Category Archives: Children’s Ministry

What a week!

This week has been one of the best in many months. I have a lot to share and a bad habit of rambling so I will try to make this a comfortable length to prevent reader fatigue Ha!

A little back story, I have gone back to work. A few weeks ago I went back to my comfort zone and started doing transcription again. It wasn’t something I ever intended to go back to, but it worked for my schedule, chemo side effects, and childcare purposes. It’s been going okay, just slow at the start which is to be expected. I am only working part-time as to know get burned out again!

Then an opportunity arose that I was not expecting. I became aware of a position at our church and decided to step out of my comfort zone and show interest in the position. Taking a position that I consider a stepping stone to my dreams. I accepted a part-time position working alongside a lady I dearly love and who is easily in the “my person category”. I have no doubt that this job will be incredible as the team I get to work with is beyond good at what they do. I am blessed to be able to be a part of growing the Kingdom and pouring love and truth into the children at our church. I am officially the assistant to our children’s pastor! To the person leaving the position and giving me this opportunity, I am so sad to see you go and I pray I can do this job as well as you have for nearly a decade!

As if this wasn’t exciting enough, today was MY LAST CHEMO. When I started back at the first of October, March seemed so far away. There were times I didn’t think I would make it. I felt horrible. I got depressed. I was on a rollercoaster ride with no end in sight. But God and many people got me to today.

The day started as always, with blood work. I had been so tired from working the past two days I crashed hard last night and completely forgot to take my night before steroids. Woke up this morning late and ran out the door without taking it…realized on the way to the clinic. Thankfully I was scheduled to see my medical oncologist after my labs were drawn so I informed her and she wasn’t concerned. Whew! I hadn’t messed up to the point of having to reschedule! I was also concerned that mu extreme fatigue might indicate low blood counts…Please no! I wanted to get this treatment over with!

My lab work came back as well as can be expected after 15 total rounds of chemo. I was given the green light to proceed with the last infusion! We discussed how I was doing. The neuropathy has increased the last few weeks and I pray it resolves quickly once treatment is complete. I have been dealing with allergy issues and drainage (Who in Texas hasn’t). Out of an abundance of caution and to make sure I am healthy before radiation begins, the doctor called in a prescription to clear up the sinus issues. With that, I was wished good luck and sent to the infusion waiting area. Below is a picture of me in the doctor’s office showing off my last day of chemo outfit. The shirt was made by a friend, Nikki. Thank you! I got so many compliments. The tiara was an amazon find. Chris questioned why I needed a tiara and I said because I do. That was the end of the discussion! Ha!

Of course the shirt needed bling! Glitter is my second favorite color. (Pink is tops!)
The tiara…and hair!

There was a slight hiccup once in the infusion room. When you are using a port for treatment they like to see a slight blood return before they start infusion. This shows them the port is operating and in the vein properly. For the last few weeks my port has been giving us problems and not showing any blood return. Because I could taste the saline as it was being ran through to flush the port, we proceeded. Today, my nurse was not comfortable doing that so After trying several different positions with no luck, we had to resort to a medication they call TPA. It sits in the port for at least 30 minutes in an effort to break up any clots or blockages and to open the port up. He said sometimes it can take up to two hours. I was already planning to be there for two and a half hours. I was not looking forward to adding two more hours. If unsuccessful after two hours, my treatment would need to be postponed while images were scheduled to check the function of my port. So not cool on the day of my last treatment! Thankfully, after 30 minutes he came back to check on me and the port operated perfectly! we were ready to begin!

Before anything was started, the nurse came out with a sign to hang on my IV to show it was my last day!

Everyone who saw it commented and congratulated me. It was fun!

We then went through the normal process of a bag of fluids, two pre-meds, and the chemo. I attempted to watch Hulu during this time but the Wifi just would not cooperate. I took a nap instead.

