Friday, September 14, 2012

Focusing on Jesus

These past few months I have grown closer to God and have focused more on Jesus.  Yes, I will admit, this time of growth was out of necessity at first.  With the news of Austin's cancer, and all of the unknowns to come, that was the only place I knew to go.  I knew that God was the only One that I could cling to and depend on no matter what happened.  I am thankful that my relationship with God and my time in His word up tp that point had made that 'clinging' an action that I didn't even have to think about.  And as I clung to Him, He upheld me ~ 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  Ps. 67:7-8

As I have clung to Him these past month, I have spent more time in His word and in prayer.  Not just praying for Austin, although I did a lot of that, but praying for others and for myself.  That may sound selfish, but it wasn't.  I prayed that through this trial that I would I would totally trust His will and His plans.  That I would grow closer to Him during this time and that I would come to know Him more.  That has happened and I am just as thankful for those prayers that were answered as I am for the ones God answered in Austin's life. 
One of the things I have learned through this trial is that the more I focus on Jesus and being more like Him, the fuzzier other things in my "vision" become.  This week has been one of many stressful situations~ no health insurance due to miscommunications, a car that has been "sick" for over a year and now probably cannot be fixed, to name a couple BIG ones.  Yes, my first response was "oh NO! Not something else!!!!!"  Especially about the insurance!  But the more time I spent in prayer and in His word, I was reminded that these are just temporal things.  Yes, we do need insurance.  And yes, we do need a car.  But I KNOW that "my God will supply every need of (ours)  according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus"  (Phil. 4:9).  He has supplied  to Austin every need he has had in fighting this cancer!  He even brought Dr. Moses to Augusta, GA to do Austin's surgery.  Maybe not to do JUST Austin's surgery :), but it was just in the right timing.   As I look at life through eyes that are keenly focused on God and His will and His way and what is important to Him, all of these other "needs" just seem fuzzier.   I think this time in my life is one that God is using to remind me where my "focus" needs to be.  What I need to be striving for.  Not things, or even comforts of insurance and savings accounts, but on HIM and His way and His will for my life.  Phil. 4: 13- 14 says: 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I am going to "press on" with my eyes focused on Him to "the prize" that He has called me to!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


As I was reading "Life Principles for Worship" today, I saw a truth that I had not seen before.  Or one that didn't apply to me like it does now.  The study has started with a few facts about worhsip.  The first is that we must first deal with and confess our sin.  Then we much worship God's way, not ours.  Worship also requires our obedience to God.  Then it said that worship is a response of a grateful heart.  Because of the sense of reason that God has given us, we can comprehend what is happening in our lives and we can understand why.  Romans 12:1 tells us that we are to present our selves to God as our "spiritual service of worship".  "It is a logical response when we understand all that God has done for us."  As I think back to my post on praising God if things had gone differently, I see that it is not for what God has given us.  Or what He did in Austin's life~ although that is reason to PRAISE and WORSHIP God~ but because of what He has done for all of us.  The sacrifice He made to give His only son to save us from our sins.  To give His only son to save ME from MY sin!  WOW~ not that is something to praise Him for.  No matter how things may go in our lives. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

What if things had gone differently?

I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,

therefore I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1, 2 ESV)
Throughout the days before and following Austin's surgery, I claimed verses about God's love and His care for His people.  Verses reminding me of how He hears my prayers and how I could run to Him when I felt hopeless and alone.  I truly believe all of those verses and the God who inspired them.  The past couple of days I have thought about "what if....".  Not in the way of being anxious about things that have not even happened yet, although I did go through a time of doing that a few weeks ago.  But in the way of asking myself "what if things had gone differently?"  What if Austin lost the amount of blood they expected him to lose and they had been concerned for him surviving the complication?  What if the surgeons did have to remove his kidney?  What if things had gone like the surgeons thought they would and they were not able to take one of the tumors from his liver and he definately needed more surgery?   What if while removing the masses of tumor around the spine, they had injured the spine and he had long term results? What if the biopsies came back as live cancer?  If any of these things that were a possibility happened, would I still have been able to praise God?  Would I have been able to "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good" and believe "his love endures forever" as 1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us? Would I have posted  "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise?" (Psalm 106:1, 2 ESV) the morning after surgery?  Would I have claimed Ps 107:8-9 and praised Him "for his wondrous works to the children of man"?    I have thought about this and prayed about this and asked God to show me my heart.   Acts 1:24 tells us “Lord, you know everyone’s heart." and I wanted Him to reveal to me what is there.  God reminded me of my repsonse in March when we were first told of the cancer, of how far it had spread.  He reminded me that I never asked "why Austin" or ever doubted God's love for any of us because of this devastating news.  He reminded me that I had clung to Him (and my friend April) from the beginning.  As I remembered my reactions that afternoon in the ER, I reaized what my reaction would have been if the news had not been good.  I honestly can say that I probobly would not have said "Praise God, Austin lost a kidney!!! Or "Thank you Lord for Austin having long term complications from this surgery!!!"   But I do know that I would still be able to rest in Him and the fact that He would still be in control.  That I would still believe that He will work "all things for good for those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).    I would still desire, no matter what happened, that God would be glorified and I would praise Him because "the LORD upholds the righteous." (Ps 37:17) and He would uphold all of us.  I know that I would still believe God is good~ no matter what.  That God loves Austin and that He will work all of this for His purpose and His glory. 

