouldn't be a part of our lives. 

But I got cancer. And that was God's plan for me. My life is outside of my control. The lives of my children, our outside my control. 

I can be a good steward. And I am called to walk in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I am called to live a consecrated life to Christ alone. To deny the flesh. To pursue holiness. That my body is the temple of the Lord as He lives and reigns in my heart. 

All this and more I desire. 

And now I am face to face with two doors that for me resemble fear, control, doubt and uncertainty. 

I am at a standstill. I am frozen. I am ready to walk through that next door, whichever one it is for again, I know that healing will not come until I walk through. 

I sat with God this morning and He began speaking to me in such a powerful way. He revealed these fears that I didn't even know I was holding onto. I confessed them to Him this morning. And the words He gave me were found in Romans 6:22-23

"But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Receiving Christ, I have been let go from sin, set free. My sin was nailed to the cross with Christ. Eternal life is my gift. The fruit that I am to bear is to holiness. 

This morning, God so clearly said to me to "Let Go and you will have life." This is the test of faith. And I am asking God exactly what it is I need to let go of? 

We cling to the things that we think bring life. We stand at that door and say no, I am not walking through. There is another way. And if there isn't I am just going to stand here.

I have to walk through door number 3. I just need God to show me what exactly that merged door looks like. Where does conventional treatment meet alternative treatment. Do they? What in His eyes does that look like for me? 

I've had many tell me with so much love what to do on the alternative side. I am thankful for each one of you. I am thankful for the advice, and much of it I have undertaken for the last 3 months. Some has worked. And some hasn't. And when you are the patient and walking in the shoes of cancer, the journey is much different. There isn't a quick cure. This cancer didn't develop overnight. 

I'm not afraid of this cancer. I just want to do the will of my Father. I don't want to walk in the old ways of false control. I don't want to walk in the wisdom of man and yet I know God gave man wisdom to those who seek Him. I know God is in control and at the end of the day, He holds my life in His hands. He is sovereign. He is faithful. And He has purpose. 

I just don't have this answer right now. And this week, I am meeting with two medical oncologists from two different hospitals. Next week, I meet with a team from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. And I am hoping to get in with an alternative doctor through Jefferson Hospital, Dr. Bazzan who treats people while treating disease. 

I ask that you pray for me and my husband. That I would lay down the sin that so easily floods my heart and holds me back from the doors. That sends me to my bed wishing that these doors were different. I ask that you pray that God makes it clear which door we are to open and that I will be full convinced in my own mind that this is the way, walk in it. I choose to walk by faith. I trust that God will give me these answers. 

And so, temporarily, I stand steadfast in my knowledge of God and His character looking at these two doors saying, "Lord, I will let go of whatever you want me to let go of. Show me. Lead me. Guide me. Help me." 

Isaiah 58:8-9 "Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;  You shall cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'

This is my prayer. 

Much love,

Stacy

A Little Bit of Normalcy

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 2, 2010)

Can you guess where I spent my evening? 

And where I will be spending many more this month...

The football season is upon us and a little normalcy is nice to have back in our lives. 

I forgot how crazy the football season is when you are healthy and whole. To say I was a bit overwhelmed this evening would be an understatement. At the field by 5:45 and staying til 8:00, five nights a week, has given me a few moments of pause today. Not too sure how this is going to look in the next couple of weeks. But we are giving it a go. To see the joy on the boy's faces and give them some normalcy back into life. I'll do whatever it takes. 

 

And they both went full steam ahead.....

as we all enjoyed from the sidelines and Faith and Jed played at the playground. 

I was a tired momma when 8:00 hit. Pain meds had worn off. No nap today. But to see these two smile.....worth every minute. 

Football will be adding a new layer to our days, especially as I am STILL not driving due to this right arm of mine, oh and valium and Percocet. But each day the dosage is a little less and the arm gains a little more movement. It's hard to keep me down for long. 

One thing is for sure, as crazy as the day was, 

a little normalcy is such a welcome addition to my day. 

Here's to the start of many days on the football field and many cheers from the sideline. 

Much love,

Stacy

Faithfulness

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 5, 2010)

"To declare your lovingkindness in the morning

and your faithfulness every night." Psalm 92:2

The faithfulness of God. It is there if you allow your eyes to see and your ears to hear. To see the faithfulness of God, our hearts must be settled, rooted and established upon Him. Open my eyes to see, Lord!

He is faithful, always.

As my eyes want to wander to my circumstances, I am swayed and begin to lose heart. How quickly I get caught up in the physical....the pain, the appointments, the uncertainty, the difficulty....all that I can see and cannot see. I am not faithful. I continually fall down. My desire is to stay focused, directed and steadfast...girded in Christ each day....that I may see Him.

As a lover of words.....here's the definition of faithful:

strict or thorough in the performance of duty

true to one's word or promise

steady in allegiance or affection; loyal, constant

reliable, trusted, believed

adhering or true to fact; a standard or an original, accurate

full of faith, believing

All this and more describes Jesus Christ. 

Another verse I go to regularly, especially regarding the life and trials I've seen with my mother is in Lamentations. God's majesty of faithfulness is displayed in her life over and over again, as it is in ours....if only we would stay still long enough to see. 

Lamentations 3:19-24

"Remember my affliction and roaming,

The wormwood and the gall.

My soul still remembers

And sinks within me.

This I recall to my mind,

Therefore I HAVE HOPE.

Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning;

GREAT IS YOUR FAITHFULNESS.

The Lord is my portion, says my soul,

Therefore I hope in Him."

And for me that is the key. To stay in His presence throughout the day with Him ever before my eyes, my lips, my head, my heart. That I may see Him and His faithfulness. And always, His faithfulness comes through in ways that I would never be able to define when I arise in the morning. 

Today my heart is full of God's faithfulness and lovingkindness as I've seen it each day this week in my life. It was my first week "going solo" if you will. I was a bit apprehensive about the week and really overwhelmed, as I looked at the appointments before me, my physical limitations, and my energy level. My mother in law left on Friday. No daily reinforcements were scheduled. Of course there were friends so willing to come and help, but many of them have children of their own. My guilt comes into play. And on top of it all, my husband had his heaviest case load of surgeries to date....Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.....

My heart was overwhelmed.

But God in His faithfulness, showed Himself strong! On Monday, my friend Adrianne, who serves alongside me in Women's Ministry as the administrative support (really she is the hands and feet!), came over in the morning to go over fall details. Again, as my mind engaged beforehand at what this would look like, I was overwhelmed. She has 3 children. They were coming along, and I worried about the extra chaos that would ensue. 

There was none! She and I spent the whole morning and early afternoon, sitting on the front porch, praying together, taking care of church business together, getting the fall Bible Study brochure and info ready to go out. We accomplished much and had a wonderful time of fellowship. She helped get the children lunch. Our children all had a wonderful time exploring the outdoors....even her oldest son found a baby snake which he adorned around his arm for hours (not around me, mind you....as I despise snakes!!) and then took home with delight. Just as she was getting ready to leave around 3:00....my husband pulled into the driveway....home from his early morning case and the reinforcement arrived. I could not have planned it better. God knows and is faithful.

On Tuesday....God showed Himself so strong. The day was packed. Again, looking in I was overwhelmed. But as God says, "When your heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I!.

I had a team of 2 women coming from church to clean my house. That team turned into 3 as another woman joined in unbeknownst to me. They cleaned my house from top to bottom. Did laundry (this is a post in and of itself...truly a letting go for me as they saw me on a whole new level!) Another sweet friend and Women's Ministry servant of the Lord came by to visit and share all that God was doing in an area we had been praying over. Back on the front porch we sat. To see God bring pieces together as you wait on Him is truly humbling, amazing and fills me with inexpressible gratitude and joy. As this all ensued, another dear friend was so willing to help with the children. They went to her house for the day....all 5. 

I had 2 appointments that afternoon and my friend, Beth, took me to both so graciously. And then dropped me off at the football field where my husband joined me shortly thereafter. It was a long day. But God faithfully provided on every level and brought us all through.

And then yesterday....my first day without one appointment. The kids to myself. The house quiet. As I began my day sitting with God, meditating on His Word, crying out in prayer, He filled me to an overflowing and began answering many of my heart cries. Again, His faithfulness. But my body was tired from the last two days. I so wanted to be a mom today. To give to my children some more normalcy. No one stopping by. No interruptions. No distractions. 

The morning got away from us too quickly. Faith and Jed are really acting out with all the changes, so discipline ensued. I felt like a mother hen wanting to gather her chicks so close and wrap my arms around them. Lunch came later than it should. I tried to do too much and at 2:30 I put my head on the island in the kitchen, and cried. My back was in spasms from by lower back to the upper. I wanted so desperately to lay down. And my husband was still in surgery, I thought. I called him and just broke down. It was too much. Again....God's faithfulness. Barclay was just out of surgery and would be home within the next 2 hours. It seemed like forever. But he made adjustments and arrived home just as our dinner was being delivered around 4:30. 

And as this woman brought in our meal....she set a feast before us, and I mean a feast. And it reminded me of God. That He sets the table before us. He lays out the feast and all we have to do is partake. He says come and eat. Find rest. And it was a display of His hand upon us yet again. His lovingkindness. His tangible hands and feet through these people that are willingly offering themselves for the service of God....blessing our family beyond words.

And here is the clincher.....in the early part of the week, Barclay had two surgeries added on for Thursday and Friday. It would make for his fullest week every. A week that I was going at it alone, God had Barclay occupied each day. Today I am going to my first medical oncology consult (chemo doctor) and had another appointment in the morning with the wig people to try to look at options to lower the price. Barclay wasn't going to be able to come. 

On Friday, I have two more appointments. One with another chemo doctor and one with my plastic surgeon. Again, his work schedule would keep him from coming. 

I kept going to the Lord asking Him, "What are you trying to tell me?" "I am so tired and weak." "How are we to be in one accord on these decisions if He isn't even there to hear the doctors?" 

And God kept telling me to trust Him. Keep your eyes on Me. I am faithful. 

My friend, (pretty much a sister!) was going to go with me. She had a sitter arranged. She was ready.

At 8:30PM last night, as Barclay and I sat at the kitchen island, he told me. The patient for today had developed a fever and the surgery was postponed. His schedule was open. The surgery on Friday, given to another. His schedule was now open. 

I just looked at him in disbelief. Why do I doubt for one minute that my God won't come through? He always shows us the way if we are willing to let go and let Him have His way.

And so, off we go this morning to our appointments. My hubby by my side. Jesus leading and guiding....and another lesson learned (hopefully!) that God is faithful and loving. I will declare His lovingkindness and His faithfulness! 

Oh and Dr. Bazzan....well didn't have any appointments until September. His scheduler called me yesterday evening, after I had faxed her the 30 page patient questionnaire.....they are fitting me in early on Monday. Why do I doubt? My flesh is weak, but He is so strong. 

Lead me continually, Lord, to the rock that is so much stronger and higher than I!

Much love,

Stacy

 

The Age Old Question

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 6, 2010)

You don't have to look far, or probably even outside your own family to see pain, tragedy, disappointment, illness, job loss, divorce or even death. Maybe as you are reading these words...your heart is struck with what you may be going through at this moment. It is all around us. 

As I am walking the breast cancer road right now, ooh, disease is so present in my day to day. It surrounds me. And whereas I want to share with you all the details of my past two days with two medical oncologists (I'll get to it), there is something burning so deeper in my heart right now. Those are details. BIG details of my treatment.....but overall, they are just part of the diagnosis, the circumstance, the disease, and my progression on in treatment to be "disease free." They lie on the surface, if you will. 

This morning, (and really for the past year) God is speaking to my heart about the age old question that we have all heard or probably even asked ourselves before, "why do bad things happen from a loving God?" 

Why does a child get ushered into heaven?

Why does a husband/wife abandon the family for another person?

Why did that car swerve causing death to a loved one?

Why is there disease?

Why did that man lose his job and now the financial burden is caving in?

Why did that earthquake shake loose the foundation and lives of so many people? 

So many whys can be asked. 

And often when we ask these whys we look to place the blame on God. Saying that He is responsible. If we affirm that He loves us. Why would a loving God allow such things to happen? And then a roadblock comes up that places a barrier between you truly letting go of the circumstance and opening up your heart for a moment to the possibility that a loving God has a plan that you can't see. And that tragedy, may just be the thing that will open your heart to something outside of yourself and your physical surrounding...a walk of faith not of sight. A hope outside of doctor's, outside of this life, outside of your job, outside of health. 

A hope and faith in a living, loving God. 

The question I think needs to be rephrased. 

When tragedy is at your door, why are we so quick to blame God and not mankind? 

