Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Upcoming Surgery/Family News

Prayers Needed
As many of you know I have had colon problems (not cancer-related) on and off for many years.  A recent colonoscopy and recurring symptoms have shown that the inflammation is beyond repair, and my doctor is recommending a colostomy.  Frankly, it is a relief to be able to do something about the symptoms that keep me from being as active as I would like.  The symptoms are beginning to interrupt sleep and to make work and travel difficult.  I am also dealing with constant infections. 
At the beginning of 2017 I will have 5 weeks of sick pay, and I am blessed with a low insurance deductible...so God has that covered!  However, this is a scary surgery, and I am not looking forward to it.  I will need to learn a great deal for self-care afterwards.  I don't want any of my kids to feel burdened.  This is humbling to be sure, but I have to have help...and I am not sure where to turn...I have a few family members who can come for a couple of days...but I need someone for a couple of weeks.  Would you please pray for God's wisdom and provision ?
My greatest, greatest desire is that I would point people to Jesus through this surgery.  My church friends are absolutely freaking out on my behalf.  I am in a new church, and my friends there are just learning about all I have been brought through by God's grace....so they don't know the history of His amazing provision and enabling.  I have a track record with Jesus that can't be denied!  My new friends are in for a treat when they see Him in action in my life!  I can hardly wait to see what He does.  You are not going to believe the amazing ways God is already providing...

  • moral support from the most unexpected people 
  • the ease of getting a referral for a second opinion covered by insurance
  • the ease of getting the second opinion appointment and the day off work to get to the appointment
  • providing people who have had the same surgery who are willing to help me along the way
  • finding online and local support groups that have helped me immensely already

Work and School Update

I have been extremely busy between work and school.  The workload on my desk due to my workplace moving to Mexico and my pending layoff is staggering.  I anticipate having a job until 2018. My greatest desire is that I work with a good attitude and a servant heart.  The atmosphere around me is not very edifying at times, and that is tough.  Please pray that I be prudent and Christ-like in thought, word and action!

I recently had surgery to correct some problems caused by my original cancer surgery almost 20 years ago.  I missed two weeks of work, but I was able to return in good shape.  It was a blessing to be off as I was in the midst of the hardest of my MBA classes yet...statistics!  The amount of homework was daunting, and by sheer determination and tutoring I earned a B+!

I also began physical therapy for the shoulder and back problems that have plagued me for so long.  I am so incredibly grateful to report that I graduated from physical therapy and have had 100% improvement!  I am so grateful for Dr. Adam Cagnet at Mallers & Swoverland Physical Therapy!

Family News

Stephen and his girlfriend Jenna just became engaged, and the wedding is planned for sometime next summer!  He is currently at grad school at the University of Kentucky, and Jenna is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis.

Amy is busy in her junior year at Purdue, and she recently completed a wildlife practicum in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan followed by working on crew at Cedar Campus this past summer.  All three kids were able to vacation with me, which hasn't happened in quite a while. 
Heather decided to take a much-needed break from marching band this year so she could focus on school.  She has a very heavy load and is planning to graduate with both a technical and honors diploma.  She has one more year of high school and is planning on creating her own major for computer science and meteorology at Purdue.  Please pray for her as she has continued fibromyalgia-related sleep issues.  We are having some tests done in January and headed back to Riley Children's Hospital in February.

Thank you all for your continued prayers...I am grateful and humbled!  Be encouraged...God's got this!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Need Prayer for Wisdom and Discernment for Upcoming Medical Costs

So somehow between now and August 24 I have to come up with $370 to pay the out-of-pocket costs for my upcoming surgery.  I set aside $200 a month for medical expenses to use with my flexible spending plan, and I am already using quite a bit of that for several medical bills that I have a payment plan for.  Prayers would be appreciated!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Keeping Life in Balance

I have had some very busy weeks and months but great news to share!  This is a very long post, and if you don’t have time to read it all, please read the middle paragraphs titled Astounding Financial Provision and the last paragraphs titled Balance

My health:

Through a friend at church and my family doctor, I was led to an orthopedic shoulder specialist who took one look at my shoulder and confidently declared that six weeks of physical therapy would make all the difference.  One session with a therapist and six weeks of home therapy led to healing and finally relief of relentless pain! 

