Thursday, September 8, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
I know that I will see some of you in the next week or two but I wanted to send this news at the same time to everyone who has been invested in my health through prayer and intercession.
I have been in Flagstaff since July 12 but returning to Tulsa once a week for surgical check-ups and future treatment appointments. In a few of these appointments with the Oncologist, some real reasons to celebrate came forth. First of all, the two lymph nodes they removed were completely clear of cancer cells (dead or alive). The second primary miracle is that the blood vessels in the breast were all examined under a microscope to see if the cancer had invaded my blood stream. Negative, all blood vessels were normal and had not been breached. Third miracle is that they were able to remove the tumor AND get clear margins all the way around. These margins were not just a few cells, the clear margins on every side measured in the centimeters.
Although we always celebrate the victories, I'd like to show you why clear lymph nodes, clear blood vessels and clear margins are an even bigger sign of God's had at work. Originally the mass was considered 1.5 cm, then after the MRI we were told that there were two additional small spots that had not been biopsied but looked cancerous. That made this mass measure around 2.5 cm. We were told that the three spots were not connected, although close, so it was now considered multi-focal, making a lumpectomy out of the question. If they go in and remove each location getting clear margins, you are left with a swiss cheese looking breast.
So, that information, combined with rarity of my age and awaiting the results of the BRACA1-2 gene mutation test, made removing both breasts the only option. If I were to have only removed the right side and the gene mutation came back positive, I would have to go back into surgery to remove the left. The other concern was the constant MRI's and biopsies I'd have to do on the left for the rest of my life.
Although I still do not have the results of the gene mutation test, I am praying that it comes back negative. If it is positive, I must immediately have a hysterectomy due to the risk of developing ovarian cancer, which is another strong risk with this gene. No one in my family history has had breast cancer, so it would be really surprising to be found positive for the gene. If I am, then all of my children (including boys) must be tested. I'm believing that door will not be open. I don't have the grace to handle it yet but I am sure that if it were to be present, I WILL be attended by the ALL consuming GRACE that has risen up to meet me at every turn so far.
Back to the tumor pathology and the main reason for this email:
Going into the surgery, we were all picturing the 2.5 cm cancer as the size of a dime (which is very close). But after all the internal breast tissue was excised and examined under a microscope, the final measurements were 6.5 centimeters, which is the size of a tennis ball. It is quite shocking to hold a dime up as a picture of what was in your body and then hold up a tennis ball and hear the words, "This is what you were up against."
At first I was physically ill at the news of the difference and yet exuberant at the pathology stating it wasn't found anywhere else. My mind felt like a stone that had lost its foothold on a high place and skipped and rolled down through these questions: How could it have been that big and the MRI didn't see all of it? How could it be considered early and still that big?
My mind and my stomach dropped until my mind found a solid resting place upon the answer to this question: How could the tumor have been that big and yet not one blood vessel, not one lymph node, not one skin cell have been touched????
JESUS is the answer.
God must receive the glory for His touch on my body. His care for me is evident without a doubt. Just as this could have spread physically and made the battle against fear much more violent, so does the tumors encapsulation by the Hand of God, build my faith. The very definition of the cancer they removed from my body included the word, "invasive"- meaning it had gained the ability to invade other kinds of cells. So I speak back to that invasive usurper and say, "You telling me you had the ability to invade blood vessels and lymph nodes but you didn't have the POWER??
Wow! How impotent he is, conniving the access and ability but STILL he has NO POWER!! When the enemy would love to attach a curse to the words spoken over our lives, like "cancer", we may temporarily feel surrounded on all sides by him. But I can tell you for sure, when you hear the sound of your enemy's trumpet blow, "CANCERRRRRR!!!!!!" and feel surrounded on all sides, it is only a matter of moments before your enemy is surrounded by an ALL-TOGETHER, GREATER ARMY- THE POWER OF GOD. The enemy blew his trumpet and I felt the echo of fear. I have seen his sneaky ways of gaining entrance into our lives and I am slamming every door, emotional, spiritual, physical. But the great revelation that has come to me through my frontline perspective of this battle, is this: the enemy can gain access to us and even adapt abilities against us, but he cannot gain authority and power! All authority in heaven and earth have already been given to Jesus. And we, who are joint heirs with HIm have this same blood bought authority over everything in heaven and earth. The enemy is unlawful in his ways and he will seek to usurp any authority we have abdicated due to ignorance or neglect. The cells in my body that gained the ability to invade never got the power to use their ability against me. Thank you Jesus for protecting my innocence and defending my ignorance!!!!
