Those four letters are sweet music to my soul.
  I still think of my parents’ house as home.  And it’ll always be the place I grew up from age 13-on. 
 My grandparents lived there until they reached the other side of Heaven in 92 and 93.  And so we made the move from Summerville to renovate the house, breathing new life into her, but yet keeping the rich, southern charm alive.   

 It’s the house my uncles and daddy were born and raised in.  

It’s the place that my momma always makes so beautiful during every little season, with her decorating.  

It’s the place where Jeremy and I sat on the porch swing after dates.  

It’s where I had my reception after our wedding.  

It’s the place that Jett has fallen in love with tons of green grass, tractors, and a garden.

  And it will forever be the place that I remember telling my parents the news of cancer and then walking into after being cancer free.   

For 10 days, at this forever home, I rested, slept, ate delicious meals, read, talked with many visitors, cried, and prayed.  It was perfect for recooperating, just as it is everytime we visit.  The front room I stayed in had once been my grandparents’ room and I couldn’t help but think of them often.  I’d often wake up in the middle
of the night in pain or just with a dream and would think of them.  Both had been diagnosed with two different types of cancer:  colon and ovarian.   Heart attacks took them both, but I often remember how we all felt when they told us their scary news.  They were such precious, Godly people, and I’m sure they prayed their way through it.  Just as I try to do each day.    
So each night around 6, I’d look forward to J and Jett’s  arrival for supper and dreaded seeing them leave.  There’s nothing harder than not being able to pick up your baby boy or even hold him tight to snuggle.  I’m just now getting to the point where he can sit in my lap with a cushion between my chest and his back.
So as ready as I was to hold Jett, I was ready to come home to the house J and I have made into a home.
 It’s a different kind of home.  

A home where I’ll always remember Jeremy proposing to me under our huge oak. 

 It’s a home that we enjoyed fixing up before moving in, to begin our married life.  It’s a home where we prayed for job changes for J, a baby, and many other things.  
And it’s the home where we brought Jett to live after he was born.  

I tease about “life on the circle” but we love our little home and look forward to making many more memories here as a family of 3. 
 So coming home on that rainy Saturday morning, was a good feeling.  The house was spotless, beds made, everything tidy, and I could see the boys were cleaning the barn, as I looked outside.  When the door flew open, that big hug from J and words from Jett, “Mommy’s home”, will stay in my heart forever.  He’s still a little guarded around me, but I do love to see him completely wrapped up in his daddy’s arms.  This sign was sitting on the table when I got home and it speaks so much truth.  

So being at home now for a couple of days has been good.  I’ve tried to do some tasks and have been told to stop.  I don’t like to sit still and there’s always something else to do...laundry, dishes, etc. I’ve moved things around, organized a few areas, and so forth.  

 My sweet momma and mother-in-love have come over and helped me with lots of things.  Gosh, what would I do without them?  
Being home alone is something I’m not used to. 
 I took 12 weeks off with Jett when he was born but was totally consumed with him as a new baby and enjoyed every second with him. This time period is quite different for me.  Jett is still going to school and I’m spending time healing.  I’ll of course be going to several upcoming doctor appointments, and soon radiation daily, but tons of time will be spent resting at home.  I’ve found that my quiet time is cherished time.  It’s time for healing, prayer, and focusing on God.  A book I recently found  by Joyce Meyer had a wonderful message today, focusing on praying, instead of fearing.  Whoa!  Speak to me, Lord.  So often I do find myself fearing the next appointment, or the next step in this process.  I do fear reoccurrence and what all comes with that.  I fear that I’m wearing out both sets of our parents as they try to help during this time. I fear for J and Jett...I want to come out of this journey cancer free and live that way forever and ever.  But fear creeps in and causes problems and my anxiety builds.  We have to trust and pray, no matter how great or important or small or insignificant the problem is.  We don’t know what God has in store for our lives.... we have to pray, instead of fear.   
So that’s my goal over these next 11 weeks.  I want to be drawn closer to Him, and seek guidance through prayer, and overcome all fear.  Talking about fear,  I remember laying on the gurney being wheeled into the operating room without an ounce of fear in my bones.  My doctor was smiling at me, the nurses were asking me questions about my life, and the fear of what was about to happen truly was taken away.  I prayed that morning, “Lord, let my faith be bigger than my fear.” 
 And that happened and was all God.  
If you’ll recall the story I told about a stranger telling me that she’d never felt closer to God than during the minutes before a big surgery in her life...well I felt that too.  He loves you, and me.  So remember, don’t fear it, pray about it.  