I also ended up getting two back injections, and this has helped immensely with the back problems I have been dealing with for over a year.  Continued follow up with the chiropractor has also helped.  I have a follow up appointment later this summer to determine if I need more injections, and then I will move onto physical therapy.  I like this doctor immensely as he is purposely only injecting small portions of my back at a time in order to truly isolate the problem.  He agrees with me that we don’t just want to mask the pain; we want to find the cause and fix it!  I am so grateful!

I do have an outpatient surgery scheduled in late August that will require about a week of recovery.  This is to correct some problems caused by my original cancer surgery, and it is important that I take care of it.  I have a friend coming in from out of town to help and many friends have already planned to bring me meals.  I am obviously not looking forward to yet another surgery, and I am not sure how the finances will work out either.  However, I am continuing to testify how good God has been to me in the past and how good I’m sure He will be in the future.

Heather’s health:

Heather’s dad and I took her to an appointment with a Riley Hospital pediatric specialist for her
fibromyalgia.  It was a long day, and at the end there was no silver bullet, no magic pill as Heather had hoped.  The doctor encouraged us and Heather for the fact that Heather is already doing the right things: eating right, managing her diabetes, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and avoiding screen time before bed.  The doctor recommended some inserts for her shoes, which has surprisingly really helped with her lower body fibromyalgia pain. 

Unfortunately, she does not sleep well, which is a fibromyalgia symptom.  The doctor wisely decided to not to add more medications to help with this but instead encouraged Heather to participate in low impact exercise on a regular basis.  This would in turn help her sleep better and give her a better frame of mind to deal with the fibromyalgia.  She was discouraged at this news, but she has already heard it before from our family doctor.  It’s hard to watch as a mom….sigh!

In the midst of this she decided that she did not want to continue with marching band in the fall, which I think is a wise decision.  The band community has loved our family like a church for so many years, and it is something we will always be a part of in some way or another.  I have mixed feelings as I have volunteered and have been a bus mom for several seasons, but I am also relieved.  My online MBA coursework has been more time consuming than expected, and I did wonder how I was going to manage during band season.

My work and schooling:

My MBA coursework began in January and will continue until the end of December 2017.  I currently have a 4.0 GPA, and the coursework is completely free through an Employee Scholar Program at my workplace!  Six weeks into my program, my company announced that it is moving our operations to Mexico over the course of the next two years.  The good news is that I am able to continue in my current MBA program, and I was offered a severance package to stay until no longer needed that includes six months’ salary, payment for any unused vacation, one month of job sourcing assistance and one month of health insurance….and four more years of school!

Recent announcements revealed that the first round of layoffs will be April 2017, and the second round will be June 2018.  My hope and prayer is that I make it to June 2018 as that is when Heather graduates from high school.  If I make it to that time line I would have more flexibility as to be able to move to pretty much anywhere God calls me.  If I am still with the company when I complete my current MBA, which I fully expect, I am going to pursue another masters’ degree and keep going with it and potentially even more after I am laid off.

My current MBA is in Public Health Administration, and it is my deepest desire to help others’ navigate the ever-changing healthcare and insurance climate.  I am also interested in potentially working with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship as a campus staff worker or even working on a college campus assisting differently-abled students or student dealing with health problems.  I am not completely sure how this is going to work out, but I know God does.

The morning of the announcement of my workplace shutdown, I was praying about all of this on the way to work.  I knew there was to be a major announcement at work, but I had no idea what it was and I wasn’t even worried.  I never dreamed the company would shut down our location.  Regardless, I was just talking with God, and He said to me a clear as could be: “You are right where you are supposed to be right now.  As for the future, I will let you know what you need to know when you need to know it!” 

So when the announcement came, while I was shocked and afraid, I was assured by God that all was well.  It took some time for all of us in our department to catch our breath and deal with the emotions, but fortunately most of us are now committed to doing the best job possible in the coming months to be able to hand off our responsibility to our Mexican counterparts.

Our Mexican counterparts are in and out of the office for training and meetings.  While at first it was a bit hard, God has given me a great love for them.  During a recent week, several of the women were working in a nearby office and as time went on, they looked more and more tired, stressed and culture-shocked.  Well, you know me, I can’t stand to see others suffer…so I gave them my personal business card and told them to contact me before when they are in town so I could have them over to my house for dinner. 

They are extremely fluent in English, but I was also concerned about how they would manage if one of them became ill or injured, so I offered my help to them in emergencies as well.  The love and response was overwhelming.  I had no idea it would mean so much to them, and it has become more and more evident to me that a new mission field is a mere office away from mine.