Although this battle involves the word "Cancer" and "invasive," I know that this battle is not about me losing a battle with my life. God has taken me to the front lines to learn all the more of how the enemy belies the people of God. The mass removed from my body was contained, so I believe that this season of my life devoted to fighting this particular enemy will be contained. I will never go back to eating unhealthy cancer foods again but I do believe that as I enter the next year, cancer will never have the access or ability to invade my life again.
There are two things I have always said would be my worst nightmare: 1. Getting pregnant before my wedding (already happened and catapulted me into a pattern of supernatural living.) 2. Chemotherapy. I don't know why we say certain things would be our worst nightmare, but I have. And I faced the first one and came out the other side better than before.
My personal failure and how I became taught of the Lord as a response, is the single most defining season of my life thus far.
2. Chemotherapy has always had a terribly negative effect on my mind. I used to say, I'd rather die. I've since asked the Lord to forgive me for saying that. As you probably know, I have been very resistant to the idea of putting a poison into my body. In fact, I committed to change every part of my life and have started with health. I drink a homemade smoothie every morning that contains every cancer fighting whole food ingredient I could find in research. Ironically its wonderful!! Green as the hills in Flagstaff, but tastes great!! When I went for my check up with my Naturopathic Dr. last week and he studied my drink ingredients, he was amazed. He said I had all (except one) of the most aggressive cancer fighting agents God has given us, already in my drink. (I spent two weeks researching on my own) Now I've added the one I missed.
But last week, due to the size of the tumor removed, they strongly recommended that I undergo a low dose round of Chemotherapy. The oncologist states that this will statistically reduce my chance of recurrence by 70%. Because I have had all the internal breast tissue removed from my body, I only have a 2% chance of breast cancer returning to the breast region but the chances are much higher for it to find another place in my body to set up shop. I sat in the meeting last week as stubborn as I've ever been. Through my tears I tried to process the pressure I was feeling. I had an agreement with my parent's and my husband that I would not undergo any treatment without a word from God. At every step of the process, He has never forsaken me in giving it. But last week, the oncologist spent a long while answering my questions and talking about chemotherapy as a "cure" and I just wasn't hearing it.
After the Doctor left the room and my cousin Andria and longtime friend and pastor Sandy Scheer sat with me and the nurse, the Word came.
The nurse began by saying, "Amie, all of us here are spirit filled Christians. And we see many, many Christians who are resistant to Chemotherapy come through those doors and leave without it. There have been more pastors wives than I can tell you, who would not undergo Chemotherapy because they thought it meant they were not trusting God. And they die. The Christians die because of their lack of understanding. And Amie, it's so sad because they had very, very treatable cancers but they refused treatment because they thought it would disappoint the faith of their congregations. Now there are so many Christians in those church's doubting God because they died. Dr. Oral Roberts taught that all wisdom comes from God and all medicines come from him, this was his dream. (at that my ears perked up) He prayed for me and the whole staff at City of Faith," she said. "He said that the Lord showed him that faith and medicine are supposed to interlock, (she interlaced her fingers as a demonstration) but most spirit filled Christians fight medicine, they do not see it as the provision of God that it is. Medicine is not perfect, but it could become even better, more effective, if Christians didn't reject it."
Dr. Oral Roberts was like a grandfather to me. And I was sitting in a room that God had given him the vision to establish. It hadn't all gone the way he pictured, but my nurse, like many others were prayed for personally and sent on a mission to educate and treat God's people so that they would not perish. With all the statistics and cure rates the oncologist had given me, the Word from God that brought peace to me, came through a nurse who carried the heart for healing. Everything good comes from God. And Amie living to be 86 is good. Whatever God sends me to deliver my miracle of complete healing and restoration must be considered. Most people don't realize how lethal cancer can be because they don't feel it or see it like they would an open wound or even a sore throat for that matter.
So when you don't have discomfort with cancer, it becomes easy to dismiss. How many Christians would live through a car accident but leave the scene mangled with life threatening injuries and tell the ambulance attendants, "I am going home to pray and eat organic foods"???? No one would. Any yet, even I had seen disease as something that should only be approached with prayer and fasting and resisted medical intervention.
I knew the potential danger but also hoped that I might turn it all around using surgery and natural methods. And although it is my firm belief that the right plants and foods heal us, it takes a while to change the internal tide. Other than the recent surgery, I am in great health. I have only just been released to exercise but my dietary changes since June 2nd have already caused me to lose 18 pounds. And any extra fat raises the chances for cancer in the body. I have a few extra pounds to go but no doubt that my life has permanently changed. I can't wait to tell you in all the ways "how." Did you know that exercising 2 1/2 hrs per week lowers your risk of cancer by 80%!!! Anyway, back to the conclusion....