As for some good news, I actually wore a shirt that wasn’t a button-up.  Yahoo!  My arm strength is good and I can lift my arms over my head.  Don’t laugh, but laying in the hospital bed that first night, I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to do that or wear any type of clothing that had to go over my head.  Also, the healing process is going very well.  I’m off all pain meds and my hair is growing like crazy!  Soooo....all is well!  Most of the time!  

Here’s another song that spoke to me during one of those hard days.  My sister-in-law sent this song by Micah Tyler to me and it’s a good one and the album is awesome too!  

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭KJV‬‬



Recovery Road

The morning after my surgery, I woke up super early and used that time to thank Jesus for holding me in the palm of his hand during this battle with breast cancer.
Throughout these last 7 months of being diagnosed with breast cancer, tons of appointments, 16 rounds of chemo, surgery preparation, and more, He has done just that...
Fought for me, 
and paved the path to victory. 

 I love reading the devotions at Proverbs31.org and this one particular entry was just what I needed to read during this time in my life.  A young guy was sharing his testimony about how angry he was with God when his life started to fall apart.  He shared the bible story about time the Israelites were free to leave Egypt.  When they got to the Red Sea, they began to feel that their journey ahead was impossible, and as they looked back, Pharoah and his army was chasing them and very upset about setting them free.  So there they were,  trapped.  And then they said very ugly words to Moses and he responded back with this...”The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”  The sea opened up and the people of Israel were commanded to walk quietly.  

 So when reading these words, I couldn’t help but think about those trapped feelings.  We’ve all been on a road with tough circumstances.  I can honestly say that I’ve felt His presence, walking beside me, before me, and behind me during this journey.  When I’ve felt trapped or scared, I lean on Him.  I make myself BE still and quiet. He wants us to trust him and He has the power to calm my heart each time.  He didn’t bring me this far to walk away from me.

The morning after surgery, Doctor Millican, my surgeon,  came the room to check on me.  After asking how I felt and if I was ready to go home, (I could’ve hugged his neck at this question) he began the discharge paperwork.   I was wheeled out of the hospital before lunch and was in that building less than 28 hours.  Is that not absolutely unbelievable?  We had our bags packed and real clothes on when the discharge nurse came in the room to go over the rules before sending me on my way.  The sweetest nurse wheeled me out, careful of every bump we hit. And as I told the staff goodbye,  the best feeling came over me as I know that God truly called them into the nursing profession,  to take the best care of others.
  I feel blessed that I was one of their patients.  

The plan was to come home to my parents’ house for a couple of days while I recovered.  They insisted that I stay with them for awhile until I regained all of my strength. My mom is still picking Jett up in the afternoons, and J comes straight here to eat supper.  He then takes Jett back to our house for tubby time and bed, and then my sweet mother-in-love, takes Jett to school since J has to be at work super early.  The plan has just worked out so nicely and that’s God again.  Like a puzzle, He’s made the pieces fit together perfectly so that all can help during this time of need.  Even little Jett helps and loves on me, gentle as a lamb.  

The pain has been well managed with good meds.  My mom has been my number 1 nurse, making sure that I take them at just the right time.  Since  J went back to work this week, she’s fixed my plate, helped with baths, talked to me when I couldn’t sleep, fixed pillows just so, and more.  I’ve been a little edgy but she’s just as calm and sweet as she’s ever been, although I know she’d probably like to give me a spanking at times.  