The problem is not in divinity, it is with humanity. 

So the question would be, "Why do we blame God over man?" 

I could take you back to the beginning of time, which is where the problem lies. When Adam and Eve sinned and Eve bit into that apple. That is when tragedy, pain, death, disease entered this world. Do you know that God never intended man to die? We were meant to walk in the garden with God. In the beauty of His holiness and perfection. Without shame, guilt, sadness, disease and sin. To worship Him and have fellowship with Him. 

That in His Word He tells us in Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned...."

1 Corinthians 15:26 "the last enemy that will be destroyed is death."

Hebrews 2:14 "He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil."

In the beginning, when God created Adam and Eve in His perfection. He instilled in each of us the power to choose. We were created to worship and glorify Jesus Christ. But we aren't robots. We weren't mechanically created to do as we were told. (just think of your children if you are a mother or father!) Our children need to be taught, trained, loved, disciplined and ultimately the choice is theirs as to whether they will choose to obey or disobey. Whether they will submit to your authority as their parent, and submit to God. We have a will and that will is continually being exercised. We either choose Him or we choose to go at life our own way. 

And this is the grace of God. That He gave us His son, Jesus Christ to take the place of our sin when He gave His life on the cross. He made the way for eternal life through Him. But His abounding grace doesn't end there....by His grace we have the power to say no to sin. 

Romans 5:21 "so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." 

His heart's desire is that we would lay down what we can see with our finite eyes, look past the circumstance to His character and but our faith, hope and trust in Him. 

And if I haven't lost you yet...ponder this.....when hard, horrible things happen, are you able to look past them to God's character and say, "Lord, I trust in you?" 

To know God's character, who He truly is....you have to first open your heart to the possibility that there is a God who loves you with an everlasting love. And then you have to go to Him. I'm not talking about religion here...I am talking about a relationship. You have to open His Word, the Bible. Going to church is great. But you have to go to the heart of God yourself to truly know Him. 

If you want to know the character of God, just go to the Gospel of John, His love poured out for us. See the heart of God. I'm not talking about just understanding and studying God so that your head it filled with all sorts of knowledge. 

I'm talking about a heart that is changed by his power, love and grace. There is a reason you have a neck. It is to connect the head to the heart. That connection has to remain open. Open the mind to the understanding of who God is and let Him speak to your heart. 

This is who God is.

He is unchanging. all powerful. filled with love, grace, mercy, hope and peace. patient. kind. long-suffering. compassionate. selfless. tender-hearted. desiring no one to be outside His presence. the author and giver of life both physical and eternal. the creator of all things. knows your heart to its depth and core. knows the end from the beginning. will leave 99 sheep to go after the 1 who has strayed. is faithful. trustworthy. will bear your pain and go to the Father on your behalf. desires to bless and keep you. will give you more than you can even imagine or think possible. he can redeem all things. he forgives........and more and more.....

But....

He can't look upon sin. He disciplines. He corrects. He calls out to you. He is justice. He is perfect and pure, sinless. 

And so, in my own depth of disease and pain right now, I continually go back to His character. Lord, show me more of you. Because as I rest in Him and who He is, as I confess my own sin to Him and He pours out his forgiveness upon me and cleans this sinful heart of mine.....I trust Him with my life because I trust in Him and who He is. 

Does it mean I will live to be 100? No way. Does it mean He will automatically cure me of this cancer? No way.....but it means that I don't blame Him for my cancer. He has allowed it into my life for very specific reasons, some I may never know......but ultimately at the root, there is love. And I hold hard and fast to the Truth found in Romans 8:28,29

"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called, according to His purpose. For whom, He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son..."

So I ask the question again.....why do we blame God instead of trusting in His character? 

I'll be back later to give you the updates from the last two days....which may very well be the reason you stopped by today. Thank you so much for caring for me and my family as you do! Thank you for stopping by this little old window into my heart. Like I said, it is a place for me to truly pour out from my heart. And on this road, there is more flowing through my heart than just cancer.....a whole lot more! 

Much love,

Stacy

Chemo - the next stage of treatment

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 7, 2010)

Thursday and Friday were days filled with doctors and lots of information. Football Friday was shortened (thank you Lord!) and I crawled into bed around 8:30 last night never to emerge from the room again that evening. My head was flooded with statistics and medical information. My body was run down from the last two days, as the Betties were filled in the morning, my pec muscles were tight and stretched, and my arm was tired from the exercises that evening. 

My plastic surgeon, who has to be the funniest doctor ever (behind such much wisdom and medical knowledge and truly a heart for his patients), turned on me Friday morning with sternness to say that I had to get my right arm moving upward. There was no messing around. I was pretty proud of my movement when he asked me to show him the touchdown, two arms raised straight overhead. I thought I was there! He quickly corrected me saying, I needed to get there with no hesitation. Back to the exercises we go, pressing in harder. I am thankful for the increased range of movement, as I have seen great strides this week with pain and movement. So, I will work with more vigor and determination. 

We started Thursday onto Jude Plum, the wig salon. Another dear and close friend, Allyson, has been helping me with this side of things. She lives around the block from the salon, and has so graciously offered to be my liaison with Jude and his sister, Theresa who run the salon. She also has come to these appointments with me to be the "second opinion" and her sweet baby Priscilla is in tow. Priscilla is nearing one and just a pure delight. She puts a smile on my face and a joy in my heart. My heart overflows with love for this family as God has knit our hearts together these past two years through first her own trials and now mine. 

I must also interject that this whole wig process has opened my eyes to a reality of disease. That when disease comes, not only do you meander down the physical road of that disease....but there is a financial component. God has blessed our family beyond measure. To Him I am grateful for His provision. But unexpectedly, you are faced with co-pays and expenses that weren't there before. And for most cancer patients, the reality that if chemo is needed, you will lose your hair. 

For a woman, at least me....this has been hard to think about. And as I began looking at wigs, synthetic versus real, there was the stark reality of the expense and the guilt of spending that money. But the reality that I just don't know if everyday I can walk out of my house bald? How is that for my children, the constant reminder that mommy is sick? How is that for me as a woman who first has lost first her breasts, and now her hair? And it has me thinking a lot about the whole vanity part of my existence. It is another level of the stripping down to what is important on the inside as opposed to what is seen on the outside. And I'll be honest, losing my hair on my head and body might be one of my hardest obstacles. 

Jude Plum is sensitive to this transition for a woman and he works with you to go through the transition. I am grateful for what he does. I know that a real hair wig is a luxury that not every woman can afford and that breaks my heart. (to tell you the cost would cause your mouth to drop!) Not that every woman would choose to wear a wig, but that for some, it isn't even an option. Jude lowered the price for me on the wig chosen. We have it reserved and about a week into chemo, I will go to his salon, he will cut off all my hair and fit the new wig upon my head. He will style and cut the wig to my previous hair, and this will adorn my head for probably the next 18 months. I am so grateful for his generosity and trusting God for the provision. As for the inside part, God is still doing a work on my heart. 

Thursday afternoon and Friday morning we met with two different medical oncologists. (chemo docs) A lot of data was given. Their personalities were quite different, but both gave the same information just presented it differently. My prayer has been that all three chemo docs would give the same protocol at the end of the day, making our decision much easier and clearer. They both had the same conclusions. The recommendation is a treatment called "dose dense ACT." It is a 16 week course, every other week, with 8 total infusions. The first 8 weeks would be a combo of A and C....Adriaymcin and Cytoxin. The last 4 infusions (or 8 weeks) would be of Taxol. The chemo will work systemically and toxically to kill all the microscopic cancer cells that may be still be in my body. While it kills the bad, it also kills the good. This is where I hope Dr. Bazzan comes in, to help rebuild as they destroy. This course of treatment brings my percentage of recurrence down to 10-13%, the national average for everyone getting cancer. My hope certainly is not in those numbers, and I hold little weight in statistics, but again, the survivors cannot be ignored. 

I think the harder part, was that based on how quickly my incisions have healed, I could start the week of August 16th. Whew....that was a lot to absorb. It means traveling back to the OR to have a port installed for the infusions. I meet with a general surgeon on Monday to discuss this. It means another appointment in ambulatory care at the hospital. Another doctor. This surgeon operates on Wednesdays, and then my chemo could start the next day, possibly August 19th. 

If this is the chosen path, I would be done with chemo the first part of December. I would have December off (which looks quite appealing!) and then if radiation is chosen, would start that in early January for 28 days. 

I was told a couple months ago by a breast cancer survivor, that breast cancer steals a year from your life. From the time of finding the tumor to the time of final plastic surgery, a year goes by. That will be my same walk. But instead of looking at a year being stolen, I am praying each day that my eyes will see the gift that this cancer has brought into my life. How many people I have met along the way, the gift of allowing others to use the gifts God has given them to bless our family in the body of Christ, the gift of a deeper relationship and intimacy with my creator and Father. The gift to share the love of Christ with others, the gift for my children as a family we are brought to our knees, the gift of growing and learning, being transformed. There are many gifts. 

"The thief does not come except to kill, to steal and to destroy. 

I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly." John 10:10

Last night I had a fitful night's sleep. I awoke 2x with a dream that still haunts me this morning. I awoke Barclay in the middle of the night to pray for me, as I felt Satan looming so ever close. There was a door in my bedroom that lead to a porch. In the dream, I awoke and the door was open. On the other side of the door were two (thugs), one armed with a gun the other with his arms across his chest. They had these smug looks on their faces and they were leaning against a railing, as if there was a porch outside my door. They didn't move. But they were armed and ready. I became frantic and got out of bed (in my dream). I awoke Barclay to get the gun in defense, that these men were going to come in and get us and hurt us. As I was frantic, Barclay just stood there, doing nothing. Not in an indifference, but in a steadfastness. I kept looking out the door. The thieves didn't move. And I awoke feeling an oppression and Satan's lurking like never before. It sends chills down my spine.

This morning, Barclay and I talked about the dream. And what it could mean...and I picture those thugs and say...they couldn't walk across the threshold of that door! They couldn't take me. As Satan wants to bring me down. He can't! I am held by the hand of the living God. I am sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit. And I know that a war ensues. As Barclay stood in that dream, so I pray that I will stand firm in Christ that He will bring clarity and unity. He is my protection and holds my heart in His hands. 

There it is, a snapshot of the last two days. Next week is packed with appointments....general surgeon, physical therapy, Fox Chase, Integrative Medicine, Plastic Surgeon....touches in the lives of many along this cancer path. For each of them, I am grateful, just as I am for each of you walking beside me! Thank you. 

Much love,

Stacy

Hosanna!

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 10, 2010)

Sunday morning, I awoke, as I usually do each morning around 6:00, and went down to the front porch to meet with my Lord. For the past couple of months, I have been reading through the book of Matthew, some days it is a whole chapter and others, just a few verses. Back in April, as our Bible Study was concluding, my heart was being drawn to study the steps of Jesus. To go back to His earthly ministry and walk with Him as he healed many, taught the multitudes, instructed the disciples and ultimately gave His life upon the cross for you and I. I wanted to see more of who He was, His heart and His love poured out as He interacted with all those who gathered and called upon His name. I encourage you to go to any of the Gospels and look closely at Jesus. You won’t be disappointed. 

I happened to be in Matthew 21 as Jesus was entering Jerusalem, the Triumphal Entry. His entrance was just as it was prophesied years earlier by the Prophet Isaiah & Zechariah. 

“Behold the King is coming to you, lowly and sitting on a donkey, 

a colt, the foal of a donkey.” 

Another example of Jesus’ humility. He entered the world in a manger and entered Jerusalem as the King of Kings, riding on a donkey. Exactly as it was foretold. To the day. There He was with His disciples, and all those who had traveled with Him from Jericho. And people gathered around him. I’m sure some poured out onto the streets to see what was going on as such a crowd entered into Jerusalem laying down palms and blankets to the ground that Jesus road upon. Here was Jesus proclaiming that He was the Messiah and the King, to the people gathered around, to the disciples, to the world. It was a Sunday, and in 5 short days, He was to be crucified. No one knew that. But He did. And as He entered Jerusalem, He knew it would be His final entrance. 

The people were overcome with joy, with praise, with elation and they began shouting, 

“Hosanna to the Son of David! 

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!.”

It was on these words that I laid my eyes. These people didn’t fully comprehend who He was, but they knew there was something different about Him, there was power in Him and it moved them to a posture of praise and exaltation. They didn’t need to understand the why’s and hows..they just knew that they needed Him and loved Him and their hearts were overcome. They raised their arms, lifted their voices....worshipping Jesus. 

“Hosanna.” An exclamation of joyous praise. Hosanna. Save now!