I took 24 hrs to pray and let the peace of God direct my path before I verbalized my decision regarding Chemotherapy. These are the truths God has given me throughout this season:
1. If I am going to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, then I'm gonna turn on the lights while I'm there! (I can do this in many ways by opening my life, showing the journey and the hand of God at every turn. If there are fears to uncover, consider it done. Death is not the problem, it is the shadow of death where the enemy has his fun with us. I plan to do so much damage to his fear campaign that he is gonna wish he had an alternate route for God's people. I just want to turn his haunted house into a joke.)
2. I am led by peace, not driven by fear.
3. I cannot compare myself to any other case. Each of us must have a word from God for ourselves. Every journey, every battle is different.
4. I want to get out and give out everything I can during this season. I do not want to re-visit something later that the grace is here to face today.
5. Fear will not make any decisions for me. I will face my deepest fears and I will walk out of the season better in every way.
6. I will not focus on my loses or physical scars. My focus is stayed on the promise that He makes ALL things new.
7. Whatever I face from this day on holds no power of fear: You don't scare me.
In spite of my personal feelings and preferences, I am determined to do EVERYTHING to ensure I have closed every door. That includes natural remedies, healthy diet, exercise, counseling ( I need to off-load somewhere safe), rest, enjoy fun and friendships (accounted for 2% of my previous schedule) and submit to the peace of God in medicinal treatment.
With ALL this said, I will undergo 4 rounds of Chemotherapy (one treatment every 21 days x 4). The first one will begin on August 5 and the last one around October 7. This will be a low dose chemotherapy that will kill fast dividing cells. Unfortunately that usually includes hair. I know what all the potential side effects are but am believing for favor. I was bald headed until I was two years old, what's another couple months added to that!?
God is a debtor to no man or woman. So anything I feel I may have lost will be dually rewarded in either heavenly places or earthly realms, either way He is increasing my territory! He does not owe me anything. That's just the kind of God He truly is.
My central vulnerability in all of this is the potential for an onslaught of strong resistance or opinions against my decisions. This has already happened regarding my surgery. "People" didn't understand my decision to have both sides removed. I don't feel as though I have to justify myself but I would like to clarify everything through this email and probably ignore any further discussions. Although my left breast was completely clear of cancer cells I still feel I made the best decision for me. I don't expect to have the BRACA gene mutation but there is a chance. Lastly, I came into this world with a matching set and the Lord allowed me to continue with a matching set. I am still under construction but pleased with my decision. It is actually less dramatic psychologically to do both sides.
I humbly ask for your prayer, support and love. And above all, let it be known, this is not a tragedy, this is my light shining (possibly made a little brighter by the glare of a potentially bald head). God is my glory and the lifter of my head, doesn't differentiate between bald or hairy! What's hair but a few dead cells? I'd prefer God's glory any day!!!!
I am surely in a chrysalis of change. But I am not alone. I cannot nor will I ever be able to show you my gratitude for your outpouring of love toward me. Your love and commitment have put me back together again. I leave you with a quote from one of my messages at the Beloved Women's Conference, sent to me in a card last week.
"When we go through any situation, there may be a dark time and I declare to every spirit out there right now, 'Whatever God allows, I submit to it, we will make it through it and we will be the better for it!'"
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
If you have never been to Texas, you may have the impression that tumbleweeds and longhorn cattle meet you as you step off the plane.
I talked to a girl a few weeks ago, that pictured Texas like a western movie that was made in the 1960’s.
When you have never been somewhere before, never seen with your own eyes, you fill in the blanks with the little bit of information you may have. Assumption always plays a big part in building people’s perception.
We have a hunger for the details of other people’s everyday lives. Although it can go too far, essentially that’s not a bad thing. I believe we want to know how other people live their lives; to be sure we are taking full advantage of our own gifts and opportunities. If we feed ourselves artificial living; like television and movies, we set our lives against a backdrop of unrealistic, airbrushed imaginations. This isn’t likely to motivate. It is discouraging to compare ourselves with perfection. But if we look into the windows of the living, we can gain a new and fresh perspective that motivates us to live our own adventure.
More than ten years ago, I was on my first book tour and met another female author I immediately connected with. Her creativity sparked more in me, activating hours of conversation. Over the years, we lost touch in the busyness of living. Then several years ago I discovered her again, online. When I rediscovered her, I found that she had rediscovered herself as well. She was no longer just an author, she had become a photographer too, and her brilliance was being recognized at the highest levels of her industry.
Me Ra Koh, is her name. It always sounds like “Miracle” when I say it.
She is one of the living examples I look to, to ‘inspire the fire’ within. Through her blog, she shares a window into her world. And peering into her workshop, with thousands of others who follow her, I watch her create an artistic life for her own family and I am inspired to do the same for my own.