J was wonderful while in the hospital and after coming home too.  He was totally in charge of emptying and stripping the drains. That was a big and important job and the doctor today gave him the best compliment....that whoever was in charge of my drains, did a fantastic job!  I was proud to tell him that my sweet husband had done that and couldn’t wait to tell J about that conversation.  Wearing these drains and moving around with them has been so uncomfortable and truly the worst part of the recovery.  And the removal of them today wasn’t fun either.  Yuck!  There literally was like 2 ft. of tubing under the skin, that had to be pulled out on each side.  It made me very queasy but afterwards, I felt like I could run out of the office, happy to have them removed.  

The doctor gave us the news of the pathology report that the lymph node tested negative and he got good, clear margins.  
PRAISE HIM for this wonderful news!  

We talked about next steps with radiation and then possibly an oral form of chemo to keep the chance of reoccurrence away!  I’ll be praying daily that cancer stays away from me and many others.  Every cancer survivor fears that, but knowing that God has carried me this far, He will continue walking this journey by my side, fighting for me all the way.  

The song by Matt Maher, 
is the ultimate fight song.  He sings about the war of life and how it has already been won with God.  He’s our refuge our whole life long.  Yep.  Cancer won’t stop me from living my life fully and loving my people.  I will continue this journey, fighting this battle with all of my might.  

Thank you all for the prayers and love that you’ve poured over us.  We love you all more than words can say.  

Oh and one more important thing...my eyebrows and eyelashes are growing out of control!  Woowee!  

“We know all things work together for good.”  Romans 8:28



Surgery day!

As we pulled up to the hospital yesterday morning, the rain was pouring down.  Do you remember the Dolly quote I posted the other day...”if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain?”  Well the rainbow of being cancer free was in site, but we had to push through the rain yesterday for sure.  Everything went so smoothly as I started with the lymph node mapping procedure.  The painful prick of the dye to mark the node wasn’t fun and burned like crazy, but helped my doctor be able to see one node in which to take to biopsy.  Next up was to wait for the operating room to be available for my surgery time.  My surgeon came in the holding area to let me know that they were ready a whole 30 minutes early.   I gave hugs and said  goodbyes to my family, prayed with Preacher David and Condy, and then was rolled down many long, empty halls to the big, bright operating room.  I remember briefly being told to take ten deep breaths through a mask and that was it.  When I woke up in recovery the cutest nurse named Juan greeted me.  He was so dear and checked on me constantly. The ice chips and chapstick he gave me were like gifts straight from Heaven.  He brought J back to see me and he told me the news that the tumor had been successfully removed, with the double mastectomy, and I only had to get two drains, instead of three.  My doctor told them that the surgery went great and that he was super pleased with how smoothly everything went.  No rooms were available at the time so I rested a little bit and then finally woke up again enough to talk to Juan to find out that he was a former Bell’s Crossing student. I could’ve cried when he told me how much he loved that school and his path to becoming a nurse. He has been working here for about 3 years and it was so evident that he loves his job and followed his dreams.  Talk about a little “God wink” there!  A room finally became available, 222, where I was greeted by my family, anxiously waiting to see me after a long wait.  The nurses and my sister helped me transfer to my bed, took vitals, checked my incisions, and began to take the best care of me.  I did get sick once from anesthesia, but ate a little bit of dinner and got to face time with our little guy.  He was too cute, asking to see the room I was in and wanting to see my doctors.  Sleep was easy to come, especially having my awesome headphones play some white noise to drown out all of the hallway noise.  The bad part was they didn’t stay charged all night, which is why I am currently awake.  And of course the nurses checked on me lots, which I’m grateful for, but as soon as I  would get to sleep, they’d pop in.  J slept beside me in the famous “caregiver chair”.  Poor guy turned down a blanket and pillow from the nurse earlier, and I woke up to find her precious self covering him up.  How sweet is that?  

So that’s been my journey so far...breakfast and a visit from my doctor are on the agenda tomorrow morning and then hopefully a trip home!

