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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cancer Files: Calm My Anxious Heart

I have a book that sits on my shelf.  It has been pulled down now and then during the last 15 years to use as a reference when I let my emotions get a little out of control.  On rarer occasions I read through it again cover to cover.  I love this book.  So many of the points the author Linda Dillow writes are the type that make you say to yourself "duh!" but so often slip our minds when we are out living our everyday lives.
Here is an example of a quote she includes from George MacDonald: "It has been well said that no man ever sank under the burden of the day.  It's when tomorrow's burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.  Never load yourselves so, my friends.  If you find yourselves so loaded, at least remember this: it is your own doing, not God's He begs you to leave the future to Him and to mind the present."

Here are a few more gems of wisdom to remember: "Worry doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength", or "Paul commands us to have nothing to do with anxiety and everything to do with prayer.  Sadly, many of us reverse this and worry about everything, praying only as a last resort!" or, "Goethe, the German philosopher, put it: 'things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.'"

Today I got my book back from a dear friend who has borrowed it for the last few months when she was going through a difficult time.  What a treasure to sit down tonight and again read through the first chapter.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Little Help With Kitchen Work

For those who are checking back to see how I am coming on my list, well...Ryan and I have made progress on that last cabinet in the kitchen that needs to be re installed.  He took out the tracks that the shelves run on before the painting.  We worked together last night to get them back in.  Now that is done and the things that belong in there are back where they belong.

It was a little overwhelming to me as I watched him with the tools.  There are glimpses that I get every so often into the future as I see that my child is growing up and taking on more and more responsibility, willing to do more to help and be part of the projects that David and I are doing.

It impressed me to see how he remembered exactly how the tracks came out so he could put them back in the same way.  It impressed me how he could barely fit into the cabinet to reach the back screw and nail to attach it.  (I used to hold his little head in my hand!) I loved to watch him take on a challenge and have a sense of accomplishment.

Now he has moved down to the basement helping his dad with that new "computer lab" they are setting up down there.  Where have my little ones gone?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Cancer Files: Is this Nesting?

Bathroom closet before
This whole cancer diagnosis certainly did not come at a very convenient time for me!  I started a major kitchen update in May on my birthday that is still in various stages of disarray.  Our bathroom closet has been on the list to finish for a couple of years and I have been working on purging all kinds of things to simplify our home and be sure that everything that is here has a place.

So, now we are looking to next week and surgery.  I have been feeling a sense of urgency to get everything back as close to cleaned up as possible.  The only feeling that I can compare this too is when I was pregnant and was nesting.  I don't want to lay around recovering looking at all the things that I need to accomplish.  So, before next Wednesday, knowing that I can't accomplish EVERYTHING, I have decided I will:
Loading shelves (after purging a TON)

  • Finish painting and re install the last cabinet doors in the kitchen (only two left)
  • Cook and freeze a few meals for the family so they stay fed while I recuperate.
  • Finish painting the bathroom closet door and put all of the bathroom stuff back in the closet (and out of my living room corner!) - OH WAIT!  I did that yesterday! CHECK!
  • Put everything that I possibly can back into the kitchen cabinets in their new home (and once again, out of my living room!)
  • Clean my desk!
  • Take clothes piled in my bedroom to Good Will (so much for the garage sale at the beginning of the summer)
  • Take the kids to the pool a couple more times.
  • Attend my cousin's wedding on Saturday...can't miss a good party when there are things to celebrate!
New door after 3 coats of paint
That should take care of the time between now and next Wednesday.  Now if the migraine I have had for the last couple days would GO AWAY, I would be able to make progress much faster!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

One Company's Trash is This Family's Home Computer Lab

They were throwing out some old computers at work, so my husband loaded them up into the back of the car and brought them home.

Having the foresight to think of homework and communication needs of three middle and high schoolers in a couple years, he thought he could set up a mini lab where they could do what they need to do right here.  They won't have the most updated software and operating systems, but these will work for what they need!

Ryan thought it was great to see what the insides of the machines look like and what each part does.  He was pretty excited to tell me about it when I got home from taxiing some of the others around this afternoon. The kids were also surprised to find out that Mom even knows a few things about the insides of computers!  Of course, the kids are all excited to get them set up and see how many of their games they can get working!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Little Things ARE the Big Things

One thing that I find difficult when I am praying for someone or know someone going through a difficult time is "what can I do?".  I realize how many of the little things I have stopped doing that I used to love to do.  I was an avid card sender.  I loved to hear of someone who needed a pick me up and send them a word of encouragement.  I can't even remember the last time I have done that.  That makes me sad.