Before I knew it, the nurse was bringing out a bell and unhooking me from the IV. I got emotional realizing it was done! 16 rounds of chemo over 6 months….DONE!

The bell and my T-Shirt (A gift from Texas Oncology)

Everyone in the room cheered. Everyone in the room knew the joy I was feeling and shared that moment with me. It was such an incredible feeling!

I gathered my things and headed out to celebrate with Chris and Eli who were outside in the car eager to pick me up. When Isaac got home from school I got a famous Isaac hug and we celebrated together. That boy sure is sweet! He may have been more excited than I was!

As if my day/week hadn’t been fantastic enough, we had dinner plans….with my brother and sister-in-law. I really hate that title. Let me fix that. We had dinner plans with my brother and sister! It has been February of 2020 since we’d seen each other and I was beyond excited to get to visit! They picked up dinner and met us at one of our favorite parks. We got lost in conversation and before we knew it the sun had set and the mosquitos were biting. It was time to say our farewells. We hugged (Sorry not sorry. I needed hugs!). And got in our cars to head spectate directions. It was then I realized I had not taken a single picture! My mother would be sad! So I jumped out and ran to their car. They agreed we had to digitally document the evening so we took a few pics. Thanks so much Jon and Gina for coming to celebrate with us today. It meant so much!!!

I will end this post with those pictures. Stay tuned for the next steps of my treatment plan and some other posts along the way.

And never forget that God >……Than Any Battle!

Pics in the headlights….sunglasses still on my face….so happy!
Why didn’t someone (Chris) tell me about the sunglasses?!?😎

Word of the Month – Gratitude

Chris and I help teach on Sunday mornings in the children’s ministry at our church. Each month we have a word that we focus on and with November being the month that Thanksgiving falls, we are talking about gratitude. I thought I would take a few minutes to discuss what Chris and I are grateful for since this journey began.

But first, an update. I am currently sitting at Texas Oncology receiving my third AC chemo treatment. Last week I came in for my treatment as scheduled only to discover that my white blood count was too low to do the infusion. They want the white blood count to be at a 3.5 or higher and I was sitting at a 2.6. Our only real option was to postpone treatment for a week. While this was a minor setback, it is small in the grand scheme of things. My body was allowed an extra week to recover and clearly it needed it. I spent the week resting. I had a rollercoaster sleep pattern. I slept a great deal for the first week or so after chemo. Then i went several days with little to no sleep only to fall back down and sleep for several more days solid. I believe this is the hardest part on my family. When I’m sleeping Chris takes on everything. When I’m awake I feel up to doing a few things, but tire out quick. Just when I think I could go to bed and sleep the insomnia sets in and i’m up until 5 am.

Other than fatigue and crazy sleep patterns the side effects have been minimal. The pre-meds they give me prior to chemo are wonderful and prevent a great deal of the side effects associated with chemo. So much research has been done to improve breast cancer treatment, but there is so much more that needs to be done. I pray that in my lifetime a cure for breast cancer and other cancers can be found!

Now for the actual subject of my post. Gratitude. One definition of the word I found said it was a “warm feeling of thankfulness”. I like that. I wanted to take a few minutes to thank some people who have helped us thus far.

First, our family. Parents, siblings, aunts and uncles have been wonderful. Whether it’s coming to clean my house prior to surgery, coming to take care of my kids while I was having surgery, sending gift cards for meals, gifts that are meaningful and some that bring much needed laughter, my family has been there. They are constantly checking on me as well as everyone else in the house making sure we are okay. Asking what we need an offering to drop everything and come to help if needed. I have known for a long time they were awesome, but this past few months have shown what family is all about. Oh, and did I mention some shaved their heads and beards in support of my first chemo treatment?!? But I am not just speaking of my blood family here, I am speaking also of my “in-laws”. I actually hate that term. The day I married into Chris’s family and my brothers married I gained moms, dads, sisters, and brothers that mean just as much to me as my biological ones! I love you all!