And as I stayed on this word allowing God to wash over me. As I bowed my head and my heart to my King Jesus, all I could do was praise Him for who He is. 

A couple hours later, I stood in church, worshipping. And you know what song we began singing....”Hosanna.”

My heart was overwhelmed once again with thanksgiving, joy and praise as God met me in that moment. 

That I would constantly have an attitude and heart to worship. To look up and not around. To keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. To have a heart always inclined to praise Him for the good and the bad. The difficult and the easy. For health and for disease. 

For me right now, it is a moment by moment abiding. It is an act of my will to choose Him and not to walk in my disease. It is not easy. But I so desire to walk this road with my arms raised to Him. “Open my eyes to the things unseen...Lord. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Everything I am for your kingdom’s cause.”

And then as I walked out into the foyer after worship. I bumped into my dear friend, Allyson. 

Just two days prior, my husband shared with me that the patient that had a fever last week, was rescheduled for Monday. That would mean that he couldn’t go with me to my Monday appointments with Dr. Bazzan (integrative doctor) or the general surgeon. I must admit, I didn’t take that announcement very well and as I tend to do, I wanted to solve the problem as I thought I knew how. God quickly interrupted me. And instead of making phone calls, trying to line up reinforcements, I prayed. 

My friend, Beth, was at the Jersey shore and I knew that she wasn’t available to go with me. I don’t go to many of my appointments alone. One because there is always so much information that I tend to quickly forget, and two, I like company, or maybe I am just extremely weak! 

Later that day, I went to pick up the phone and call another friend to come with me, but I stopped, again feeling God say, “wait on Me.” 

I put the phone down.

Well, I stood there in the foyer with my sweet friend, as she asked me how I was doing and began to probe deeper. I told her of my Monday appointment and told her that I was going to ask her to come with me, but she has 3 small children. I knew that there was no way this could work, and didn’t want to put that strain on her. And as only God can orchestrate details....one by one I watched Him put the pieces together. 

Well, on Monday’s Allyson’s mom comes to help with the children. She would call her mom and see if she could spend the night, as my appointment was really early. She asked where my appointment was. And as I told her the location, low and behold, her mother lived almost around the corner. She knew right where it was. Once again, God’s plan is so much bigger. 

I pulled into the parking lot at 7:30 Monday morning, and Allyson pulled in right next to me. No children. Free Monday morning and able to walk beside me, be my note taker (and 7 pages of notes she took!) and help me decompress later that day as I filtered through all the information. 

And so I say, Hosanna in the Highest! He is the King of Kings. He is the Savior of the World. He is worthy of all praise. I don’t know how many times He needs to show me, as I continually fall down, He is continually picking me back up, showing Himself strong. I will praise Him.

My appointment went well on Monday. Dr. Bazzan confirmed much of the foundation that had already been laid in my treatment. He has a myriad of tests he wants to perform and labs to run. He guided me in the area of supplements and confirmed that I needed to go through chemo, but he would build my immune system as the chemo went in to destroy. He uses an IV Vit. C therapy alongside chemotherapy. He guided me through food and nutrition and he showed me the marriage between conventional medicine and whole body health. And for that I am thankful. It was just what I needed. I will take his information and pray over it. As a result of our meeting, God lead me later that day to another doctor, who practices much the same way. I see him on Friday to compare notes. He, too, does Vit. C therapy and is a cancer survivor. 

The cost of all of this was overwhelming in the end. And again, as I walked out his door Monday morning, I sat in my car and cried. Cried because of the guilt that came heavy down on top of me as to the financial burden this would be placing on my family. Cried that I had cancer. Cried that this is where God had me. 

I called my sister, who was unable to talk to me. My husband was in surgery, so no phone. I believe that is where God wanted me as again, in my weakness, God showed Himself strong. I needed to turn to Him, not Barclay, not my sister, but Him. He has the answers. I had a 40 minute drive home and in those 40 minutes it was just me and God. As my faith waivered. As I began to doubt that God would show me His path in this marriage of treatments. As I went to the circumstance, once again....He reminded me to look to Him. 

Just an hour later, I sat in the general surgeon's waiting room, not alone, with Jesus. I pulled out my phone and looked at my email. I get a devotional each Monday from James MacDonald. I opened that email and set my eyes upon the title... "I Choose to Trust." My heart gave way to praise. My eyes laid upon God's word in Isaiah 41:10, the theme verse for that devotional that day:

"Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

And again, I repented for my doubt and unbelief. With one hand, God is holding me. That is all He needs. He is all powerful. I don't have the answers today, but I will choose to trust Him and I will praise Him...no matter what. I grabbed that verse and claimed it yesterday morning. Lord, I am holding onto you and I will fear not! Hosanna to the King of Kings. 

Much love,

Stacy

Thankful

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 12, 2010)

for many answered prayers this week. As we have stood before the treatment door for the last two weeks, my prayer has been that God would bring clarity and direction with our next step. That as we sat before 3 different Medical Oncologists, at the end of the day, they would all say the same thing, making the decision quite clear cut for us: Chemo or no chemo and if so, what protocol? 

I am thankful for unity from all the medical oncologists. 

I am thankful for answers and decisions. 

It is not easy sitting in that patient chair three times. The chair where you hear....

"Stacy, you are 38 years old, you had two positive lymph nodes with macro sized cancerous cells or deep tissue as they like to say, and you had a .3mm cancerous spot found close to your chest wall." 

For the medical oncologists, no chemo isn't even on the table. 

But the first time sitting in that chair is the hardest. The first time you hear the words chemotherapy thinking that word would never be a part of your vocabulary, let alone your life. The first time you hear the definition of your particular cancer components and then the statistics for recurrences with chemo only treatment and then chemo with 5 year hormone therapy (Tamoxifen). 

By the third, (which was Fox Chase Cancer Center yesterday), I just wanted to say to the medical oncologist, "Please let's just cut to the chase....what protocol do you recommend?" Mind you, this was after two hours of "sitting in the patient chair" and listening to more data and statistics, more clinical trials more numbers than I could handle. Thankfully, God restrained me and I kept my mouth shut. At one point (about 1 1/2 into the consultation), she looked at me and said, 

"are you still with me?" 

I was holding on by a thread. I think my eyes had begun to glaze over and I just wanted to get out of there and be done. I know she was just doing her job, and giving us a thorough picture of her recommendations, but I was so tired and tired of talking about me and cancer. 

So, at the end of the day, I've had three medical oncologists all say they would give me "dose dense ACT" over 16 weeks, 8 infusions. Same infusion schedules. Same formulas. And then I had an integrative doctor echo their protocols saying "we need to get the elephant out of the room first through chemo and then go in and do a massive clean up job." 

He's the only one interested in the massive clean up job. So, I am thankful for whole body medicine. That he will look at my body, address the estrogen issue at the root of my cancer and prepare my body to heal and rebuild while the chemo is destroying my immune system and killing any microscopic cancer cells that may still be present in my body. As thankful as I am for conventional medicine, no one in conventional medicine wants to look at the root of my cancer which is estrogen. No one wants to talk about diet and nutrition. And for me, this is frustrating. I'll leave it at that. 

I am thankful that my husband is in agreement and for the unity God has brought us on this decision. 

I am thankful to get through this next door, heart and head together, accepting chemo as the next step in treatment, for healing to begin. 

I am thankful for the release from the radiation decision for now. The Fox Chase radiation oncologist recommended a month of radiation following chemo, but told us to get through the chemo and then make that decision.

That lifted such a burden. As again I was reminded to take just one day at a time. 4 months of chemo, a month off and radiation wouldn't start until early January. That decision could be made in December. We have time and time is good. 

I am thankful for the dinner that arrived Wednesday afternoon. I had forgotten that someone had offered to bring us a dinner that evening, knowing we were going to be in the city for half the day at Fox Chase. I came home and crawled into bed, feeling so tired from all the information presented that day and for having to be out the door by 6:30AM. Knowing that I would have many bellies needing some dinner, I laid there thinking about what I could quickly throw together and cereal was sounding really good.

There was a knock on the door and in walked Sharon with a hot, delicious meal. Thank you Sharon. You truly were a beacon of God's love in action and our bellies were filled with a yummy meal. 

I am thankful that I am driving again. I did a trial run over the weekend with Barclay and whereas you take for granted how many pec muscles come in to play to turn the steering wheel, I felt confident that I could do it. It feels good to be behind the wheel again. My absence has given me a much deeper sensitivity toward my mother, who no longer is able to drive. My heart aches for her and all those who are disabled.

I am thankful that I am off of all my pain meds and Valium. 

I am thankful for friends who were willing to take our children overnight from Tuesday through Wednesday. You truly blessed us more than words can express. Thank you. 

I am thankful that this busy week is almost over. One more appointment tomorrow with another integrative physician. I am praying that he is in agreement with Monday's physician, as he works with insurance for some things and Monday's doctor does not. Praying God will give clarity on this end of my treatment. 

I am thankful for the rain we received today. This morning as I sat on the porch, the rain gently fell upon the grass and leaves. It created a symphony around me and I thought of God. How he sends forth the rain.

As it is said in Hosea 6....

"He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth."

God sends the former rain to prepare the soil for the seed and the latter rain to bring forth the harvest. How true this is in our lives. The soil of my heart always needs to be prepared for the truths that He wants to instill deep inside of me. The latter rain takes those seeds planted in my heart and hopefully brings forth His fruit. 

We need rain in our lives. Without rain, the ground gets dry. The land becomes parched. The grass grows brown. The plants wither and the flowers die. 

So I am thankful for the rain that God has sent. My umbrella is down and I stand in the rain and say, Jesus, reign in me! Pour down. May this be so meaningful. May the harvest be bountiful. Oh, I wish it didn't have to be this way. And I pray that this cancer is just a stepping stone on my journey and God will heal me; whether through His mighty hand or through the hands of many doctors. But I am thankful for how God is using this rain to take my faith and press in deeper into my heart. I am thankful that He has counted me worthy to carry this cross. I am thankful that He is holding me ever so tightly and tells me He will never leave me or forsake me. I am thankful that I am His child and that as I cast my cares on Him, He will care for me. I am thankful for the refining and purifying that is taking place within me. I am thankful for how He continues to open my eyes to see Him. 

I am waiting to hear back from my new Medical Oncologist, Dr. Johnson. We chose to stay at the hospital where all my treatment began. It is our local hospital, and all the doctors there have taken such good care of me along the way. I am trying to have my chemo treatments take place on Thursday afternoons, which seems to work in my doctor's schedule. I have to have a Muga scan done before chemo can begin. The muga scan will look at how the blood is pumping through my heart. The Adriamycin part of chemo can cause heart damage in a very small percentage of people, so the Muga gives a baseline for my heart pumping function. I am waiting to see when this test will be done. 

On Wednesday of next week, I go back to the operating room to have a port put in for chemo. This should be an in and out surgery. Chemo may start the next day, August 19th, but most likely the following week, Thursday, August 26th, as there is a lot to get done in the next couple of days. In many ways, now that the door is defined more clearly, I just want to fully get to the other side, so I am anxious to begin. The sooner I start, the sooner I will be done. 

At dinner tonight, Faith and Jed started talking about Christmas. I told them it was a long way away and then paused thinking, Christmas will mark the end of my chemo. As much as I want to look ahead to that point, it seems too far. All I can do is look to today. But oh, how I will be rejoicing when December finally arrives. 

And so with a thankful heart I close out tonight. Another day, another breath, another step on the journey. 

Much love,

Stacy

 

Remembering

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 14,2010)

8 years ago today God ushered into our arms our sweet baby, Joshua Isaac, on August 14, 2002. 

I am celebrating him today. 

Celebrating the gift of his life and every breath that God breathed into him for 119 beautiful days. Born with a fatal, random genetic condition called Trisomy 18, Joshua astounded the doctors, gave evidence that miracles do continue by God's hand, and taught me in 9 months and 119 days more than I could have learned in a lifetime without him. We have always referred to Joshua as our "Special gift from God" because he was in fact a gift straight from God's hand to our lives. I treasure each day I got to be his mommy and look forward to a blessed and joyous reunion in heaven with him one day. 

And I am remembering from where God brought us. 

Just as the Israelites remembered through the feast of unleavened bread the victory and freedom they received through God as they were lead out of Egypt, so I too, remember what Christ did in my heart and life through my son, Joshua. 

Exodus 13:3

"And Moses said to the people, 'Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place."