 Astounding financial provision:

As most of you know, I live pretty much from paycheck-to-paycheck, and I am okay with that.  I enjoy the challenge of stretching every dollar, although it is hard at times.  I obviously have a lot of medical bills, so I have to manage money very carefully.  All three of my kids are on their dad’s health insurance, and I am completely off the hook for any medical financial responsibility for Stephen and Amy.  I budget carefully for the amount I am required to provide for Heather.

In the past year, I have traveled to London (all expenses paid for by a dear college friend), participated in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship's triennial missions conference, Urbana '15 (paid for by InterVarsity to thank me for being a long-time donor…kind of embarrassing…and hotel paid for through donations) and I am getting my MBA for free.  Wow!  God’s economy is amazing!

Urbana 15
The timing of my pending layoff is absolutely incredible as well.  I have very little debt (car, medical and one credit card).  I don’t own a home with a mortgage (love renting my little townhouse), and I also will receive 48% of 22 years of my ex-husbands’ retirement.  I also do not have to pay for the kids’ college expenses at all as the divorce settlement put that responsibility on my ex-husband.

London Bridge
I am at the perfect opportunity to truly go where God calls.  My plan, depending on the all the variables, is to actively start looking for work when my masters’ degree is complete with the intention to start a new job shortly after the layoff.  At the wise advice of one of my friends, I am being patient but not complacent and am keeping my eye out for opportunities. 

Depending on the timing of the layoff and potential new employment, I am hoping to take a short bit of time off to travel a bit, perhaps to San Francisco to visit some friends, to New York to visit my nephew and back to London to see my dear friends there.  Before I pursue the travel, however, I am tentatively planning to give up my townhouse rental and put everything in storage.  I was planning to give up the townhouse when I no longer have Heather’s child support, which, interestingly enough, ends about the same time as my potential layoff and about the same time Heather would leave for college.  I would have needed to down-size anyway.  God has blessed me with so many friends with whom I could stay for short periods of time while all the details of what’s next come together.

Stephen and Amy:

Stephen graduated from Indiana University with dean’s list honors this past spring.  This fall he is headed to the University of Kentucky for a three-year graduate school program.  His final degree will be a masters’ in educational psychology, and it is his hope to work in a school district with at-risk students.  His Spanish ability is incredible as he has been immersed in Spanish-speaking cultures for several mission trips, so I think his future employability looks very promising.  Please pray for him as he needs to find housing, employment, a church and to manage all of the adjustment this type of endeavor involves.

Amy is starting her junior year at Purdue University this fall and just very successfully completed a wildlife study practicum in the Western Upper Peninsula the first part of the summer.  She is spending the rest of her summer working in the kitchen at our beloved Cedar Campus. 
Please keep her in your prayers as she had a rough year with her depression.  She is working with our family doctor to manage her medications, and it is our hope that she will take the initiative to get into regular counseling this fall.

All three kids will be at Cedar Campus with me this year, which is a rare treat.  They grow up and literally scatter to the winds, so I am grateful for this time with them.


In order to handle all that is going on, including the increased transition work load and long hours at my job, I have to maintain a healthy balance of creative time, work time, relationships, financial responsibilities, commitment to spiritual growth and my own well-being.  This means getting enough sleep, taking time for my creative outlet, regular exercise and spiritual replenishment.  Some weeks I do this better than others, and when I don’t keep this balance I get really spiritually, emotionally and mentally out of whack.   

It is a rigorous commitment to this statement: Every day we have to remember not only who we are but Whose we are.  It’s a conscious decision to realize that stress is a choice.  It’s daily dying to self.  It’s Lordship and letting go of control of things God already has handled anyway.  It’s guarding the mindset of peace that Satan so desperately attacks.  It’s avoiding the mommy-martyr syndrome.  It’s treating myself with the respect I deserve. 

Will you pray for me on this journey?  I am so ever grateful for all of you!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

So Many Things to Be Thankful For (but as always, prayer needed for health concerns)

I had an extraordinary trip to London in November, the cost of which was covered by a college friend who gifted me the money for my new passport, a hotel stay in Chicago, my plane ticket and my personal spending money.  I stayed with a dear friend and her family who had at one time lived in the States.  She and her family have been going through some very tough times lately, and I so longed to see her in person.  I will never forget the kindness of my benefactor!  I will write and share more about the trip in a future blog entry.