All day I felt your prayers and the presence of God with me every step of the way.  Y’all know how much I love music and how it truly touches me so!  

Ellie Holcombe’s song, “You love me best” was playing as J dropped me off at the entrance of the hospital and I couldn’t have picked a better song to listen to as my day of becoming “cancer free” began.  

“And there will come a day when all other loves have gone away, 

When darkness hems me in

You’ll be right where you’ve always been

Closer than the heart within my chest 

Because You loved me best.”

Jesus does love you best and we can live knowing that forevermore.  Lord, thank you for the doctors and nurses that took such good care of me during THE scariest day of my life.  And for my family and friends, who stormed your gates with prayer.  

A friend of mine posted this letter that she found before her double mastectomy. God truly places just the right people in this healthcare field to care for others, with such huge hearts.  



Hello, Dear.

Today is the day. I am a member of the surgical team who will take care of you -- the team that will remove your breast to treat the cancer that has tried to make a home in your body. We all have our role today, and the world would see yours to be the "patient." I see it as something more: a powerful gift to us.

Because you remind us why we do what we do.

Today will feel sterile and scary. And I am sorry for that.

I wish there were a better way. Today we will ask you to put on a gown. Women before you have worn it. Women after you will wear it. Be sure to ask for warm blankets, because we always have plenty. We will ask of you your blood type, your medical history, your allergies. We will ask you to lie down in a bed that's foreign to you. We will have to poke you so that we can start an IV.

You will meet many nurses, doctors, and hospital employees. We will write down important things for you to know. Your surgeon will see you soon. He will have to mark the breast we are having to remove today.

We will take you into the Operating Room -- a room only few have seen. There will be bright lights, lots of metal, instruments that you've never seen, and we will be dressed in gowns, gloves, and masks. Over our masks, we hope you can see our eyes reassuring you as you go off to sleep.

Today is the day you will have to say goodbye to a part of your body, a part of yourself. 

And yet. Here we are. We must do our rituals. We must scrub our arms and hands with alcohol so that we can fight off infection before we start. We don our gowns, our gloves, our masks. We must drape your body in blue.

You are unconscious. And it must be difficult to trust. I honor you, Dear One.

My job is to help your surgeon take away the cancer. I get a bird's eye view of the process. 

We carefully remove your breast. It never gets easy to see or to do. You must know this. It never feels natural, it never feels cavalier. It feels sacred to me. Every. Single. Time.

We must send your breast away now. It officially leaves your body. I always feel an ache in my gut in that moment. There is no way for you to fully prepare for this day, Dear One.

I like to think that your body is already healing, as we close the incision we had to make.

Sewing your skin back together feels like I'm helping a little. But I know it's actually all you doing the work. Even as you sleep, Dear One.

We will put a bandage on your incision. We will wake you up. We will tell you everything went well. But the road is just beginning for you.

I saw you today.

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

Thank you for entrusting me and my colleagues.  I am honored to be a witness to this phase of your life.

Because now the healing begins. Now the grief is in full force. Now your breast is gone and in its place is a memory.

I watch you as you wake up. And I want to make it all go away. I can't. Today your body underwent a transformation. And today our team took care of your body. I hope we took care of your heart, too.

There is nothing we can say or do to make it go away. But please know that I care. We care. Behind our masks and gowns are heavy hearts and sometimes tears.

Yours are a gift today. Because you remind us of human resilience. You remind us of strength. You remind us of trust.

I saw you today.

You are beautiful.

You are strong.

I will not forget.

“Let all that I am praise the Lord.  May I never forget the good things that he has done for me.”  Psalm 103:2



Goodbye “dollies”!