So often we see our children and know that our role is to instruct their hearts toward righteousness....but for me, through Christ, Joshua instructed my heart. He taught me more than I ever taught him. Through his precious life, the chains of fear that held my heart began to be broken. A heart that had always been set on finding solutions and living my life by my terms, was being deconstructed and transformed to be a life set on the foundation of Jesus Christ and trusting in His will and plan, even when I couldn't see the solutions. Trusting that God had all the answers. And upon this foundation, Christ continues to build in my heart and life. A life of faith in Christ Jesus. A life where I can say, 

"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Many have asked me why I'm not angry with this cancer and how I am able to have joy each day. It is through Jesus Christ alone and my faith in Him. Knowing that this life is not about me. It is not about me defining the lifespan of my children, about the pleasures of this world, about trying to find happiness and contentment outside of Christ, about what my time should look like each day, for my time is not my own; it is all Christ's 

That 8 years ago, in April 2002, when we learned that Joshua was sick while I was still only 4 and a half months pregnant, I got angry with God. I let the anger grow into bitterness. I let it bring me into an emotional state of depression, pity and doubt. I laid in my bed for a week and I tried to escape the reality of my life and the life of my son. I mourned his life, a life growing inside of me, but hadn't yet even taken a breath. I mourned my life. A life that wouldn't be defined by a healthy child who would grow into a healthy man. Trying to protect myself from so much unknown and uncertainty. And yet I couldn't. 

And I wrestled with God for days until finally one morning His voice was louder than my cries. And I opened my Bible, laying in bed, all alone and I found Him. And He spoke to me in ways that I have never been spoken to before. I began in Romans 5 and kept reading. In the margin of my Bible under Romans 7:13 "But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me....." I have written "this is where I was April 2002. Death was being produced in me as my mind stayed on my emotions, as my mind stayed in fear, as my mind stayed in anger and bitterness. And Satan wanted me pulled so far from the Lord that I felt isolated and on an island of grief and despair. 

I continued on and God began a new work in my heart. As He shined his light on my sin he began to lift me out of the pit. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." Romans 7:18

I knew I needed God. I couldn't do it by myself. I couldn't get out of this pit of despair. I didn't have the power and I didn't have the energy. I needed God more than ever. 

And I couldn't get enough of Him. He began the heart surgery that needed to be done on this selfish, sinful flesh of mine. I remember hanging on His every Word. I couldn't put my Bible down. He lovingly and graciously brought me on to Romans 8. And as I read, the Holy Spirit began to further show me my sin and then bring me to repentance. 

God brought me eyes to Matthew 10:37

"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."

I remember weeping. Weeping because this was me. This was my sinful heart. I loved my son more than God. So much more that I would turn my back on the one who gave me life and Joshua life and think that I knew better or had a better way. Who was I? 

And I went back to Romans.....

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba Father." Romans 8:14-15

"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Romans 8:16-17

In my margins I have written next to 8:14....April 13, 2002....I feel like I am suffering as Christ did. Oh let the glory be with Him alone. I am going through my own crucifixion with self. And I continued reading to the end of chapter 8 where nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I went back to rest my eyes on the words Abba Father. 

This was the verse that struck me. God is my daddy. He will never let me down. He will never leave me. He knows me from the inside out, before the foundation of the world. And He has a plan for me and my son Joshua that is so much bigger than April 2002. I needed to lay my Isaac down. I needed to take Joshua, take Trisomy 18, take my life and give it fully to God. Lord your way, not mine. 

And I went to the garden, the Garden of Gethsemane and read as Jesus prayed to His Father before being lead to His death.

I got off of my bed. I knelt down with tears streaming down my face, sobs coming from deep within and I gave Joshua to the Lord. I gave Him my fears. I gave Him my pain. I gave Him my life in a way I never did before. And I prayed as Jesus did, 

"Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will." Mark 14:36

A wave of peace washed over me unlike any I ever experienced before. The peace of the Holy Spirit. The peace that comes as we walk in obedience and submission to the will of our Father. The peace that surpasses understanding.

So today, I celebrate Joshua. I celebrate my boy. I celebrate and give thanks to my Abba Father who loved me enough to be patient with me, to grow my faith, and to bless me with 119 glorious days with Joshua. I celebrate that as children of God, our lives don't end in the grave and that Joshua today is with our Heavenly Father, whole and perfect. 

Today, I am on a whole new journey with breast cancer. But many parts are the same. This time, I'm not angry. I'm not bitter. I'm holding on to the very one who gave me breath. I'm taking the thoughts captive that Satan floods through my mind and the emotions that if not, checked at the gates of heaven, bring me into bondage. I will not let Satan have His way. 

I have tried writing this post since 7:00 this morning. I awoke this morning with joy and throughout the day, I have watched Satan try to unravel me and distract me to the point of almost having an emotional breakdown. Satan took every part of my life this morning and began to throw darts and my shield of faith was down. I was weak and unarmed. 

Around noon, God opened my eyes to Satan's tactics and through some precious people calling at just the right time, God used them to pray with me and turn me around. 

My shield of faith is now held high. Victory is Gods. Joshua's life had purpose. By the grace of God, I can stand in this trail today because of Joshua. I rejoice today in his life and thank God for my beautiful baby boy! 

Much love,

Stacy

The Small Things

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 17, 2010)

Last week when I met with my integrative doctor, he put together a protocol of sorts for me to help build my body and immune system while I undergo chemo. There were quite a few things he recommended including some dietary changes. I won't go into all the specifics, other than to say wheat grass was also added to my diet 2x a day. Apparently wheat grasshas amazing benefits for the body and juicing 2 oz. of wheat grass is the equivalent of 2 1/2 lbs of fresh veggies, not to mention what it does for cleansing the blood, building the immune system, and giving your body a ton of vitamins and minerals. 

I had heard of wheat grass before, but do not own a juicer, nor knew how to acquire the amount of wheat grass I would need for 4 oz. a day. I was on a whole new mission. One of my friends helped steer me in the direction of our local whole foods store, where a kind, young man hooked me up with his supplier and each week, I place my order for wheat grass. Thankfully, we have a second fridge in our mudroom (because we have 4 hungry and growing boys who never seem to be full). This is now what sits upon the shelf. And this flat only lasts me about 4-5 days. Yes, I know, it looks like a hunk of sod. 

Last Friday, we picked up our sod, oops I mean wheat grass. You have to laugh, really! And there was a small problem, we didn't have a juicer. There was a juicer that the whole foods store sold, which the kind, gentleman offered to me for $50, but explained that I would probably prefer an electric one considering the amount I would be juicing. We left the store, wheat grass in hand, no juicer.

Over the weekend, I tried to research the best juicer to buy. I read reviews. I searched for the best price and I was becoming a bit overwhelmed first at the cost of these juicers (you need a special kind that juices wheat grass), and second that the sod was sitting in my fridge and I did not want it to go bad while I tried to be frugal. I then handed the researching job over to my husband, who also had a bit of trouble finding one that was affordable and capable. 

Monday came and still no juicing. 

I had to go back to the integrative doctor early Monday morning to get some blood drawn at the office. I figured I would ask there what they recommended and assumed I would just bite the bullet and shell out the money. 

And that is where God swept me off my feet once again. 

I had been praying about the expenses and asking God just to direct me to the right juicer. Maybe that sounds silly, but I think God cares about all things, the big and the small, He created the gnat for goodness sakes. Pretty small! There are so many decisions being made right now, that I have to bring everything before the Lord, lay it all at His feet and wait for Him to lead me. 

Lead He did. 

I had a couple of things to talk to my doctor's office assistant about. She had remembered me from last week, as I had sat in front of her and began crying from the magnitude of the tests he wanted run, the supplements he wanted me to take, the information that was being given to me and $ signs before my eyes. I trusted this doctor, but slowly was becoming overwhelmed as my eyes were leading me in those moments, not my faith. How quickly I can step off track with my eyes. 

Well, we covered the business at hand and then I asked her about a juicer. Thinking that she would recommend the big $ juicer that they sold there, I braced myself for what I thought was the inevitable. I saw it sitting up high on the office shelf. 

As I sat across the desk from her, she looked at me with these tender eyes and a big smile. She got out of her chair while telling me she had something for me. 

There in front of me was placed the exact juicer that the whole foods man wanted to sell me. It was the $50 manual wheat grass juicer. 

She gently explained to me that a gentleman had just returned it the other day. He had used it one time and decided it wasn't for him, so brought it back. The only hitch was, they couldn't get it nicely back into the box. The pieces were all there, including the instruction book, but it couldn't be resold. She looked at me and said, "I want you to have it. I get to choose who receives it, and I want to give it to you today." 

I think my mouth fell on the floor. My heart was overcome with this woman's generosity toward me. I looked at her and just said, "Really?" and I fought back the tears, thanked her profusely and accepted this beautiful gift. 

It may seem small in the whole big picture. But I got in my car with a heart filled once again with praise and awe for my Lord and Savior. 

"Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; 

wait I say, on the Lord." Psalm 27:14

He does care about the small things and He continues to show me His faithfulness. Why do I have to worry about anything, for He has the end to the beginning already covered? He is continually reminding me to rest in Him and wait on His timing for everything. My heart is strengthened once again.

On a different note all together.......

I graduated from my physical therapy appointments today! Hooray!! I don't think I got an A+ in the arm movement department, but enough progress that she thinks I can just continue with the exercises at home and be ok. One less appointment to fit into my schedule each week. 

I got my official chemo start date....Thursday, August 26th. I'll see my medical oncologist on Wednesday and then have my first treatment at Chester County Hospital the next day. There is a part of me that just wants it to get going. The faster it starts, the faster it will be over. I will say, it is a little weird seeing that date listed on my calendar. But trusting the Lord that this date is of no surprise to Him. He has gone before me in all things and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He will continue to lead me and guide me through this part of the treatment.

Lastly, I go back to the Operating Room tomorrow morning. I would covet your prayers once again for a smooth procedure without complications. I get my port put in for my chemo treatments. This will be the means by which they access my veins so I don't have to be stuck in the arm for each treatment. It should be an in and out operation. I have to be at the hospital by 8:30AM and my procedure is around 10:30. Hopefully I will be home by early afternoon. 

My dad is also here staying with us this week and my children are having a ball with him. I am so thankful he is here and cherish this time spent together. He has jumped right into our daily lives, football and all! He took the kids to Putt Putt today and then out to lunch while I was at an appointment. What precious memories are being created. My heart is so thankful. 

Much love,

Stacy

 

The Familiar Path

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 21, 2010)

My feet had travelled these paths before. This was my third time in 3 months walking back through the hospital's Ambulatory Care doors, down the hall and corridor to be greeted for the third time by a nurse, who remembered each of my travels. She welcomed me with a smile as she weighed me, checked all my vitals and moved me into the bed where I would wait to be transported to the operating room. 

Waiting....

The sounds were familiar, the nurse's questions were the same, the procedure was one I had grown accustomed to, and many of the faces were like old friends, as we both remembered one another from the previous journey down these halls. But it was a place I didn't want to be. It was a place that reminded me over and over that I have cancer. A reality that encompasses me some days like a heavy blanket. But yet the blanket doesn't keep me warm. Instead, it brings a chill and a heaviness. A reminder that I need a physician. That this port surgery, whereas minor in the whole big cancer picture, is necessary for my further treatment for this disease. I didn't like it, but I knew I needed to walk these familiar roads because in the long run, this surgery, this port, would cause the treatment and journey to be easier. 

And it makes me think of the verse in Jeremiah that I have held close to my heart for the last couple of years. The verse that lays across the top of my blog. 

"Thus says the LORD, Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

We need to stand and we need to walk in the old paths. The paths that lead to God. The paths of steadfast devotion to God alone. The path that leads to healing, to eternal life, to rest. The path of obedience, of truth, of rest. We need our eyes open to the next step knowing that God has the big picture already taken care of. Eyes open and fixed on Christ, not on the adornments along the path. This surgery, it was an adornment along the path. My eyes went to the surgery and off off God. Only God is the leader of the good way and the old paths. Not the paths that we determine, we mark and we try to navigate ourselves. When we get off on those paths, we have left our trail leader behind. There is no rest and there is no direction. We become wayward and eventually wind up lost. The old path can sometimes be the difficult one because it involves again and again a surrendering of our will and desire to do it ourselves. A constant theme in my life involving a daily, and I mean daily, yielding to His Spirit at work in my life. And God tells us that when we walk the path of obedience and submission to Him, we will find rest. And God desires to give us rest. 

I need rest. And I have learned that God's way is the only way of true rest and peace. 

On that familiar path, God placed His saints and familiar faces around me. As I entered the OR, my plastic surgeon was the first smiling face that greeted me. He was there operating on another patient, but stopped by my bedside, offered up some humor (as is his way), and moved on. Another nurse stopped by, remembering me from my first travel through those OR doors and then Heather's face was before me. A sister in Christ. A dear friend and nurse from church who has been in the OR with me for my last two procedures. A ray of sunshine amidst the clouds. And then one of the nurses assisting the anesthesiologist stopped by. Her name was Faith. And that was all I needed. As God was saying, "Stacy, stand, see, walk and find rest. Trust Me." 