I also had the awesome opportunity to attend InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's triennial missions conference Urbana 15 the last week of December.  This trip was gifted to me by the organization to honor the fact that I have been a long-time donor (kind of embarrassing to admit that) and the fact that I put the organization in my will.   Apparently a big deal!  A friend even donated money to cover my hotel expenses!  It was an opportunity I definitely wanted to embrace as I am praying about God's will for my upcoming empty nest years....thinking of career #2....more about that later.

My daughter Heather and I could really use prayers for managing chronic health conditions.  We are so emotionally done...spiritual attack after making some monumental spiritual decisions perhaps....should have seen it coming :)

As many of a you know Heather is a type 1 diabetic, and she manages beautifully.  On top of that she has asthma and sinus infections, mild scoliosis and was just diagnosed with fibromyalgia and anxiety.

Thankfully, after a few trial runs with some medications, we have landed on two that are helping immensely.  She has agreed to go counseling, which I think will help. 

It was so heart-breaking to see how poorly she was doing from before my London trip to when I came home.  Of course, I got her into our family doctor right away even though they said they had no openings.  (This Mama does not take NO for an answer!)  By then her pain was all over systemic, and we suspected juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.  All tests for that came back negative, thankfully.

I was so concerned that I was thinking about NOT going to the missions conference.  God bless my middle child Amy...we called her at Purdue to tell her what was going on, and she just wept.  (You see, Heather is her baby!)  Amy was shocked when I told her I was thinking of not going to the conference.  She sternly told me, "Mom, you have to go!She went on to remind me that she would be home soon, and she is like Heather's 2nd mother and would watch over her.  I sure do have great kids!

I am much encouraged by Heather's improvement in the last week, and she had a great check up today for her diabetes.

And then there's me...my poor body!  I broke my right shoulder about 10 years ago ice skating with Heather.  At the time there was not much the doctors could do, so I just wore a sling.  In the past few years it has become excruciatingly painful when cold weather sets in, which made me think it was arthritis.  MRI scans and x-rays have shown no arthritis....instead I have two impartial tears in my rotator cuff.  Not sure what is next, but surgery is likely. 

I have absolutely no idea how I am going to manage alone and work with an immobilized arm for 6-8 weeks, but I am sure I can figure it out with help.  If I do have to have surgery, I want to wait until warmer weather....I don't want to be wobbling around on snow and ice with my body out of balance.  Heather suggested I do it in the summer, when she is out of school and also could stay with me to help me the bulk of the summer.

Last March I started having extreme lower back problems, and I have much improved thanks to my chiropractor.  Unfortunately, I still have to sit on a special pillow all the time.  I have one in the car and one at work and one at home.  When I am out and about and we go somewhere I have to sit, I take the darn pillow....I have been doing this for almost 10 months, and it has become quite annoying.  The pain comes and goes and is very extreme at times with pain radiating to other areas of my back and down my legs.  Motrin has become a food group in my diet!

Those of you who know me well know that I have a very high pain tolerance...so for me to complain, it's bad.  I have had 14 surgeries, cancer, chemo, radiation, broken bones and three babies for heaven's sake!   And God carried me through it all, and I am sure He will do so again!

So I am seeing an ortho doctor this month and a back specialist in March.

I honestly don't know what Heather and I would do without each other.  Just a few weeks ago she was crying and in pain and completely stressed out...that night I just crawled into her bed and cried with her.  Tonight when I wasn't feeling well and in pain, I wept and said, "Could I just have one day when I feel good and am not in pain?  Just one day!"  Bless her sweet heart, she completely understood, made her own dinner and sent me to soak in the tub.  God sure knew what He was doing by putting our family together!

So everyday I make the conscious decision to choose gratitude.  At the same time,  I want to these things fixed!  I have things to do for God!  At 50 I am far too young to have to be concerned about whether or not I should carry luggage or wear a backpack and popping tons of Motrin everyday!

Every day I am making the conscious decision to choose joy, to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I usually wake up in pain, rouse myself out of bed, get dressed and eat breakfast (so I can take Motrin and follow it up with Extra Strength Tylenol a few hours later.)  In my head I know have to eat to take pain meds...so I stagger toward that goal every morning.  Then I head to work, knowing that the distraction will help and that the pain meds will kick in.  The rest of the day goes better, but by evening I am exhausted.  The good news is that my asthma and colon are doing great!  And I just celebrated my 19th anniversary of being CANCER FREE....what an incredible milestone!

Please pray for pain management, wisdom for treatment decisions to be made, eyes that look to Jesus no matter what and a heart that chooses joy.