Forced to spend a little more time thinking of myself, I find that it is so much more fun to encourage others than to dwell on my troubles.  I have also been the recipient of others' kind words and notes and remember how important it is to cheer and love one another in that way.  My sister-in-law sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers last week.  It came in a box and I was worried when I opened it because they looked all droopy.  Come to find out they have flowers now that you can send as buds and they open into a beautiful bouquet in 24 or so hours and last much longer on your table!  These are beautiful.

Another friend gave me roses in a hand painted bottle and a poem that she has found encouraging.  Beautiful again.  Each note or little thing that someone has said or given to me is a perfect reflection of who they are.  Each of us has a gift for giving something so unique and personal.  I Timothy 4:14 says neglect not the gift that is in thee.  Paul is talking to Timothy about what he is gifted with in the way of his service to the church.  I would say that each of us has our own unique way of giving to others what only we can.  The words in our hearts could really encourage someone else today.  I want to use my life experience to remember what it is that I can give as encouragement in my own unique way to bring a smile to someone's face.  We all need a pick me up, life is messy sometimes!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cancer Files: My Hope Ring

I have been in awe at the way that I have seen God in the details of this situation.  Back in the 90's -days when we were praying for children and asking God to reveal his plan for us, I was in the store and saw these Faith, Hope, and Love rings.  I was drawn to the Hope ring at the time because I had begun to feel a new hope in our struggle with infertility.  I don't know how to explain how I knew other than God gave me a peace I hadn't had before that I would one day be a mother.  I trusted at that time, and on that day I purchased this ring to wear as a reminder of that during times of discouragement.

Now skip ahead to 2013.  It was a rough winter this year.  I found myself in the blue area a lot more than I would have wanted to be.  It was during the cold spring months when we were wondering if a real spring would ever come that I started getting bogged down in the schedule driven life that we had begun to lead.  I was hearing words coming out of the mouths of my children that I didn't teach them, and attitudes that I was not going to live with another 10-15 years under this roof.  It seemed like I had lost control and I feared at times that I didn't care.

All of the years of praying and hoping for this family started to lose the "miracle" feel.  After all, I started this blog to document the miracle that we have been blessed with in the lives of our children and how God has so graciously put our family together.  Nothing seemed that special anymore, I wasn't focusing on the important things.  That is when I found my hope ring in my jewelry box.  I put it on and remembered that promise, I remembered that this is the miracle.  And my focus has changed.  If we so enjoy the times we spend together here on this earth, how much more wonderful will it be together in heaven?  Our focus has become too much on the immediate and not the eternal.

Spring has passed and now summer is here.  We are going to the pool, we are playing with friends, we are spending a little too much time on video games on those rainy days.  And, I am still wearing my hope ring.  It hit me how God had prepared me for this by pulling out my hope ring.  What is it that I see all over the women's center when I go to my appointments?  Pink ribbons and the word HOPE.  In the ordinary life, and the breast cancer journey, hope is all around us, and our hope is in Him!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Getting Caught Up At Home

I mentioned earlier this week somewhere, whether it was on Facebook or here on the blog that I was training the three big kids how to do more than sort dirty clothes into the three "whites, mediums and darks" piles and then take their baskets of clean clothes back to their rooms when I have washed them.  It was a huge undertaking since they haven't gotten as consistent at either of those as I would like.

It was this afternoon that I felt like taking some time getting the mess that had been building up over the last couple weeks under control.  The kids got the hang of putting loads in the washer, transferring to the dryer, and then piling the clean clothes, unfolded up in baskets.  Funny thing, even when I am not able to keep up, the kids need more clean clothes!

It was a great feeling to do something that is a little more normal than visiting the oncologist, making surgery arrangements, and thinking about questions I have about recovery time and radiation.  I stood in my laundry room thinking that it felt so good to do normal things! 

Cleaning up the piles of clean clothes that were laying all around the laundry room also gave me a chance to clean off the new table that came during the last two crazy weeks.  Now, the girls each have a place to sew along with me.  Tomorrow...the ironing and then some time to sew!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cancer Files: How Kids Cope

I got a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my sweet daughter last week when I got off the phone with the nurse and got the news about the cancer.  This week, along with refreshing the flowers that had wilted in my bedroom,  she came up from her art studio (where I used to have space to work downstairs) and gave me a beautiful sign to go along with the flowers.