I know that things still could change.  When Austin goes for his post op appointment next week we may find out that the final path may be different than they think right now. (The pathologist was still running tests on some of the specimens and the surgeon mentioned that we would know the FINAL report next week) Or that the CTs in a couple month may show growth of the remaining tumors instead of shrinking.  Or Austin's lab work for the tumor markers may rise.  But even if any of these things happen, even if the cancer is back, even if Austin has to have more surgery, more chemo ahead of him, God will still be God.  He will still be good.  The work and miracle He did in Austin's life in March, will still be there.  He will still be Austin's Blessed Controller.  And He will still be my "Blessed Controller' and I will daily relinquish MY control to Him.  And I will praise Him because He loves me even when I had times of doubt and was anxious about the "what ifs", He was there to quiet my soul and calm my heart. I truly believe God is good.... all the time.  Even if things had gone differently.

One week past RPLND for Austin!  I am going to share some of my posts from Facebook the days following the surgery:

August 24th afternoon:
PRAISE GOD!!!! Austin is In recovery. All went well. All biopsies that were done today were negative. Sending more out for pathology. Didn't lose much blood at all. Still has both kidneys. :). Did one liver bx and was negative. May not need to do resection later. :))

August 25th:
Praise the Lord!
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,
or declare all his praise? (Psalm 106:1, 2 ESV)

I am so overwhelmed and humbled by the love and prayers and support that friends and family and people we do not even know have given Austin and our family. We are so thankful to God for answering our prayers concerning Austin's surgery. All of my 'nurse-momma' concerns that we prayed for were answered by our loving God. The neatest thing was hearing both surgeons say how tough the surgery was because of the amount of tumors that were there but how much better it was than they thought it would be. We shared with them how many people that were praying for Austin, the surgery, and them! One of them said he could tell! Praise God!! Austin did not have a good night. He is in a lot of pain and the surgeon is being very cautious with narcotics because of the effect they can have on the bowels. ( look at the YouTube video of RPLND and you will see why!!). He also can have nothing to eat or drink for 2-3 days. Austin will be getting up in a chair for most of the day and I will be honest, this is going to be hard for me to see because he will hurt. But it will get him closer to being able to have something to drink. Thank you all again for all you have done.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, (Philippians 1:3 ESV)
August 29th:
Psalm 86:12
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.

Praise God with us as we rejoice in the GREAT news that Dr. Wells just gave us!!! All of the tumors and lymph nodes that were removed Friday are negative for live cancer!!!! They were all "necrotic" or dying tissue!! The final report will be back by next Wed when we see Dr. Wells but it ...
looks pretty sure. We are prasing God that the chemo treatments did what they were supposed to do~ and that was to kill that cancer!! And that the surgery went so good. Dr. Moses, who did the surgery, said he was a little concerned because of the extent it had spread to the spine. He doesn't know how hard we all were praying and how our God is the God of miracles :) The plan is to repeat the CT scans in 10-12 weeks. If all of the tumors are smaller, then they will continue to scan Austin and repeat lab work every 3 mos for a couple of years. If there is anything that has not gotten smaller, or have gotten bigger, then we will have to consider surgery again! But we are praying that the good news will continue. And that God will continue to be glorified no matter what and that we can minister to others who may walk this path. I pray that the remainder of this tough recovery will be easier for Austin knowing that he is not for sure looking at 2 more surgeries!!!
Austin had days that he was so tired and needed to walk and do things that were just so hard.  He was emotional but through it all never gave up or got discouraged.  He came home yesterday and had done well since then.  He is on a low fat diet and that has been a challenge but so far we are doing ok with it.  :) 
I praise God for all He did through the surgery and the recovery.  I can't imagine going through those 8 hr of waiting NOT knowing that God was in CONTROL>  The He was there along side the surgeons.  Guiding their hands so that no bleeders were cut.  Removing the tumors around the spine so that no nerves were severed.  Peeling the tumors off of the kidney so that his kidney was not damaged.  When I found myself starting to think of the "what ifs" I would go off by myself and pray and give all of it over AGAIN to the Blessed Controller of Austin's life.  And the peace that passes all understanding would return to my heart and my mind. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tomorrow is the "big day".  Austin is having the RPLND surgery.  It will be very extensive, very long and has risks involved with bleeding, losing a kidney, etc.  The month I have had a roller coaster of emotions.  I never have doubted God or asked "WHY?" but I have been very nervous.  I know that God's plan is perfect but I also know that I may not like his plan/  What if His plan is to take Austin "home"?  I do NOT like that plan!  But each time I try to work through that thought I remember Austin's words in the ER on March 20th~ "whether I live or die, I just want God to be glorified!"  Shouldn't that be my prayer?  I have come to a place where I do have absolute trust in God.  I know that He loves Austin and His will is best.  I know that Austin is strong and is a fighter and WE will get through this together.  As a family. 