Second is our church family. Wow! Seriously, all of you rock. Starting well before my surgery you have been in constant prayer. I have felt them. With most of our family being so far away, you have filled a gap that we so greatly needed. So many reach out to us to check on us. So many speak to Chris on Sundays to make sure we are all okay. In addition, starting very shortly after my surgery you took on feeding our family. For three solid weeks you provided meals for us every other day. It was always delicious and fed us for far more than one meal at a time. Each meal may have filled us physically, but it also filled our hearts with love. There have been very sweet gifts, gift cards, cash, and notes that I will cherish forever. When we stepped into the church building a little more than four years ago for a visit we had no idea the impact you all would have on our lives. Even before the cancer diagnosis you have taken care of us and been, truly, a family. We thank God daily for all of you!

Finally, friends. People from as far back as high school have reached out, called, texted, and sent cards. These truly do lift our spirits. All of this has made me realize just how vast our community of support is. There are times I am, for lack of a better word, overwhelmed, but not in a bad way. I have found so much joy throughout this journey and that is thanks to everyone in our lives being there for us.

Through all of you our boys are being taught what love and support means. They are seeing that even in the midst of a battle there can be joy. Though we may find ourselves in darkness that there are always people there to be the light we need. When we feel weak and scared there are others to hold us tight and calm our fears.

As we move into the Thanksgiving season, please know how truly grateful we are. Our hope is that we will one day be able to bless some of you in the way you have blessed us.

They Are Not Just Kids…

I have taught fourth grade Sunday School in the Kid’s Zone at FBC Hurst for two years now. The things I have learned from the kids is amazing. The more I try to teach, the more they teach me. It is incredible. I never thought I would learn all of their names, but it happened. I have specific kids for specific needs, like my resident dancer Kayne, as an example.

We get into a routine each week. We start with some pre-class play, usually building with cups, or other things, then we get into the music, lesson, memory verse, snack, and if we have time, we usually finish with one last game. It is easy to become complacent, and just operate according to the schedule, and then go home, until next week. Shame on me. I’ll tell you why.

In the routine, I tried to see the needs in the kids. I would wake up Sunday morning, go to the church early, in order to drop of my oldest for orchestra rehearsal, make coffee, and help setup. Afterwards, I would sit down, and study the lesson, a few minutes before class was to start. This was a major disservice to my kids, that were hungry to be taught. I justified this by saying “They are kids. They will be fine.” All it took was one little thing in order for God to get my attention, and show me how stupid I was being.

Recently, the radical change in me came from the time I passed out cards like normal. Had them write something down, if the needed, and pass them back to me. One kid stood up, and said you can read mine, even though it is folded. A careful “are you sure” came from me. He then told me, in front of all of his fellow 4th grade peers, I miss my dad. I haven’t seen him in a long time, because all he does is drink. I haven’t seen him in probably six months; I miss him.

What am I doing? My wicked justification of “They’re just kids” is awful. Here is a kid in desperate need, and week-by-week, I simply treated the class as an afterthought, whether I realized it or not. They are not just kids. They are the most IMPORTANT age group in church. They are the future. I understand that all ages are important, but children are very tender, and I hope that my indifference did not negatively impact a single kid. I have changed my heart, changed my mind, and now see these kids as the most important group.

I hoped to step it up a level by giving the kids an index card, so they could put pray request on it. For those that are still uncomfortable with this, they could fold them in half, and I promised them I would NOT read them, but offer them in prayer, knowing that God knows what these little children need; seeing what is going on in their lives. This was a step up from just the regular schedule, and allowed them to have a place to come, just in case.

As our new children’s training says:

Not only do kids matter, but kids matter more than adults.
What you do for kids matters more than what you do for adults.
What you do for kids matters more than you think it does.

Joiner, R. (2016). A New Kind of Leader. Cumming, GA: Orange Books.

I could not agree more now. I guess this is part of the growing, and maturing process.