Sunday, October 13, 2019

In God I take refuge...in Him I have strength.


It's been a whirlwind week and a half.  I had my pet scan on Friday, October 4th and then sat on pins and needles over the weekend wondering what the outcome would be. It was a long weekend, believe me.

Monday, we celebrated my husbands birthday and had lunch with our sons at our home before my youngest son had to go to work. I made my husband's favorite meal of cheese enchiladas and salad. My oldest son brought the beautiful, delicious birthday cake. It was a lovely time of family and celebration, however, it didn't last.

I received a phone call from my doctor's PA and she informed me that the pet scan showed the cancer had spread to my left lung (a small spot, about the size of a dime), and my liver, and a small spot on my trachea. To say I was shocked is the understatement of the century.  I tried to ask the right questions but was tongue tied and just listened as she explained the next steps.

She said they would do a biopsy either on the lung or liver to determine that it is indeed the uterine cancer that had spread. They would also put a port in so that I could start chemo therapy. So once again, I found myself on the phone arranging appointments to have this done.  My doctor suggested a specific hospital and I willingly went along with this because I had a biopsy on my thyroid back in 2004 and it was a fiasco. My hospital here was ill prepared to do the biopsy and her fear was that I could get to my hospital and they would refuse to do it. The hospital she recommended would not do that to me. 

So last Friday, on the 11th, I headed to the hospital to have my liver biopsy and port put in and then after that, to my doctor's office for what they call "chemo teach". I never thought I would ever hear those words. In any case, the biopsy and the insertion of the port went very well.  I was actually quite scared because I had no idea what to expect.  The hospital was beautiful and everyone so professional and kind. I felt absolutely nothing and, when I informed them I felt like I didn't have enough "twilight" medication, they immediately made sure I was comfortable.  I was so impressed with this hospital that I told my doctor I want to go there when they do my surgery after all the chemo is done.

I will be starting chemo next Friday, October 18th. They wanted to start it Monday the 14th, but my insurance had not approved it. I will be calling tomorrow to see if they got the approval yet, and if not, I will be calling the insurance company to move them along on this! My first chemo will be on a Friday but after that, I will have them on a Monday.  I will have 6 treatments, 3 weeks apart. Each treatment will take 6 hours! After I am done with the chemo, if they find it has eradicated the cancer in my organs, they will then do the surgery.

Friends, I've had some difficult moments through all this. I truly didn't think I would have any cancer outside my uterus. I had faith that God would keep it within it's boundaries. However, God's ways are not my ways and I must accept this path I am on. I am going to do my best to have a positive attitude throughout all this and trust that God will give me the strength I need to face and fight this. 

I have had so many of you praying for me and I am so thankful! Your prayers remind me that I am loved and not alone. I have been so blessed by the emails, private messages, text messages and packages that have arrived to cheer me. You have no idea how much all of this means to me!

We serve a God who cares and I am so thankful that I am sheltered under His wings and that I am shielded by His faithfulness.

In God I take refuge...in Him I have strength.

Blessings - Julie

Book Review - Always We Begin Again


ABOUT THE BOOK:

No one wants to be sidelined, stuck, shamed, or silenced. But the difficulties of life have a way of putting us in a corner, and we often don't know how to move forward. It's so easy to blame ourselves or our circumstances, to get bogged down in discouragement and toxic thinking. But that's not what we were meant for, and that's not how God wants us to live.

Leeana Tankersley has good news if you're struggling: each new day is an opportunity to begin again. In her warm tone and welcoming style, she offers one hundred short readings to encourage and motivate you to begin again in your relationships with God, your family, your friends, and yourself.

Because there is always a hand reaching toward you, there is always grace available, and there is always a chance to begin again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Leeana Tankersley is the author of five books, including Begin Again and Brazen, and holds English degrees from Liberty University and West Virginia University. Leeana's writing has been featured in the Huffington Post, on CNN.com, and at (in)courage. She is a regular contributor to MOPS as both a writer and a speaker. Leeana and her three kids currently call Virginia home. Learn more at www.leeanatankersley.com.

MY REVIEW:

This is an absolutely beautiful book that draws you in with it's simplistic beauty but once you open it, it's a wonderful, complex devotional that helps you find navigate the changes of life that inevitably come our way.

Leeana shares personal stories that draw you in and help you to realize that we all face struggles and difficulties, however, God is with us and will help us through these times when we aren't sure how to move forward.