A few years ago, Me Ra and Brian took their family to Thailand to LIVE, for a few months. I was both shocked and in awe at the spirit of adventure they displayed as they moved through the world. As I watched their adventure, I began to ask myself, “What does my adventure look like?”
I anticipate and celebrate the adventures of others. I know you do as well. Living your adventure and let others join you in the journey is the quintessential art of authentic living. You may not see your life as anything special while others look at you and are inspired to live more abundantly. I did not move to another country for a few months, but I did begin to look at my life without the limitations I’d always focused on. I began to see the possibilities of living through the lens of adventure.
In the featured picture, my daughter was utilizing a cool camera app on her phone and sipping a Capri Sun (in the picture to the right), while I pondered the solitude at the end of great day.
About the time she took this picture I was thinking, “I started the day with the excitement of ministering in McKinney and I am ending the day with a quiet moment at the ranch. This is the adventures of Amie.”
I shared Me Ra with you, one of my favorite “Inspirers.”
Who inspires you to live YOUR adventure? And how do they do that?
Friday, May 27, 2011
Smells always take us somewhere in our memories. Cinnamon in particular takes me back to my childhood home. My mother often made me cinnamon toast for breakfast and several times a year my grandmother’s famous cinnamon rolls.
My maternal grandmother was affectionately called Momo (pronounced mom-oh.)
She would come to Texas for several months out of the year, moving from house to house within our family. At each house she would set up shop in the kitchen and make our favorites.
Strawberry pie, apricot jam, chocolate cake, biscuits and gravy, country steak and potatoes, chicken and dumplings and the list is as long as the calorie count.
Nothing reminds me of being in the kitchen, learning from Momo, more than the smell of cinnamon rolls in the oven. That yeasty, sweet smell just makes me feel her warm words teaching and correcting me all over again.
Although I cook most of her recipes throughout the year, I had yet to conquer the hardest one of all, till yesterday. I can’t really say that I conquered it completely. But I did attempt the strenuous recipe. Momo’s cinnamon rolls were to die for, delicious. But she would make the biggest mess you can imagine in the process. One of our shared family memories of her is the humorous image of her pushing up her glasses while she was kneading the dough, leaving her glasses covered in clumps and smudges. She didn’t seem to mind though and she always cleaned it up.
I wasn’t looking forward to flour…my goodness the flour, that goes everywhere in the process of making this gooey goodness. But I knew it was time to introduce my little baker, Molly-Kate, to Momo’s cinnamon roll secrets.
So yesterday in my kitchen, as I was exaggerating and elongating the explanation of how wonderful these cinnamon rolls would be, my daughter said, “Why would we do all this work, when we can buy great cinnamon rolls in a can?”
I explained how all the work makes cooking from scratch taste so much better. And I silently prayed that I was right. She raised a great question that applies to life in general.
What motivates us to go through a step-by-step, messy process when instant satisfaction is available the easy way?
If cutting a few corners in cooking is the only area of our lives where we take the easy road, we are not doing too badly. But there are critical times when we MUST know how to follow directions, even when the process may seem difficult and certain steps unnecessary.
Making cinnamon rolls, requires that you wait several times for extended periods, for the yeast to take it’s full effect. The rising comes with the waiting. It is the same with us. It is only when we submit to the recipe God has given us that we truly experience the effect of all things working together for our good!
And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
The work may be messy at times and the waiting seem grueling, but while we wait our opportunities are multiplying, rising up to meet us. Many things in our lives can be microwaved and instantly the space called desire can be filled with a substitute. But there is no substitute for waiting. We have imitation flavorings for almost everything including liquid smoke but there is no way to bottle up the taste of fermentation without adding some time. The waiting makes life sweeter.
Don’t rush the process. Don’t skip the steps you don’t understand. Life is more complicated than a batch of cinnamon rolls, but trusting God’s timing, makes it as simple as following a recipe.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I am trying to imagine myself still wearing what I had on Sunday.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Last night as a storm rolled in, I sat with my family out on our back porch watching the lightening cross the sky. Stacey was taking pictures! We would gasp at the strength of the thunderous shock of sound and then count to see how close the strike was to our house.
Friday, May 20, 2011
My home is a combination of layered ages and eras. I love the eclectic mixture of old, new and everything in between. I have purchased historical books, paintings, furniture, jewelry and even vintage photographs from places as far away as Notting Hill England to the closer region of Canton, Texas.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Last Sunday, as the rush of the service dismissal commenced, a beautiful young lady approached me with a gift. I thanked her for thinking of me and then asked her if she wanted me to open it right then or later on. She replied, "Now is good." So I began to pull out the various shades of tissue paper from the hot pink bag until a simple glass mason jar was revealed. As I carefully pulled it out of the bag, I could see that it held a perfect Monarch Butterfly.