God surrounded me with reminders that He was lighting my path. He had me in the palm of His hand. That these familiar paths are comforting and not travelled alone. 

I awoke in the recovery room quite quickly from the surgery feeling well. There was some pain at the incision site, but manageable. As the nurse began talking with me, we soon learned that we were both sisters in the Lord and began encouraging one another on our personal journeys. Her daughter had some health concerns and she was considering schooling option. She asked me about homeschooling and our hearts quickly became as one. Soon after, I saw another familiar face before me. Carol, who had been my transport nurse to the OR for the mastectomy. Carol, who back in July had stood next to us as Barclay had prayed over me before I was wheeled into the OR waiting area. She leaned over me and asked if she could give me a hug and kiss. That she had been told I was back in and just wanted to come over and say hello. 

I was surrounded by God's love and His abundant grace being poured out. On this road, I really didn't want to travel, He grabbed my hand and told me to follow. I followed Him that morning and He lead me to to His paths of rest and refreshment, as He always does. Once again, I stood marveling at the God of my life who doesn't leave us abandoned in the wilderness, but leads us beside the still waters. 

On the way home from the hospital, the still waters began to ripple and quickly the battle ensued again. Pain and muscle spasms began to grip through my body. The port was put in my left upper chest muscle, so again, my pec muscles were manipulated and moved. They were not too happy. For the last two days, I have been back on valium and Percocet managing the pain. The bed and heating pad have become my friends again. I am not able to lift anything heavy with my left arm for a few days, allowing time for the incision to heal. I am tired and my body is tired. 

Yesterday morning, as I sat on the porch having my quiet time, God spoke to my heart as I read Psalm 40 & 41. 

"The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed." Psalm 41:2-3

God knew all that Friday would entail and He met me in the morning strengthening my heart and spirit once again. He will sustain me. 

Throughout the day, my port seemed more and more tender. I had Barclay take off the bandage and this is what we saw. 

Most of that was dried from the surgery. But we were a little concerned. And each time I took a deep breath, my chest ached. We ended up calling the doctor's office. I had to go in that afternoon at 2:45 to see my plastic surgeon for a filling, anyway. The surgical office is all connected: Plastic surgeon, breast surgeon and now my general surgeon all see patients in the same suite. The nurse told me to have my plastic surgeon take a look at it that afternoon. 

In a nutshell: I ended up being sent down to radiology for an xray to make sure that I didn't have a pneumothorax (where the lung is partially compromised from the surgery site). They saw a very small one, sent me over to the ER across the street. I spent about an hour and a half in the ER as they checked me out, deciding that we were 36 hours past surgery so if my lung would have collapsed it would have done it already. After talk of having me spend the night in the hospital for observation, I was quite relieved when all were in agreement that I could go home and rest at home. Home we went after a long afternoon. 

They cleaned up the incision site and here is the lovely bump that will adorn my chest for the next 6 months or so. (the white sterie strips will be removed in the next week). I am assured that over time, I will forget the port is under my skin and won't be able to feel it. I'm not there yet, but hopeful. 

And here is a picture of what the port looks like under my skin. It has a long tube that was placed in one of my arteries. This allows the doctors to access my veins without having to go through my arm. All my chemo treatments will go through the port, as will any blood that needs to be drawn. It is basically my access point. Pretty amazing, huh? 

We are off this morning to Seth's first football scrimmage. I am so glad to be home and able to go. I awoke this morning in a little less pain, for which I am thankful. This trial has been teaching me over and over that my feet need to be planted firmly in Jesus Christ and on His paths. Even when the path is difficult and doesn't make sense, I know that He has purpose for this path. So I stand, I see, I ask, I walk and I do find rest in Jesus Christ alone, moment by moment as I surrender this cancer and this journey to Him in my frailty, but in His strength. 

"The Lord be magnified! But I am poor and needy; yet the LORD thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer, Do not delay, O my God." Psalm 40:17

Much Love,

Stacy

A New Year of homeschooling

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 23, 2010)

14 years ago, my best friend and I were pregnant with our first child at the same time. She was a school teacher by training and passionate about all things educational. I mean a literary genius according to my definition. I was in the business world, at the time. Education was the farthest thing from my mind. All I could think about was being a mommy. You know nursing, swaddling and cooing with a sweet babe in my arms. 

I remember having a conversation about schooling our unborn children. She brought up the conversation and I believe God used her to plant a seed in my heart that needed to be planted. Being a product of the public school system, that was about all I knew. It served me well, or so I thought. I worked hard. I got A's and B's, but most of what I learned in school somehow leaked out of my brain after the test was taken and the grade was received. One day, my friend shared with me her dreams of homeschooling her child still but wee small, growing inside her womb. 

Let's just say......I thought she was crazy and being such good friends...I told her that in so many words. 

Homeschooling....no way. I quickly dismissed the idea thinking "who does that? and who ever would dream about such a thing?" Back to the picture of the mommy holding her swaddled babe.

Well, as God always does with me. He plants a seed and then seems to give it time to germinate. He continues to come back to the same subject over and over again.....Stacy, my way, not yours. Trust me. He knows I am a bit thick and don't always grasp His way the first time. Remember, I have to study hard to get a good grade. I wish I caught on more quickly and pray someday I will. But God is patient. And I'm thankful He is. He waters and He waits and He continues to pursue in ways I don't always understand. All He asks is that I respond with obedience. Over the years, I've grasped that important part. Obedience. 

Right before Ben was born, we moved away. A whole new town. Everything was new. And then two years later, pregnant with Seth, we moved again. Ben was 3 and ready for preschool that fall. 

And God began germinating the whole idea of homeschooling only I didn't know it at the time. 

I did my homework. I researched the local preschools. I talked to other moms and picked the one that I thought was the best preschool in the area. My sweet hubby, was on board. He got up early on registration day so he could be one of the first in line guaranteeing our son a spot that fall. A new milestone....preschool. I couldn't wait. 

And then my world was about to be rocked with a new baby: nursing schedule, nap schedule, toddler...I was overwhelmed with the very thought of getting out the door with a new baby and having to be somewhere at a certain time, with some semblance of order. It was too much for me. I forfeited the preschool deposit in lieu of feeding and nap schedules and the heart desire to keep life simple. 

And hence homeschooling grew in my heart and in my home. I don't remember it being a lightening bolt moment from God. He gently carried me along. Ben and I started working on activities at home during nap time. Word games, letters, books, songs, counting....while Seth took his naps. 

The next year, we worked some more. Kindergarten was beckoning and I just couldn't wrap my mind around not having him with me. About someone else molding his thoughts not only regarding education, but about the world around him. Where would they bring God into his framework of thinking? He was still so young. And after 2 years of sitting and "playing" together, he had his Kindergarten skills down. 

I began to ask questions about schooling to some friends at church. As the homeschooling topic was approached, I was accepting of it this time. I didn't think it was crazy or radical or weird. I actually began to fall in love with the notion and idea that I could do this by God's grace and direction. And bit by bit over those years, God changed my heart, bringing it into submission to His plan for our children. 

As Kindergarten began, so did our homeschooling days and that was over 8 years ago. 

Many have asked over the years, why I homeschool. The basic answer is because God told me to. It isn't anything I ever felt qualified to do. Actually, almost daily, I feel unqualified and inadequate. But I love having them all with me each and every day. I love waking up in the morning, not having to rush out the door, being gathered together. I love hearing their laughter grace our rooms. I love hearing their squabbles as they learn to get along and love one another. I love seeing the light go off in their heads when they "get" a new concept and I love seeing the joy on their faces when a good grade is received just moments before. I love hearing them teach one another and helping the younger sibling. I love the "impromptu" recesses that come up throughout the day. I love the flexibility. I love the conversations that just come up from a topic being learned that grows into a deeper discussion about life and God, as they are learning about who they are in Christ and their role in this world. 

There is a lot I don't like, too. As my mother would say, "No choice gives you everything." She is a wise woman. But the pluses far out way the minuses. 

And so, as life is being redefined for us again this year. I went back to revisit our educational choices this year. I asked God what I should do. As I looked with my finite vision at what the year would "look like"....again with my own eyes and not the perfect and infinite eyes of my God. My selfish heart told me to send them to school. I played with that idea for awhile in my mind, trying to understand it, picture it and walk through it. But the question that couldn't be answered until I brought it to the only one who held the perfect answer in His hands. And I knew. My older sister said it perfectly, "circumstance would not make my decision...only God." 

I don't know what this year will look like. But God does. And while I am feeling sick from chemo, while my body is tired.....I desire my kids to be close by. I want to love on them with every part of my being. I don't want to lose a minute. And I want to stay in the center of God's will. 

So this year, God has redefined our curriculum. We have added a lot of new and kept some of the old. We have switched some of our classes (no pun intended) to "Switched on Schoolhouse." I don't know if the kids will love it, but praying they do. It will help to alleviate the burden of daily corrections and planning. When I asked the older children if they would like to go to public school this year, there was a resounding NO! They were more than willing to make some changes instead. This is what God has shown us. This is what works for us. This is what God desires for our children and our home. So, we have made some changes making the year more manageable. 

I know it isn't for everyone and in all areas of parenting, I tell people, you have to follow God's leading for your children and your home, and you and your husband should seek God together in these decisions. This is what God asks of each of us, as these children are not ours, but His. 

So, this morning, a new school year began. 

I still feel like such a novice at this homeschooling thing. By the grace of God, I pray our children will learn and grow into the person God created them to be and that He will be their foundation. As He has called me, I pray He equips me. It is never what I thought or imagined way back when....but then again.....

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.' says the LORD." 

Isaiah 55:8

We continue to trust the Lord with each step. And all we can do is take the next step in faith and obedience.....here's to whatever step God is asking you to take next. He never disappoints. 

Much love,

Stacy

 

Today is the Day

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 25, 2010)

I wish I could start out this post and tell you that I am strong today. 

I'm not.

The chemo door stands before me and tomorrow morning at 9:15, Adriamycin and Cytoxan will be put through my veins in the hopes of killing any lingering cancer cells and decreasing my chance of reoccurrence. 

I sat before my oncologist this afternoon as she went through the litany of side-effects, procedures, and what I can expect. As she handed me my prescriptions, telling me what I was to take on each day following my treatment...anti-nausea meds and pain relievers. She walked me into the infusion room. A sunny room filled with windows. But there was a blanket of disease that lay over the room. Faces were tired and worn. The light with darkness all around. And I was numb. Tomorrow, I would be sitting in one of those chairs and the effects would begin to run rampant in my body. There is no turning back and I know God doesn't want me to. 

I haven't had words this week, hence my silence. I'm fragile today...it is one of those days where the clouds have descended and my head was cast down. I've had to choose moment by moment to fix my eyes upon Jesus throughout the day. 

And a tug of war has been ensuing all week between my mind and my heart. Between trusting in the Lord by faith and then trying to understand what the next day will look like, the next week and the next 4 months. Between walking this journey not with what I know in my head to be true, but with what I know about my God in my heart to be true. And satan has been at every turn whispering to me that this cancer is going to take my life. I have felt like I'm walking on a tightrope and the balancing rod keeps swaying down. But with each tip of the rod, Jesus has faithfully been there, reminding me of His love and His Truth. 

He had a message for me this week. 

Yesterday, God used my older sister to speak this message to my heart. God spoke that message to me again this morning, as I was driving to my Vitamin C infusion at 7:30, and worshipping Him. And then again as I sat down in the infusion chair and looked at my email, another friend encouraged my heart through the Holy Spirit with the same message. As if that wasn't enough....during my infusion, I was preparing the overview for Ephesians this fall and studying Paul, who wrote Ephesians while sitting shackled in chains in a Roman prison. There He worshipped the Lord. The message for me was the same......."Stacy.....today is the day."

Not tomorrow. Not in 4 months when the chemo is done. Not in this time next year when your body may appear whole again. Today. Live for me today. Stay focused on today for I have much for you. Be filled with my Joy, today. 

Today, is the day to rejoice. Today is the day I want to carry you. Today I desire to bless you. Today, I want to make myself known through you. Today, I want to fill you with joy and peace that doesn't come from the doctors....only from Christ. There is much you will miss if you keep looking to the end of the road. 

I don't want to miss a thing. I don't want a moment of this cancer wasted in worrying, in doubting, in fear. I want to live for Christ today and be rooted in Him alone. I want Him to use me as He sees fit. I want to be filled with His joy, as the chemo goes in, as I lose my hair, as I endure radiation and follow-up surgeries. Oh, how my heart cries for this. 