It wasn't til yesterday when I realized she had started writing in her journal.  Her feelings came out when she was talking with her dad and told us she doesn't understand why Mom was told she has cancer and everything seems to be the same.  After her dad asked how things should be she couldn't really say but she didn't understand the peace and why it seems like things aren't sadder.

Her dad pointed her to Philippians 4:6-7 "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  David explained that we don't understand it, but He is in control and we will trust Him.  I also explained to her that she doesn't always see us after she goes to bed and that I have cried!  It is overwhelming, even for a grown up.  She felt better to know that.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cancer Files: Diagnosis / Education / Treatment

Wow - I can't believe that it has been December since I last posted on my blog!  I guess it takes a life changing experience to get me back in the groove.  Maybe I should be better at this, there is a lot of updating to do to catch you up on the family.  Unfortunately, it is me we are focusing on today. (although the spotlight isn't necessarily where I like to be!)

"A survivor is anyone who has heard 'you have cancer'".  That is what I read on the wall in the doctors office today.  I saw the oncologist and the surgeon and met each of them to determine the course of action and treatment for my individual situation.  You can read the whole book or research all you can but until you hear the terms and the plan as it relates you, your life and calendar, it doesn't really sink in.

So today we "got the scoop" so to speak on the next couple months of my life.  It looks like even though there are two spots, the area is still small enough to go for the affected area, so phew, no plans for a mastectomy (which I was told last week could be a possibility).  Hopefully the surgeon won't find any surprises and have to change plans in the course of the surgery.  They will also remove the sentinel lymph node which is the lymph node that leads to the rest of the body to test that for any cancer cells (which would change the treatment, so hopefully all is well there).

Following the surgery (July 3) and recovery there will be six weeks of radiation to take care of the rest of the area where cancer cells may be hiding.  I will then be on hormone therapy to discourage any more growth since the cancer I have is fed by my hormones.

That is what I know now.  Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement.  I am humbled that I have so many wonderful people in my life all across the country who have sent notes and made me smile.  True friendships aren't limited by time and distance and I feel so blessed!  I have mentioned a few specifics in the way of prayer requests to some which still include the kids and them adjusting to the change of family plans.  They are all pitching in so well to help around the house.  This week it is laundry training.  They are now learning to take on the whole process, instead of just the dirty clothes sorting and the putting away clean clothes.  So far no pink underwear! :)

I have been reading through a book called "Becoming a Woman of Simplicity" this summer and love a quote by Mark Buchanan. "treat time as a gift and not a possession".  What a precious gift it is!  I am giving up more and more time this summer to what God wants since I didn't choose this and will be praying that what I don't understand is something greater than I can imagine.  Romans 11:33 says "Oh! The depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"  I pray with the hope that this will be an amazing journey to bring glory to Him every day!  Thank you so much for your prayers!

P.S. If you missed the original email, I posted it yesterday here on the blog.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cancer Files: First Post

This message went out as an email to people on my email list and a few on Facebook as messages.  I think the best way to keep everyone informed is to post regularly here on my blog.  That way, those who want to know what is going on can check in when they have time and emails won't be repeated over and over in email inboxes.  I realize I didn't do a very good job getting the word out last week to those who I knew would want to know so I apologize.  Here is the message as it went out last week:

Hello Friends,

I didn't have fighting breast cancer on my agenda for this summer, not even on the radar.  But, that is what we are doing in the Sloan house as of Wednesday.  I am at peace with the process so far and feel blessed that God seems to have been preparing me for this over the last month or so.  It looks like there will be surgery as part of treatment and maybe radiation but we will find out more about that next Wednesday (the 19th) when I meet the oncologist and the surgeon.  The prognosis is good at my age (and how wonderful to be referred to as "so young" many times during our consult!)

I am asking for prayers for our family this summer as there are a few things that have to be changed around in our schedule and some disappointment in that.  The kids are very understanding and have already this week stepped up to help and be inspiring.  We have definitely been laughing every day!  In our highly technological world I have debated how to request prayers in this because Facebook is how I keep in touch with far away friends and family these days but posting something like this in a blanket status update is not desirable for me.  So, I will begin with my email list and go from there.

I love you all and thank you for the privilege of being added to your prayer list if you choose to do so.  I have already felt uplifted by the prayers that have been going up on my behalf this week.  It is times like this when I realize how truly blessed I am.  God is very good and our time together has been so precious these past days.  Know that I am feeling His presence and love you all!

Love, Jody