Pearl!

After moving from Summerville to the upstate in 1993, my parents decided we needed a dog and bought a lab named Shadow.  A few years later we added a yellow lab to the mix, Cashew, and decided to raise some pups.  She was the momma to our first litter of 12.  I'll always remember the excitement of seeing those puppies being born and taking care of them.  I can remember bottle feeding in the wee hours of the night and then sadly trying to save the runt by wrapping him in a heating pad. The hardest part for me was letting them go because my daddy wouldn't let me keep all 12.  Ha!  I wonder why not?? After having two litters, I was able to buy my first car!  Successful entrepreneur I was at 16, with some help from my parents of course. 

 So fast forward to yesterday, after J lost his coon dog a couple of months ago, we went to look at some precious puppies of our friends the McCraws.  My parents have started to have the puppy itch after losing their Cotton a few years ago, but just aren't quite ready and neither were we really...but when Candace walked into Sunday School on Sunday morning and said that she had a puppy she'd like for Jett to have, I couldn't say no.  As hard as this upcoming year is going to be, this precious puppy is going to bring so much sunshine and happiness to our world.  She already loves chasing her brother and gives me all the loving, and J is smitten with her too.  

I couldn't help but think of a pearl when trying to decide on a name.  As I tossed around tons of name choices and even asked Jett to pick out some, Pearl kept coming to mind.  I've always loved pearls (working in the jewelry store led me to have several sets) and can remember the story from the Bible about the merchant looking for fine pearls and how this is similar to finding the Kingdom of Heaven.  

The way a pearl is made is so much like this crazy disease called cancer that I've just been introduced to.  The sand is an irritant to the oyster (isn't cancer as well??) , finding its way into the shell, eventually making a beautiful pearl in the end.  I can only pray that this newly diagnosed irritant in my life will lead to a beautiful ending, showing God's grace and love in every situation.  

So get ready for picture overload.  She's so precious and we can't wait to do life with her!  












"He has made everything beautiful in its time."  Ecclieastses 3:11
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Life's puzzle

This weekend has been one with lots of preparation, planning, and prayer.  As many of you know the month of August brings a little bit of stress with heading back to school.  Decorating my classroom, lesson plans, etc. AND it is also the month of birthdays in our family.  We have 5 in our immediate family (my mom, J, my brother-in-law, and my two sweet nieces) and then three belonging to my best friends' little girlies.  Soooo that's a lot of celebrating and of course everyone of those special people in my life deserves the perfect gift.  I love birthday shopping and have everyone taken care, I think!  Those who know me well, know I love a plan and like to think ahead. So that has been done and just the wrapping is left to go.  With my first treatment scheduled right before all of the celebrating, I've got to be prepared.  With all of that being said, I've prayed a lot while out and about.  Prayers for my family and friends, prayers for my upcoming year in the classroom, prayers for my doctors, and I've prayed for peace along this journey. 

This morning Jett wanted to put together a puzzle. 
 I stopped what I was doing and helped him.  He's gotten so good at them and could truly "puzzle" all day.  I couldn't help but think about how this life we are living is like a big puzzle.  None of them come with directions and neither does life.  We need God to give us guidance and help us place the pieces correctly.  In my puzzle, it seems like he put the outside edges together when he placed it in my hands.   He put specific people in my life to walk with while working on it, and I feel he's allowing me to see the big completed picture way down the road.  That picture is of a survivor.  A girl living a healthy "cancer-free" life.  Sometimes when a section of a puzzle becomes hard or we get stuck, we have to remember that He's going to be there to help.  My focus has to be on him.  

My echocardiogram went well on Friday.  They want to have a baseline because one of the chemo drugs may cause some heart damage and they'll want to check on that in three months.  The sweet girl that did my echo looked to be about 12.  Nah!  I'm kidding.  She was super young and a Clemson grad, so that made her just perfect in my eyes.  She was so comforting and calm and sweet, and grabbed my hand when walking me out and told me that she'd pray for me.  Wow.  See.  She was one of the pieces of the puzzle.  

And these folks right here are part of our puzzle too!  We were so happy to have dinner with some of our sweet friends, Brandi and Chris.  J and Chris were neighbors and just the very best of friends growing up and I went to high school with them both.  Brandi is the strongest girl you'll find and has recently battled breast cancer and is doing great!  She just truly amazes me to hear her story.  We laughed and talked so much, I didn't want the night to end.  



Tomorrow will be a day of rest after Sunday School and church.  My most favorite thing to do after a big lunch is snuggle Jett.  I sometimes find myself staring at him while he sleeps, thanking God for choosing me to be mommy.  He's another piece of that puzzle.  A big piece.  He keeps me laughing and that's good medicine, right?!  

Thanks for your continuous prayers for us all.  

"In every thing, give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." I Thessalonians 5:18
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Next steps...

Today was a busy day that ended with lots of fun.  Really!  Other than finding out my chemo schedule and talking about side effects and more, it was a wonderful day.  
Walking up and seeing the statue of Jesus with his arms opened wide gave me such reassurance and the picture I took with J staring at it makes me count my blessings.  I love knowing that I have a husband who knows his Savior, standing beside me during this walk.  Talk about a lucky girl!! 