But the battle has been raging within me today. As I have gone from Dr. Bazzan this morning, to my oncologist this afternoon, to my plastic surgeon.....I have ridden with my worship music turned up and my head raised to my Lord and Savior knowing that my help comes from Him alone. As I drove, the song, "Today is the day," by Paul Baloche played and reminded me to stay in the moment. Oh, how I needed that reminder. I have praised Him with my heart and my voice for who He is and all that He has done for me. And as the tears have welled up in my eyes throughout the day, sometimes spilling over, I have given them to Him. I have given Him my fears of tomorrow, my hopes and my dreams, my life.... 

And when my eyes are fixed upon Him, I have peace and I have His joy. Please pray that my eyes stay there. Please pray that I would look upon Christ, my creator and not upon the circumstance or the facts. Please pray that I would be strengthened each day by His hand alone

"This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."

Psalm 118:24

Much love,

Stacy

God the Help of Those Who Seek Hin

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 27, 2010)

That was the title of the Psalm that God spoke to my heart early Thursday morning as I sat with Him on the front porch, before my 1st day of chemo would begin. My heart was heavy and anticipation of the day was flooding through my mind. I don't remember how my eyes were brought to Psalm 121, as I began in Matthew 24, but God knew that is what my restless heart needed to hear and so He brought me there. 

As the Psalm is so aptly titled, "God the Help of Those Who Seek Him", my heart was spurned on as I read each word. 

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills-

From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, He who keeps Israel

Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;

The LORD is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day

Nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;

He shall preserve your soul.

The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in

From this time forth, and even forevermore."

As God always does, when I seek Him, He is to be found; waiting, with a heart filled with love, wanting to speak so intimately to the places of my heart that only He can see. And He met me in my quiet, deepest moments as I cried out to Him. He is my helper, my keeper and the one who preserves me...as I lift my eyes to Him alone. He never sleeps. He provides me shade from this trial and He will not allow my feet to be moved from Him. I held onto each of those promises throughout the day. 

It's funny how we build up in our minds what we think the day will look like (at least I do...I guess it is the planner in me and the walls of defense that I think I can set up for protection.) And in the end, God always writes the chapters more beautifully than we ever could think or imagine as we trust in Him. I am continually reminded that everything comes back to our choices...who do we put our trust in- God or man? 

Barclay and I walked in the Cancer Center doors a bit late (not an appointment I was gunning to get to early), and as I slowly stepped inside, my eyes were greeted by the loving eyes of my best friend, Beth. She and I had spoken on the phone the night before, but I had no idea she was going to come. What a welcomed sign in a place I really didn't want to be. She said, even if she wasn't allowed to stay, she just wanted to be there for me. I thought only one other person could assist me....but as I asked at the desk, they said, supporters are encouraged to come. I was thrilled. She stayed with me and Barclay through the infusion bringing laughter, comfort and friendship. May we all be so lucky to each have a Beth in this world. 

The room that yesterday felt dark and filled with death...became a room filled with God's bright light filtering through the windows, extinguishing the darkness. Laughter graced our ears, and filled our hearts, and hope spread through me. Hope for each other person walking this same cancer road, hope for tomorrow, hope in a God who helps us as we seek Him. 

My new home for the next 16 weeks.....

God surrounded me with the most lovely nurses all day....one who was also a believer in Jesus Christ. Kelly was another nurse who I had learned of through my friend, Hillary, a breast cancer survivor. Hillary has been such a source of encouragement along this path (as have each of you!). As Kelly saw me, she told me she had a gift for me left from Hillary. A party bag was handed to me filled with magazines, gum, and snack food to help pass my time. My heart was once again overcome with thanksgiving and praise. 

Here the Adriamycin is being pushed through my port line. The Cytoxan then goes in as a drip, for about 45 minutes. Kelly was doing the pushing, but declined a picture....she said next time she'll be ready to be posted on the blog! She was another bright light on a dim day. 

And here's my sweet friend and sister in the Lord, Beth. I love you, Beth! Thanks for walking so intimately beside me, once again. 

And my precious husband, soul-mate and rock, second only to Christ, Barclay. He completes me. I love him more than life itself and pray God gives us many, many more years together. 

We finished up around 12:30 or so. As the day wore on, I became pretty nauseous and tired. I think part of that was just the anticipation leading up to the day, but spent a few hours in bed that afternoon feeling pretty wiped out. The nausea lingered through the evening and is with me again this morning. Nothing too severe, but there nonetheless. My doctor has me on a tight schedule of anti-nausea meds, but may see if there is one more we can add in. I have to go back in today to get a shot of Neulasta which is suppose to help boost my blood counts, but is also can give you pretty bad bone pain while it works on the bone marrow. I'm praying against that pain, but knowing that God will bring me through that, too. One day at a time....

Thanks so much for praying for me and my family as we continue on this journey. Thank you for all of your comments here, your emails , cards and phone calls. I'm so sorry I can't respond to each of you personally, but know that I am thanking God for each of you and pray that He rewards and blesses you in ways I never could. 

Much love,

Stacy

Renewed Strength and His Holiness

Stacy Davis

(Previously published August 31, 2010)

One down and seven to go.....not that I'm looking to the end, but thankful to have the first chemo treatment behind me and an inkling as to how I should feel on my treatment day and the days following. Last Thursday (first chemo day) was the hardest hitting. 

I came home feeling fine and then by early afternoon began going downhill.....nausea, flu-like symptoms, and really, really tired. Thankfully, I was able to sneak away to the bedroom and lay down for a long nap. I didn't awake feeling much better and had little to no appetite, but a little more strength after the nap....enough to take me to the football field to watch the boys practice. 

Friday, I awoke feeling pretty much the same. I had to go back to the oncologist Friday morning for my Neulasta shot.....which helps boost my blood counts so I am ready for the next chemo treatment. The dose dense ACT chemo schedule is a one week on, one week off schedule. The Neulasta enables patients to get chemo every two weeks, instead of every 3. But, it sure is an assault to the body! I told the nurses that I was still feeling nauseous, so they prescribed another anti-nausea medicine to take with my other two. I was told that if I was going to experience bone pain from the Neulasta, it would be apparent over the weekend. Praise God that the bone pain never came! 

Friday came with mild nausea....kind of how I felt when I was pregnant, the nausea was there, but I could push through it and still function. I still didn't have much of an appetite, and overall just felt run down and tired. Everyone has been telling me to listen to my body, when it needs rest....give it rest. I am heeding that advice and very thankful that my 13 year old is adept at running the household, so I can sneak away for naps. 

Friday night we had been invited to a friend's house for an end of summer swim party. The kids were so excited to go, and whereas I was tired, I wanted to go for the kids. Disease is hard that way. As the body is afflicted and trying to heal, it is tired and weak and the daily joys and pleasures can be robbed as the lack of energy and pain prevails.

My children have begun to see that side of disease. That my body is tired. That I have to lay down more often. That I'm not able to do all that I did before cancer became a part of our lives. I pray this is temporary. And whereas I know this is teaching them yet again a deeper level of compassion, that they are gaining perspective on human suffering, that they are learning themselves to go to God with their fears and trust him, and learning lessons on selflessness, the power of prayer, and on and on......I don't want them to see me this way. Selfish, I know. I want them to see me whole and healthy. I want to protect them from seeing me weak. I want to be fully engaged, always. I want to be available when they need me. I want to give them a full and happy life, without this disease defining our daily schedule and lives. 

And yet, this life and their lives is not about what I want. It is about what God wants and what He wants to do in an through me. Once again, I am learning the lesson of letting go of my daily schedule and my kids to the Lord in a whole new way. Of laying down my wants, for what God wants. And that maybe as my children see me with their eyes as weak, they will see a God at work in me that isn't. That maybe, the very way I desire my kids not see me physically, is the way that God wants them to see me, that we all can be taught more about Him. God is the definer, I am to be the servant, who follows after Him. His wants for my children. His dreams. His schedule. His plan. So quickly I get wrapped in the physical, what I see with my eyes and what I know, what I feel. God is concerned with my relationship to Him....my faith, my love for Him....the pursuit of holiness: His holiness. 

As I sat down this morning for another Vit. C treatment, I pulled out My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers....guess what the title was? "Destined to be holy." There it is in one phrase, what God desires for us from this life taken from 1 Peter 1:16 "

"....it is written, Be holy, for I am holy."

As Chambers writes, "We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness. Today we have far too many desires and interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them. Many of them may be right, noble and good, and may later be fulfilled, but in the meantime God must cause their importance to us to decrease. The only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy. At all costs, a person must have the right relationship with God. Do I believe I need to be holy?"

Holiness, as Chambers states, means absolute purity of your walk before God, the words coming from your mouth and every thought in your mind-placing every detail of your life under the scrutiny of God Himself.

And so in my physical weakness, I am placing the mother child role and relationship under the scrutiny of God Himself. I am placing my physical pain before Him, my thoughts and my words. Every word and every thought of mine is not holy. I continually go before the Lord asking for forgiveness in this area. And by His grace, I am forgiven and press on pursuing Him and His holiness even more. That this very cancer, that which to me is ugly, which robs me of time with my husband and children, which causes me to retreat bed.....will draw me into an even deeper relationship with the God who created me and calls me to be holy. That this journey will go to the heart of sin deep within me and in the end, be the tool needed to cleanse away that which is unholy. Oh may I not run from this, but embrace it. 

And so......Along with the nausea and tiredness came a weekend filled with a whole slew of activities: away football game on Saturday, Harescramble race Sunday morning....Barclay took the two older boys to the race, I stayed back at home with Luke and Jed as I needed to be at church for Women's Ministry fall Bible Study registration and then Luke had an afternoon football game. 

I thank God for His mercy and grace as He brought me through this chemo treatment. Saturday was again defined with nausea and just an overall tiredness, but I made it to Seth's 1st football game. By Sunday, my strength was being renewed. I awoke that morning with no bone pain, very mild nausea and beginning to feel like myself again. Off we went to church and then Luke's football game. 

Monday morning, my energy was restored, the nausea was gone and another school day was underway. I am thankful that I get a week of reprieve from doctor's appointments and treatments...only one appt. today for Vit. C. It is nice to be back in the throes of being a mom with some semblance of normalcy. But as God reminded me today.....healthy or sick, weak or strong....the circumstance and day to day is constantly changing....but he doesn't. My happiness cannot be based on how I am feeling that day. My happiness, my joy, is found in God alone and is available every moment of every day. What matters is that I am pursuing Him and allowing Him to use my weakness through this cancer that He may be shown strong. That He posses me, not this cancer. May He shine when I am laying down, sick and weak....or when I am standing up.....healthy and strong. Either way....I am His and continue to daily pursue His Holiness.

Much love,

Stacy

A Little Bit of Laughter

Stacy Davis

(Previously published September 4, 2010)

So I haven't said much lately about the main object of my disease...the Betties. I thought we could all use a little bit of laughter as laughter is medicine for the soul. We've all got to continue laughing and smiling. There is so much to smile about! 

After I posted about my first chemo treatment, I had a couple close to me...ahem...my sister and dear friend.....comment about the size of my Betties from the pictures on that post. And a friend came over yesterday, who hadn't seen me in about a month, and that was one of the first things she commented on...my size! It's ok, good friends can do that.

This is a bit outside my comfort zone, sharing with this much candor...but I'm sharing on this level as I've had many ask me about the filling process and I know, as women, we are curious about this part of breast cancer....and each week those of you who see me, see me growing. :) 

This is where the comedy comes in. 

Before breast cancer, I was, shall we say, rather small chested. I was glad for the person who invented the padded bra, as we were friends. (Funny how breast cancer thrusts you into an arena where you talk about something so personal that really wasn't open forum conversation before...but let's be real....breast cancer centers around the Betties.) I'll be tasteful! :) 

Anyway, I often laugh when thinking about the whole filling up process. You see each week, when I go to my plastic surgeon.....He fills me up. As tissue expanders were put in during the mastectomy, they are basically hard plastic balloons with a center port for needle access. This is all under my skin, of course. But the idea behind the expanders is to inflate rather large, stretch the skin and prepare it for the final implants which will be silicone. The final implants can't go in until two months after all treatment is completed. So, we go through 4 months of chemo. They give my body a month to rest and then radiation will start probably sometime in early January. Those treatments will happen 5 days a week for one month. Then, Lord willing, I will be done with treatments and into the final stage of reconstructing my Betties by early April.