One of my favorite books is "Calm My Anxious Heart" by Linda Dillow. My sweet daughter in law, Katie Spurlock, reminded me of the part where Linda was talking about her daughter with epilepsy who lived across the country from her. This is what Linda wrote: "Many of us have memorized 1 Peter 5:6-7 and tucked it away to be pulled out whenever we have a problem. Too often, though, in applying the wonderful part of "casting all your cares", we forget the first part about "humbling ourselves under the sovereign, mighty hand of God." Not only are the two verses one thought, they are one sentence! They must be read and applied together.
"Humility means to have total trust in God alone. It is surrender of our total being- intellect, emotion, will, plans, and judgements. It is relinquishing everything. For me, humbling myself involves yielding to God as the Blessed Controller of whatever situation or person is causing me anxiety. " (1 Timothy 6:15) I love that! "casting" means "hurling". As we approach Friday all too fast, I am "hurling" my cares on God as I humble myself before Him as I trust Him, who loves Austin Spurlock much more than I do, and yeilding to my "Blessed Controller". How wonderful is it that God is in control of everything Friday. Not the doctors, not me, but our Almighty, loving God.


Into the darkness you shine out of the ashes we rise there's no one like you none like You!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Austin's Journey

One of the reasons I wanted to re-start this blog again was to share our son Austin's journey with testicular cancer.  Here is an abbreviated version that I recently posted to Hanahan Friends on FB.

In March of this year, our now 23 yo son was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes, lungs and liver. He was one sick young man in March due to a large blood clot that was caused by the cancer load. Only through the grace of God and many prayers being said for Austin, did he live those first 48 hrs in ICU. Our God is so good. Austin's first words when we were told of the cancer were: What ever happens I am ok with as long as God is glorified through this. And he has lived up to his word. He went through 12 weeks of intense chemotherapy and never complained at all. Last week he had the CT scans repeated ...and we found out there is still cancer in his lymph nodes in his lower abdomen/back, liver and lungs. The doctor said 85% was gone but he still has a good bit left. He will be having RPLND surgery~ August 24th. He has appointment with the vascular surgeon this Friday to discuss the plan for the removing the largest tumor that is still in the liver. We are praying he will be able to ablate percutaneously (through the skin) instead of surgically. We are not sure when we will see the pulmonary doctor about the tumors in his lungs. Austin is doing great. He still tires very easily but is much better than when he was getting the chemo and much better than he was in Feb and March! Please continue to pray for my sweet son. He has been such a blessing to me through this. Always so positive! His goald is to be well and be able to go to Romania to work in the orphanages again next summer. Love you all and thank you again for your prayers

Friday, July 27th update that I sent to family and close friend and to our church prayer lists:

I thought I would write y'all to tell you what I understood from today's visit with the vascular surgeon. It looks like Austin will have at least one more if not 2 more surgeries after the one of the 24th of August. The tumors in the lungs and liver all need to be removed. The surgeon said he is going to consider doing the liver resections at the same time as the RPLND on the 24th BUT the liver resection itself will take more than 4 hours and have a lot of bleeding. He will be helping with the RPLND since it is so invasive and there will be vascular difficulties because of the effect of the clot on the blood vessels. So if it is possible, he will do it at the same time. If not, Austin will recover from the RPLND and then have the liver resection. It also sounded like he will have to have another surgery to remove the tumors from the lungs. The three surgeons~ the GU surgeon, the vascular surgeon, and the thoracic surgeon~ are meeting this week to make a final plan. He also spoke of more chemo as well. I am a little over whelmed and a lot confused. But I know they are all working together at this point to do what is best for Austin. The oncologist that is caring for Austin will be informed of all of these plans and follow up as needed. Austin is doing remarkably well and still has a peace that can only come from God. I am working to get there :)

When I hear the final plan next week I will let you all know!

Trust in the Lord

Here I go again~ restarting my blog again.  This time, it is with a new mission or maybe it is a new need.  Since my last post on Jan. 1, 2011, our life has had many turns and changes.  Some that are true blessings and exciting changes.  Some are changes that God has brought to our family that were totally unexpected and unforseen, but that we know are part of His plan for His glory and "to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future".  Some are changes that we just don't understand and that we know God can work for the good of those involved if they would "seek His face".  And, we will have another member joining our family in November as Adam and Katie welcome their third child to their family.