“I wish you joy, and happiness, but above all of this, I wish you love...And I will always love you….oooooohhhhhh, And I will always love you!”  Yeah, I know y’all are singing right along with me!  Does that song choke you up EVERY SINGLE TIME like it does me when it comes on the radio? It hit me for sure yesterday at the sweetest “Goodbye Dolly” party that my best friends hosted.  Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers have always been two of my favorites. I’ll never forget my mom telling me that she went and saw Kenny, 9 months pregnant, sitting in the nosebleed section, praying she wouldn’t give birth to me at the concert. So technically I loved Kenny Rogers since before I was born. So when Dolly and Kenny sing one of my favorite songs ever and THE greatest duets in country music history, “Islands in the Stream” ...goodness!  If that song doesn’t make you want to turn the radio up and grab your sweetheart, I don’t know what would.   

Dolly has always been one of my favorite country music stars and actress, but after a trip to her Dreammore Resort in Pigeon Forge, I began to love her even more.  It is absolutely beautiful and if you haven’t had the chance to visit and stay…do so soon!  The rocking chairs on the front porch, story time by the fire around the pool, with smores, and more, made for a perfect little family getaway.  It’s just a “dreamy” place with Dolly’s special touches.  She is an amazing woman with such a giving heart.  Did you know that she gave over 8 million dollars to those who lost their homes, in the form of $1,000 checks, each month for a 6 month period of time? She also has a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to 5, called the Imagination Library.  Jett loves getting his book from “Dolly” each month and they are always ones that we’ve never read before, that have the sweetest message.  So she’s a pretty special person.  Being one of 12 children, raised in the Smokey Mountains, she didn’t have much as a child.  But she overcame that and with her determination, she became one of the greatest country musicians of all times.   Her quotes are the best and this one showed up on her Instagram account a few weeks ago.  It meant so much to me…  “the way I see it, it you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”  And the rain poured on our family July 12.  But the rainbows of blessings that have also come out of this have been unbelievable. 

So when Dolly’s birthday came around a few weeks ago, my friend Susannah texted Erica and I to let us know that it was Dolly’s birthday and said that maybe a national holiday should be made for her since she’s quite a spectacular woman.  I quickly responded back with “She sure is special and I’m getting ready to say goodbye to my “dollies”, so let’s celebrate.”  We all know that Dolly has her own “dollies” . And that was all it took.  Erica and Susannah set into party planning mode for the sweetest party, with lots of my friends and family.  Every little detail of the party was perfect.  The prayers spoken, as these Godly women circled around me, meant so much.  I cannot imagine the smile Jesus had on his face, hearing them pour out their hearts, proclaiming His name and asking Him to heal me.  Tears literally fell to the floor and my knees got weak as I listened to each of them. 

Another one of Dolly’s songs that I love so much is “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” and y’all…I cannot tell you how much love was in my heart leaving after a celebration like this. 

So my heart is full and my body is ready.  God has carried me this far and I know his grip will be mighty tight on Wednesday morning.
A lady that heard my story through a friend of mine called me last night to wish me luck, as she’s been a cancer survivor for over 10 years.  She told me the story about a stranger calling her the night before her surgery telling her that she would be in her prayers.  The lady also told her that she was jealous, which stunned her.  She asked her why and she proceeded to tell her that in the hours leading up to her surgery she felt closer to God than she ever had in her whole life and that was why she was jealous.  She said that she was afraid she’d never be able to experience that feeling again.  Wow! That phone call and story meant so much to me and that’s my hope.  I pray that the Lord will consume from the inside out.  I will give him complete control and that’s a promise.  Take my “dollies” and give me life, that’s all I ask!

So tomorrow is my last day at school.  I’ll miss my kiddos and the amazing staff I work with so much as they close out another school year.  The support from BCES has been so comforting and I love you all!  

Big prayers for this Wednesday.  6:30 am is check in, as they’ll map the lymph nodes for the sentinel node biopsy, and then surgery at 11.  Here we go!  I’m ready to be CANCER FREE!   

“Do not be frightened.”  1 Peter 3:14



Love, love, love!