My appointment went well and Dr. Dyar, my oncologist, seems super nice and knowledgeable.  The road to recovery will begin on August 9 with my first chemo treatment on the 9th and 23rd of August and then the 6th and 20th of September.  I'll be going on Wednesdays for these four rounds and they said the actual infusion would start around 10 and last 5-6 hours.  Then they'll start and be every week for 12 weeks, lasting 1-2 hours each visit.  So with all of that said, we should be done with chemo around Christmas!  I'll be singing tons of Christmas carols really loudly to celebrate, I am sure!  After a few weeks, surgery will take place, then radiation, followed by reconstruction.  

Ok so enough about that!  While I'm feeling good, I believe it is important to make every moment count. Playing with Jett, going out to eat, roping with J, shopping, etc.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to go, go, go!  I know my days are numbered and I'm going to be home for awhile so why not go when I can.  After our doctor's visit today, we went to eat at one of my favs, Carolina Fine Foods and then got to go do a little shopping with Jane.  We went to high school and college together and just have stayed the best of friends, even living 5 hours apart.  We don't see each other much so when we do, it's so special.  We hit tons of shops, bought matching tennis shoes, got Starbucks, met some friends from dinner, and laughed and cried!  


That's what friends do right!!??  She even got to meet some of my teacher friends last night.  It's always fun to see different sets of friends combine and then sit back and thing...gosh how I am blessed with the most precious people ever.  I thank Jesus every night for giving me my tribe.  A tribe that loves unconditionally, prays fervently, and one that stands by me every step of the way.



Tomorrow I go for an echocardiogram because one of the drugs that I will take has a side effect that squeezes your heart and they want to make sure my heart is in good shape. ❤️❤️❤️  Pray for good results and then next week will be a PET scan, chemo education, and Friday they will put my port in to begin chemo the following week.  

I'm sure you've seen the FOOD TRAIN that my sweet sister-in-law has set up for us.  Wow!  Once again we stand amazed at the outpouring of love from our community.  What servant hearts our friends have.  

And as for Jett today, he's been happy as can be playing and visiting the library with his "Ninnie girl".  Grandparents make days grand, don't they?  


The weekend starts tomorrow and I am looking forward to soaking up more time with family and friends.  As I was driving home tonight I was listening to a song called "Find You Near".  Jane actually sent me the cd, and yes I still love a good ole cd!  These were the words from the song...

And I am glad.  I'm not glad I have cancer.  But I am glad that because of God's promise to us, joy can fill my heart, and I can overcome my fear.  He's with me.  I feel it.  And it's a wonderful feeling.  Love you all!  

The joy of the Lord is my strength.  Nehemiah 8:10
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The Power of Prayer

I had lunch today with a former pastor of ours and his sweet wife in little ole Fountain Inn.  What a blessing they have been to our family and just mean so much to us.  When he found out my news, he stopped and called from the airport as they were leaving shortly for a mission trip to Cuba.  It meant so much to hear his voice and for him to pray with me during his scary time.  He was the one that dedicated Jett to our Lord and Savior in March of 2014.  I'll never forget that Sunday morning.  


As exciting of a day that was, it was one of the worst days of our life too.  J's truck was stolen out of our driveway that morning.  Yep!  I remember waking up around 7 and looking out that window and it being there and then walking out the door, heading to church around 8 and it being gone.  Of course we felt like the devil was in total control at that moment as we panicked and called the police.  All would be on hold until after church and after we celebrated such a precious time with family and friends.  Pastor Rob truly made all those worries and ill feelings disappear as he led the dedication and preached his heart out that morning.  The truck was found the next day,  but whew!  So back to lunch...we caught up with lots of stories and more about my upcoming appointments and then Miss Sandy shared about a time when she was sick and how a miracle occurred in her life after she was prayed over and anointed with oil.  Read the passage from James below...

So after they shared this passage with me, I asked them if they would join me, as J and his prayer group of friends was going to pray over me.  J has been meeting with this small group of men for about 8 years and they asked him last week to bring me and of course I went.  During this hour of time together, I have never felt closer to God than I did tonight.  These 6 men, Jeremy, and Mr. and Mrs. White gathered around me and prayed for my healing, wisdom for the doctors, peace for my family during this time, strength for Jeremy to be my rock, and for Jett. Wow!  Talk about the power of prayer!!?  They say that prayer is the most powerful weapon against trials and to never doubt it.  I don't.   It works.  It's true. The power is undeniable.  God's plan is perfect.  He has made no mistakes.  The road is paved and ready for me and I am going to walk on that road praising His name.  

And then I come home to pictures from some of my precious friends spending time on the beach and stopping to remember me.  See the cactus behind one of my best friends and her family?  How fun is that?!! And one of my sweet former students rocking her cactus shirt for me!  💕 
Like I said in an earlier post, Fripp Island is one of my favorite places ever and how I live for that week each year to soak up such a beautiful creation.  While there in June I couldn't help but think about the song "Oceans" by Hillsong every time I sat at the edge of the ocean.  "And I will call upon your name, and keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace...for I am Yours and You are mine."  I can rest knowing that.  