Radiation is pretty hard on the skin. It tightens the skin, causes burning and just overall makes the skin less elastic. That is why these fillings are so important, and the stretching process needed. My plastic surgeon wants to stretch the skin as much as he can, knowing it will be somewhat damaged after radiation. So each week, for the last 4 weeks, off I go to see my plastic surgeon and each week, I come home a little bigger and more stretched. 

I thought you might want to see what awaits me at each of these doctor visits......

These too, have become my friends. Yes, those are big needles filled with saline. The little gray thing laying between the sharpie and the syringe is a magnet. The magnet locates the port on my Betty, the sharpie marks the spot and in goes the syringe. Out I go with bigger Betties....and residual chest pain as the muscles get stretched along with the skin. It is rather uncomfortable, I will say. You don't feel the needle going in, as I don't have any feeling now in the general area of my Betties, and the needle goes into the plastic expander......I'm hoping this makes sense. 

Each week, I laugh as I walk out. It really is comical. 

I haven't had a chest like this in a long time....probably since I was 18 or maybe since I was nursing and my milk was coming in....yeah...not comfortable. 

And to think I still have 2 more fillings. I'm a little afraid of what I'll look like in the next 2-3 weeks. Yikes. There will be a lot of loose shirts in my future, as I have no desire to be known by the size of my Betties!! I mean really, I'm a huge proponent of modesty, so trying to take this all in stride and keeping the end result in view. 

The other part that is comical is that the expanders aren't really round, as one would think. They are kind of oblong/squarish. So, as they fill up, they look more like footballs, as my plastic surgeon likes to point out. Yes, that would be accurate. My life is filled with football these days, so why not just look like one too! See, you really just have to laugh. :)

And then to put the cherry on the top of the sundae....my right Betty decided that it should shift a bit down, so my right and left side don't exactly match up right. My plastic surgeon said he has only seen this happen in a couple of cases, where the muscle pushed the implant down. It's really pretty. So, back to the padded bra we go. Friends again. 

There you have it. The life and filling of the Betties. It's ok if you are laughing, we are laughing and smiling together and really, life is too short to not keep it real and laugh together. It is one more stop on this journey. In the end, I'm told I will have some nice perky Betties for life. I guess the small physical silver lining in breast cancer. After 6 babies, my Betties will have gone from limp tea bags to something so much more! 

Keep smiling and pressing on....

"Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, The LORD has done great things for them. The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad." Psalm 126:2,3

Much love,

Stacy

The Next Passageway

Stacy Davis

(Previously published September 7, 2010)

Last week was glorious.

It was a return to life before cancer.... feeling like myself again. A week without doctor's appointments, (except for one Vit. C infusion), without tiredness overshadowing my day, without breast cancer determining my steps and schedule. Without constantly talking about this disease. 

A week of homeschooling, football (of course!), making dinner again and doing laundry, running errands, being fully present with the children: All the little things that I had taken for granted before cancer entered my world and that of my family. We went to football games on Saturday and Sunday sitting on the sidelines cheering as Seth ran the ball within one foot of scoring a touchdown and Luke knocked down any opponent that dared crossed his path. We went out to dinner as a family (and I actually was able to eat). And we went to a wedding yesterday, children included, celebrating two lives that God has joined together. Truly a beautiful ending to a glorious week of normalcy, joy and togetherness as a family.

And all was good.....

........except for the looming hair loss that hung before me. The next passageway on this journey. 

The calendar that would count down the days to the next chemo treatment and the talked about "Day 14" which would mark hair coming out upon my pillow in the morning. A day I didn't want to see or think about. As my oncologist told me, "You can expect your hair to come out by your next chemo treatment.

That treatment is this Thursday. 

And as I blew dry my hair Monday morning, styling it for the wedding, trying to make it look pretty for my husband who loves my long hair.....wearing it down (with dark roots and all), melancholy flowed over me. It will be a long time before I do this again.

Will I be able to embrace the new reflection starring back at me in the mirror after my hair is gone? 

And all I can do is embrace God even tighter.

Tomorrow my day begins early with lab work, then onto my plastic surgeon for yet another "filling" and then to my oncologist in preparation for round 2 of chemo Thursday morning.

At 2:00, I will sit in the hair salon chair as my long hair is shaved and falls to the ground. As my head will return to the day that I left my mother's womb and entered this world.....bald. As breast cancer now is not something that can be hidden under my shirt, but now worn for everyone to see. 

I don't know what these next steps look like. But yet I walk. I'm a little scared. I'm a lot weak. And I'm fighting to focus on the little step in the big picture. This is temporary. Hair will grow back. (probably darker and curlier, so I'm told). And my beauty is not in my hair or my eyebrows or my eyelashes. They adorn my head, but yet are not what defines who I am. And more than anything, I struggle with what is displayed to the eyes of the beholders. Will you see a woman who loves the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind and strength? Or will you see a woman who is bald with cancer? Will you see beauty or just disease? 

And as I even write these questions, my heart is pricked because the very root of my fear is my own insecurity and pride. Sin that entangles my heart and draws me into a self-reflective posture that cares too much about how I'm seen by the world.

Losing your hair is no small step. But what is so much more important is not what my hair looks like, but what my heart looks like before the Lord. What dwells there that is causing Him to look upon me with sadness? The fear, the pride, the insecurity.....they need to fall as the hair upon my head is shaved. 

And as they do, as I confess each one of these sins which lay deep inside my heart to God, my Father, may I be adorned with the grace of God, the love of Christ and the redemption that I have in Him knowing that I am not a workmanship of cancer, but of Christ Jesus.

As the stylist tomorrow fits me for my wig and styles it making me appear as before....may I not be the same woman. 

May I be changed. 

May I embrace that image in the mirror reflecting back at me knowing that God is doing a bigger work in my heart and life. The old must go and the new must come. May I rejoice at this passageway and thank God for the privilege of walking so closely with my Savior. May my heart be filled with thanksgiving that He loves me enough that He allowed this cancer into my life for His purposes. 

The image of one set of footprints in the sand. He is carrying me. 

He is filling me with His Spirit, searching my heart and He knows me. Purify me Lord. And He desires to transform me into the image of Jesus Christ. And as I want to turn and run from "Day 14" in every part of my weak flesh, may I instead turn and run into the arms of my loving Father who only needs one hand to uphold me.......His righteous right hand.

Tomorrow, I walk through that next passageway and bend in the long hallway from the door called chemo. I walk hand in hand with my Savior....my husband and a few precious friends who will cheer me on. 

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward-arranging the hair, wearing gold or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter 3:3,4

Much love,

Stacy

 

He is BIG...So BIG!

Stacy Davis

(Previously published September 9, 2010)

Are you ready?

It is a simple question and often we make the answer so complex. 

On Wednesday, as I walked into Jude Plum hair salon with my husband, and friends by my side, my heart was settled, my focus on the task before us, but my emotions were unstable. My mind raced to the uncertainty of how I would feel when this was all done? How would I feel as the razor hit my head? What would those moments be like? And what I am finding more each day through this cancer journey, is that therein lies my problem. The focus on the emotion which robs me of complete joy and peace in the Lord. My lens so quickly can come out of focus and that which should be last becomes first...me last and Jesus first. 

I sat in the chair, pulled my long hair from the clip which held it up and began laughing and talking with my dear friends who had come along. I was showing them that my hair had in fact begun the falling out process. As I ran my fingers through my hair, strands of hair were entangled in my fingers. This was the day this process needed to take place. God knew. I had asked Barclay to capture the moments. Because I never wanted to forget them. And as my head was turned, as my mind was focused on the conversation and the laughter.....Jude Plum picked up the razor and began his task, without asking me if I was ready. 

My first response was panic. As the reverberation hit my head and the razor buzzed in my ears, I pulled back, a little annoyed with Jude. Why didn't you let me know you were going to begin, I thought? Ease into this with me, please. Let's take a moment. But, after 30 years of removing the hair from women's heads....Jude knows....that no lady is completely ready to lose her hair. He has to move right in and do the job before him. He was ever so gentle and loving, but as I pulled my head away slightly, he gently tilted it back toward the razor and continued on, never pausing or stopping. He had a job to do and my response had to be submission to the buzz and clipping of the razor in his hand. As I began to let go, my posture began changing. My head fell forward, my eyes closed and I began praying. Going to the one true source of my comfort and peace, my heavenly Father. As each clump of hair fell from my head, a deep stripping away came over me....another level of surrender, another level of letting go...not just of my hair, but the sin entangling my heart, the pain of this disease, and tears began to gently fall across my cheeks as the Holy Spirit washed over me with His love and abundant comfort. Lord, I am yours, completely. 

Sitting in that chair Wednesday afternoon, God gave me such a vivid picture of Himself. As that razor was held in Jude's hand with a distinct purpose, so to is this breast cancer trial in the hand of my Lord and Savior. And as He holds each moment, holds each truth that He desires embedded so deeply in my heart....He is holding me and He is holding each of you in your trials and difficulties. And His love is everlasting. But the process must be walked out to arrive at the end. Was I ready for that first cut: not fully. But God knew that first cut was needed and had been preparing my heart for such a time, as I allowed Him in to the tender places of uncertainty that laid within. The razor is only the tool being used to achieve a much greater purpose. All God asks of me to walk in faith and trust the one who holds the razor...submitting. There should be no fear, as there is no fear in love. 

I am learning through this trial many things. But what stuck with me yesterday morning, as I was reflecting back over the previous day is this.....I need to stop making my circumstances, my problems, this disease bigger than God and allow God to be in His rightful place: the King of Kings, the Lord of Lord. There is none bigger than God. I need to make God bigger and then He makes my circumstances smaller in my eyes and heart. It doesn't mean the problems go away, it means that my faith is being placed fully in Him and Him alone. That I am trusting Him, because He is the beginning and the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. And as I put Jesus first in all things, every situation, every emotion, every trial.....He remains strong and faithful seeing me through each difficulty. What seems like the impossible, becomes possible through Him. And when He is on the throne of my heart, I can say....I am ready as I place myself under His Lordship, submitting to what He has allowed to enter my path and my life. How quickly my perspective is eschewed. 

Joy is: Jesus first, others second, and me (you) last. So simple. But when this is followed how James 1:2-6 takes on such a real meaning...

"My brethren, count it all joy (Jesus, others, you) when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind." 

Trials can be counted JOY because we are putting God first, not ourselves....knowing that God's heart is that we are perfect (spiritually mature) and complete, lacking nothing. 

He is a big God. The biggest, "for He commanded and they were created, He also established them forever...." Psalm 148:5...the animals, the mountains, the trees, the seas, the wind, fire, hail and snow, all people....for "His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and the heavens." 

And you know what.....as the razor finished its task and I raised my head and opened my eyes....looking at the image being reflected back to me from the mirror, running my hands over this fuzzy new head.....it was well with my soul, because of God. 

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold ALL things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Here is the "new" me. 

Jude cutting and styling my wig then showing me my many options....hats, hair pieces for under the hats....his bag of tricks if you will. 

The Cheering Squad...Beth, Hillary, me, Allyson and sweet baby Priscilla. Thank you friends!

My Beloved husband

And this is the banner I came home to. I am truly blessed. 

Thank you also to my precious family and friends who have financially contributed to the cost of the wig. You have each made this road a little easier to walk and we love each of you so much. 

Once again, God blows me away as I stand in awe of His ongoing provision, in ways my finite mind could never imagine. He is BIG....so Big! :)

Much love,

Stacy

So many thanks, Chemo Round 2 and the Final Strands of Hair....

Stacy Davis

(Previously published September 13, 2010)

Thank you. 

You are all treasures that I hold close to my heart, each one of you, who has spoken words of encouragement, cheered me onward and upward, and reminded me again and again that we are each on a journey....a journey toward the heart of God. Toward knowing Him more fully and making Him more fully known. You have thronged God's throne of grace and mercy on our behalf and lifted my name to the very one who holds my life in His hands. You have poured on us the love of Christ. You have loved us. You have made the road a little less rocky, and a little easier to walk. I am so humbled to be the recipient of so much love. 

Thank you for your comments here and on Facebook, for the cards received, the gifts in the mail from those whom I've never even met face to face, the flowers, the financial contributions, the emails, the phone calls....you've shown you cared and for that I say "thank you." It doesn't seem like enough, and yet I pray that God showers down His abundant blessings on each of you in ways that I never could. God has used each of you to touch places of my heart intimately. "I thank God upon each remembrance of you." Phil 1:3

Chemo Round 2......