This book has been especially helpful and comforting to me as I have been recently diagnosed with cancer and each day holds some new difficulty and fear.

Each day starts with a quote and then a short devotional that is thought provoking. Then begins my favorite part...the question and answer section.  There are one or two short questions and lines where we can record our thoughts.  I love when devotions have this because it makes it so much more personal and helps me to really work through things in my mind.

I love how Leeana points us back to God's Word again and again for our answers in this life. Her writing is beautiful and poignant and I absolutely adored this book! I highly recommend it, especially for your quiet time and especially if you find yourself going through a difficult season. I give it 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Revell.  I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.


Blessings - Julie

Book Review - The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building an acclaimed global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Resolved to salvage his family before they spiral out of control, he returns to his ancestral home for good after years of traveling the world.

As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection. If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under. She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience.

Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elizabeth Camden (www.elizabethcamden.com) is best known for her historical novels set in Gilded Age America, featuring clever heroines and richly layered storylines. Before she was a writer, she was an academic librarian at some of the largest and smallest libraries in America, but her favorite is the continually growing library in her own home. Her novels have won the RITA and Christy Award and have appeared on the CBA bestsellers list. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband, who graciously tolerates her intimidating stockpile of books.

MY REVIEW:

This book, set in the early 1900's, takes us on a romantic adventure between Annabelle and Gray but it's also filled with intrigue and historical facts that keep one turning the page to see what could possibly happen next.

Annabelle has a temporary job at the Smithsonian Institute where she catalogs plants and seeds from all over the world. She needs this job to revert to a permanent position and her boss has promised to do this if she can secure the Delacroix plant collection.  She has tried numerous time to write to Gray Delacroix but he has firmly written back "no" to her requests.  She then decides to meet him face to face to encourage him to share his collection.  One reason for her determination is that her family needs the financial support.  She is from Kansas and her family's farm has been struggling.  The other reason is her sister, who recently lost her sight, has a job at the Library of Congress where she works in the reading room for the blind.  So, her family depends on her greatly. However, Annabelle is a strong young woman who is determined to make a difference for all concerned.

Gray is also a complex man who has centered his life out of building his family's spice business and regaining the wealth they once had. He is a traveled man who has seen much of the world and suffers malaria because of it. He is a brooder yet loving and kind once you get to know him. His determination matches Annabelle's and this makes for a relationship full of fireworks!

I enjoyed the historical information about food labeling and how the government got involved in making sure our foods are safe. So many people were either sickened or died because of impure or even dangerous items added to the food.  This issue brought Annabelle and Gray together.

I really liked the characters in this book, even the difficult ones! They are believable and complex. The story was also complex enough to keep you interested. It touches on many subjects and political histories that are very interesting.  All in all, I enjoyed this book and I recommend it.  I give it 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Bethany House. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.


Blessings - Julie

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Battle is His!! Cancer Update


Thank you, thank you for all your prayers as I start this battle against cancer! I have had so many messages from so many people that it really boosts my spirits and helps me in my battle  When others pray for me and stay in touch, it's like another layer of armor against this horrible disease! I feel so much stronger than I did when I first heard the dreaded news.

I have an update for you all.  I haven't written anything before this because I really didn't have much to share but now I do.  I had my CT scan on Monday, September 30, and they were supposed to send the results to my doctor that same day. I made an issue of making sure they would do that but, alas, I waited and waited on Tuesday to hear the results. I finally called them about 3:00 in the afternoon and they told me they hadn't gotten the results from the imaging place. I was not happy.  They told me they would contact them in the morning, have the doctor go over them and then call me. They did this morning and I finally know what's going on...sort of.  The CT scan showed no cancer in the organs but they saw some spots on my lungs.  However, as the doctor said, I live in Arizona and we have a lot of lung issues here, including something called Valley Fever.  This primarily happens in Phoenix and Tucson and the hotter areas of the state but we have lung issues where I live, too, because of the dry dust that is always blowing here. I have bronchitis or pneumonia every year and I also have seasonal allergy asthma. So because of that, I'm very hopeful these are just lesions on my lungs from that. I am also hopeful because there is no cancer in the liver and I would think if it were in the lungs, it would be in the liver. 