I did hear from my oncologist today and I'll see him on Thursday at 9:30.  Pray for him and his team as they choose the correct plan of action for me.  Pray like we did tonight for a miracle and for this tumor to leave my body and leave them speechless.  Pray!  Love you all so much!  

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;he will never leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid or discouraged."  Deuteronomy 31:8


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From the beginning....

So it all began on June 18, our anniversary and Father's Day.  I laid down to take a nap with Jett and felt the lump. How depressing to have to share that news on a day we celebrate so much happiness, right?    I immediately googled  "lump in breast" (which is the worst thing to do) and found lots of research saying it could be hormonal and of course tons of information regarding cancer.  I worried about it nonstop but knew we were preparing for our beach trip the following week and when I returned, I'd go see my doctor.  
After arriving at Fripp Island, our most favorite vacation spot, I couldn't remove the terrible thoughts from my mind.  Half way through the week, I sent my amazing OBGYN a message on Facebook.  Let me say that this woman is one of my most favorite people in the whole wide world, as she delivered our precious son.  I'll always remember her comfortably sitting at the end of my hospital bed, pulling my hair in a pony tail during a push break, and making my delivery so easy.  So, needless to say...she's very special to us.  
She very quickly reassured me that it was ok and that she'd see me when I got back from vacation.  The following Wednesday I saw Dr.Keith, who sent me to have a mammogram and ultrasound to see exactly what this booger was.  They scheduled a biopsy for the very next day.  Other than having Jett, I've never had any other procedure so I was quite apprehensive.  My first nurse was named Kristen and the second one was Andrea, my sister's name.  I knew then that  I was in good hands.  The radiologist was super nice, as were the nurses, and we talked about everything under the sun which made this step quite easy.  Knowing nothing, I left saying tons of prayers for good results and was told they'd call me Wednesday or Thursday with the results.  Now keep in mind, Vacation Bible School was in full swing at this time.  God truly knew what he was doing by putting this speed bump in my life during such a busy, crazy week, running around God's house with lots of precious kiddos and volunteers that I love dearly.  I did take that night off from VBS and I felt the Lord preparing me for something that was going to hit hard.  The following morning I got a call from my OBGYN's office and Dr. Keith wanted to see us at noon.  That phone call left me speechless.  I knew that it wasn't just an old cyst if she wanted us to come in.  J met me at the doctor and Dr. Keith shared the news with us.  I had breast cancer.  (Stage 2, infiltrating duct carcinoma) That's what she said.  But what she said after those words will forever stay in my mind and heart. You have exactly what I had and you are going to be fine.  You see, Dr. Keith, is a breast cancer survivor.  Yeah!  Wow!  Talk about someone that knows exactly how you are feeling, giving you the news.  She shared all the details and more and we left speechless.  Sharing the news with our immediate family was next on the agenda for the day.  Talk about hard??  Telling both sets of wonderful parents that love us so much and seeing them cry for their children, broke our hearts.  Our sisters, family, and close friends were next on the list to notify and let me just say this.....never have I ever felt so loved and cared for than I have felt over the last two weeks.  So many friends and family members have reached out to us and taken our hands, ready to walk down this road.  I cannot tell you how much comfort that brings to our family.  From my closest girls gathering at our house that night to hold me, to cards, and food, and calls, and flowers...this girl feels like anything is possible, especially with my Heavenly Father right by my side.  Daily, I wake up to texts from my dearest friends with pictures of their morning devotions and bible verses to get me through the day.  I get calls just to say I love you.  My precious friend from high school started a fundraiser to help our family and people are already joining my team for Race for the Cure!  Y'all...this might be one heck of a year and I know it's not going to be a piece of cake, but the support system God has given me and knowing HIS unconditional love, allows me to take this bull by the horns. This cactus that was given to me...I'm not going to sit on it and it is not going to prick me.  And yes...the cactus love began about 3 months before all of this.  Having a cowboy for a husband and a western themed classroom, lead me to my love for cacti.   So for now....I've seen my surgeon (who is great) and am waiting for an appointment with my oncologist.  They say chemo will be first, surgery, then radiation.  I'm planning on starting school and working.  Yes.  I am aware that that plan may be altered as to how I feel, but for right now, I'm looking forward to setting up my classroom, and meeting my cute little Giddy-Ups. As for our precious baby boy, he doesn't know much and I'm ok with that. 
 J has talked with him about mommy being sick and being gentle and hearing his nightly prayers of asking Jesus to make his mommy feel better, leave me in tears every single night as I drift off to sleep.  Children are such a gift and truly, he makes my days sweeter.  Looking forward to writing daily to keep all of you up to speed throughout this journey.  Keep the prayers coming, as they are felt constantly by us all.  Much love.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭62:8‬ 
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