The month has come for my surgery and it’s also the month we celebrate LOVE.  February has always been a sweet month as I love to give small tokens on Valentine’s Day to loved ones and my daddy’s birthday on the 16th.  I’ve always enjoyed finding the perfect valentines for my students and it’s so sweet to see them write about those they love.  I always have them title their writing “My heart belongs to…”  They always just pour their hearts out and I love hearing the precious thoughts from 7/8 year olds about the one they love.  

Speaking of valentines...the sweetest former student of mine left this cactus on my desk this morning and guess who claimed it immediately?  

This year I’ve had to plan ahead to make sure cards are signed, valentines for my Giddy-Ups are ready for my sub to pass out, and purchasing a few prizes for my two main squeezes.  Just taking the time to show a little more affection on this day does seem a little silly though, as we should always show love and compassion throughout the year, as God does for us. 

One of my favorite chapters from the bible is 1 Corinthians 13, which is often called the “love chapter”.  Verse 4 states, “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” And then ending with verse 13, “And now these three remain, faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love”.    I’ll

always remember our preacher saying these exact words during our wedding and how 12 and a half years later, love still lives in our home.  And I love knowing that God loves us so deeply and knows our strengths, our weaknesses, our sins, and our joys.  His love gives us so many chances, more than we deserve.  And knowing this truth, makes showing love every single day, that much more important to me.  Let that be a challenge for you too…spread love 365 days a year, not just on February 14th.  

So the countdown is on…we are now down to  5 days and I’m feeling a little less anxious than I did this time last week. 

 My units are complete for my students at school, I’ve met with my sub and given tons of instructions of our daily routine, etc.  but oh I’m how going to miss their little faces.  

Our house is somewhat organized, hospital bags are almost packed, plans have been made for Jett boy, and now just to wait and pray lots. 

My favorite song right now is “You Make Me Brave” by Amanda Cook and Bethel Music.  Just saying those words…You. Make. Me. Brave. brings tears to my eyes.  I am scared.  I am nervous.  And I know my body is getting ready to change.  I hate cancer and I hate how many people are affected by this disease each day.  It stinks.  But I’m going to be brave.  Knowing that my God is for us and not against us, and that He makes me brave.  He’s the champion of Heaven and is making a way for all to enter in.

Click below to listen to the song. 

you make me brave

My morning devotion today in Christine Caine’s “Unshakeable”, was about wanting to get well.  The story was about Jesus asking the invalid if he wanted to get well.  He invited him into the healing process, asking him to participate, cooperate, and engage his faith.  So I know that Jesus is doing that just for me, as well.  And yes, Jesus, I want to get well. I want to be cancer free and full of life again.  I will cooperate and I cannot wait to wake up after surgery and hear the words from my surgeon that “we got it all”.  I know I won’t get the pathology report back for a week or so to learn if the tumor is residual cancer or scar tissue, but as I wait, I will pray for complete restoration and for tons of bravery as I recover and start radiation.

Pre-op yesterday went well.  They only had the left breast being taken on all paperwork due to the fact that since the right breast is cancer free, THANK YOU GOD, insurance won’t pay for that breast to be removed.  So a check had to be written for that sweet baby before they would state that both breasts would be removed on the doctor’s orders.  So hopefully on Wednesday, both will be taken.  Or let’s say they both better be gone.  All vital signs looked fine and so surgery will be at 11, last for 3-4 hours, and I’ll be at St. Francis downtown Greenville for 1-2 days.  That’s all the information I know for now, and I’m fine with that.  I’m the type that the less I know about the actual procedure, the better I am. An ice cream date with my mom was all I needed after a morning at the hospital.  She’s such a huge helper and I’m thankful

for the Godly woman she is and how she prays constantly for our family.  

So back to love…a friend of mine shared this quote with me from Willa Cather.  “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”  We are praying for a miracle, for sure.  We love you all and thank you so much for all the prayers and support you all have shown over the last seven months.  God’s love comforts us and compels us to love one another and we love doing just that. 

Big prayer request for Wednesday!  

 Surgery day!!!

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. “  Deuteronomy 7:9

***not sure about the random quotation marks!!!*****

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