We made it through Round 2! My second chemo treatment was last Thursday. Barclay was called into surgery that day, and my precious friend, Beth, once again stepped right in to hold my hand and laugh me through treatment. I think the nurses might think we are a bit crazy. God has knitted our hearts together not only through His Son, Jesus Christ, but through our losses (miscarriages and deaths) and through the triumphs we have celebrated over the years as God has reigned victorious in our lives and taught our hearts to trust Him even more. Thank you, Beth. Thanks for traveling one more road by my side, for not being afraid to press in, for loving me enough to keep checking in on me. 

 

 

Here is one of my nurses, Kelly. She, was a little reluctant to be photographed, but finally agreed. Thanks, Kelly! She brings more laughter, lots of reassurance and plenty of smiles on a day that you just wish would be crossed quickly off the calendar and fade into a distant memory. She and all the other chemo nurses help make the process a little less painful. 

I had been prepared by my oncologist that my first chemo will pretty much determine how I'll feel throughout my course of treatment. The biggest change will be with fatigue. Fatigue will become more prevalent the longer the treatment continues and as the drugs build up in the body. So far, I'm managing. I was thankful to still have an appetite Thursday evening, but by about 7:00PM, the nausea began and my body was just worn out. I crawled into bed allowing my body to just rest. Friday arrived with about the same. A general feeling of nausea, a little fatigue and not much of an appetite. But I am functioning and able to continue with daily activities, and for that I am really thankful. Saturday brought one more day of the same and then by Sunday, I was back up and running...and Monday....back to myself. It is one crazy cycle, but I'll take the normal for as long as I can get it and praise God for the reprieve He gives. 

The Final Strands of Hair.....

After the initial head shaving last Wednesday, I knew that the fuzz that covered my head would be temporary. As the hair follicle closes from the chemo, it releases the hair. Over the weekend, it became evident as I would run my hand over the top of my head....tiny strands of hair would be left laying in my hand. And as I laid my head down Sunday night, prickles ran over the top of my head making it uncomfortable laying down. By Monday morning, I could just pull the tiny spikes from my head with ease. It was time. 

My friend, Hillary, who is a breast cancer survivor, had told me that when she came to this stage, her hair came out in her hands while showering. As the prospect of this seemed a bit overwhelming, I asked my rock of a husband to assist me in this process over the kitchen sink. Of course, I didn't do anything but hang my head in the sink. He did all the work. We are truly walking through the "in sickness and in health" part of our vows as we committed our lives and hearts together through Christ in marriage 16 years ago. And God is using cancer to establish our marriage as never before. As we embrace each step together seeking God first, He is building, unifying and teaching us both. Barclay is a true example of a man of God and God has given me the blessing and privilege of calling him husband and being his wife. 

Cancer has given me perspective. Cancer has given me a deeper love for Barclay. Cancer has shown me that each day is truly a gift from God and we can either take that gift and grumble, complain and be angry or we can take that gift and have joy, contentment and peace. The choice is ours. And cancer has shown me that my deepest fears can be met face on with Christ, who is faithful and just, and with Him what seems like a mountain becomes a spring welling up with living water, if only we will let go to the power, majesty and love of Christ. He will rain down. 

Onto the sink we went....ready to let all the remaining pieces of hair fall. As Barclay gently (but vigorously) washed my hair, he had put our worship mix on in the background. Together, he and I praised God for who He is and all that He has done. And as God so intimately does, He met us in that moment. When our son, Joshua went home to be with the Lord, we had chosen the music at his funeral very purposely. There was a song entitled, "He Knows My Name" that was poignant for us because it speaks to not only the power of God, but His tender heart, His love for all of us and all knowing character. As the hair was being washed away, as Barclay gently held the razor in his hand, shaving....God reminded us that He is our maker, He sees our tears and He hears me as my heart is overwhelmed and cries out to Him. Before the very foundation of the is world....He knew. And as each subsequent song rang out through my ipod, God met me as He reminded me over and over again of who He is. That is where my heart needs to lie everyday....in who He is. As the water washed over my head, so His Spirit washed over my soul. 

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The hair is now all gone. And what remains, I pray is so much more. 

More of Him and less of Me. 

 

"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30

 

Again, I am truly blessed and my heart if full. I am savoring the gifts God has placed into my life.....cancer being one of them. I don't understand His ways....but you know what, I don't need to...all I need to do is continually trust Him and allow Him to finish the work He desires to do that I may be changed forever for Him and His glory. 



May today, you cherish and thank God for the gifts He has placed in your life....

each and every one of them. 


Much love,

Stacy

Walking by Faith, not sight...

Stacy Davis

(Previously published September 20, 2010)

I have four hubs in my home...places where many hours are spent each day and each week, a hub of activity, if you will. Being a word girl, a hub is the central part of the wheel upon which the spokes are inserted. God has blessed me with a lot of spokes: A hubby, precious children, and a couple years ago, He called me into coordinating women's ministry at our church, as well as teaching a Thursday morning Bible Study. Without the hub, there would be a lot of chaos. I don't much care for chaos. Order, even if it is just visual order, sets a good rhythm to my beating heart. 

Each place is rich in its surroundings, not because of what indwells there, or because of the physical decorations that may beautify that space, but because of the activity that takes place there. It is meaningful, it is lasting, and it sets about change and often deep heart activity. I've already shared with you my first hub: my front porch. This is where in the spring and summer days, I meet with the Lord. If my meeting time is disturbed, oh boy do the spokes come lose and that wheel wobbles all over the place. The front porch is my sanctuary of sorts for the Lord. It is where I open my Bible to hear from Him and then close my eyes to talk to Him. It is where I worship Him and praise Him for who He is and all that He is. It is where my faith begins growing as I learn more of Him. It is the most essential part of the hub....as without Him the spokes become detached and chaos ensues. 

My second hub is what I call my "runway." No not where I do the cat walk, although there is a lot of walking that takes place on the runway. It is more like an airport runway.....planes come in and planes go out....although on my runway those planes would be the 12 feet that daily (ok, let's be real...I have 4 boys: 1 teenager and 2 coming close...they eat at all hours/minutes of the day)....coming and going from the kitchen. My runway is a span that runs from my kitchen sink to an old, antique jelly cupboard that sits along the wall at the end of my kitchen holding our dishes, the phone, some homeschool supplies and curriculum hidden behind the bottom doors and my cookbooks. On one side of the runway is a wall of cabinets, our stove, pantry and fridge, and on the other a long kitchen island where 6 of us cozy up for long talks, many a meal, schoolwork, crafts....you name it, it happens here. I walk up and down that runway throughout the day pouring into the lives and mouths of these growing and changing babes. 

The third hub is my laundry room. It is off my kitchen and nestled in the back corner of my home. I'll be honest, sometimes it is my hiding place on those days when my heart is overwhelmed and I need a moment to get right with God. It is where I get semi-instant gratification. The clothes come out of the washer and go into the dryer and then get folded and put into bins for each child to carry off to their room and put away. Ahh, completion, even if only for a moment, for the laundry NEVER ends in this house. No sooner do I think I am done and all clothes are neatly folded and ready to whisked away, another dirty item ends up on the floor of the laundry room. But I don't mind. I actually love doing the laundry. I love the fresh smell of laundered clothes. I love the process. I love the completion. I know, I might be a bit crazy. Between 7 people, 5 beds, loads of towels, dirty football uniforms, swimming suits and towels, muddy motorcross apparel....without my third hub....let's face it....we'd be one dirty and smelly family. 

And then there is my 4th hub and what bring to the original picture I posted. It is my desk in the office I share with my hubby. I love this space. It brings me back to the days when I first laid eyes on my husband as we sat next to each other in high school English class. We were seated alphabetically and our English teacher either had the class arranged with the alphabet running forward or the alphabet running backwards: either way Barclay either was in front of me or right behind me as he was a D and I was a B. And throughout 11th grade English class, he and I passed notes back and forth. Silly notes with stars adorning the pages. Notes I still have today. Notes that marked the beginning of 22 years together. And now, once again, as he is back working from home, he has his desk and I have mine, and as he works, I am often sitting at my desk working alongside him. This is where many an email is exchanged, many a Bible study lesson written, a phone call taken, a children's writing assignment graded and questions answered. It is my hub. And at this hub, I do have things around me that go to the core of who I am. There are Bible verses tacked to the filing cabinet next to my desk, there are pictures of those close to my heart, there are poems thathave touched me....and there sits in front of me, upon my desk, a little wooden, 3 draweredcabinet, with items that are significant to me: a rock given to me by a dear friend with an inscription from Psalm 62:7: 

"For God is my salvation and my glory. The rock of my strength." 

Allyson gave this to me early in my diagnosis with breast cancer. It is a reminder to me that God is my strength-daily. There are 2 bells: one which was a part of my grandmother's antique bell collection and the other that was my mother's. She would ring this almost daily around 5:00PM when I was a child telling us girls that it was time for family devotions. I rebelled a bit growing up regarding these family devotions, but know that it was foundational for who I am today in Christ and thankful for that time in God's Word as a child. And there is my grandfather's pipe. He was instrumental in my life for many reasons and when I look at this pipe, I am taken back to many good childhood memories when Grandpa was by my side. 

There are two other small rocks. One which my friend Brenda brought back from her trip to Israel. A rock she picked up for me in the place where David fought Goliath. A remembrance that as David fought Goliath, He was fighting in the strength of the Lord. 

"David said to the Philistines, 'You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied......for the battle is the Lord's and He will give you into our hands." 

1 Samuel 17:45, 47 

Oh, this is my battle cry each day. Lord, this cancer battle, it is yours. My weapons are not of this world, they are yours. 

And then there is this verse, simply framed, written with a black sharpie on a crinkled piece of brown paper bag, tucked into a glass Ikea frame:

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

And it brings me to the purpose for this post in the first place....sorry it took me so long to get here! The journey of life can't be walked by sight. That is my temptation...daily...to look with my eyes, find solutions, understand, figure out, and press on. But I tried this long ago and guess what....chaos ensued in many areas of my life. I don't have the answers. I don't see the big picture. I don't have the strength needed most days. And as God always does in His Word, He gives us all the answers we need for life. He tells us to walk by faith. To walk trusting in Him not what our finite eyes can see. I look at this verse everyday when I sit at my desk. I need this before me, as a reminder that God knows everything and all I need to do is trust Him, believe Him and walk with Him. Simply and obediently. He will light the step for each next step. He has done that and more as I've walked through this new journey. 

After I was diagnosed with breast cancer this past June, God began opening my eyes to a part of disease that I had never really recognized before: the financial burden of that disease. In an area of our marriage and family where God has begun stripping away years before, He now was doing on an even greater level. Will you walk by faith and not by sight with your finances? Will you give your finances to me? Will you trust Me that I will provide for your every need? Will you give me your first fruits and not the leftovers? Do you know that your money, is Mine? Will you allow me into this place, your finances, and allow me to show Myself strong as you walk obediently, humbly and faithfully before me? Yes, Lord, we will. And God has taken us on a financial journey of letting go. It hasn't been easy, but He has been faithful every step of the way. 

And as my eyes became open to the financial burden, my heart began aching for every other woman faced with breast cancer, maybe without insurance, maybe without the financial resources to draw from to pay the out of pocket expenses...and I prayed. 

In the meantime, my sister, Tasha, shared with me what God had been doing in her heart and life as she had started running. She shared with me that she wanted to run in a race to support me financially as we walk this breast cancer road. She felt God telling her to pay her own entrance fee, but raise money for me instead. I've got to tell you, this was a hard one for me. I really have a hard time receiving, especially when it comes to money. As I prayed even more on this, I watched as God began putting all the pieces together once again, softening my heart and saying yes. This Saturday, Tasha will be running in the Hers Breast Cancer 10K run in Freemont, CA.....for me. Her team is "The Beatties." :) If you want to read her story and find out more click here and see a glimpse into her precious heart. Thank you, Tasha. I love you so!

My friend Jill, came alongside to help, as well, offering her support and technical assistance. She has been a precious friend and sister in the Lord for some time. She is the one who originally gave me the nudge to begin blogging and has encouraged me along the way. You can stop by her blog, as well and get a glimpse at what she and Tasha are up to. Thank you, Jill! 

I am beyond blessed by their hearts not only for the Lord, but for me. My hope is that someday in the future, God will put the pieces together to bless other women financially as they too, walk through breast cancer. I don't know what this all looks like, but that is my heart: to raise money not for research, but for women. To give a financial gift to another woman whose life is touched by breast cancer to help alleviate the financial burden of treatment, to help her purchase a wig, to give her the option of alternative treatments....to help lighten her load. I trust that if God desires to put this together, He will one day, in His way and according to His timetable and purposes. But He has put the seed in my heart. 

And so going back to my hubs, which are calling me at this very minute....I leave you with this:

"Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 5:16-18

Much love,

Stacy