So, now we have a Pet Scan. I have to agree with my son and ask why we didn't do a Pet Scan in the first place. He felt that's what I should have had but, of course, the insurance companies are always going to go for the least costly thing instead of the test that will give the best results first. The doctor wants to have it done on Friday so we're ready for my surgery on Wednesday, October 9th. 

Here's where I want to tell you something.  If you are going through any medical issues, you have to be your own advocate! I spent 6 hours on the phone Friday morning talking with the doctor's office, the imaging place, and my insurance company to make sure I got this CT scan done in a timely manner.  The doctor's office was supposed to schedule my scan, but when I could see it wasn't going to get done anytime soon, I took the bull by the horns and got it done myself.  I called and re-called the imaging place to get them to move it from an appointment they wanted to do today to one for last Monday.  Those 2 extra days make a huge difference. 

So tomorrow, I will do the same thing. Once I know the insurance company has approved this, I will get the approval number and I will call the imaging company and fight for an appointment on Friday.  I am never rude, and always polite, but firm in telling them how important it is to get the stat order done. 

God showed Himself today by orchestrating so many things  for me.  I had to get an EKG for the surgery and I was miraculously able to get an appointment for today after being told it would be impossible this week.  I also was able to get into my pain management doctor to get things set up for my surgery, pain wise,, and so felt so thankful for God's help in all this. 

So, here's my prayer request, my friends.

1.  That these spots in my lung are not cancer.
2.  That we get the PT scan done this week
3.  That my surgery goes forward next Wednesday and that there's no cancer in the lymph nodes.

I have been praying that God will keep this cancer in my uterus not allow it to move outside of those boundaries.  God can do it and I have faith that He will.  The battle is His! 

Thank you so much for your friendship and prayers! They sustain me!

Blessings - Julie 

Book Review - Jesus In Me by Anne Graham Lotz


ABOUT THE BOOK:

In Jesus in Me, Anne Graham Lotz draws on her rich biblical knowledge as well as her personal journey—including her recent cancer diagnosis—to help us understand that the Holy Spirit is not a magic genie, a flame of fire, or a vague feeling. He is a Person who prays for us, guides us in our relationships and decisions, comforts us in pain, and stays by our side at all times. In this seminal teaching, she explores seven key aspects of the Holy Spirit that will revolutionize how you understand and relate to this vital third Person in the Trinity.

As Anne writes, “One of my deepest, richest joys has been discovering by experience who the Holy Spirit is in every step of my life’s journey. Each name that He has been given—Helper, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener, and Standby—reveals another aspect of His beautiful character and has provoked in me a deep love for the One who is my constant Companion . . . Jesus in me.”

Discover how to better love and rely on the person of the Holy Spirit—and embrace how much He loves you through His presence, power, and provision in our daily lives.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham, is the president and CEO of AnGeL Ministries (www.annegrahamlotz.com), a nonprofit organization that undergirds her efforts to draw people into a life-changing relationship with God through His Word. Anne has spoken on seven continents, in more than twenty foreign countries, proclaiming the Word of God in arenas, churches, seminaries, and prisons. She is the award-winning author of ten books, including her signature book, Just Give Me Jesus. In 2000 she launched her revival ministry, also entitled Just Give Me Jesus. This free event has been held for hundreds of thousands of women in more than thirty major cities in the United States, Asia, the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and South America.

MY REVIEW:

This book is such a wonderful book that explains the Holy Spirit and how He lives in us and helps us in every aspect of our life. Anne explains how He is Our Helper, Our Comforter, Our Advocate, Our Intercessor, Our Counselor, Our Strengthener, and Our Standby. She explains how each attribute guides us and helps us in our life.

She shares about the death of her husband and how that Holy Spirit comforted her in her grieve. She also shares her cancer story and this was especially timely for me as I have recently been diagnosed with cancer. Finding out how the Holy Spirit guided her and comforted her each step of the way, was such an encouragement.

I really love how Anne always backs everything up with Scripture and how she explains the Scriptures in a way that is easy to understand. It was really a pure joy to learn more about the Holy Spirit and to understand what a gift He is to us from Jesus. He is always waiting to help us and that is such a wonderful gift from God!

I can't recommend this book enough! It has changed the way I understand about the Holy Spirit and has given me such comfort and joy in knowing all He does for me. This would be a wonderful book for anyone to read. I give it 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Waterbrook Multnomah. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.


Blessings - Juie